NINTH PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION DECEMBER 29, 2008 PART :4

Jubo Dal leader Md. Kabir Hossain (28) of Lobonchara Bazar under Khulna-2 Constituency was mercilessly beaten and seriously wounded by Awami League leaders and workers. Admitted to Khulna Sadr Hospital in bed no. 29 on 2nd January, Hossain claimed that AL Secretary Md. Mosto, Ruhul, Mofiz and other unknown 4/5 terrorists attacked him in Lobonchara Bazar.

After the election, the Grand Alliance activists beat up Union Parishad Chairman Ashraful Islam and BNP Upazila Vice President Bachchu Ahmed at Keragacha Union, Kolaroa in Satkhira-1 Constituency. They were rushed to hospital for treating wounds.

On 30th of December, unknown hoodlums attacked Badshah Seikh, Habi Seikh, Rupa Mustain Seikh, UP Member Lutfar Seikh, Md. Kader Seikh, Md. Ali Akbar, and Md. Siddik Mollah’s homes and businesses and beat up and stabbed people indiscriminately. When local people came to aid the victims, the terrorists ran away. The people hospitalized were Nadim Seikh and Mostafa Sharif. This incidence took place at Seikhpura Modho and Poschimpara of Ajgora Union of Terkhada Upazila of Khulna-4 Constituency.

In Pirojpur Sadr Upazila a bloody clash took place between the AL and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami activists leaving two activists seriously wounded and hospitalized.

In Patuakhali-1, a Four Party Alliance supporter was stabbed with severe wounds by the Grand Alliance supporters. In Barisal Sadr area, the house of an ex Ward Commissioner of Ward no. 10 of the City Corporation was set on fire by some unidentified miscreants.

Just hours after the Grand Alliance’s victory was evident, AL loyalists started getting involved into internal feuds over encroachment of Patuakhali Minibus counter. Since clashes erupted there, RAB and police personnel reached the spot and brought the situation under control.

In Rajshahi-5, BNP activists from Amgram, Srinagar and Dharampur under Durgapur Upazila were attacked and beaten by AL activists on 30th December. In the same Upazila AL activists Kuddus, Akhter, Shamsul and Mizan stabbed and hammered a BNP supporter name Zulhasim leaving both of his legs critically wounded. He was also attacked with a mini axe on 4th January. However, there was no case filed in Police Station in this regard. On the following day in the same Constituency, two AL activists Shariful and Ratan demanded ransom from a BNP worker Anwar and on his refusal they beat him up and threatened him with severe consequences if the demand is not met.

At Mochirmor area under Harishpur in Natore-2 Constituency, a BNP worker was forcibly and publicly put on with a garland of shoes and was taken to the street on 5th January.

At Arpara Union under Magura-2, BNP supporter Munirul Islam’s grocery shop was burnt down by some unidentified miscreants. It was learnt by JANIPOP LTOs that the Police Station refused to take any allegation into consideration for unknown reasons.

Violation of Electoral Code of Conduct

No direct vote buying was observed by the JANIPOP LTOs but vote buying took place clandestinely. It was observed that electoral workers were being hired, paid and entertained by the candidates and their local agents as well to certain extent. BEC Codes of Conduct were broken clandestinely by Candidates and their supporters in conducting their election campaigns. The violation of some of the BEC Code of Conduct during campaign period and Election Day are:

In Dhaka-9, Awami League-backed Alliance Candidate and another candidate were using electoral symbols larger than the size allowed by the BEC laws. In Chittagong-13, ripe bananas were seen along with an electoral rally at Dohajari in support of Grand Alliance Candidate Engineer Afsar Uddin. In the same constituency, religious leader (Maolana) called upon people not to vote for the Leftists terming them as “accomplices of devil” and “non-Muslims”.

