brad brace

6/7/2008

Bangladesh mass arrests

Filed under: bangladesh,General,global islands,human rights — admin @ 4:13 am

Human Rights Watch called on Friday for Bangladesh’s emergency government to charge or release thousands of people it has detained in the past eight days.

At least 10,000 people — many of whom have ties to the country’s two main political parties — have been arrested since May 28.

Police say the operation is expected to last one month and is aimed at improving security ahead of the country’s scheduled return to democracy with elections due by the end of the year.

The main parties — the Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party — say the arrests are part of a political crackdown by the emergency government, which has already detained both parties’ leaders.

New York-based Human Rights Watch described the arrests as “arbitrary” and said they could result in a breakdown of the country’s prison system, already under pressure.

“The timing and targets of the arrests are a dead giveaway they are politically motivated,” said Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director, in a statement.

“It’s obvious they are paying the price for the political parties’ refusal to accept the government’s conditions to participate in the elections.”

The arrests began days after the two parties said they would boycott talks with the army-backed administration on organising elections unless their leaders were freed.

Local newspaper The Daily Star said 13,465 people had been arrested since the crackdown began. Police chiefs were unable to confirm that number Friday.

The military-backed government, which came to power in January 2007 after emergency rule was imposed and elections cancelled, last year detained thousands of party activists in a bid to clean up the country’s graft-ridden politics.

More than 150 top politicians have been arrested during the drive while dozens of former ministers and ex-lawmakers have been jailed for up to 20 years.

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