US ambassador calls for protecting rights for meetings and rallies

New US ambassador Peter HaasFile photo

The US embassy has extended its condolences to the families of those killed and injured in Dhaka on Wednesday.

"We are concerned about reports of intimidation and political violence in Dhaka and call on everyone to respect the rule of law and to refrain from violence, harassment, and intimidation," US ambassador Peter Haas said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) will hold a mass rally in Dhaka on 10 December. Before settling the venue of the rally, police clashed with BNP leaders and activists at the party's central office at Naya Paltan on Wednesday. In the clash, BNP activist Mokbul Ahmed was killed and about fifty people of the party injured.

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A man was lies on the road after sustaining injuries during the clash between the police and the BNP men in the Naya Paltan area on 7 December.
Shuvro Kanti Das

Following the clash, police raided BNP’s Naya Paltan central office and arrested several hundred party leaders and activists, including central leaders Amanullah Aman, Abdus Salam, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Shahiduddin Chowdhury Annie, Shimul Biswas and former Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal president Abdul Kader Bhuiyan.

Later, police filed three cases over the clash that took place with the BNP men in front of the party’s central office in the capital’s Naya Paltan area on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, police conducted raid at the BNP central office from morning to afternoon on Thursday. BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir could not enter the party’s headquarters at Naya Paltan in the capital as police barred him at Nightingale intersection in Kakrail. Mirza Fakhrul came to Nightingale intersection at around 11:00am to go to the party office but the policemen stopped him there.

However, the roads -- from Nightingale intersection to Fakirapul -- were opened for the movement of people at around 4:00 pm on Thursday. Huge number of policemen have been deployed in the area.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a press conference on Thursday said they will hold the mass rally in front the party’s central office on 10 December at Naya Paltan in Dhaka, adding that the party, however, will consider the acceptable alternative proposal if received within the timeframe.

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The US ambassador in a Facebook post also said, "We encourage government authorities to investigate these reports of violence and to protect the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly."

Earlier, the US Department of State on Tuesday expressed concern about reports of police harassment and arrests of opposition party leaders and activists.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said this during a daily press briefing in Washington on Tuesday.

The US State Department spokesperson said, “We call on all parties in Bangladesh to respect the rule of law and to refrain from violence, from harassment, from intimidation as well.”