More protests against Prime Minister Hasina after clashes with the police
Over the weekend, police used tear gas and rubber bullets against opposition supporters. For months, the main opposition party has been calling for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s resignation ahead of elections in January 2024. Western diplomats issued a joint statement following attacks against an independent candidate.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Political unrest continues in Bangladesh after police used tear gas and rubber bullets over the weekend against opposition supporters who had blocked the main streets of the capital Dhaka demanding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s resignation
Scores of people were injured and at least 120 were arrested. According to local newspapers, the police violated the privacy rights of protesters by checking their mobile phones.
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) plans to hold another rally in the capital today, after agreeing to 26 conditions imposed by the Metropolitan Police, including not to broadcast speeches by people who have been sentenced to prison.
The latter is a clear reference to former prime minister and BNP leader Khaleda Zia, convicted on corruption charges, and other members of her party arrested in recent months.
The BNP has been holding protests over the past year, demanding that a caretaker government be put in place to oversee the next general election, in January 2024.
Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets against the ruling Awami League, but despite pressure, including from abroad, Hasina is unwilling to resign.
“We have no objection to any movement,” the prime minister said today, but she insisted that her government would not tolerate any violence.
At a ceremony honouring public servants, she urged the latter not to fear a bit of upheaval as long as the people continue to support her government.
Last Friday, Awami League supporters also held peaceful rallies and did not clash with BNP protesters.
At a rally on the same day, BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said that a “fair election under this government” was impossible because “Every important institution of the country has been destroyed and people’s rights have been taken away. Price hikes of every essential have made people’s lives miserable.”
Prime Minister Hasina came to power in 2009. Since then, she has been accused of rigging the elections in 2014 and 2018, imposing authoritarian control over the state, and repeatedly violating human rights, including suppressing freedom of speech and cracking down on all forms of dissent.
A couple of weeks ago, an independent candidate, Hero Alam was attacked during a by-election in Dhaka. After the incident, 13 Western embassies issued a joint statement condemning the incident.
In response, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, summoned western envoys to express his disappointment at the "undiplomatic behaviour” for interfering in the internal affairs of the host country.
In late May, the United States announced a new visa policy for Bangladeshi citizens whereby entry to the US would be denied to anyone who obstructs the election process in Bangladesh.
According to some observers, this move, despite difficulties of implementation, is meant to encourage free and democratic elections in the South Asian country.
(Sumon Corraya contributed to this article)