Conflicts & War

Bangladesh opposition denounces arrest of top leaders ahead of mass rally

Dhaka, Dec 9 (EFE).- The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) denounced Friday the arrest of two of its top leaders, including general secretary Mirza Fakhrul, a day before a mass anti-government rally.

The arrest occurred early morning as plainclothes officers showed up at the houses of Fakhrul, and standing committee member Mirza Abbas, BNP spokesperson Zahir Uddin Shwapan told EFE.

“Police did not give any reason why they were taken away and only said that they had been picked up on the order of a higher authority,” Shwapan said.

According to Fakhrul’s wife, Rahat Ara Begum, four policemen arrived at their home in the evening and took him away.

“They told us two to three cases were filed against him between yesterday and the day before yesterday,” she was heard saying in a video posted on the Facebook page of BNP Media Cell.

Harun-ur-Rashid, the chief of the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told reporters that Fakhrul and Abbas had been detained for interrogation in connection with Wednesday’s clash, in which he claimed 50-60 police personnel were critically injured.

“Mirza Fakhrul and Mirza Abbas both are now in our (…) custody. We are interrogating them. After interrogation we can tell what decision will be taken about them,” he said.

On Wednesday, at least one person died and dozens were injured in a clash between police and BNP members outside the party’s headquarters in the Bangladeshi capital.

Fakhrul is currently the top-most opposition leader in the absence of the party president, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, and her exiled son Tarique Rahman.

Zia, who was imprisoned for 10 years on a corruption charge, is banned from engaging in political activities or leaving the country after her conditional release in March on government orders.

The alleged arrest of Fakhrul and Abbas came the day before BNP’s scheduled mass rally in Dhaka, in protest against rising commodity prices, and demanding the unconditional release of Zia and the formation of an interim government during the time of elections.

The United Nations and the United States are among a list of international agencies and countries that have expressed concern over the violence ahead of the BNP demonstration.

“Bangladesh authorities must guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and refrain from using excessive force against protesters,” tweeted UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule. EFE


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