May 14, 2021

The police are angry with the opposition in Bangladesh

The police are angry with the opposition in Bangladesh

Rawshan Ara was surprised when on the night of December 14 a score of police officers knocked on her door in search of her husband, the candidate of the opposition Nationalist Party of Bangladesh (BNP) for the central constituency of Gopalganj, the same one for which it is presented. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"I asked them if they did not know that he is already in jail, so they started asking me some irrelevant questions before leaving the house," the wife of S.M. told Efe. Jilani, arrested in the vicinity of the High Court of Dhaka on November 5.

Three days before the announcement of the electoral calendar when a group of agents took Jilani, rival of the president of the governmental Awami League for the seat of Gopalganj, in relation to a case of an explosion in which initially was not accused.

The BNP points to the government for having put behind bars at least a dozen candidates and thousands of supporters of the party since last September, when they would have realized their intention to participate in the general elections next day 30.

The opposition, which boycotted the 2014 elections, denounces that it has not been able to carry out its campaign due to the excesses of the security forces, which not only star in a campaign of arrests against them, but have even attacked them without any provocation.

The deputy secretary general of the BNP, Mahbub Uddin Khokan, also a lawyer for the party leader and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zía, in jail after being sentenced to 17 years for corruption, states that on 16 December agents shot him with rubber balls during a act of campaign.

"One day I was looking for votes and distributing pamphlets with 1,000 or 1,500 supporters, suddenly we saw ten or twelve policemen headed by the local officer in charge and they intercepted us," Khokan told Efe.

The BNP's top official asked them to stop firing and if they had to do it, they should do it against him.

"As soon as I finished my words, the officer in charge fired on me, a bullet hit me in the throat and started to bleed," he recalled, warning that a "false protest" by the incident was then carried out by members. of the Awami League who posed as supporters of the BNP.

The police presented a case for the violent protest against leaders of the opposition formation and an individual petitioner did the same against 216 members and supporters, forcing them to flee.

However, the police claim that it is not doing any favor to the government party and argues that its measures are taken in accordance with the law.

"The Bangladeshi police acts following the legal procedure, the cases and the arrests are part of the regular activities of the Police," said the spokesman of the police headquarters, Sohel Rana, when he was willing to investigate if there was any concrete allegation about the no complacency with the legal procedure.

The reality of which the relatives of the arrested ones speak is often very different to the police version.

On November 26, a group of plainclothes strangers took Rabiul Awal Sohag, an activist and supporter of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), an ally of the BNP, from near his home in the eastern district of Comilla.

His wife, Khadiza Akter, explained to Efe how they contacted the police, the Rapid Action Battalion and the Detective Branch (DB), but all denied having arrested him.

"In the second week of December we received an anonymous call saying that he was in the DB office in Dhaka, we could see him after three days, before the police took him to court on December 12," Akter said.

Sohag, a content producer for various websites, was accused of spreading rumors under the controversial Digital Security Law, passed by Hasina last September amid criticism for restricting freedom of expression and giving rise to use against the opposition.

"The Awami League Executive has been systematically attacking independent and opposition voices to ensure that the government party faces no obstacle to full political control," the Asia director of Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Sunday. Brad Adams


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