anuary 6, 2024


Bangladesh Nationalist Party's response to the Commonwealth Secretary General's press statement on 5th January 2024

It has come to the attention of the people of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-BNP that the honourable Commonwealth Secretary General (SG), in a press release issued on 5 January, only 2 days ahead of the much disputed lopsided dummy election scheduled on 7 January 2024, being held against the will of the people, called on all political and civic leaders in Bangladesh to contribute to a "conducive environment for citizens to peacefully exercise their right to vote on 7 January.

The SG's call shocked the democracy loving people of Bangladesh who have been disenfranchised by the regime over more than a decade.

Honourable SG's call misses many crucial issues surrounding the upcoming farcical 7 January election. The SG's statement does not reflect the ground reality in Bangladesh. We believe her statement contradicts the desires and aspirations of the pro- democracy Bangladeshis who have been striving for a free, fair, inclusive and credible election for more than a decade.

The SG Scotland must be aware of the fact that upcoming election is being boycotted by all the major pro-democracy political parties in Bangladesh. Only the ruling party chosen dummy/independent candidates and fake oppositions with ruling party blessings are made to participate in the election. Since the election result is already pre-determined and the people have no real options to choose from among genuine contenders, there is no congenial environment and level playing field, the voters have also rejected the one-sided polls. The regime has now taken various unethical steps to demonstrate presence of people, voter or no voters, at the polling centre under coercion and intimidation, to make it look like participatory. These stories are well covered by the local media (despite restrictions), the social media and the well esteemed international print and electronic media. The Commonwealth Secretariat and the visiting CET must also be aware of the state of terror and fear created by the regime through extreme human rights violations like extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and rampant arbitrary arrests in last 3 months. More than 27000 opposition dissidents including BNP Secretary General and its top leaders languishing in the prison upon fictitious charges. Scores of people have been killed, tortured and died in police custody.

All the pro-democracy world and our international partners who believe in rule of law, and liberal values have also expressed their opinion for a free, fair, inclusive and credible election of international standard in Bangladesh.

On the other hand, forcing all the pro-democracy political parties out of the election, creating a culture of fear, and designing a

staged election by dummy candidates, dummy election observers, and dummy voters, the ruling autocratic regime of Bangladesh

is conducting a sham election.

The people of Bangladesh acknowledge the Commonwealth's commitment to democracy, human rights, and freedom of

expression. If the SG genuinely wants to echo the sentiments of the people of Bangladesh, as she mentioned in her statement, the

people expect her to play a proactive role for realization of the people's right to vote under a neutral government and

administration. The SG's statement is out of touch with the ground reality, given that this farcical exercise on 7th January does.

not even meet the minimum qualification to be recognised or termed as an election of any standard, under the UN Declaration of

Human Rights article 21 and 21 (3) or the International Covenant on political and civil rights. The Secretary General's statement

tends to support renewal of the current autocratic regime through a highly fraudulent election that goes against the aspirations of

the people of Bangladesh for restoration of democracy through a genuine inclusive and credible election.

We expect that SG Scotland understands that the pro-democracy people, civil society, and political parties want the

Commonwealth to side with the people of Bangladesh and not with the current autocratic regime. As the people of Bangladesh.

strive for restoration of their voting rights and fundamental liberties, the support of the Commonwealth will be highly appreciated.

Advocate Ruhul Kabir Rizvi

Senior Joint Secretary General

Bangladesh Nationalist Party-BNP