We must not be distracted by the drama of reported differences of opinion within the Jatiya Party about HM Ershad’s detention at the Combined Military Hospital.
The JP chairman has clearly stated that he is not ill and is being unlawfully detained.
We condemn this illegal confinement and call for his immediate release.
Law enforcers took Ershad to the CMH on Thursday night. The commanding officer of Rab-1 said Rab was only providing a security escort to Ershad for his journey to hospital after he had fallen sick.
Ershad’s statement on Friday that he is being detained for arrest has been discussed by some media in the context of reports about splits within his party on his decision to withdraw from the election.
Such speculation deflects from the fundamental right at stake here. A citizen has been detained against his will without any legal justification.
Official excuses that he has been confined for his health do not only ring untrue, but smack of media manipulation and newspeak.
This confinement cannot be justified in any way. It is a disturbing breach of basic rights.
Even worse is the fact that it seems apparent that he has been detained to prevent him and his party members from withdrawing their candidacies for the upcoming election. Forced participation in an election is a first, as far as we are aware, and does nothing for the credibility of the electoral process.
We have editorialised earlier that Ershad’s participation in the election, or lack thereof, should not, in and of itself, determine the acceptability of the elections. But forcibly detaining him in a transparent move to keep him and his party members from withdrawing does serious damage to the credibility of the polls and makes a mockery of government claims that they can be trusted to oversee the process.