From Human Rights Watch
(New York) – Bangladesh security forces have been arresting and intimidating opposition figures and threatening freedom of expression in advance of national elections on December 30, 2018, Human Rights Watch said today. The United Nations, European Union, United States, India, China, and others should press the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed to create conditions conducive to a free and fair vote and to prevent campaign violence.
Human Rights Watch research from October to early December found repeated instances of arbitrary security force arrest and detention of protesters and political opposition figures, and acts of violence and intimidation by members of the ruling party’s student and youth wings. The crackdown, and the broad and vaguely worded laws that facilitate it, are contributing to an environment of fear. Institutions including the judiciary and the national election commission do not appear to be fully prepared to independently and fairly resolve disputes around campaigns and elections, such as on registration, candidacies, and results.
“The Awami League government has been systematically cracking down on independent and opposition voices to ensure that the ruling party faces no obstacles to total political control,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Members and supporters of the main opposition parties have been arrested, killed, even disappeared, creating an atmosphere of fear and repression that is not consistent with credible elections.”
The Bangladesh authorities should end the crackdown on the political opposition and on free expression ahead of the national elections to ensure Bangladeshis their internationally protected right to choose their government.
Serious problems with the electoral process include surveillance, intimidation, detention, and politically motivated prosecution of key opposition members including party polling agents. Other major concerns include a crackdown on independent media and repressive laws restricting speech, association, and assembly.
See full report here.