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

Coal transportation projects would see dozens of trains filled with Powder River Basin coal — one of the world’s largest deposits of the fuel — wind through hundreds of American communities every day.

California lawmakers just passed new limits on how police can use drones, but some argue that only legitimizes their use and that police shouldn't have them at all.

Rock the boat. Maybe the people in it will wake up and start rowing

The 2014 Human Rights Risk Atlas reveals the extent that rural and indigenous workers globally are facing land grabs and displacement as civil rights get sacrificed for low-cost resources and labor.

Heirs to the Standard Oil fortune join a campaign that will withdraw a total of $50 billion from fossil fuels, including from tar sands funds.

If you're planning to take to the streets in New York City or elsewhere this week, know that today's IMSI technology used by police or the FBI could greatly affect the privacy of your cell phone and protest communications.

Posted 6 days 1 hour ago

Shifting toward community-based renewable power is a strong thread running through Scotland's Radical Independence Campaign, and a free Scotland could inspire other countries to relinquish their fossil fuel addiction.

Posted 6 days 21 hours ago

The history of resistance movements shows that when 3.5% of a population mobilizes on an issue, no government can withstand it – and organizers hope the climate justice movement can reach that level.

Posted 4 days 23 hours ago

This weekend I won’t be marching for the climate, but I won’t be sitting around doing nothing either – I’ll be at the sixth annual Australian Climate Action Summit in Queensland delivering some inconvenient truths.

Posted 4 days 23 hours ago

Using social media and alternative news networks, activists and citizen journalists have found new ways to tell Americans the real story – it's immediate, it's personal, its electronic and its everywhere.

Posted 6 days 1 hour ago

The tracking system would give the agency access to vast amounts of information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers.

Amid speculation that she might run against Hillary Clinton in 2016, firebrand senator attacks regulators for multiple failings.

On this edition of “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown”, Ellen speaks with leading protagonists helping individual citizens take matters into their own hands

The CIA is reportedly planning on handing the controversial drone program over to the Pentagon.

Meet the Contractors Turning America's Police Into a Paramilitary Force

L3 Communications embodies the totality of the national security and surveillance state. Harris Corporation and B12 are also companies whose highly developed spy technology threatens our civil liberties.

Sign Up