In Rajshahi-5, Awami League Candidate Mohammad Abdur Wadud Dara set three electoral camps at Biraldah Mazar, Puthia Mazar and Durgapur five days before it was allowed by BEC. The followers of the same Candidate brought out procession with 50-60 motorbikes six times in the week 21/12-27/12/2008. On the other hand, a Four Party Alliance Candidate Professor Nazrul Islam put up a large-sized electoral camp 0n 9th December violating electoral laws. The followers of the same Candidate brought out five processions in the same week with 200-250 motorbikes in the area of Durgapur-Puthia.

In Natore-2 Constituency, some unknown attackers burnt the election camp of Grand Alliance Candiadte Md. Ahad Ali Sarkar on 26th December. In Rajshahi-2, Bikalpa Dhara Candidate Aktheruzzaman Bablu alleged that unknown callers phoned him to withdraw candidature or face consequences. In the same Constituency, the Grand Alliance Candidate Fazle Hossain Badshah distributed lunch packets among the poor on 12th December at 12:10 pm.

Due to ban on campaign 48 hours prior to the Election Day, Candidates with few activists with them visited door to door to obtain votes. In Moulvibazar-4, three activists of Four Party Alliance Candidate were caught red handed while they were distributing cash at night among voters at Srimongol area to buy their votes. They were later sent to the Police Station for legal action.

At Nasirabad College Male Centre of Mymensingh-4, there was procession with slogans on behalf of Paddy Sheaf and Boat on Election Day.

At Bhatikhana area of Barisal-5 Constituency, unknown attackers tear down the AL election symbol boat. This led to arguments and counter arguments between AL and BNP activists in the area.

In Cox’s Bazar-3, both the Four Party Alliance and the Grand Alliance Candidate Lutfur Rahman Kajol and Saimon Sarwar Kamal were giving cash to different religious centers. The same was done by the Gono Forum Candidate Saifur Islam Chowdhury.

At Satkania Sadr Union’s Chituagram, Nalua Union’s Gatiadanga and Lohagora Upazila’s Moulavipara village of Chittagong-14 Constituency, there was allegations by JANIPOP LTOs that women leaders and activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami in group motivated women voters to touch small size Quran during 21-27 December to take vow to vote for the party candidate. Local people identified the veiled activists as people from Khulna, Comilla and Rajshahi from their local dialects. They said, “If you do not vote for Daripalla, you will be responsible for violating your oaths to Allah. If you vote for other candidate, you will be considered as Kafirs (non-Muslims).”

At door to door campaign of Bianbazar of Bazalia Union of Satkania in Chittagong-13 Constituency, Four Party Alliance Candidate Mizanul Haq’s supporter Moulana Mozaffar Ahmed said, “If some party other than Four Party Alliance Candidate is elected, there will be no Islam in this country.” On 17th December at 7:00 pm he said, “On the right hand side of a person is the abode pf angel and on the left side is the abode of devil. The Rightists are Muslims and the Leftists are Infidels. If you vote for the Leftists, you will lose your faith and become infidel”

On 7th December at 3.45 pm JANIPOP LTOs visited Kalagachi Union of Narayangonj-5 and observed that approximately 150-200 people (both male and female) were seen holding empty sacks or sacks of rice in their hands which were distributed by the local Union Parishad Member Al Amin Sardar, an AL leader. The Chairman in charge was present during this occasion.

In Narshingdi-1 Constituency, Four Party Alliance Candidate Khairul Kabir Khokon arranged a feast for his political supporters at his own residence during Eid Day on 9th of December. He also distributed Taka 50 each for around 40-50 women and poor people.

At Boalkhali under Chittagong-7 Constituency, a Union Parishad Member Mohrem Ali intimidated activists and blocked use of loudspeakers of Grand Alliance Candidate.

In Natore-2, JANIPOP LTOs observed that rival Candidates’ workers and supporters were trying to disrupt the election campaign of each other. There was also report of burning of electoral camp of a Grand Alliance Candidate there at Mallikhati Bosepara.

