Police Break Up Opposition Demonstrations in Bangladesh

By Farid Hossain 12 March 2013

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Security forces in the Bangladesh capital fired rubber bullets and tear gas on Monday to disperse hundreds of stone-throwing anti-government protesters denouncing trials of several opposition politicians accused of crimes stemming from the country’s 1971 independence war.

Riot police went into action after dozens of home-made bombs went off during the violence and protesters started throwing stones at security forces, said police official Mehdi Hasan.

Several people were injured, he said.

Police said they detained more than 30 opposition members, including a leader of the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Mirza Fakhrul Islam, after the clashes.

They were picked up from inside the headquarters of the opposition party where the protesters took shelter, Hasan said.

Ekattor TV, a private television station, showed live footage of police firing rubber bullets.

The protest was called by an alliance of 18 parties to denounce the trials of several opposition politicians accused of mass killings and atrocities during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan.

The alliance called for a nationwide dawn-to-dusk general strike for Tuesday to protest the police action.

So far, three people have been convicted by the war crimes tribunal of atrocities linked to the war. Another nine people are still on trial.

Ten of the defendants are from Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, while the other two belong to BNP led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.