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    Posted December 26, 2013 by
    Shatkhira, Bangladesh
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
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    Bangladesh Government Bulldozed Opposition Activists Homes in Shatkhira

    Bangladesh is going through one of its most deadly political crises in several decades. The law enforcement agencies and pro-government supporters are fighting with opposition political activists in the streets over a controversial election to be held in January 5, 2014.

    The United States, European Union, and The Commonwealth have questioned the credibility and acceptability of the January 5, 2014 election. All these entities have officially stated that they will not send poll observers, since the election has already produced winners for 154 out of 300 parlimentary seats without any contest. The unprecedented number of uncontested victories is due to the fact that all the major political parties of the country, except the ruling Awami League and its alliance partners, have boycotted the election due to the ruling party's abolishment of Neutral Poll Time government system, which was used for holding the last 4 general elections over the last 23 years.

    All major opposition parties are demanding the Neutral Caretaker Government system to be reintroduced. To force their demand, these parties have been staging countrywide shut-downs over the last one month, which has halted communication and transportation systems through-out the country. There are reports of wide-spread political violance, street agitations, police brutality, and disproportionate use of lethal force by the law enforcement agencies.

    On December 23, 2013, The Daily Manabzamin, a popular Bangla language newspaper from Dhaka, reported that the government is sending para-military troops, accompanied by pro-government political activists to conduct joint operations to hunt down opposition political activists. The latest such operation lasted for over 3 days, has left the district of Shatkhira in rubbles. The district appears so much ravaged as though there was an earthquake. Fire is everywhere, and the sound of people crying makes the air heavy. Thousands of people have been made homeless and unarmed opposition activists are fleeing the area, according to The Manabzamin.

    The government forces have arrested at least 57 supporters of the opposition parties, including members of the main opposition party BNP and Jamaat-i-Islami. Atleast 7 members of Jamaat were shot and killed by the joint forces.

    The Daily Manabzamin reported that the joint forces have bulldozed the houses and businesses of Shakhira's several hundred opposition political leaders, including those of the former Member of Parliament Mawlana Abdul Khaleq, Jamaat Leader Rofiqul Islam, and BNP leader Anwarul Islam's.

    Heavy handed government intervention in Shatkhira has created a perverse political situation where government supporters are ganging up with law enforcement and killing opposition partymen. And in return, when the law enforcement forces are gone, the opposition activists are performing revenge attacks. As a result, political violance has been rampant in Shatkhira over the last 11 months. According to the Manabzamin, 27 pro-government and 33 anti-government political activists have been killed in violence over the last 11 months.

    Notwithstanding the political violance conducted by both the government and opposition, attacks on wives and children of the opposition political activists, and then bulldozing of their houses and businesses by the government agencies are something Bangladeshis have rarely seen in the past as tools for political oppression.

    The photos accompanying this report are all taken over the last 5 days in Shatkhira, Bangladesh.

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