UN condemns Bangladesh election ‘reprisals’

Supporters of Bangladesh Awami League march along a street as they take part in a rally ahead of the December 30 general election vote, in Dhaka on December 27, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019

UN condemns Bangladesh election ‘reprisals’

  • At least 17 people died in election-related violence up to polling day
  • The opposition has said there was widespread voter intimidation and fraud

DHAKA: The United Nations said Friday that worrying cases of violence and intimidation have been reported in Bangladesh since the country’s deadly election campaign.
A woman allegedly gang-raped for voting for an opposition party is among the worst of a series of attacks reported by local media since Sunday’s election which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won by a landslide.
“We are concerned about violence and alleged human rights violations in Bangladesh before, during and after the recent elections,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN human rights commissioner in Geneva.
“There are worrying indications that reprisals have continued to take place, notably against the political opposition, including physical attacks and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests, harassment, disappearances and filing of criminal cases.
“Reports suggest that violent attacks and intimidation, including against minorities, have been disproportionately carried out by ruling party activists, at times with the complicity or involvement of law enforcement officers,” said the UN spokeswoman.
The UN called on Bangladesh authorities “to carry out prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations” into the election-related violence as well as attacks and threats made to journalists.
The spokeswoman said at least two journalists have been arrested under Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act “in relation to their reporting on the election.”
At least 17 people died in election-related violence up to polling day. The opposition has said there was widespread voter intimidation and fraud.
On election night, a mother of four in the southern district of Noakhali was allegedly raped by more than 10 followers of the ruling Awami League because she voted for the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, media reports said.
Her family has filed a police complaint but the Awami League denied any link to the case.


German court convicts Syrian over stabbing that triggered Chemnitz riots

Updated 8 min 52 sec ago

German court convicts Syrian over stabbing that triggered Chemnitz riots

  • The 24-year-old Syrian, identified only as Alaa S, according to German rules, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to nine-and-a-half years
  • It is almost exactly a year since the stabbing which led to thousands of right-wingers marching through Chemnitz and clashing with left-wingers and police

DRESDEN, Germany: A German court sentenced a Syrian asylum seeker to nine-and-a-half years in prison on Thursday over the fatal stabbing of a man in the eastern city of Chemnitz last year that triggered the worst far-right riots Germany had seen for decades.
The verdict handed down in the city of Dresden in the high profile case comes barely a week before elections in the region in which the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is expected to make big gains. The AfD welcomed the verdict.
It is almost exactly a year since the stabbing which led to thousands of right-wingers, including neo-Nazis and soccer hooligans, marching through Chemnitz and clashing with left-wingers and police.
Images of skinheads or far-right demonstrators chasing migrants, performing the Hitler salute and attacking a Jewish restaurant, raised questions about how Germany should deal with its far-right, especially after the 2015-16 migrant crisis.
The 24-year-old Syrian, identified only as Alaa S, according to German rules, was convicted of manslaughter. The Cuban-German victim, Daniel Hillig, died of his injuries after being stabbed in Chemnitz on the sidelines of a local festival.
The Syrian was also convicted of inflicting serious bodily harm on another victim, Dimitri M, who was injured but survived.
“The accused was today found guilty of joint manslaughter and grievous bodily harm. He has therefore been sentenced to a jail term of nine years and six months,” a spokeswoman for the court said.
Prosecutors had called for a 10-year prison sentence.
Defense lawyers, who had called for their client to be acquitted, argued there was no evidence that their client had helped stab the victim and said they would appeal.
German authorities have also issued an international arrest warrant for an Iraqi suspect who has been on the run since the incident. They believe he was the main culprit in the killing.
The AfD said on Facebook it hoped the Iraqi suspect would be found soon and added that Chemnitz had been unfairly “branded as a playground for right-wing radicals.”
“No verdict will return Daniel H to his family and friends but at least it brings some justice in a reality that claims new victims every week,” it said.
Opinion polls show that the AfD could become the biggest party in the two eastern states of Saxony and Brandenburg, which hold elections on Sept. 1.
The trial took place in Dresden, the capital of Saxony state rather than in nearby Chemnitz because of the high level of public interest in the case.