MOHAMMAD ZIAUDDIN | REPORTS out of the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh usually focus on the massive humanitarian efforts carried out by host country and its international partners. Together, they have supplied food, education, housing and medicine for hundreds of thousands of people with no other place to go. Even more remarkable is what has not happened….
ALEX ELLIS |
IN contrast to critics’ claims, Bangladesh’s national elections last year were more peaceful and ran more smoothly than previous elections.
During the 2008 election, as many as 108 people died. The 2014 elections were even more violent. Instead of participating in 2014, the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) instigated nationwide strikes and other disruptions. Its members firebombed polling booths, buses and political offices. BNP–backed attacks killed 231 people and injured 1,180 others during the 2014 campaign.
Last year, during the run–up to the election, opposition–party attacks on officials of the Awami League, the governing party, resulted in more than 300 injuries and at least five deaths. On Election Day, attacks resulted in the deaths of at least nine additional Awami League activists and eight others.
To keep the peace, Bangladesh’s independent election commission deployed a record number of soldiers across the country in the weeks leading up to the election. In total, the army deployed 50K personnel to conduct patrols and prevent violence. The deployment was requested by the opposition.
Bangladeshi authorities arrested people with outstanding criminal warrants. These arrests were limited in scope and focused on people who were accused of serious crimes. These arrests also thwarted multiple attempts at voter intimidation
During this period, Bangladeshi authorities arrested people with outstanding criminal warrants. These arrests were limited in scope and focused on people who were accused of serious crimes. These arrests also thwarted multiple attempts at voter intimidation.
While a small number of attacks on BNP activists were reported, the election commission promptly responded to each of them to restore order.
In the end, almost all foreign observers issued statements affirming that the elections were orderly, fair and mostly peaceful. Observers from India, Nepal and the Islamic Organisation for Cooperation (OIC) were among those with positive views of the elections. ■