Members of the opposition in Bangladesh are in hiding as sweeping raids are being carried out by police after the violent national election in the country, said a news report as well as a rights group on Thursday.
In the Sunday election, the ruling party won easily. The election was marred by a low turnout, a boycott by the opposition and street fighting that killed at least 18 people. The outcome of the vote succeeded in exacerbating the tensions in the South Asian nation, which for many years has had a history of great political unrest.
Political violence in Bangladesh has increased recently as activists from the opposition have staged strikes, transportation blockades and attacks to protest the government of Sheikh Hasina the Prime Minister. Since February of last year, over 300 people have been killed due to the political unrest.
After Hasina’s party swept the mostly uncontested elections, she said her first priority would be to contain the violence through the use of an iron hand.
On Tuesday, four leaders from the opposition were arrested by detectives, including the opposition chief’s adviser. All four people remain jailed.
Many other high-level opposition leaders, including one former minister of law, have been taken into custody over the last few months after being charged with fueling the violence. They too remain jailed. Law enforcement said it was investigating those charges, which opposition leaders say are just politically motivated.
The arrests of opposition leaders have caused other activists and party leaders to go into hiding due to constant threats and harassments by the authorities.
A leading newspaper in Bangladesh, the Kaler Kantho, named 18 BNP leaders and its student section that went into hiding.
Mass arrests have become commonplace during political problems in the country, where transfers of power often turn into bloody affairs. Since becoming independent in 1971 from Pakistan, Bangladesh has had 2 presidential assassinations and 19 coup attempts that failed.
Activists from the opposition usually hide at the homes of relatives or sneak out of the country as business travelers or tourists.
The newly elected Bangladesh lawmakers were sworn in on Thursday as Hasina moves ahead with the formation of her new government.