Bangladesh elections: Violent crackdown and opposition boycott leave voters in fear as country goes to polls
Sunday 05 January 2014
Bangladeshi voters are due to go to the polls today in a much-disputed election marred by fresh violence over the weekend.
At least three people were killed in clashes and dozens of polling stations were burned before voting began yesterday, with the opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), calling a two-day national strike over the weekend in order to boycott an election it branded a "scandalous farce".
The boycott makes it increasingly likely that the protests and political violence that resulted in more than over 275 deaths last year will continue.
Much of the capital, Dhaka, has been cut off from the rest of the country in recent weeks as the main opposition presses its demands through general strikes and transport blockades.
Police said three people were killed early yesterday in clashes in rural Bangladesh, as violence flared after a number of days of relative calm. Authorities also confirmed that at least 10 people were injured when BNP activists hurled bombs at a railway station , set a train compartment on fire in the northern town of Natore and left two buses ablaze in the port city of Chittagong.
Since Friday there have been at least 100 arson attacks on polling stations across the country, said Bangladesh's election committee yesterday. Many of the stations are housed in schools, offices and other civic buildings.
Tens of thousands of government troops have been deployed to maintain order after claims that opposition supporters have been killed in police shootings and dozens of commuters killed or injured in petrol bombings against strikebreaking buses. The BNP is demanding that the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, make way for a neutral caretaker administration to oversee the election.
Ms Hasina's refuses to do so, but the Awami League is likely to secure a landslide victory; the BNP boycott has ensured that over half of parliamentary seats have been "filled" due to there being only one candidate.
"I want to go to vote, but I am afraid of violence. If the situation is normal and my neighbours go, I may go," Hazera Begum, a teacher in Dhaka told the Associated Press. "Political forces with extreme views could emerge in the face of government crackdown and repressive measures," said Asif Nazrul, a law teacher and analyst.
Khaleda Zia, head of the BNP, says she is under house arrest – a charge that Ms Hasina denies. Hundreds of BNP supporters have reportedly been detained, along with members of the BNP's Islamist ally, Jamaat-e-Islami.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Mick Jagger denies being World Cup curse and reason for Brazil’s embarrassing defeat
Israel-Gaza crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad urgently seeks a qualif...
£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BI CONSULTA...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + 36 days holiday and more: Deerfoot IT Resources Li...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...