The government yesterday rejected the Bertelsmann Stiftung report which highlighted shrinking democratic practices in Bangladesh and said that the country is now under an autocratic rule.
The German-based think-tank conducted the study titled Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index on the quality of democracy, governance and market economy of 129 countries.
However, HT Imam, the political affairs adviser of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rubbished the claims when speaking to BBC Bangla Service. “It [the report] is motivated and baseless,” he said.
Bertelsmann Stiftung published the report on Friday which said Bangladesh is among five countries that no longer meet the minimum standards for a democracy and are now under autocratic rule.
The four other countries are Lebanon, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Uganda.
Democracy has been undermined in these five countries for years, and this is often due to the shortcomings in the quality of elections, the study said.
The assessment period for the study was from February 1, 2015 to January 31, 2017.
The report categorises 58 countries as autocracies while 71 as democracies. The last survey painted a better picture with 55 autocracies and 74 democracies.
Talking to the BBC, HT Imam raised questions about the information used to complete the survey.
“If the report is based on information from 2015, then that year unaccepted incidents took place in Bangladesh.
“Opposition party BNP started arson-attacks, common people were harassed and they [citizens] were killed and injured at different places,” he added.
According to the BBC report, Imam also said he had never heard about such a survey being conducted from those who work for democracy and election in Bangladesh.
On the Bertelsmann Stiftung report claims that the minimum standard of democracy has not been maintained in Bangladesh, HT Imam said, “Do we have to learn standard of democracy from the Germans? From the country of [Adolf] Hitler?”
Saying that the 2014 parliamentary election in Bangladesh was “held properly and participatory”, he said, “If the survey was conducted after that election then there might have been some other reasons behind it.”
“If you see talk-shows on televisions, isn't there any right to opinion there, no freedom? Nothing is censored in Bangladesh at all,” he further said.
Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said that the current government dislodged unconstitutional forces and protected democratic ones, reports BSS. He also criticised the report and termed it “biased”.
Meanwhile, BNP leader Mirza Fakhrul said it is shameful for Bangladesh that the country is now considered an autocracy.
The BNP leader said this while reacting to the report when addressing a press briefing at the party's Nayapaltan headquarters in Dhaka following a joint meeting with the senior leaders of front and associate bodies of the party.
The current government has taken the country to this level by practicing its autocratic rule, he said.
“Bangladesh is a country of autocracy and it is shameful for our nation,” said Fakhrul.
“For all these days, BNP has been saying democracy is absent in the country and that is now being proven to be true. The government's mask of autocracy has been unveiled,” he added.