Protests greet Bangladesh Opposition leader Khaleda Zia arriving in Tower Hamlets

The controversial Bangladesh Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia arrived in East London this-evening appealing for her countrymen to help their motheland—while protesters accused her of protecting ‘war criminals’ from the country’s 1971 struggle for independence.

Her motorcade drove past chanting pickets from the Aswami League as she arrived in Tower Hamlets to meet the Bangladesh-born Mayor Lutfur Rahman at the Town Hall.

It was part of her state visit to London where she had talks with Labour Leader Ed Miliband and other MPs at Westminster before arriving in Tower Hamlets which has Europe’s biggest ex-patriot Bangladesh community and the first elected Bengali mayor.

“Corruption is everywhere in Bangladesh,” she told the Town Hall reception.

“The government is failing in all sectors. People are raising their voices and calling for elections.

“I call on all Bangladeshis in Britain to raise their voice to save the motherland and demand elections—save your country back home and join the people’s voices.”

But the voices from her countrymen outside the Town Hall accused her of protecting ‘war criminals’ when she was Prime Minister.

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The Aswami League’s London branch president Fokrul Islam turned up with 40 supporters protesting at her visit.

“Those war criminals should have long been brought to justice,” he told the East London Advertiser. “But she protected them against our people.

Khaleda Zia has been Prime Minister of Bangladesh three times, following the assassination in 1981 of her husband, President Ziaur Rahman, who helped his country’s path to independence from Pakistan a decade before.

She was arrested repeatedly during the dictatorship of Hossain Ershad in the 1980s, but in 1991 led the opposition to victory and became the country’s first woman Prime Minister.