Activists and exponents of Bangladesh Nationalist Party demanded the release of their leader Khaleda Zia. The woman is serving a sentence of five years in prison for corruption. NGOs report arbitrary arrests to damage political opponents.
Dhaka (AsiaNews / Agencies) - About 200 members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have been arrested throughout the country. The police stopped them yesterday while participating in demonstrations demanding the release of Khaleda Zia, the historical charismatic leader of the party, currently in jail to serve a five-year prison sentence on corruption charges.
The news was spread by Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, the party's general secretary, who denounced: "The police arrested leaders [of the party] and activists who were going to our peaceful 'human chains' in front of the National Press Association in Dhaka and in several other districts, including Gazipur, Bagerhat, and Meherpur. "
The secretary reports that the rallies had been authorized by the government, which had granted permission to run human chains in support of the party leader, the first woman elected prime minister of Bangladesh in 1991. Then there was a turnaround of the authorities, who allowed the arrest of members of the BNP "without any provocation, since the demonstrations were peaceful everywhere".
In Bangladesh, a democratic republic with a Muslim majority, politics is mostly dominated by two women: Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League Party, the current premier, and Khaleda Zia, of the BNP. For some time human rights organizations have been denouncing arbitrary arrests and artfully created charges to harm the current political opponent. Last February, when Zia was transferred to prison after reading the corruption sentence, at least 3,000 members of the BNP were imprisoned throughout the territory. Even then, Mirza Fakhrul Alamgir, the party's general secretary, had denounced the attempt by Prime Minister Hasina to "keep the BNP out of politics".