Progress Bangladesh Report
Coordinated night raids on opposition houses have been taking place in recent days. In the early hours of December 26 witnesses have reported major police-led raids on several homes in the capital’s Mirpur-10 district.
Speaking under conditions of anonymity, a member of one of the affected families reported: “There was a raid at our house, which is at Mirpur-10, at around 4am in the morning. Nine trucks of police came along with three journalist. There was no male in our house but they arrested one of my male cousins.”
Another witness reported: “They began raids in Shenpara-Parbata [in Dhaka’s Mirpur-10 area] at 4am. They asked for my father. They were about to arrest my mother and I said I would go too. Then they took my mother’s phone and left her standing downstairs until 8am. Thankfully they did not arrest her, they seemed to have forgotten about her. They seized several bikes and arrested at least 14 people – I don’t know the exact figure as I was so stressed for my mother. Eight cars of men and women were taken away. Every few minutes I heard the scream of women and the desperate cry of men. I have been reading of this in the news but today I saw it for myself.”
A third witness reported: “The joint forces took away my uncle and another male relative. We don’t know why. They took my female cousin’s phone and constantly asked for the whereabouts of my brother. My aunt is running to police stations seeking them with food and medicine. One decent policeman advised her to ensure the men of the family stay away from home and that books written by Ghulam Azam and Maududi should not be kept in the house. My question is, if we live in a liberated country why can my brother not stay at his own home and my uncle is taken away?”
Another witness affirmed: “There was a thorough all night raid in Mirpur. They forcefully broken the door of our house by axe, they entered in every apartment and arrested the innocent people which includes our close relatives (brother in-law) and guard”.
Due to the current political crisis, many male opposition members are staying away from their homes for fear of targeted arrests. As such raided homes are primarily occupied by women and children, many of whom speak of trauma from their experiences.
Among the houses raided and men sought is a defence lawyer for the International Crimes Tribunal.
Witnesses suggest the raids are taking place in the run up to the December 29 March for Democracy called by Begum Khaleda Zia, the head of the BNP and main opposition block, the 18-party alliance. There are fears more raids are to be expected.