Latest Bangladesh Protests Turn Violent Ahead of Boycotted Election

Search form

Latest Bangladesh Protests Turn Violent Ahead of Boycotted Election

Latest Bangladesh Protests Turn Violent Ahead of Boycotted Election
Tue, 12/31/2013
This article originally appeared on The Guardian

Violent clashes erupted in Bangladesh as opposition supporters took to the streets to protest against the general election next Sunday, which they are boycotting.

One person was killed as thousands of police took to the streets to try to foil the opposition rally. The leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP), Khaleda Zia, was prevented from leaving her home to attend the demonstration.

"The government is undemocratic and illegal. It should step down immediately," Zia said in front of her home. She said the "march for democracy" would continue on Monday.

The opposition says it will not take part in the vote on January 5 unless an interim government oversees it and the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, steps down. The boycott means more than half of the 300 parliament seats will go uncontested, undermining the legitimacy of the election and making it highly unlikely that it will do anything to restore stability in one of the world's poorest countries.

Opposition party officials say hundreds of their supporters have been detained across the country in recent days, and Dhaka is virtually cut off as authorities have suspended bus, rail and ferry services into the city.

Violence has gripped the country as Hasina and her ruling Awami League press ahead with the vote. Police said a 21-year-old student was killed in the Malibagh area of Dhaka when security officials fired rubber bullets to disperse the activists. Local media reported that more than 650 people had been detained since Friday as part of a nationwide crackdown.

More than 150 people have died in political violence in Bangladesh since the crisis intensified in October. The conflict pits an opposition alliance led by Zia's BNP against Hasina, who accuses Zia of protecting people being tried or convicted of war crimes involving the nation's 1971 independence war against Pakistan.

Jamaat-e-Islami, the main partner of Zia's party, wants the government to halt the war crimes trials of its leaders. Zia says the trials initiated by Hasina are politically motivated to weaken the opposition, an allegation the government has denied. Jamaat-e-Islami is banned from taking part in the election.

Dhaka's Daily Star newspaper said in an editorial on Sunday: "Too much blood has been spilled in these past many weeks. We demand a stop to such bloodletting."

Businesses have expressed concern, saying the conflict is affecting progress in the manufacturing sector, including a burgeoning garment industry that earns more than £12bn a year from exports.

Hasina and Khaleda, both related to former national leaders, have dominated politics in Bangladesh for more than two decades. The antagonism between them has frustrated attempts at reconciliation.

Article Tabs

Not simply individual guards should answer for this tragedy – but the leaders of private security companies and the governments that employ them must also be held to account.

After a year in which destruction of the world's largest rainforest rose 29%, the new Alto Maues reserve has 1.6 million acres of mostly untouched forests that are not known to have human presence.

The banks have exclusive access to more than 214,000 federal inmates under exclusive contracts awarded by the U.S. Treasury Department about 15 years ago

Toss-up races like Kansas and South Dakota may be the ones that decide whether or not Republicans take control of the U.S. Senate.

Some critics say that the "militarization of the police" is happening right in front of our eyes – but if the Founding Fathers were so worried about a threat of domestic tyranny, how did we get here?

Florida has the highest foreclosure rate in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2014, and also has a "foreclosure king" who is now disbarred for his failure to oversee employees accused of carrying out wrongful foreclosures.

Posted 3 days 10 hours ago

Drug and device makers paid doctors $380 million in speaking and consulting fees over a five-month period last year – and saw a healthy return on their investment.

Posted 6 days 8 hours ago

As of September 19, 181 institutions and local governments and 656 individuals representing over $50 billion in assets have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

Posted 6 days 8 hours ago

Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) is a grassroots group taking the lead to combat systemic racism and build a people's economy in St. Louis.

Posted 6 days 8 hours ago

Punishing local cuts are leaving communities up in arms as the removal of vital school road patrol service – known as the lollipop ladies – could go into effect.

Posted 6 days 8 hours ago

The banks have exclusive access to more than 214,000 federal inmates under exclusive contracts awarded by the U.S. Treasury Department about 15 years ago

The nation's richest family is funding nearly two dozen organizations working to roll back renewable energy policies, while pushing for regulations aimed at hindering the growth of rooftop solar power.

Drug and device makers paid doctors $380 million in speaking and consulting fees over a five-month period last year – and saw a healthy return on their investment.

"Peoples' movements will either succeed in transforming our economic and political systems to build a new world, or we will burn with the old one."

After a year in which destruction of the world's largest rainforest rose 29%, the new Alto Maues reserve has 1.6 million acres of mostly untouched forests that are not known to have human presence.

Sign Up