The US has warned its citizens in Bangladesh of the BNP’s planned Dec 10 rally in Dhaka, saying it is concerned about reports of intimidation and political violence ahead of the next general election.
In a notice on Wednesday, the US Embassy in Dhaka said demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence as political party rallies and other election-related activities have already commenced a year before the polls.
Noting the planned political programmes of Dec 10, it said US citizens should practice vigilance.
“You should avoid demonstrations and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings. Review personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.”
The embassy also asked the Americans to always carry their charged mobile phone for emergency communications.
On Tuesday, the United Kingdom updated its travel advisory on Bangladesh, saying potential disruption to transport, communication networks and movement around the city are expected along with possible violence on Dec 10.
On Wednesday afternoon, BNP activists gathered outside their Naya Paltan headquarters. Violent clashes erupted when police tried to disperse the crowds on the streets in the area. A man died during the clashes and police detained several central leaders of the opposition party.
Ned Price, spokesman for the US Department of State, faced questions about the political tension in Bangladesh during a regular media briefing on Tuesday.
“We’re concerned about reports of intimidation and political violence in Bangladesh. We call on the government to respect and to protect the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly,” he said.
“We’re also concerned about reports of police harassment, arrests of opposition party members, and restrictions on the ability of the opposition parties to meet and to hold peaceful rallies.
“We call on all parties in Bangladesh to respect the rule of law and to refrain from violence, from harassment, from intimidation as well. We call on the Government of Bangladesh to ensure that no party or candidate threatens, incites, or conducts violence against another party or candidate.”
Price said: “Genuine elections require the ability of all candidates to engage voters free from violence, harassment, intimidation; and we encourage the government authorities to investigate these reports of violence thoroughly, transparently, and impartially, and to hold the perpetrators to account.”