The capital of Bangladesh is “virtually under siege”. The Daily Star reported earlier this month that in an attempt to prevent opposition activists and supporters of the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) from attending the BNP’s rally, the government shut down all railroads and water ways leading to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, where the rally was scheduled to take place. The BNP organized this rally in order to demand for the restoration of the caretaker government system. (In 2011, according to BBC news, the Bangladeshi parliament overturned the condition that a non-partisan caretaker government be in power for 90 days during every election period. The purpose of the non-partisan caretaker government was to transfer power from the current power to the newly elected government in order to avoid fraud and corruption between the outgoing and incoming ruling government.)
According to The Daily Star, the BNP asked the Dhaka metropolitan police for permission to hold the rally and was granted permission. However, reported the newspaper, the government did almost everything possible to prevent anyone from attending the rally.
Many workers and students were unable to get to their destinations in Dhaka due to the blockage of the roads. People did not drive their cars on the roads leading to Dhaka when they feared police harassment. Many had to walk to their destinations or wait hours for the scant public transportation that was allowed into the city. And buses that were on the roads were searched at various checkpoints. Some bus drivers complained that they were stopped by government supporters from the ruling Awami League and beaten for being on the roads leading to Dhaka. In addition, over 5,500 supporters of the BNP were arrested across the country.
Thousands of activists and supporters made it to the BNP rally despite the government’s efforts to prevent its outpouring. In response to the Awami League’s (the ruling government) actions, The Daily Star characterized the ruling government as oppressive and “fundamentally undemocratic,” concluding: “The tragedy for the AL (Awami League) is that in attempting to suppress the opposition it has suppressed the citizens”. The Daily Star noted that the government censored the media as many T. V. stations were not allowed to air full coverage of the rally. At the rally, the BNP Chair person, Khaleda Zia, gave the government a 90 day ultimatum to restore the care taker government system by including it in the constitution. The BNP promised to hold another rally on June 11th, if this demand is not met.
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