DHAKA – Members and supporters of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party staged protests for the third consecutive day on Saturday after the party’s leader and a former prime minister of the country, Khaleda Zia, was sentenced to five years in prison for corruption.
A court in Dhaka had on Thursday sentenced Zia to five years in prison on charges of misappropriation of funds from an orphanage trust and her exiled son, Tarique Rahman, to 10 years.
“Today several thousand people joined the rally in Dhaka,” BNP spokesperson Taiful Islam Tipu said. “Our leaders and activists also held protest rallies in many other areas but the police created obstacles for them in most of the areas,” Tipu added.
Shibli Noman, an assistant commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said the number of demonstrators in the capital came to several dozen “leaders” and supporters of the party and added that eight people were arrested for “attempting to create violence.”
Clashes broke out between the police and BNP supporters on the day of the sentence and continued on Friday with a massive demonstration in Dhaka in protest of the ruling.
The BNP has accused the Bangladeshi police of arresting thousands of people in the last few days, an allegation the authorities deny.
“The police have arrested over 3,500 leaders and activists of our party across the country in the last few days and continued to do this even today,” Tipu said.
Nasiruddin Elan, director of human rights group Odhikar, told EFE there had been reports of “mass arrests” of BNP members during the last few days.
“In some areas we have also seen ruling party people attacking the BNP activists. We are monitoring the situation,” he added.