BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the government is purposefully barring BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia from going abroad for treatment though there are no legal barriers for the 76-year-old BNP chief to do so.
"Why doesn't the government want Khaleda Zia to go abroad? They [ruling Awami League] talk about legal barriers. But the law states that the government can release her if it wants," Fakhrul told an agitation rally in Dhaka Wednesday demanding permanent release and advanced treatment for Khaleda abroad.
After being convicted in a graft case, former prime minister Khaleda landed in jail in 2018. Following the outbreak of Covid-19, the government last year granted her a temporary and conditional release.
The BNP chief who had been suffering from arthritis, diabetes and several eye issues for years has been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis recently and was passing blood that her doctors said requires treatment at an advanced medical centre abroad. She is now undergoing treatment at a hospital in Dhaka.
Before and after the rally on Wednesday by BNP's women wing Jatiyatabadi Mohila Dal, BNP leaders and activists tried to bring out processions from Nayapaltan. But the police stopped them.
"The government nowadays even fears a silent procession," Fakhrul commented.
"The freedom that we achieved in 1971, a free society, the freedom of speech, the freedom of politics, all have been snatched by the Awami League government. They want to establish a one-party state."
He urged the activists to garner greater protests at the grassroots, and said, "We have to fight, if required, by risking our lives to restore freedom and democracy, to free Khaleda Zia and bring Tarique Rahman back to the country."
In a separate development Wednesday, BNP minded professional association Doctors Association of Bangladesh (DAB) also demanded Khaleda's permanent release and advanced treatment abroad.
"BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's physical condition is very critical; now at the crossroads of life and death," said DAB Secretary General Abdus Salam in a written statement at the press conference in Dhaka.
Abdus Salam, quoting the medical board formed for Khaleda's treatment, said, "The doctors are very concerned about her current health condition. According to them, further treatment of Khaleda is no longer possible in Bangladesh."
Salam continued, "As she is a patient of diabetes and heart failure, further internal bleeding may increase her risk of death. The only technology available in Bangladesh has already been applied to her."
"Arrangements should be made to take her abroad as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will be difficult to transfer her later," he added.
To press the demands, BNP wing Muktijoddha Dal, Krishak Dal and Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal will hold rallies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.