[JURIST] Bangladesh police on Tuesday arrested Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) [party website], on counts of arson, bombings and vandalism. On Monday supporters of the BNP, the country’s main opposition party, led rallies [Reuters report] in Dhaka to mark the first anniversary of national polls, which the group has renamed “democracy killing day.” The rallies erupted in clashes between the ruling and opposition party activists, resulting in the deaths of four people. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina [BBC backgrounder] has since declared that the leaders of the BNP tried to trigger anarchy and warned [AP report] that they should expect to be brought up on murder charges. The leader of the BNP and former prime minister, Khaleda Zia [Forbes profile; JURIST news archive], has remained confined to her office since Saturday as police and violent protesters swarm the outside. Meanwhile, Alamgir also remained inside the national press club, until he was arrested on his way to his car. Right before his arrest, Alamgir called for a nationwide transport blockade, and denounced Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s administration for transforming the nation into a prison. Police have banned all protests and demonstrations in Dhaka until further notice.
The political situation in Bangladesh has been tense in recent months following BNP’s boycott of the January 2014 elections, which were marked [Al Jazeera report] by considerable violence and returned Hasina to power. In April Bangladesh’s High Court ruled that Zia must stand trial on corruption charges [JURIST report]. In February a former Bangladeshi minister from the Jatiya party [party website, in Bengali] was indicted by a Dhaka tribunal for crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [Bangladesh News backgrounder] with Pakistan. Also in February Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] issued a statement [JURIST report] demanding that the Bangladesh government do more to prevent garment factory owners from intimidating workers for organizing trade unions and to prosecute any parties responsible for attacks on labor leaders.