In Moulvibazar-4, on the Srimongol Mission Road Awami League Candidate Vice-Principal Abdus Shahid’s party activists did some wall writings with the election symbol. In Moulvibazar-4 Constituency, Four Party Alliance Candidate Advocate Ebadur Rahman’s supporters gathered at Borolekha Bazar with 70-80 motorbikes on 16th December.

In Sylhet-3 Constituency, Grand Alliance Candidate Mahmudus Samad Chowdhury showed his electoral strength by using truck procession on 21st December at 1:46 pm. There was use of 2 loudspeakers, 12 chairs and 19 people in the truck. The number of truck was Dhaka Metro-O-14-0498. On 23rd December, he used two trucks (Dhaka Metro-O-14-0498 and Dhaka Metro-M-51-3948).

In Sylhet-6 Constituency, APS of Independent Candidate Dr. Moqbul Hossain was encircled by people while distributing money in a house at Nayagram village of Bianibazar Upazila. Later Police rescued him to take him to Bianibazar Police Station.

In Sylhet-6 Constituency, Four Party Alliance Candidate M. Saifur Rahman published and distributed a 64 page booklet titled “Development of Sylhet and Saifur Rahman”.

In Munshigonj-1, Grand Alliance Candidate in an electoral meeting at Jahanabad Union declared cash prize money for the locals if his party wins by margins 5000 votes against his political rival.

The supporters of Grand Alliance Candidate for Khulna-1 Noni Gopal Mondol used 50-52 motorbikes and 1 car in the campaign of Bhandarcoat Union field on 16th December. Around 4000-5000 supporters gathered in the meeting. Samad, the driver of the car (ISUZU – Khulna Metro – Gha – 02 – 0104) used in the meeting said, “This is a government car.”

In Khulna-1 Constituency, Four Party Alliance Candidate Amir Ezaz Khan used ten to twelve adolescent boys to distribute leaflets among the voters in his support. On the other hand, Khulna-4, a pro-BNP student leader Zihad Zarif employed approximately one hundred boys all below ten years of age in order to rally support of a Four Party Alliance Candidate. Grand Alliance Candidate Molla Jalaluddin employed six under aged children in his electoral campaign at Rupsha. Besides, in Khulna-2 Constituency, Grand Alliance Candidate Mizanur Rahman Mizan used 30 to 35 under aged children who seemed to be below 7-8 years old in electoral rally, and later they were entertained with biscuits on 16th January.

In Khulna-3 Constituency, a group of 40-50 Awami League supporters brought out a campaign procession on behalf of their election symbol “Boat” across Ayub Ali Road of Ward No. 5 near Binapani Government Primary School on 29th December, the Election Day. Subsequently, BNP supported Four Party Alliance supporters of around 25-30 brought out a procession in support of “Paddy Sheaf”.

In Khulna-4 Constituency, Four Party Alliance supporters came from Terokhada Upazila to Palerhat School Ground with 20 buses. On their way to the meeting venue, some of the supporters tear down the hanging posters of Grand Alliance Candidate Mollah Jalaluddin. On 26th December, the Candidate offered 800-1000 KGs of sweet dishes for the participants of Terokhada Katenga Bazar from the nearby sweet shop.

In Jessore-4 Constituency, Grand Alliance Candidate Ronjit Kumar Roy conducted electoral show up by taking procession with 70-80 motorbikes, 4 microbuses and reaching to a well decorated podium, 200 chairs and 7-8 loudspeakers at Narkelbaria School ground on 26th December at 4.30 pm.

In Jhalakathi-2 Constituency, Grand Alliance Candidate Amir Hossain Amu arranged a feast for 500-600 people at Chowkidar Badshah’s home at Mogor Hamirabad. It cost around BDT 150,000.

