Human Rights Advocates Urge Bangladesh to Stop Harassing Opposition

Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Bangladesh government to stop the widespread crackdown on and the fake charges against the opposition as the country is preparing for general elections in 2023.

Sheikh Hasina BangladeshHuman Rights Watch called on the Bangladesh government of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, to stop harassing opposition. (Photo: Russell Watkins/U.K. Department for International Development, Flickr, License)“Mass arrests and police raids of opposition party members’ homes raise serious concerns about violence and intimidation ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections,” the New York-based watchdog said.

It called on the authorities in Dhaka to respect the rule of law and protect the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly of the political opposition.

Since August, four people have died and hundreds have been wounded in clashes with riot police and ruling Awami League supporters during demonstrations organized mostly by supporters of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) over long power cuts.

The demonstrators are also demanding the elections be conducted under a neutral caretaker government.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s political opponents have then been accused of human rights abuses and protesters held demonstrations across the country in the past months over long power cuts.

Police have raided the homes of opposition members and have harassed them. In a video that went viral last month, one of the leaders of Jubo League - the youth wing of the ruling Awami League party - threatened that if the BNP protests are not dealt with, then “we will start the raids.”

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly said that Bangladesh is a mature democracy capable of conducting elections and a peaceful transition of power, but instead previous polls have been marked by violence, attacks on the opposition, and voter intimidation,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These recent cases of political attacks and arrests set an ominous tone for the upcoming parliamentary elections.”

Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan called the HRW report “100 percent a political propaganda against Bangladesh” in an interview with Anadolu Agency. “Our human rights situation is far better than in many other countries,” Said Khan.