Bangladesh opposition leaders taken by police, whereabouts unknown
The raid comes days after Dhaka's security forces launched rubber bullets and tear gas into a crowd of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, leaving one dead and tens injured.
Just one day before a protest demanding the prime minister's resignation, Bangladesh's main opposition party's two main leaders, BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Mirza Abbas, a former minister and member of the party's top decision-making body, were taken from their homes by police on Friday.
Power cuts and fuel price increases led to protest outbreaks across the country for months that demanded PM Sheikh Hasina step down for new elections. The police raid comes days after the capital Dhaka's security forces launched rubber bullets and tear gas into a crowd pertaining to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), leaving one dead and tens injured.
However, during a press briefing on Thursday, Alamgir relayed that the party still planned to go ahead with the event. According to BNP spokesperson Zahiruddin Swapan, police arrested "around 2,000" activists to disperse the rally.
"They were plainclothes policemen. Alamgir knew their identity. They told him he was being taken away on the order of the high command," Swapan expressed, adding the BNP did not know where the two were taken to.
In light of the recent events, a joint statement was issued on Tuesday by 15 Western embassies urging the country to permit free expression and fair elections, followed by a similar statement by the UN the next day.
Amnesty International's Yamini Mishra commented on the situation that the authorities "have very little regard for the sanctity of human life and sends a chilling message that those who dare to exercise their human rights will face dire consequences".