In Rajshahi-2 Constituency, both Four Party Alliance and Grand Alliance Candidates violated BEC rule concerning limit of one electoral camp in one ward by building more than one in certain wards. During the period of 21-27 December campaign periods, JANIPOP LTOs also observed that there were posters on walls, electric poll, trees, behind rickshaws and in front of CNGs supporting CPB, Four Party Alliance and Grand Alliance Candidates Md. Enamul Huq, Md. Mizanur Rahman Minu and Fazle Hossain Badshah respectively. The Grand Alliance Candidate used a band party as part of election campaign.

In Chapainawabgong-3 Constituency, Candidate Abdul Wadud used motorbikes and buses for his election campaign. On 17th December meeting of Poura Park he used 78 buses and a number of motorbikes. The BNP Candidate for the same Constituency Md. Harun-or-Rashid arranged a meeting on 18th December where Party Chairman Khaleda Zia was present. In the meeting Rashid used 36 buses for transporting people to the meeting venue.

In Khulna-2 Constituency, the Candidate of Islami Andolon Bangladesh (Islamic Movement of Bangladesh) Mufti Arif Billah arranged an electoral meeting at Hadith Park on 22nd December. At 3:40 pm the Candidate said, “It is a sin to accept the leadership of women. Let us pray so that we can refrain from such sin”. The meeting was attended by 1000-1200 people.

At JBM Secondary School Center of Khulna-4 Constituency, voting started at 7:30. Due to a huge crowd of voters in queue, the Presiding Officer Ali Akbar decided to start voting 30 minutes before the scheduled time of voting.

On 21st December under the order of the Returning Officer of Bandarban district and under the leadership of a magistrate, police removed the posters of Independent Candidate Choton Kanti Tonchongar. The administration clarified its position by saying that the Candidate used “UPDF Supported Candidate” in the lower part of the poster which is violation of electoral code of conduct. However, the Candidate called a press conference and arranged a protest meeting and procession.

In Magura-2 Constituency, Grand Alliance Candidate Biren Sikder attacked BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh at Rajpat Secondary School meeting in Rajapur Union on 22nd December. He also said, “The Union Awami League President who will ensure my victory in Mohammadpur Upazila, I will give him a golden boat.”

Four Party Alliance Candidate M. Saifur Rahman’s supporters brought voters to and from the polling center (center no. 123) with 14 rickshaws around 12:45 pm in Sylhet-1 Constituency. The rickshaws used for this purpose was 16061 and Jisan Paribahan. The rickshaw pullers were wearing the badges of BNP Paddy Sheaf.

At Deokalas of Biswanath in Sylhet-2 Constituency Four Party Alliance Candiadte M. Iliyas Ali was delivering a his speech in a campaign meeting on 15th December at 11:40. He said to the electoral meeting crowd, “Awami League does not love this country. If they form government, there will be no azan in mosques and Muslims will not be able to wear tupi (Islamic cap) in this country.”

In Sunamgonj-3 Constituency, Maolana Shahinur Pasha Chowdhury arranged an electoral meeting at Mirpur area of Mirpur Union. In the meeting ex-BNP MP M. Iliyas Ali was present as the Chief Guest. The presence of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leaders was remarkable. After the Magrib prayer azan, the meeting was adjourned and around 70-80 people prayed together in the meeting venue. Maolana Shahinur Pasha Chowdhury also took part in the public prayer.

In Satkhira-1 Constituency, Four Party Alliance leader Habibul Islam attacked the Awami League leaders in strongest term on 24th December at 4:30 pm at Kolaroa GKMK Pilot High School after the grenade attack on Khaleda Zia. Some of his statements include “It is against Islam to make a dog wear Islamic Cap”, “as the wife of Joy (wife of AL leader Seikh Hasina) is a Christian, he himself may be a Christian”, “Seikh Hasina may turn Bangladesh into a province of India”, “Chi Chi Hasina, Lojjay Bachina (Shame on Hasina)”, “Seikh Hasinar Astana Jalie Dao, Puriye Dao (Burn the abode of Hasina)”, “Khaleda Ziar kichu hole, jolbe agun ghore ghore (If something happens to Khaleda Zia, there will be fire everywhere)”.

