Over the past 21 years, SHUJAN has undertaken a wide array of initiatives with the goal of promoting democracy, development, and good governance in the country. These efforts have yielded numerous successes in various domains. It’s worth noting, however, that many of these achievements were the product of not just SHUJAN’s endeavour but also those of like-minded organizations and even political entities, making them the result of collective efforts. That being said, SHUJAN has made significant strides in a multitude of areas, showcasing its unique achievements. A chronological list of SHUJAN’s noteworthy milestones is given below:
Year 2002: On November 12, Citizens for Fair Elections started its journey appointing Late Professor Mozaffar Ahmed and Dr. Badiul Alam Mazumdar as convener and member secretary respectively.
Year 2003: 1.An information-based voter empowerment program was introduced for the first time that collected data on of 55 Unions’ candidates contesting in the Union Parishad elections, distributed comparative statements among voters, and organized Candidate-Voter Face-to-Face events; 2. Renamed itself Citizens for Good Governance.
Year 2004: 1.Implemented information-based voter empowerment activities like union council elections in municipal elections (the Act was not enacted then); 2. Roundtable meeting on political reform organized by SHUJAN, Prothom Alo, and The Daily Star at The Daily Star Auditorium marked the beginning of a reform movement; 3. Organizing roundtable discussions on various important issues, including various national policy-making issues, began and continues to this day.
Year 2005: 1.A political reform proposal was unveiled to the nation on 10 April during a roundtable meeting jointly organized by SHUJAN, Prothom Alo, and The Daily Star. The proposal outlined various crucial measures such as compulsory registration of political parties interested to participate in the election, preparation of a photographic electoral roll, deposit of political party funds in specific bank accounts, and the submission of income-expenditure audit reports to the Election Commission every year. Additionally, the proposal called for the nomination of candidates in a democratic manner based on the opinions of grassroots workers, the introduction of a ‘no vote’ provision, and proposals to decrease election expenses, among others; 2. SHUJAN started its advocacy to legally bind the candidates to provide their information in their affidavits; 3. During Sunamganj-3 by-election held in July, a comparative statement based on eight information provided by candidates in their affidavits, as directed by the High Court, was distributed among voters. This was the first of its kind initiative, aimed at providing voters with important information to make an informed decision during the election.
Year 2006: 1.SHUJAN organized its first national conference on 16 September; 2. Election Olympiad and an election reform debate were organized to mobilize and engage youth in the political process. Media partners were Channel I, Prothom Alo, and The Daily Star.
Year 2007: 1.A draft proposing multiple reforms to amend the primary electoral law, Representation of the People Order, 1972, was submitted to the Election Commission. Many of these proposals were adopted by the Commission and incorporated into the revised Representation of the People Order; 2. SHUJAN (www.shujan.org) and Votebd (www.votebd.org) websites were launched, with the latter being an election information website; 3. The Election Commission, in response to allegations of more than one crore bogus voters being included in the voter list, declined to provide CDs of the electoral roll to SHUJAN. Subsequently, SHUJAN created a database from the available information and published it on its website. The information presented on SHUJAN’s website was used as evidence in the High Court’s voter list case, leading to the court ordering a new voter list; 4. The renowned US magazine ‘Time’ referred to us as ‘Democracy Activists’ for our efforts in creating and publishing a database that contained the information of millions of voters. Despite immense pressure from the government to hand over the database, SHUJAN refused to comply; 5. To ascertain the precision of the contentious electoral roll, Brati, Development Coordination, PPRC, and SHUJAN conducted a comprehensive survey in various upazilas throughout the country, which revealed inaccuracies in the list of voters; 6. SHUJAN presented a prototype to the relevant authorities to determine the feasibility of creating an electoral roll with photographs. As a consequence, Dr. Shamsul Huda, heading the Election Commission, with assistance from the Bangladesh Army, accomplished the exceptional