Cry for democracy not one woman dictatorship:

  • PDF
Change font size:



Barrister Shahriar Kabir

Two most attractive attributes of democracy are that it works or attempted to work in favour of at least the majority of a country and allows everybody to become a part of the ‘’majority’’ through open competition. In democratic competition, parties and leaders theoretically are like commodities in a free market economy, where the quality of the commodities and market forces determine prices. Therefore democracy as self-operated system as it just needs a free but disciplined society to run.

A predominantly Muslim country of 142 million people, Bangladesh is an important developing nation struggling to establish, preserve, and consolidate its young and fragile democracy under numerous domestic and regional pressures. Bangladesh stands on the track of this megatrend. Our long struggle for democracy has put Bangladesh into Huntington’s “Third Wave” of current world – wide democratization since 1991. A democratic transition took place in 1991 following the fall of General Hussein Muhammad Ershad in the face of a massive political upheaval at the end of 1990. Following the formation of the parliamentary form of government in 1991, Bangladesh anchored the journey to democracy and now people are prone to see democracy flourishing everywhere in the state organs and institutions. However, the path of democracy seems to follow a zigzag direction of development that proceed amidst both challenges and opportunities that lead some observers to view that the experiment of democracy and democratization in Bangladesh clearly suffers contradictory realities. Since 1991, governments have mostly changed through elections. Generally, two leading parties, Bangladesh Awami League (AL) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), have been ruling the country alternately. However, these two parties have been involved in politics of confrontation that leads to dysfunctional or ineffective parliament and malfunctioning of democracy.

AL advocating for Westminster model of democracy and claimed to be the light house of the democracy in the country, though the founder of the liberation war killed the democracy in 1975 by establishing one party system. At present in the name of democracy AL paralyzed all democratic institution, including the army. AL appointed political motivated judges of the Supreme Court exorcize the care taker government and put few options to the nation, which again deepen the crisis and the upcoming free and fair election will uncertain. In the name of war trail tribunal AL divide the nation into pro Islamic and anti Islamic group, patronized the anti Islamic sentiment and planned to destroy Islamic think tank. Honourable Mrs. Hasina wazed blends democracy with constitutional dictatorship.

Democracy is a practice where citizen can participate to choose their representative who will endorse their right and voice and ensure accountability of their own act and omission in a transparent way which ensures citizen liberty and equality of opportunity. It is an idea of potentially universal pertinence and is an ideological concept of self- determination. Fareed Zakaria pointed out free and fair election did not ensure democracy. It can be free and fair but the elected regime really endorses citizen voice or ensures accountability. Today 121 countries are democratic by way of free and fair election but what happens after election.

Popular leader like Putin, Pervaz Mosharaf, Carlos Menem are routinely ignoring constitutional limits on their power and depriving their citizens of basic rights and freedoms. We have seen an illiberal practice of democratic norms. A political system marked not only by free and fair elections, but also by the rule of law, a separation of power and the protection of basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property. In fact this latter bundle of freedoms termed as constitutional liberalism. A country can be democratic only if its guarantees a comprehensive catalogue of social, political, economic and religious right which turns into a badge of honour rather than a descriptive category. Constitutional liberalism based on the belief that human beings have certain natural rights and government must accept a basic law, limiting its own powers, that secures them. The excellence of democracy lies in its capacity to adapt to the state of those to be governed by it. Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your umbrella, it is something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.

Bangladesh is a Muslim country where more than 87% of the citizen believes in Islam. Islam is not merely a religion and confined to certain rituals and rites rather it is a complete code of conduct for mankind. The Quran mentions about the human rights, and makes a unique balance between the society and the individual in this regard. Everyone has an absolute right to justice. Justice is the mission of the holy divine messages from Allah and the mission of the Islamic state. Any society or state that upholds and practices justice in any time, place, or language is doing so in the true spirit of Islam.

Everyone has an absolute right to believe or not to believe and to advocate what he believes without insulting the others. On the Day of Judgment, everyone will be questioned before Allah according to his or her freedom of belief. Shura, or democracy, means assuming power. According to Islam, it is the society as a whole—not one person, like the Egyptian pharaoh in the time of Moses—that owns and exercises power. Al-Shura, or consultation, is the Quranic expression of democracy. A religious commandment, it refers to the discussions and deliberation that take place at meetings (or Majalis). In these meetings, Prophet Mohammed (SW) taught the early Muslims the culture of democracy in Islam. According to Sayed Khatab, Political principles’, ‘The modernists and democracy’,

‘The Muslim Brotherhood’, and ‘The liberals’, this chapter opens a window onto the notion of democratic participation in Islam. This theme currently occupies the heart and the mind of the Muslim world’s public debate over constitution, law, civil rights, and national and cultural identity; just as freedom, justice, equality and human rights occupy the heart and the mind of Islam. It demonstrates the emphasis that Islam places on equality, freedom, justice and pluralism, first, as manifested in the text of the Qur’an and in the practices of the Prophet and his companions, and second, in the historical experiences of Muslim society, and in the philosophical and intellectual discourse of the contemporary Islamic reformist movements. But by going back to the 1973 constitution, the present government contradict with the fundamental faith of Muslims because Muslims belief all power belongs to Allah but the present constitution declares all power belongs to the citizens. Even if a citizen express his or her view about the fundament of the constitution can be punished and commit a crime. They also amended the 7th amendment of the constitution and as a result the country lost its identity as a Islamic state.

