Bangladesh political strike follows labor unrest

At least three are dead in clashes as opposition parties attempt to enforce a three-day general strike in Bangladesh, aimed at bringing down the government. All public gatherings have been banned in the main cities of Dhaka and Chittagong, but protesters have repeatedly defied the decree, leading to street-fighting with police and government supporters. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islam are demanding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina install a caretaker administration to oversee the January general election. Hasina, who heads the ruling Awami League, rejects the demand. Tensions have been growing for months between the secular but increasingly authoritarian Awami League and a radicalizing Islamist opposition. (BBC News, Times of Oman, Oct. 27; Bangladesh News, Oct. 24) 

The opposition strike comes just a month after a wave of labor unrest, in which up to 200,000 garment factory workers walked off the job to demand a higher minimum wage, met with tear-gas and rubber bullets from police. At least two factories were set ablaze by protesters, who also blocked roads and confiscated and destroyed rifles from security officials. Some 200 apparel plants were closed for a week.  (Asia Times, Oct. 3; InfoShop News, Sept. 29)

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