200 protesters arrested during Bangladesh strike
DHAKA, Bangladesh — Security forces arrested more than 200 activists yesterday, according to police and news reports, as Bangladesh’s main opposition party led a nationwide dawn-to-dusk general strike to protest alleged government misrule.
General strikes have been a common opposition tactic in Bangladesh, a fragile parliamentary democracy since nine years of military rule ended in 1990. But yesterday’s strike was the first in 3 1/2 years, signaling that political bickering may return to the streets.
Several people were injured in clashes between opposition supporters and the ruling Awami League’s student wing near a university in Dhaka, private ATN Bangla television reported.
Footage from another private station, ETV, showed security officials kicking in the door of an opposition leader’s home. Inside, they beat supporters gathered there; the leader himself had previously been detained.
The unrest comes as frustration has been growing in Bangladesh over frequent power cuts and deteriorating law and order, among other issues.
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, called yesterday’s strike to protest alleged Awami League misrule. Zia — who has long been locked in a battle for power with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina — accused the government of suppressing the opposition and failing to control commodity prices or improve law and order.
Walid Hossain, a Dhaka Metropolitan Police official, said at least 167 people were arrested in the capital alone.