The Hindu Buddhist Christian organization of Bangladesh Oikya Parishad (BHBCOP) held a press conference in Dhaka on November 20, during which the interfaith organization called for the national elections on January 7 to be fair, impartial and without violence.
BHBCOP general secretary Rana Dasgupta said minority communities in Bangladesh were fearful ahead of the elections and called for no violence during voting.
BHBCOP also requested that areas of Bangladesh that were home to minorities be identified as being at risk of violence so that additional security measures could be put in place – particularly in the two days before the elections – and for 15 days after voting.
Dasgupta urged voters not to vote for anyone accused of anti-community or anti-minority interest actions. He also said that the BHBCOP had organized a monitoring unit to observe the situation ahead of the elections.
On October 12, seven BHBCOP members met with the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Bangladesh and handed over a memorandum urging the commission to take measures to protect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities during imminent elections.
In response, the NHRC said it was concerned about the safety of religious and ethnic minority populations. The NHRC stressed that it will work to ensure that no human rights violations occur before, during or after the elections, and that people of all religions can vote freely and fairly.
On the same day, BHBCOP members also met Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal in Dhaka.
“I would say with sadness that while I am optimistic that the elections will take place in a free, fair and impartial environment with the participation of all, it has not been a pleasant two and a half years at all. crore (25 million) religious and ethnic minorities of this country in the past,” Dasgupta noted. (Bangladesh New Age)
The BHBCOP held a rally in front of the National Press Club on October 6, calling on the Awami League-led national government to implement the National Minorities Commission, one of the election promises outlined in the party's manifesto for the general elections of 2018. The Awami League's election manifesto included a section titled "Ethnic Groups, Religious Minorities and Backward Communities", which covered various commitments to the minorities of Bangladesh.
A mass rally of the BHBCOP was also planned on November 17 to call on the Awami League to fulfill its election campaign promises. But the rally did not take place. Dasgupta said this was due to security concerns, pointing out that many political parties had blocked strikes and staged violent protests across Bangladesh demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and the transfer of power to a caretaker government to supervise the general elections.