In Natore-2 Constituency’s Chinikol High School Center, an elderly woman sought assistance from a polling agent to cast her vote. The Four Party Alliance agent cast her vote to his party candidate disregarding the symbol of her choice. This created anomaly in the center for a short time.

Mosammat Amena Begum (70) of Kanainagar village of Magura-2 Constituency said, “Before the election the supporters of Four Party Alliance gave my son several packets of bidi (local cigarettes) and a packet of gul during the campaign. They also assured to solve out land dispute. But I am not happy that the Alliance candidate has lost the election”.

Some positive changes

The reaction of the voters concerning the election results in general was good. Voters expressed their happiness concerning the outcomes of the elections. They expected that the new government would address the broad national issues of corruption and mismanagement. The winning candidates opined that their victory was in fact the victory of the common masses and they would try to implement their electoral pledges. On the other hand, the losing candidates in general questioned the transparency and legitimacy of the election. They also alleged that there was vote rigging in a pre-planned way. The defeated Candidate of Dhaka-9 Constituency Shirin Sultana termed the election as an “implementation of blueprint”. She said to the JANIPOP LTOs on 1st of January 2009, “In my Constituency Dhaka-9 and all the Constituencies of Bangladesh, election was rigged”. She alleged that the Presiding Officer, Assistant Presiding Officers and Security Forces were publicly involved in campaign on behalf of the Boat. Shah Moazzem Hossain termed the election result as a “bolt from the blue sky”.

The General Secretary of the Bagharpara Upazila JCD, the student front BNP Jessore-4 Constituency expressed his positive reaction towards the outcome of the election in his area on 8th January at 4:10 pm. He said, “I have heard about post-election intimidation and violence towards the supporters of the defeated candidate elsewhere. However, no such incidence has taken place in my area. In election there is winner and losers. We are defeated does not mean that the election is not fair. The election was definitely free, fair and neutral and we have accepted the result. The role of law and order agencies in the election was praiseworthy.”

Nizam Uddin (75) from Sultanpur, Fatehpur Union of Jessore-4 said, “In the last days of my life, I thought not to vote in the Election because of my fear of intimidation, violence, fake votes and other irregularities in voting center. Thanks to the initiatives of caretaker government concerning photographed voter ID and strong security measures motivated me to go to the polling center. I felt mental peace after casting my vote in a peaceful environment. There was no post-election violence here. The election was held in a free, fair and neutral manner.”

The defeated Candidate of Dhaka-13 Constituency Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal was interviewed over telephone by a JANIPOP LTO and Divisional Coordinator on 10th January 2009. In the interview, he alleged that the wife of the Winner Candidate used a car without sticker on the Election Day. His other allegations include – there were some stranded Pakistanis now having voting rights who were forced not to vote at Residential Model School and College Center; several AL supporter Ward Councilors were sitting with the Presiding Officer for a long time at Ceramic Art and Physical College Center. In Bashbari Center, a voter was given un-erasable ink but was not given any ballot paper. In answer to the JANIPOP interview team, Alal told that the irregularities could have reduced the gap of the election result but could not change the final result. He also stated that the new rules of the Election Commission have played a vital role in improving climate for the election and the state of emergency did not have negative impacts on fairness of election.

Some Positive Changes

In Barisal-5, the elected Candidate Advocate Mojibor Rahman Sarwar went to the house of the defeated Candidate to talk to him.

16. JANIPOP Recommendations

From the observation of JANIPOP mobile observers on the successful implementation of new Code of Conducts for candidates and political parties, it can be said that a strong political will on part of Election Commission, Caretaker Government and political parties can make positive contributions to make election transparent, neutral, free and fair. The political system needs to make an enabling environment for Election Commission so that peaceful democratic transition and political partnership of ruling party and opposition is possible. This may enable BEC as an autonomous, strong, effective constitutional body with strong clout and teeth to bite.

