Crack-down against political activists !

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) strongly condemns the ongoing mass arrests carried out since 31 May 2008, against political activists and others in various parts of Bangladesh. Most of the political activists who were arrested are grassroots level leaders of Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

In a crack-down carried out by the joint security forces and police in Bangladesh since 31 May 2008, more than 8,000 persons were reportedly arrested. The arrests came days after the BNP and the AL declared that they would boycott talks with the military-backed government on the organization of elections next December.

According to local and international media, the government stated that there is no political motivation behind the arrests and most of those arrested had criminal backgrounds in connection with corruption. Residences of several party members of AL and BNP were reportedly raided as part of the crackdown.

Most of the persons arrested have been sent to prison under Emergency Power Rules 2007, with no or limited possibility for bail or provisional release.

FIDH urges the authorities of Bangladesh to release the persons arrested during the crackdown or to bring clear charges against them and to guarantee their right to a fair trial, in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Bangladesh. FIDH also urges the political parties and the government to initiate talks concerning the restoration of democracy and the holding of free and fair election in accordance with international standards.

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