Crackdown on anti-government protesters has intensified in Bangladesh ahead of elections. Over two days, 139 senior opposition party official and activists have been convicted, said lawyers and prosecutors.
A large number of activists from Banglaesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the Opposition party in the country have been convicted. The charges include historic charges overs protests, arson and obstructing the police. Sentences from a few month to up to three-and-a-half years have been handed, reported AFP.
General elections would be held in Bangladesh on January 7. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is aiming for a fourth consecutive term. Countries like the US and others have expressed doubts about whether the vote will be free and fair.
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The opposition BNP has been holding big rallies and marches since last year and trying to force Hasina to quit her post.
Since last month however, the police are cracking down on the opposition. They’ve arrested almost the entire top BNP leadership. Thousands of activists and even supporters have been arrested.
AFP cited two prosecutors who said that on Sunday (November 19) and Monday, at least 132 BNP leaders and activists were jailed in Dhaka.
“Judge Md (Mohammed) Ataullah sentenced 70 BNP activists and leaders in four different cases Monday,” prosecutor Shahid Uddin told AFP.
“They were found guilty of arson and obstructing police duty”.
Those sentenced include BNP’s influential youth wing chief Sultan Salahuddin Tuku along with two ex-chiefs of the student wing and chief of a district wing.
“These cases are from 2013-2018 when opposition enforced strikes and blockades”, Uddin said. “They got jail terms ranging from six months to two years”.
Judge Mohammad Sheikh Sadi sentenced an additional 62 BNP activists to three-and-a-half years in jail each over a 2018 case, the chief public prosecutor of Dhaka, Abdullah Abu, told AFP.
Seven more BNP activists were also jailed by Judge Sadi, lawyer Nazrul Islam told AFP, adding that they included Saiful Alam Nirob, a former BNP youth wing chief who the New York Times reported was facing more than 300 court cases.
(With inputs from agencies)
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