Why this relentless assault on BNP?

Government must respect its freedom of assembly, and stop creating obstacles

We express our deep alarm at the tragic death of a BNP activist during a clash between police and BNP on Wednesday afternoon. We are not fully convinced that this could not have been avoided. From the toughening of its stance in recent times, it has become apparent that the government doesn't want to grant BNP its rights as a legitimate political party, as evidenced by stringent conditions placed on its choice of venue, restrictions on transport, mass arrests of BNP men, etc. At the Naya Paltan incident on Wednesday, according to witnesses, law enforcers fired teargas shells and short gun pellets to disperse BNP activists, who retaliated with brick chips. One person died while over 30 were reportedly injured. Over 200 men were allegedly picked up by law enforcers, including BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Rahul Kabir Rizvi.

The repeated promises – or rather threats – of "khela hobe!" (bring it on!) by prominent AL leaders have now become all the more ominous, with state apparatuses being used to methodically unlevel the playing field.

We cannot deny that BNP's movements in the past were occasionally marred by violence, but the rallies held in recent months have been mostly peaceful. Whatever violence we have witnessed was reportedly orchestrated or instigated by AL men to intimidate the opposition and impede the success of their mobilisations. Law enforcement agencies have played a rather partisan role during the whole period, acting as an extension of the ruling party, both in how they handled the protests and how they dealt with subsequent legal actions. Now, they are being used to pick up thousands of BNP supporters on flimsy grounds – including senior leaders, activists, their family members, field-level organisers and even drivers or assistants. At least 1,319 people were arrested on various charges across the country on Monday alone, under the pretext of a 15-day "special drive" ahead of Victory Day.

BNP has long claimed that "ghost" cases – filed, as per its estimate, against 6,723 leaders and activists of the party and 15,050 unnamed people between August and November – are ploys by the government to suppress its movement. An investigation into some of the cases has revealed serious discrepancies in the claims made by complainants and witnesses, lending credence to BNP's contention. Take, for instance, a recent case against a BNP activist who hasn't even been in the country for the last eight months, or another where three witnesses named by the police said they were coerced into signing statements naming BNP activists.

All these confirm that the ruling party is not living up to its commitment to help create a level playing field for the sake of free and fair elections. It has refused to respect the opposition's constitutional rights and created the perfect conditions for a violent eruption in the coming days, putting the safety of citizens at risk. This must stop. We urge the government to allow the opposition to exercise their freedom of assembly and relieve the citizens of this country, particularly this city, of having to live through a war zone and a needless bloodbath in the coming days.


৫০-১০০ বছর বয়সী ২ হাজার ৩৭৯টি গাছ কেটে সড়ক ‘উন্নয়ন’
৩৩ মিনিট আগে|বাংলাদেশ

৫০-১০০ বছর বয়সী ২ হাজার ৩৭৯টি গাছ কেটে সড়ক ‘উন্নয়ন’

টাঙ্গাইল শহরের কাগমারী মোড় থেকে শ্মশান ঘাট পর্যন্ত রাস্তার দুপাশে গাছ কাটা চলছে।