Bangladesh: the State unleashes repression during and after the protests

Featured image: family members of the disappeared protesting in front of the police. Source: New Age Bangladesh

The Government of the Awami League (AL) of the State of Bangladesh stated that between the 20th of October and the 8th of December, 1,965 people were arrested on daily basis. Additionally in between October and the end of November of 2023 some sources have stated that ahead of the January 2024 elections, the AL government had arrested more than 10,000 people, injured another 5,500 and killed 16. Another fact that is concerning is that deaths in prisons have grown enormously, up to almost 50% since last year, in 2022 65 were reported, and between January and November of this year there have been 93. This coincides with the months of the longest, most massive and most combative protests in recent years in the country. All this within the framework of the protests that occurred during the past months, in which the struggles of the proletariat against bureaucratic capitalism and imperialism was highlighted. We have previously reported on these proletarian struggles.

What is being denounced by International and Bangladeshi activists, is that the ruling Bangladeshi classes have unleashed a repressive wave against the people, because they are warned by the fierce protests of the people. And when these protests have descended in their number and violence, repression has not descended, but has continued and has even grown. On 14th of November, Babul Hossain, the general secretary of an organization of garment workers, disappeared and subsequently it was known that he was detained following the protests and he was facing various charges, including attempt to murder. Besides him, another 1,100- 1,200 proletarians were detained at the same time. But he had not even been in the mobilization. A month after this, thousands of proletarians are still being threatened due to the protests, and in fact police complaints were prepared against more than 36,000. The residents of the proletarian neighborhoods where these factories are located and where the protests occurred, also denounced that from these protests the police have carried out raids and arbitrary arrests, accusing many people who actually did not participate in protests. Additionally, bands of militants of the government party are also participating in these attacks against the demonstrators, and they have labeled the proletarians who protested as affiliates of the opposition party, and have been chasing, harassing and attacking. For its part, the bourgeoisie not only launches repressive forces against the proletarians, but also has made the exploitation of the proletariat grow: if a garment worker in some factories made about 180 t-shirts in a day, now he is making around 300 on daily basis.

But this repression after the greatest protests, has not prevented the people to continue taking the streets. Recently, the families of the disappeared during the protests between October and December have mobilized. These disappeared have been arrested without notifying this to their families and lawyers, or they have been extra-judicially murdered, or are victims of any other form of State’s terror. There are hundreds of these missing, and local sources claim that the number of political prisoners in Bangladesh exceeds 20,000.

The Bangladeshi ruling classes continue to advance in the militarization of the streets, and have already approved that from 29th of December until 7th of January, the Army will be deployed in the streets. This coincides with the electoral period in the country. For its part, the Ministry of Interior has officially forbidden any type of political mobilization from 18th of December, except if it is any type of electoral event. With this, it is clear that the only thing that the ruling classes allow is to participate in the bureaucratic-feudal electoral system, suppressing any other form of freedom of expression and meeting.

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