15 July 2023, Sat, 7:50

EU delegation-Jamaat meeting held

Jamaat puts emphasis on restoring caretaker government system to ensure free, fair and participatory election

-Dr. Syed Abdullah Mohammad Taher

A pre-scheduled meeting between the visiting delegation of European Union and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami held on 15th July, Saturday. Jamaat-e-Islami’s Nayeb-e-Ameer and former MP Dr. Syed Abdullah Mohammad Taher led the Jamaat delegation. Jamaat’s Acting Secretary General Maulana ATM Masum, central publicity and media secretary Advocate Matiur Rahman Akanda and noted academician Professor Dr. Abdur Rab were in the same delegation. Following the meeting, Dr. Taher briefed the journalists about the meeting discussions:

“The visiting delegation of European Union is observing the current political situation of Bangladesh. Already they met leaders of different political parties. We had received their invitation letter and gave consent to meet them today. Accordingly, 4-member delegation of Jamaat-e-Islami held a meeting with the EU delegates. In the meeting, we have exchanged views with them about present political situation, upcoming election and also about some issues like how to ensure a free, fair and credible election under a caretaker government and how to create a level playing field during the election.

We categorically told them that the elections of 2014 and 2018, which had held under the current regime, were not elections but farce. They want to do another farcical election. As you know that, in 2014 election, 154 ruling party candidates became uncontested winner even before the election. If a majority of party is ensured in the parliament even before the election, then it can never be defined as election. We took part in 2018 election. Prior to that election, the Premier promised to conduct a fair and credible election. But that election also took place in the previous night of the election day. It added a new stigma in the political history of the world. The elections of 2014 and 2018 clearly proved that, fair election is neither possible under the current regime nor under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina.

From that perspective, we have said that the upcoming national election is extremely important for the sake of democracy, existence and establishing rights of the people of Bangladesh. The country will survive if the following election attains credibility. So, next election to be held under a caretaker or a neutral government. Without such government, the people of Bangladesh will not accept any election under a political regime.

Today, at noon a scheduled rally of Jamaat-e-Islami Sylhet city was supposed to be held in Sylhet. The city Jamaat applied to metropolitan police seeking their assistance several das back. We also conducted massive campaign both in the street, online and offline. But local police authority informed us last evening about their denial of permission. Reacting to such move, city Jamaat declared a press meeting in a city hotel this noon. But police, went to the spot and cordoned off the building and forced the hotel authority to cancel their booking. Later, city Jamaat arranged the press conference in a limited space and time at our city office.

Sylhet city Jamaat declared the new time schedule for the same rally on next Friday. We are a law-binding party. As the authority denied the permission today, we did not go for any violation of order. We also have another scheduled rally in Chittagong on 22nd July. We also submitted an application and expecting that the police and local authority will allow us to hold the meeting on time.

Earlier on last 10th June, we hold a rally in Dhaka’s Engineers Institution. We thought that the government became a bit democratic. But in Sylhet they repeated their same autocratic approach. The government is not allowing parties to hold meeting just 4 months before the election, how will they make fair and inclusive election? They are not allowing us to open our offices as well. We shared all these issues with the EU delegates and they became agreed with us in a diplomatic language.

They sought our views on sending observer during the election. We told them, we always welcome observer during an election if it held freely and fairly. But if the election looks like a farce, then those foreign observers will be used to legitimize the election. It is not suitable for their dignified position as well.

Replying to a query, Dr. Taher said, Bangladesh had witnessed dialogue earlier but those were not fruitless. For an effective discussion, a strong base is required. The dialogue will be fruitful if it discusses about the election process or the neutral government’s outline. Jamaat has previously took part in the elections in 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008 with the party symbol Dari Palla. Jamaat got registration in 2008. But later, the way, they killed our leaders, imprisoned our more than one hundred thousand leaders and activists, similarly they cancelled our registration. We have appealed against the decision and the issue is pending the appellate division. If justice is ensured, we are hopeful to get back our registration. Some quarters often alleged that Jamaat has lost its registration so, the party has no right to hold meeting and rallies. It is absurd. There no connection of having registration and availing the constitutional rights of holding meetings and processions.

Jamaat does not believe in violence. Jamaat-e-Islami is a well-organized, democratic and moderate Islamic organization. There is no secret understanding or negotiation between Jamaat-e-Islami and the government. Regarding relations with BNP, Dr. Taher said, Jamaat was in the simultaneous movement with BNP. They declared 10 points demands and similarly we also declared the same programs. But immediate after that declaration, police arrested our party Ameer. We brought out procession against such arrest. The government attacked on the procession. But BNP did not issue any protest statement neither for our Ameer nor for the government’s repression. So, naturally, our activists became shocked. They did not communicate with us about the next courses of programs as well. We are doing anti-government movement. BNP is doing the same movement from their position. We hope to meet all the anti-government parties including BNP in the next phase of the movement.