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Mass Detentions Reported in Bangladesh Ahead of Nationwide Strike


Bangladeshi rickshaw pullers pedal past riot police standing guard in front of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) office in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 29 Nov., 2010.

Bangladeshi rickshaw pullers pedal past riot police standing guard in front of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) office in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 29 Nov., 2010.

In Bangladesh, hundreds of opposition activists have been arrested ahead of a nationwide strike planned by the main opposition party. Meanwhile, the supreme court has rejected an appeal by the opposition leader against her eviction from a government home -- one of the key issues that have triggered the protest.

Officials of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party say the mass detention of its activists is aimed at foiling its plans to shut down the country, Tuesday. The party says more than 1,000 supporters have been arrested.

The police gave no numbers, but said arrests have been made, in recent days, to prevent violence.

Tuesday's strike is the second the BNP has called since its leader, Khaleda Zia, was evicted two weeks ago from her home of more than 30 years in a military cantonment. Zia, who has twice been prime minister, was evicted after a court deadline to vacate the house expired.

On Monday, the opposition suffered a setback when the supreme court rejected Zia's appeal against the eviction order.

But the opposition is pressing ahead with the strike. BNP spokesman Khandakar Delwar Hossain says the party has no option but to take recourse to street protests and shutdowns.

"It is very difficult, almost impossible, to get justice anywhere," Hossain said. "So they are suppressing the opposition and they are not solving the problems of the people."

The government has denied opposition allegations that the decision to evict Zia from her home was political.

But the issue has triggered political turmoil. At the heart of the latest standoff is a bitter rivalry between the country's two main political leaders -- Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina and opposition leader Zia. That rivalry has overshadowed the country's politics for decades.

Political analysts say the BNP will use the emotive of issue of Zia's eviction to rally support behind it at a time when rising prices have created a wave of popular discontent with the government. Zia has accused the police of forcibly evicting her from her home.

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