No one has come to any understanding with the government behind the scenes, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has said. He said, “Why do they keep saying that there has been understanding behind the scenes? The entire democratic world is telling them to step down from power for a free and fair election.”

Mirza Fakhrul was addressing a hunger strike organised today, Saturday, in front of the central office of the party in Naya Paltan of the capital. The hunger strike programme was organised by Dhaka city North and South BNP in demand of BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia’s release and better medical treatment.

The hunger strike began at 11:15am in front of the party’s central office in Naya Paltan of the capital. The central leaders of the party addressed the programme from a stage erected in front of the party office. Present at the event were members of BNP standing committee including Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. Leaders of the alliance and parties taking part in the simultaneous movement with BNP, as well leaders of various BNP-supporting professional bodies, expressed solidarity with the demands voiced at the hunger strike programme.

Mirza Fakhrul said, “We have come through much ups and down. Now we have but one aim, to save the country, the economy and the people by overthrowing those in power through a united movement. Democracy is more or less synonymous with the release of Khaleda Zia. These demands must be made together to build up an unconquerable movement in the days to come.”

Saying that Awami League does not believe in democracy, Mirza Fakhrul Islam said, BNP is the biggest political party in the country and has been in power three times. The Awami League general secretary said that BNP is supposedly their enemy. If he believes in democracy, he cannot call any political party their enemy.

Addressing the election commission, BNP standing committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy said, you all are the successors of Nurul Huda. Don’t talk too much. You all will not be able to conduct the election

Speaking during the hunger strike, BNP’s standing committee member Mirza Abbas said, “We have applied for Khaleda Zia’s release and her medical treatment abroad. We discussed it. Nothing has happened.”

He alleged that Khaleda Zia was arrested with the objective to kill her. If she is sent abroad, it will be revealed that she was being slow poisoned and that is why the government is unwilling to release her, he said.

BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said, “Khaleda Zia is being deprived of her fundamental rights. We have come to the end of the road. Now the fight is for survival.”

Expressing solidarity with the demands of the hunger strike, Ganosamhati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki said, “I went to visit Khaleda Zia in hospital. Her physicians said that she needs to be taken abroad for the treatment she needs. The government is referring to all sorts of laws regarding her release. The people of Bangladesh understand everything. The government will have to take responsibility if Khaleda Zia dies due to their vengeance and depriving her of due medical treatment.”

BNP standing committee member Abdul Moyeen Khan said that the government talks big, claiming to be the pro-liberation war force. The country doesn’t run on rhetoric. Their looting, corruption and enforced disappearances have all been uncovered at home and abroad.

Addressing the election commission, BNP standing committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy said, you all are the successors of Nurul Huda. Don’t talk too much. You all will not be able to conduct the election. He called upon the party leaders and workers to take to the streets with whatever they had. If they were attacked on the streets, they would have to counter attack or else the fascist forces would not leave power.

Claiming that the days of the government were numbered, Nagorik Oikya president Mahmudur Rahman (Manna) said, “There is no one of the country or of any foreign country beside the government. Even if it takes up to November, we will win.” He alleged that the government will try to instigate Hindu-Muslim riots during Durga Puja, so that the movement cannot grow. He told the leaders and activists to remain alert.

Presided over by Dhaka city south convener Abdus Salam, the hunger strike programme was also addressed by BNP standing committee member Selima Rahman, Jatiya Party (Kazi Zafar) chairman Mustafa Jamal Haider, Bangladesh Kalyan Party chairman Maj. Gen. (Retd) Syed Muhammad Ibrahim, JSD general secretary Shahid Uddin Mahmud and others.

BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia has been undergoing treatment at Evercare Hospital in Dhaka for over two months. She was admitted to hospital on 9 August this year. Her medical board has for long been saying she needs to be taken abroad for a liver transplant.

Following the medical board’s advice Khaleda Zia’s younger brother Shameem Iskander applied for permission on 25 September to the home ministry for her medical treatment abroad. The government has rejected the appeal. BNP is now holding various programmes in demand of sending the former prime minister Khaleda Zia abroad for medical treatment.