JBS Vol 18. Num 1_2. 2016 - Managing Political Violence

Tazeen M Murshid

The right to freedom from violence is a human right. All violence is political in that violence is both the cause and result of unequal power relations; i.e., the stronger violates the weaker. Certain forms of political violence are linked directly to the political process such as the transfer of power, elections and political participation. Conflict arises when there is resistance to powerful groups who seem to unfairly manipulate the political system to capture and hold on to power. The inability of the state to mediate between competing interests as an impartial arbitrator can create a vacuum wherein anarchic tendencies grow; the values of freedom, tolerance and pluralism are compromised, permitting unfettered mindless gratuitous violence and opening inroads to the politics of radicalism among the excluded and marginalised. Political violence thus needs to be managed with the objective of eradicating it. This paper studies political violence in the context of the electoral process. It explores changing trends in the electoral cycle from 1991 to 2001 and the controversy over the caretaker government in 1996 and 2014. It is based largely on field work involving content analysis of newspapers and focus group discussions conducted in Dhaka. It suggests that the state must create an enabling environment through compromise and cooperation while rejecting a monolithic partisan approach to governance in order to restore trust, political certainty and confidence in inclusive participation. This would facilitate the protection and preservation of human rights.

political violence
impartial arbitrator
political uncertainty
inclusion and exclusion