Goyeshwar Chandra Roy is one of the top leaders of Bangladesh’s leading opposition party, iconic figure from the minority community of the country where only a few of them could lead up to top positions. Mr. Goyesshor was taking part in his electoral campaign. Out of the blue; ruling party thugs attacked him and his supporters. One of the attackers tried to chop Mr. Goyeshwarr’s left shoulder with machete. After a heavy blood rush yet before his last breath; he was taken to hospital. Following the attack, Mr. Goyeshwar thanked his God for keeping him alive .
Shyamnagar is a far remote, small county in southern Bangladesh; adjacent to Indian border. Gazi Nazrul Islam, a fighter who took up arms for his country’s liberation war in 1971, is now a contender to be people’s representative in the national polls scheduled on December 30th. On December 16, 2018; the country’s police discovered that he was ‘holding a meeting at his home’. Mr. Gazi, a former member of the parliament, languished in jail along with his few comrades. Within a week, the politician’s wife and daughter; who were leading the campaign on behalf of him; were also thrown in prison.
Such incidents seem scattered. However, at least 47 of the 300 main opposition candidates, one out of every six; have been injured in attacks carried out by ruling party thugs or police forces. Following the declaration of electoral schedules; over 10,000 opposition activists have been put into prison. Spurious charges sprung up, alleged the contending leaders, putting their campaign in total jeopardy. The worst of these electoral façades are continuous intimidation, threats to the opposition supporters – “don’t come to vote if you want to keep yourself safe”. The pattern of the threats from the ruling party comrades are – “We will break your hands and legs, we will bury you alive, no opposition supporters are allowed to come to vote, only government supporters will be allowed to vote”. The regime of fear is now ubiquitous.
From a geopolitical perspective, Bangladesh is a not a country of immense importance. The country’s best bets are it has achieved significant progress on socio-economic indexes, thanks to different UN and aid programs, entrepreneurial capacity of the people and policy shifts of governments’’ since the1990s. However, it has some significance being a leading exporter of apparels and the highest number of UN peace keepers; of course, Bangladesh army is one of the lowest paid soldiers’ entity; hence UN jobs are the most lucrative ones. Back in 2007, when the incumbent opposition was in power, while trying to hold a non-participatory election with the help of the troops as striking forces; the then UN country representative Renata Lok Dessallien allegedly produced a fake letter from the UN boss threatening the army of cutting the UN jobs. The issue of the letter was later denied; yet the timely manner of the matter enabled the Army to help form a non-party government and hold an election in 2008 thought which the Awami League came to power.
Before the election scheduled in January 2014; the then Awami League government scrapped the non-party election period government. Opposition parties boycotted the election; massive violence marked the election year. However, before all these; the UN Secretary General mandated Taranco mission tried to resolve the political impasse. The parties agreed of another participatory election within shorter period; a promise the Sheikh Hasina government didn’t upheld. Hence, she was able to continue power through a frustratingly non-participatory election that allowed 154 members of the parliament without any contest, more than enough to form the government. The result of the political crisis has now reached to its peak; now the government pulling all the triggers to hold on to the power while the opposition is desperately trying to unseat Awami League’s sheikh Hasina. Political Analyst Ali Riaz, perhaps the most authoritative on Bangladesh affairs, sees the next election will be the most consequential in Bangladesh’s electoral history. Perhaps this election would decide whether the country would ever be able to return to democratic process.
The small country, heavily hard-hit by climate change, is not a big player in the world map. India yielded the highest leverage while China is slowly opening up its checkbooks. Other than these small bubbles of regional interests; the country doesn’t matter much to the world. However, the world matters to the people of Bangladesh. Over ten million of its people live in different countries. If the country’s export is hit hard by instabilities for electoral irregularities; the foremost sufferer will be the 160 million people. The question is to whom these people will look up to for a stable situation.