feat of producing a dependable voter list featuring photographs; 7. As a result of SHUJAN’s advocacy, the ‘Local Government Strengthening and Mobilization Committee’ was established, and SHUJAN Secretary was appointed as one of the seven members of the committee. The Committee revised all the Local Government Acts according to the proposed consolidated law for local governments and the introduction of a rotational system in reserved seats. However, the succeeding government did not fully adopt the proposed changes; 8. Due to SHUJAN’s efforts, voters in Bangladesh are now entitled to access information about candidates running for elections through their affidavits. SHUJAN played a distinctive part in maintaining the judgment by revealing the fraudulent data of the relevant parties and presenting it to the court, following an appeal filed in absolute confidentiality by a miscreant named Abu Safa. The objective of the appeal was to distort a ground-breaking decision on information-driven voter empowerment that was issued by a bench of the Bangladesh High Court, presided over by Justice M A Matin. Consequently, the candidates running for elections are mandated to provide information in the form of an affidavit along with their nomination papers; 9. SHUJAN’s Secretary Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar hosted two talk shows on Bangladesh Television – ‘Jantaar Katha’ (20 episodes), based on public participation, and ‘Bhabbar Bishoy’ (30 episodes), based on citizens’ opinions. The shows were aimed at fostering public support for democracy and good governance; 10. SHUJAN, with the assistance of Mass Literacy Campaign, organized a talk show called ‘Shikshar Chalchitra’ that focused on education. This show, consisting of 37 episodes, was broadcasted on Channel I and moderated by Prof. Mozaffar Ahmed, the President of SHUJAN.
Year 2008: 1. Due to SHUJAN’s persistent advocacy, all local government laws and regulations have now included the provision to disclose information on candidates’ affidavits, with the exception of the Representation of the People Ordinance and the Union Parishad; 2. Information-based voter empowerment program was implemented in the four city corporations and nine municipal elections, which relied on legally binding affidavit data to provide information. Prothom Alo, The Daily Star, and Channel I were media partners in this program; 3. Received Manthan Award for Votebd website given by Digital Empowerment Foundation under the E-content category; 4. Distributed comparative statements of the candidates contesting in the 9th National Parliament election covering all the constituencies (299) and organized Candidate-Voter Face-to-Face events in 87 constituencies; 5. SHUJAN took the initiative to translate the Revised Public Representation Order of 1972 into Bangla, and subsequently, a book titled ‘Parliament Election Related Act’ was published, which was edited by SHUJAN’s Secretary Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar.
Year 2009: For the first time, information-based voter empowerment activities were carried out during the Upazila Parishad elections.
Year 2010: Proposing a requirement for candidates contesting in Union Parishad elections to provide information in their affidavit, Secretary of the Central Committee, SHUJAN including SHUJAN leaders filed a public interest case. However, on the day of the verdict, the bench was dissolved due to the appointment of senior justice Iman Ali to the Appellate Division, and the case was reassigned to a new bench. Nevertheless, a writ in November 2022 prompted the High Court to advise the Election Commission to mandate the submission of affidavits by candidates along with their nomination papers for all future Union Parishad elections.
Year 2011: Candidate-Voter Face-to-Face event was organized in 235 Union during the Union Parishad election.
Year 2012: Published a book containing the candidates’ information given in the affidavits, contesting in the 9th National Assembly election.
Year 2013: 1. A book waspublished based on the information of the elected chairman and vice chairmen in the upazila parishad election; 2. The difference in income and wealth of the candidates elected in the 9th National Election, holding important positions in the government between the two election periods was presented during a press conference; 3.Launched the Facebook page of SHUJAN (www.facebook.com/shujan.bd); 4. At the national conference of SHUJAN, the National Charter’s outline was presented, which identified areas of political compromise; 4. Organized citizen dialogue and gatherings addressing the security concern of the minority communities in Barishal, Khulna, Bagerhat, Gaibandha, Rangpur, Dinajpur, and Netrokona.
