Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) patrol on the street during the dawn-to-dusk strike in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 29 October 2023. EFE/EPA/MONIRUL ALAM

Bangladesh opposition says police shot two activists dead

Dhaka, Oct 31 (EFE).- Bangladesh’s opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said two of its activists were shot dead by police on Tuesday as it enforced a nationwide three-day blockade to force the government to resign ahead of the general elections in January.

BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said in a statement that the two activists were killed in Kishoreganj district in Dhaka Division as the police opened fire at a protest rally in the morning.

“This brutal killing is cowardly. To keep the illegitimate Awami League government, the police are playing the role of executioner by trampling all the rules,” he said.

“Sheikh Hasina has given the police license to kill indiscriminately to stop the movement to restore democracy,” the BNP leader added, referring to Bangladesh’s ruling party and the prime minister.

Police confirmed one death in the clash that began around 8am in the Kuliarchar area of the central district.

“The demonstrators attacked police, and the police had to fire in self-defense. We learned about one death from the incident; 15-20 people were injured, including several police personnel,” Kishoreganj’s additional police superintendent Satyajit Ghosh told EFE.

BNP and local media also reported clashes in a few other areas of the country, including Narayanganj on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, as opposition activists blocked roads, rail, and waterways as part of their demonstrations.

Clashes erupted on Oct. 28 when police foiled a rally of the opposition party, attended by thousands of people in Dhaka.

An opposition activist and a policeman were killed in the resulting clashes, which also left over 100 people injured.

A reporter who fell from an autorickshaw that was hit by tear gas shells succumbed to his injuries later in the night, according to a journalists’ union.

BNP observed a strike on Sunday to protest police brutality against its activists during the rally and demand the resignation of the government.

Police arrested BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. the senior most BNP leader in the absence of ailing party chief Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman, on a murder charge on Sunday.

The government has banned Zia from participating in political activities after releasing her from jail in March 2020, while acting party chief Tarique has been in exile in the UK since 2008.

BNP said hundreds of its leaders and activists were arrested in a police crackdown after the foiled rally.

Rights Group Amnesty International said that the intensified crackdown on opposition party leaders and protesters over the weekend signaled an attempt at a “complete clampdown of dissent” in Bangladesh ahead of the general elections in January.

“The Bangladeshi authorities need to remember that it is not a crime to dissent, and they must respect everyone’s right to protest peacefully,” Amnesty International’s regional campaigner for South Asia, Yasasmin Kaviratne, said in a statement.

“The repeated cycle of killings, arrests, and repression in Bangladesh has deeply chilling implications on human rights in the country before, during and after the elections,” she added.

BNP said that more than 1,500 of its leaders and activists have been killed and 1,200 gone missing under Prime Minister Hasina, who has governed the country since 2009.

The Awami League and BNP have ruled Bangladesh since 1991, except for a brief quasi-military rule in 2007–08.