To give disadvantaged group such as disabled and other group of people a voice, it is an imperative that the BEC should make policy adjustments to make polling booths easily accessible to the disabled, elderly and pregnant women and provide logistical support within polling center for them if required.

To remove confusions and lack of confidence in practicing voting rights of the common voters, there should be strong component of voter and civic education on part of Election Commission and Civil Society Organizations.

It is evident from JANIPOP LTO observation on Candidates’ campaign finance that current ceiling on election campaign finance is outdated or impossible to implement within existing environment. Several policy options in this regard may be chalked out. The first option is to strictly monitor the current policy in the field and take action against candidates do not adhere to the rules. The second option is to raise limit of campaign finance and make strong monitoring of it. The third option is to make initiative from BEC or other agencies to arrange and control campaign for all candidates together from a single platform. Within this arrangement, Candidates may sit on the same platform and debate political and development policy options of them for their voters. This may reduce the campaign finance drastically and usher a new era of among political communities of Bangladesh.

JANIPOP believes that many of the questions related to problems of representation in national Parliament of Bangladesh can be solved through introduction of ‘Proportional Representation System’. It continues to lobby for introduction of the system with different stakeholders in the country.

17. JANIPOP’s Policy Lessons for Bangladesh and rest of the World

APPENDIXES

APPENDIX-1


CODE OF ETHICS FOR JANIPOP

SHORT TERM OBSERVERS/LONG TERM OBSERVERS

  • The STOs/LTOs must maintain JANIPOP standards in all their activity.
  • The STOs/LTOs must be neutral in their activities and what they produce.
  • The STOs/LTOs must not be involved in any other activity other than what he/she is assigned with.
  • The STOs/LTOs must be non partisan and neutral.
  • Consumption of Alcohol and smoking is strictly prohibited while observing.
  • JANIPOP STOs/LTOs must be modest in their behavior and be tactical.
  • The STOs/LTOs must be in decent attire.Jeans is strictly prohibited to avoid a casual look.
  • The STOs/LTOs must not take meals and drinks from strangers for safety reasons.
  • The STOs/LTOs will not play the role of an arbitrator.
  • The STOs/LTOs must maintain the confidentiality of the information gained through the observation.
  • The STOs/LTOs shall not take or offer any favor in the form of cash or kind to others for his/her own benefit or for the benefit of others.
  • The STOs/LTOs will have to take good care of JANIPOP Office properties and equipments.
  • The STOs/LTOs must not compromise with the JANIPOP interest.
  • The observers will prepare a roster duty chart on a daily basis.
  • They will not mention about things in the report which they have not seen themselves. The team will avoid hearsays.
  • The HQ of JANIPOP is responsible for handling the media and it is not a requirement that the STOs/LTOs will make comments to the media separately.
  • The observers will keep an evidence of what he/she has observed in the field by using still cameras and voice recorders. They must take notes.
  • The STOs/LTOs must not draw any conclusions on the observation on behalf of the organization without prior consultation with the HQ and Divisional Coordinators.

  • The STOs/LTOs must not comment on the spur of the moment.
  • They will not mention about things in the report which they have not seen themselves. The team will avoid hearsays.
  • To maintain the high ethical standards the STOs/LTOs must cross check all information before reporting.
  • The STOs/LTOs must maintain the confidentiality of the information gained through the observation.
  • The STOs/LTOs must not compromise with the JANIPOP interest.

The violation of the code of ethics will be seriously dealt with by the chairman and the Executive Committee of JANIPOP.

APPENDIX-2

JANIPOP reporting forms

APPENDIX-3

Observation photographs

APPENDIX-4

JANIPOP in press

APPENDIX-5

List of LTOs

APPENDIX-6

List of STOs

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