Prosecutors and lawyers said today that Bangladesh has sentenced 139 senior officials and activists from the opposition in the last two days, as the government cracks down on protesters ahead of elections.

The convictions included many activists from the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), on historic charges of protest violence, arson and police obstruction, with sentences ranging from a few months to three-and-a-half years.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is seeking her fourth term in a row in the general election on January 7, despite worries from the United States and other nations about the fairness of the vote.

The BNP has held a series of large rallies and marches since last year to pressure Hasina to resign and let a neutral government conduct the polls.

Uddin said the BNP men who were sentenced included its influential youth wing leader Sultan Salahuddin Tuku, two ex-student wing leaders and a district wing leader.

Uddin said: “These cases are from 2013-2018 when opposition imposed strikes and blockades”. “They received jail terms from six months to two years”.

The chief public prosecutor of Dhaka, Abdullah Abu, told AFP that Judge Mohammad Sheikh Sadi jailed another 62 BNP activists for three-and-a-half years each over a 2018 case.

Lawyer Nazrul Islam told AFP that Judge Sadi also imprisoned seven more BNP activists, who included Saiful Alam Nirob, a former BNP youth wing leader who the New York Times said was facing over 300 court cases.

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