The field of politics in Bangladesh has become heated as the Govt. is now on its tyrannical stand against performing the democratic rights of people. Many opposition activists have been the heinous victim of the envy of ruling Govt. Opposition parties have been victim of brutal attack of police and ruthless suppressing behaviour of law-enforcing agencies. Repeated attacks, tortures in custody, filing malicious cases and attacking opposition leaders with little credible charge are some of the most serious allegations brought against the current government. Bangladesh could face a protracted political crisis in the lead-up to the 2013 elections unless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government changes course and takes a more conciliatory approach towards the political opposition and the military. Instead of changing the old pattern of politics, the AL government has systematically used parliament, the executive and the courts to reinforce it, including by filing cases against Jamate Islami Bangladesh and the BNP, and employing security agencies to curb opposition activities. Most worrying, however, is the AL-dominated parliament’s adoption of the fifteenth amendment to the constitution, which scraps a provision mandating the formation of a neutral caretaker administration to oversee general elections.

The caretaker system was a major practical and psychological barrier to election-rigging by the party in power. Removing it has undermined opposition parties’ confidence in the electoral system. The fifteenth amendment carries other dangers as well. For example, anyone who criticises the constitution may now be prosecuted for sedition; new procedures have rendered further amendments virtually impossible; and the death penalty is prescribed for plotting to overthrow an elected government – a thinly veiled warning to the military, which has done so four times in as many decades. To address fair trial concerns, the government in June 2011 amended the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973 but the law, established to prosecute those responsible for atrocities in the war of 1971, still fell short of international standards. The definitions of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide did not conform to international standards and the government failed to amend the law to ensure due process. Defense lawyers, witnesses, and investigators said they had been threatened.

Everyone wants the trial of the culprit of the 1971 but it has to be fair and it must be seen to be fair but the war crimes tribunal set up to investigate mass killings in 1971 is facing turmoil after its presiding judge resigned because he acted improperly. The Daily newspaper published and printed transcripts of phone conversations and emails that purport to show the judge, Mohammed Nizamul Huq, giving details of a case currently before the tribunal to—and soliciting advice from—a Bangladeshi human-rights lawyer based in Brussels. Surprisingly neither the judge nor the lawyer in question has challenged the authenticity of the conversation the newspaper published but a new judge appointed by the government to succeed Mr. Huq who passed an order banning the publication of the transcripts or articles about the Huq issue. The order given by Justice Manik against Amer Desh is an attempt to curb freedom of expression in this country. Moreover AL wanted to track down Jamate Islami Bangladesh and the daily newspaper Amer Desh. Jamate Islami Bangladesh has no right to express their opinion, the government ready to suppress the Islamic schooler in the country. The Awami League government failed to use its significant parliamentary mandate in 2011 to push through policies to ensure strong protections of human rights. The death of Biswajit is now crying for justice and AL leader and the home minister should be punished for the occurrence.

Therefore Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government should remember what Allah said in the Quran in surah Al Amran, Say (O Muhammad): "O Allah! Possessor of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honour whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. In Your Hand is the good. Verily, You are Able to do all things.” So it is incumbent on the Muslims who wish to be saved from the punishment of Allah in this world and in the Hereafter to embark upon the work to change the evil situation in which they live, following the lawful path towards change, to re-establish Islam in life as a state and system."

Donald Camp told "Full democracy is vital to the country. Full participation in the electoral process is vital to democracy." Certainly we like to enjoy human right and fair election but are we really believe AL, do we have all necessary institution to enjoy our liberty and which wipe out to disperse the darkness and clear the sky of politics. We need to remember free and fair election did not ensure democracy alone, unless and until we have a democratic structure. Past experience shows us the both political parties neither comply with the public opinion nor join the parliament to cooperate the activities of the impending government. Any hasty decision or action may further bring turmoil and taint the political field of this nation which we cannot afford as we paid a heavy toll beyond our ability due to political crisis.

 Barrister Shahriar Kabir

E Mail :  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Comments (1)Add Comment
Cry for democracy.......
written by Sultan Ahmad, January 01, 2013
The country run by the two ladies for about decades. But none of them believe in democracy, as such, do not practice it within their parties. It is one woman dictatorship. The party chief is the all in all. No body dares to confront her even on a genuine cause. We, the people, are also vote for them like stupids even suffering from their misrule. When we will learn and put both of them out of politics for ever? I think the days are being counted. Let us hope for the best in the new year 2013.

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Highlights Archive

More Highlights

Science and Technology



Life Style & Fashion