Bangladesh: Government wants to keep the Bar Association under its control

Untoward incidents took place yet again during the Supreme Court Bar Association election. BNP’s legal affairs secretary Kayser Kamal, in an interview with Prothom Alo’s Monzurul Islam, talks in detail about the issue.

Prothom Alo : Voting was carried off smoothly at the recent Supreme Court Bar Association, but turmoil broke out during the vote counting. There were attacks, cases and arrests. As a lawyer of the Supreme Court, how do you view the matter?

Kayser Kamal: There is a backdrop to the turmoil that took place centering the Supreme Court Bar Association election that took place this time. Such intervention in the election of the Supreme Court Bar Association began in 2022. The BNP-backed candidate Barrister Ruhul Kuddus Kajal secured more votes than his rival candidate and was elected secretary. However, the lawyers of the ruling party camp did not allow those results to be announced.

We stood actively against this incident. A year passed in this manner. Then the 2023 election came up. All sorts of irregularities cropped up from the very outset of that election. We protested. The police entered the Bar Association building and indiscriminately beat up the lawyers and journalists. The pro-government lawyers held a one-sided election and announced themselves leaders of the Bar Association.

This time we were reassured that a fair election could be held. However, that promise was not kept. In the two days of voting, large numbers of fake votes were cast. Even so, there were all indications that we would win the election. That is why we did not move away from the election. But a fresh drama was staged during the counting of votes.

Prothom Alo : Many say that the incidents that took place in the Supreme Court Bar Association election this time, were a result of the division among the lawyers. What would you say?

Kayser Kamal: We had come to know that the BNP-backed lawyers would win the entire panel this time. The government-backed lawyers created all sort of obstructions to prevent this. We feel that the attacks and cases during the vote counting were a part of this.

We were not a part of any clashes or conflict. Even then, Ruhul Kuddus Kajal was arrested. The number one accused in the case is a lawyer of the Awami League camp.