Bangladesh: Information on the political influence of the Jamaat-i Islami (JI) party under the current Awami League (AL) government and on the state protection available to individuals harassed by JI members
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 January 1998|
|Citation / Document Symbol||BGD28534.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Bangladesh: Information on the political influence of the Jamaat-i Islami (JI) party under the current Awami League (AL) government and on the state protection available to individuals harassed by JI members, 1 January 1998, BGD28534.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6acfa54.html [accessed 20 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Information on the political influence of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) party under the Awami League government could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
However, the following information on the political power of the JI since the June 1996 general elections may be of general interest.
The fundamentalist JI won only 3 seats in the 12 June 1996 general elections, despite fielding candidates for all 300 directly elected seats to the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) (Dhaka Courier 21 June 1996, 9; Reuters 5 July 1996; Keesing's June 1996, 41142). Following the 4 July 1996 indirect elections for the 30 women's seats and the 5 September 1996 15-seat by-elections, party standings were as follows: the Awami League (AL) 169 seats, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) 111, the Jatiya Party (JP) 30, the JI 3, and other parties 2 (AFP 6 Sept. 1996; DPA 4 July 1996; Dhaka Courier 12 July 1996, 7). According to election commentators cited by Agence France Presse (AFP), "the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party got the boot in Bangladesh's general elections last week [12 June 1996], a message from voters against religious extremism and anti-independence forces" (AFP 18 June 1996). The JI received 8.71 per cent of the votes in the June 1996 elections, compared to 11.92 in 1991 (Dhaka Courier 21 June 1996, 9) when the JI won 18 seats (ibid.; AFP 18 June 1996; Reuters 5 July 1996).
With regard to the issue of state protection, Amnesty International's June 1997 report entitled Bangladesh: Proposed Standards for a National Human Rights Commission discusses the findings of a 1996 report by the Institutional Development of Human Rights in Bangladesh (IDHRB) and states that:
The IDHRB report has identified five bodies whom people usually approach to obtain redress for their grievances:
1. Village elders through village Salish [binding arbitration by the village elders].
2. Union Parishad [UP- local council] Chairman.
4. Local Member of Parliament
The report gives further details of its findings on people's attitudes towards these bodies:
No money is required for Salish by village elders who are easily available for quick and effective dispensation of justice. UP Chairman is less expensive and justice by him is prompt and also effective. Justice through court is [very] costly, time consuming and not available at the door step. So, common people are reluctant to go to law courts for redressal of their grievances, unless they are forced to do [so]. Local MP is not easily available and very often he takes a partisan view on political consideration in resolving a dispute resulting in denial of proper justice. People are [very] reluctant to go to police for redress ... have no confidence in them because police, according to them are guided by monitory consideration and political pressure (AI June 1997, 3).
At the end of 1997 a draft bill to establish a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was being finalized and was expected to be placed before parliament in early 1998 (The Bangladesh Observer 9 Dec. 1997). For additional information on the NHRC, please consult Amnesty International's June 1997 report entitled Bangladesh: Proposed Standards for a National Human Rights Commission, which is available at all Regional Documentation Centres.
Information on the issue of state protection additional to that provided above and in the DIRB's Question and Answer Series papers Bangladesh: Political Developments and Political Violence of December 1996 and Bangladesh: Human Rights Situation of January 1997 could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Both publications are available in all Regional Documentation Centres and in SHARENet.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Agence France Presse (AFP). 6 September 1996. "Ruling Party Wins Eight Seats, Main Opposition Three in By-Elections." (NEXIS)
_____. 18 June 1996. "Fundamentalists Suffer Setback in Bangladeshi Elections." (NEXIS)
Amnesty International (AI). June 1997. Bangladesh: Proposed Standards for a National Human Rights Commission. (AI Index: ASA 13/03/97). London: Amnesty International.
The Bangladesh Observer [Dhaka]. 9 December 1997. "Draft Bill on NHRC Being Finalised."
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 4 July 1996. BC Cycle. "Women's Seats Give Awami League Absolute Majority." (NEXIS)
Dhaka Courier. 12 July 1996. Vol. 12, No. 50. D.G. Ashish. "AL Emerges Single Majority."
_____. 21 June 1996. Vol. 12, No. 47. Mahmud al-Faisal. "Sunken Spirits in Jamaat."
Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. June 1996. Vol. 42, No. 6. "Bangladesh: General Election."
Reuters. 5 July 1996. BC Cycle. Narayanan Madhavan. "FeatureWomen Voters Assert Rights in Bangladesh." (NEXIS)
Agence France Presse (AFP). 18 June 1996. "Fundamentalists Suffer Setback in Bangladeshi Elections." (NEXIS)
The Bangladesh Observer [Dhaka]. 9 December 1997. Draft Bill on NHRC Being Finalized," pp. 1, 12.
Dhaka Courier. 21 June 1996. Vol. 12, No. 47. Mahmud al-Faisal. "Sunken Spirits in Jamaat," p. 9.
Additional Sources Consulted
Amnesty International Report 1997. 1997.
Coordinating Council for Human Rights in Bangladesh. 5 April 1997. State of Human Rights in Bangladesh in 1996.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in 1996. 1997.
DIRB. "Bangladesh" country file. April 1996-present.
_____. "Bangladesh: Amnesty International" country file. May 1996-present.
Human Rights Watch World Report 1997. 1996.
Office of Asylum Affairs (OAA), Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. May 1995. Bangladesh: Comments on Country Conditions and Asylum Claims.
Research Directorate. Indexed Media Review [Ottawa]. Weekly. May 1996-present.
Electronic sources: IRB Databases, LEXIS/NEXIS.