A report on the situation in Bangladesh, in the run up to the national election on 5th January, by Mission Partner Sister Pat Jamieson.

I returned to Bangladesh in mid-August and since then I am not sure if there has been one single week when the country has been free from some sort of disruption. The main opposition party, the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), and a smaller yet very powerful party Jamaat have called hortal after hortal (strike after strike). Just a few weeks ago the current government, the Awami League, called the country’s national election and a date of 5th January has been given. The opposition parties are not happy that the Awami League are not calling in a caretaker government to oversee the election and are not forwarding any names for the proposed election.

There has been considerable disruption to life here, damage to property and vehicles with numerous buses being burnt. Many people have been killed and even more injured. Many have received dreadful burns when buses, vans and CNG vehicles have been set alight and no warning given to the people. Many more have been injured and killed trying to flee trouble from demonstrators and several police personnel beaten to death.

Other violence has occurred around several garment factories when malicious rumours were spread about one factory in particular. The rumours were indeed just that no truth in any of it. The factory was practically burnt to the ground and several lorries laden down with goods for export also damaged with nothing being salvageable.

We are currently nearing the end of another 72 hour hortal/blockade. At the minute it is hard to know what is a hortal and what is a blockade as it means businesses closed, transport restricted, schools disrupted and violence everywhere. Tonight the BNP have announced another 72 hour hortal until 6am on Friday.

Many people have been tried for war crimes this year and several have been given a death sentence. One man who was sentenced in February is to be hanged in the next few days. This man is a member of the BNP and therefore part of the disruption, although blamed on the up and coming election, is partly due to his impending hanging.

Prayers are so needed for this land. Every day cocktail bombs have been thrown randomly into retail and residential areas, children have lifted what they thought were balls and they were bombs which exploded; many people are still in hospital and may never recover. Please pray for sense to prevail, for the political parties to come together and violence, injuries and killings will cease.