Background Reports on Bangladesh Available
Following the January 11 imposition of a state of emergency in Bangladesh and the postponement of the planned January 22 elections, Freedom House is providing background information on the state of political rights and civil liberties in the country.
Under the state of emergency, some basic constitutional rights, including those of freedom of speech, assembly, and movement, have been suspended. Private print and broadcast media outlets have been given verbal orders not to broadcast news that is critical of the government. President Iajuddin Ahmed, who was also serving as head of the interim government tasked with conducting the elections, has resigned, and a new interim head of government has been sworn in.
The announcement follows months of escalating political tension between the ruling coalition and the main opposition Awami League party over the conduct of the forthcoming elections. Wide scale public demonstrations and strikes paralyzed many urban centers and led to the deaths of over 40 people in related violence. In recent weeks, the Awami League announced a poll boycott, claiming that under present circumstances the elections would not be free or fair. International observers such as the UN and EU had also refused to monitor the elections.
Bangladesh ranks as Partly Free in the 2006 edition of the organization’s annual survey, Freedom in the World; the country received a rating of 4 (on a scale of 1 to 7) for political rights and another 4 for civil liberties. Areas in which the country performs poorly in the survey include functioning of government, corruption, media freedom, and the rule of law.
Dr. Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Freedom House’s South Asia analyst, is available for comment.
For more information about Bangladesh, visit:
Freedom House, an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Bangladesh since 1972.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.