Bangladesh hit by fifth general strike
* Opposition to protest against stabbing of leading writer and demand government’s removal
DHAKA: Bangladesh was paralysed by the latest in a series of general strikes on Saturday led by the main opposition Awami League to protest against the stabbing of a leading writer and demand the government’s removal.
For the first time, the Awami League, was joined in its strike call by three leftist opposition parties — the Communist Party of Bangladesh, the Worker’s Party and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal.
“This strike is to protest against the attack on the writer (Humayun Azad) but we hope it will also get the other parties striking with us to join the campaign to oust the government,” Awami League general secretary Mohammed Abdul Jalil said.
Some 7,000 police, including paramilitary units, fanned out across the congested capital of some 10 million people to avert any violence. Leftist protestors carried a red flag embossed with the communist hammer and sickle symbol and cried “Strike, strike” in the city’s centre.
The strike came as London-based human rights group, Amnesty International, condemned the stabbing of Azad, saying it “highlighted the vulnerability of individuals engaged in the peaceful expression of their views.”
The condition of the writer who was stabbed by unknown assailants more than a week ago has continued to improve since he recovered consciousness Tuesday.
Azad “is oriented with time and space and can communicate verbally,” a statement by the military hospital where he was being treated said. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack on Azad. But his family and other authors have blamed hard-line Islamists, saying it was linked to his new novel about Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war with Pakistan. The book highlights the alleged collaboration by Bangladeshi extremist religious groups with the Pakistani army during the independence war. —AFP