UN condemns Bangladesh election ´reprisals´

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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.