Saturday, December 29, 2018

Rigging the election before votes are cast

Awami League allowed to campaign without threats or fear
Autocratic governments rig elections before any votes are cast - by restricting opposition candidates from standing, stopping the opposition activists from campaigning, and preventing opposition supporters from voting. 

All these we have seen in recent months in Bangladesh - through the government's control of the courts, the police and the election commission. These three bodies are no longer independent entities in Bangladesh, and have largely become part of the Awami League machine. The government would like to avoid having to stuff ballot boxes on the day - which makes vote rigging very obvious - so they are doing everything to deter opposition supporters from coming out on election day to vote. 

Disqualification of candidates
So the courts have disqualified 18 opposition candidates from taking part in the elections - that is over 5% of the total number of 300 constituencies.

Arrest of candidates
The police have in addition jailed 10 opposition candidates since they were nominated

Attacks against opposition candidates
Since December 10, according to ANFREL, there have been 30 reported attacks on opposition motorcades, 43 opposition candidates have been attacked, with 13 seriously injured. there have also been over 200 attacks against opposition activists in 159 constituencies.

Arrest of/cases against activists 
Although the huge bulk of violence has been carried out by Awami League activists, with the support of the police, against opposition activists, since 10 November to 25 December, the police have (according to opposition data shared directly with BangladeshPolitico) filed a total of 1574 cases, accusing 124,094 named opposition activists/leaders and arrested 15,568 opposition supporters/activists/leaders. 
Between November 10th  (the date that the elections were announced) to December 10th (final date of candidate withdrawal) the police have filed 773 cases, accusing 74,890 named opposition activists/leaders, and arrested 8,243 individuals
Between December 11th to 23rd (when the army was deployed), the police have
filed 510 cases, accusing 40,143 named opposition activists/leaders, and arrested 6,071 individuals
On 24 and 25 December, the police have filed 291 cases, accusing 9,061 named opposition activists/leaders, and arrested 1,254 individuals 
Preventing opposition voters from voting on the day
Suppression of the opposition supporters from actually voting by direct intimidation and threats is now what is going on. There are a number of videos of Awami League candidates doing the rounds in which they call on their activists to stop opposition voters from leaving their houses to vote - see this one for example. A BNP activist told me that in some places in the North of the country the police are going door to door to stop BNP supporters from going to vote. The Washington Post is reporting that police have barricaded two opposition candidates inside their homes.

Stopping independent scrutiny
The Government has restricted the number of journalists allowed to come to Bangladesh, by not giving them visas, for example, The Guardian. Other journalistic visas were given after long delays. In addition, it has restricted international monitors, for example, not allowing the Asian Network for Free Elections to send a team to Bangladesh. It has also restricted the local organisations that are allowed to monitor the elections, for example not allowing Odhikar or Brotee from involvement in monitoring. 

According to the Election Commission, during the 2008 elections, the number of total international election observers were 593 and local observers were 1,00,059 from 75 organisations. But this time there are only 25 to 26 thousand local observers and under 100 international observers


Other "2018 Elections" articles

- Dec 27: Is it time to give the BNP opposition a chance?
- Dec 25: Awami League's new crisis of legitimacy
- Dec 23: A disgrace of a website
- Dec 22: Facebook exposes government's fake news
- Dec 22: Sajeeb Joy's poll half-truths
- Dec 21: Why the Government is fixing the election
- Dec 15: Full Pre-election polls for download
- Dec 13: Challenging the Orthodox View
- Dec 13: Fear and Awami League leaders
- Dec 11: Bangladesh's "Closing Democratic Space"
- Dec 9:   Exclusive: Results of Confidential Poll revealed
- Dec 7:   Disappearances before 2014 election
- Dec 7:   Forced out, but service resumes

No comments:

Post a Comment