Year 2014: 1. Distributed comparative statement of candidates contesting in the election of 123 Upazila Parishad and organized Candidate-Voter Face-to-Face event; 2. SHUJAN did not conduct their regular activities related to the election due to the one-sided parliamentary election. However, it prepared comparative statements of the candidates of the contested constituencies using the affidavits and income tax returns submitted with their nomination papers. This statement was later published on the Votebd website; 3. Published evaluation report on the 10th National Parliament Election on the SHUJAN’s website.
Year 2015: 1.For the first time, Liberation War Olympiad was organized; 2. With the assistance of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), SHUJAN and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) jointly conducted a study on vote buying and selling in Bangladesh; 3.
Year 2016: 1.Court instructed Election Commission to provide information of the political parties’ income and expenditure following the verdict of a case filed by SHUJAN; 2. Organized three press conferences regarding the Zila Parishad election.
Year 2017: Nationwide celebration of SHUJAN’s fifteenth anniversary
Year 2018: 1.During the 11th National Parliament Election, Election Olympiad in various colleges and universities of 30 constituenciesand one Election Olympiad at the national level were organized to raise awareness among the first-time voter; 2. During the 11th National Parliament Election, SHUJAN organized 37 Candidate-Voter Face-to-Face events, arranged 31 press conferences in 29 constituencies and Dhaka, distributed comparative statements among the voters in 73 constituencies, carried out cultural campaign in 52 constituencies, formed human chain in 42 constituencies, and conducted social media campaign reaching out to 35 lac people; 3. The latest edition of the book, titled ‘Parliament Election Related Act’ was published. The book was edited by SHUJAN’s Secretary Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar; 4.Workshop on the Right to Information in Dhaka and Mymensingh was organized to create a pool of activists who would lead the Right to Information movement throughout the country. This activity has been continued and expanded over a period of time.
Year 2019: SHUJAN compelled the Election Commission to publish the election result through its continued effort. Later, press conference was organized to present the analysis and incongruities of the 11th National Election result. Based on that, Prothom Alo published five articles consecutively. It was evident from the center-wise result that the Election Commission manipulated the election result.
Year 2020: 1. Amid the pandemic, SHUJAN continued its operations and various public awareness activities such as roundtable discussion, dialogue, and press conferences using virtual platform. During this period, E-newsletter was published for the first time to document the activities of the organization; 2. Initiatives were taken to build coronavirus resilient community.
Year 2021: 1. Realizing the importance of formulating an Act to ensure the appointment of competent, principled, and courageous Election Commission Officials, SHUJAN took the initiative to draft the ‘Act to Appoint Chief Election Commission and Election Commission 2021’. The draft law was formulated in consultation with prominent citizens and intellectuals and presented to the public through a roundtable meeting on 04 October 2021. Following extensive deliberations, SHUJAN’s representatives submitted a copy of the proposed Act to the Law Minister for further consideration; 2. Two books were published based on the information of the candidates contesting in the 10th and 11th National Parliament Election.
Year 2021-2022: With the assistance of the Asia Foundation, a group of journalists received training on the National Integrity Strategy and Investigative Journalism. Sixty members of SHUJAN from 60 districts also participated and had the opportunity to develop their skills in these areas.
Year 2022: 1.To ensure transparency of the ‘Investigation Committee’, entrusted with the tasks to appoint Election Commission officials, SHUJAN Secretary, Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar filed an application under the Right to Information Act to the Cabinet Division. However, after failing to receive a response from the Cabinet Division, he filed a complaint with the Information Commission. If the complaint is dismissed by the Information Commission, preparations will be made to take further action; 2. A discussion meeting on the election manifesto was organized jointly with CPD in Rangpur, Rajshahi, Khulna, and Barisal cities. The meeting was attended by the Honourable Minister of Commerce and State Minister for Water Resources.