Clashes, Arrests as Bangladesh Opposition Strikes to Protest Trials

Posted December 4th, 2012 at 5:30 am (UTC-5)
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Authorities in Bangladesh have detained protesters who clashed with police and burned vehicles, as the nation's largest Islamist party called for a strike to protest the trial of its leaders.

Police equipped with shields and helmets patrolled the streets of the capital, Dhaka, on Tuesday, arresting several people. Many schools and businesses were closed because of the strike.

Officials say one activist from the Jamaat-e-Islami party died Monday night during clashes with police in northern Bangladesh.

Jamaat-e-Islami is demanding authorities halt the trials of its top leaders on war crimes charges from the country's 1971 war for independence from Pakistan.

Three million people were killed and hundreds of thousands of women were raped during the nine-month war. Authorities say the Islamist leaders collaborated with the Pakistani army in committing atrocities during the conflict.

Jamaat-e-Islami denies the charges.

The party and its ally, the country's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, have said the ruling Awami League party set up the special war crimes tribunal in order to target political opponents.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has said legal procedures used by the government's International Crimes Tribunal fall short of international standards.