Country Conditions: The Persecution Of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Members In Bangladesh
Author: Alena Shautsova
Bangladesh (or the People's Republic of Bangladesh) is a country located in South Asia with a population of over 163 million persons. The country has about thirteen ethnic groups. The majority being the Bengalis amounting to 98% and the other twelve (12) ethnic groups making up the other 2%. The majority of the populace (about 90.4%) are Muslims, others being Hindus (8.5%), Buddhists (0.6%), Christians (0.4%), and others amounting to 0.1%.
Bangladesh practices a unitary parliamentary democracy and constitutional republic following the Westminster method of government. Its unicameral legislature has 350 Members of Parliament. 300 of these parliamentary members are elected based on the first past the post system and the other 50 Members of Parliament are appointed to seats reserved for women's empowerment.
The People's Republic of Bangladesh underwent a two-party system from 1990 to 2014, with power alter ag between the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Currently, the major political parties in Bangladesh are the Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, and Jatiya Party. The biggest of which is the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Human Rights Activities in Bangladesh
The laws of Bangladesh support and respect the fundamental Human Rights of persons. Part 3, Article 11 of the country's constitution clearly states that "the Republic shall be a democracy in which fundamental Human Rights and freedoms and respect for the dignity and worth of a human person shall be guaranteed."
Also, to discourage torture and degradable acts against persons, the country enacted the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act in 2013. This is the main anti-torture law in Bangladesh. There is no doubt that Bangladeshi law respects human rights.
However, have these laws been properly and effectively upheld? Is the respect and equality of persons maintained in Bangladesh? what acts have been enforced by the authorities to suppress the rights of persons? These are some questions we will attempt to answer in the course of this article.
The Persecution of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Members.
Despite the contents of the Bangladeshi constitution, the country's situation has not been in the favor of Human Rights in many cases. Especially when the questionable acts are perpetrated against the opposition party. Since 1990, the continuous shift of power between the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party has led to both political parties being at constant loggerheads. The relationship between both parties has deteriorated drastically, with each trying to undermine the efforts of the other.
In 2014, with the Awami League in power, harassment of members of the opposition (now Bangladesh Nationalist Party) became a common affair. This harassment resulted in the detaining and arresting of thousands of members of the opposition (according to a 2015 report) and enforcing actions to limit their political activities. Also, there have been cases of forceful arrest and disappearance of opposition members since 2013.
Despite the anti-torture law enacted by the government, there have been alarming cases of tortures used against persons (especially members of the opposition). Such as in the case of Faridul Mostafa.
The security forces of Bangladesh have been notorious for their acts of torture, custodial killings, beatings, rape, and other forms of sexual abuse. They once called for the eradication of the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act in 2017, because they saw it as a limitation to their malicious acts. Despite the fundamental human rights law, the Government of Bangladesh has been accused in several cases of conducting the disappearance and detaining of members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
The Bangladeshi government has also been involved in electoral malpractices. This has led to the denial of its citizens the right to free and fair elections which negatively impacts the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Observers considered the December 2018 elections bringing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina into power for the third consecutive 5-year term to be neither free nor fair and abused by irregularities. Before the elections, there were cases of harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, and violence making it hard for members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to meet, hold rallies, or campaign freely.
Stories Of Persecution
Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and also the chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was sentenced to five years imprisonment in February 2018 on charges of corruption and embezzlement first filed in 2008. Subsequently, her sentence was increased to 10 years in October 2018 by the High Court. International and local legal experts reported that these convictions were unfounded and without evidence. These actions were viewed as a way of reducing her chances in the electoral process of 2018. Although the sentence was suspended twice on humanitarian grounds, yet her freedom of movement was restricted.
In another case, the court sentenced 9 men to death and 25 to life imprisonment for a 1994 attack on a train carrying Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. All convicted persons were members of the BNP. The Secretary-General of the BNP, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, condemned the conviction and described it as alleged and fabricated. He stated that the attack was staged by the Awami League (then opposition).
These are some of the stories of persecution against the Bangladesh National Party.