Published: 12:40 AM, 27 March 2021 Last Update: 01:16 AM, 27 March 2021
TheBangladeshi authorities must respect the right to freedom of assembly andprotect peaceful protestors, said Amnesty International, after police openedfire on protestors at a rally in Chattogram today (26th March), killing atleast four people and injuring dozens of others, according to local mediasources.
On a day ofnationwide protests against the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,at least 60 people were injured at a separate protest in Dhaka according tolocal media, many with gunshot wounds. The crackdowns are the latest in aseries of violent responses to protests in Bangladesh in recent weeks.
“The scenes ofviolence we witnessed in Chattogram and Dhaka follow a worryingly familiarpattern of behaviour by the Bangladeshi authorities. The right to peacefulprotest has come under concerted attack, particularly during the coronaviruspandemic, culminating in this type of bloody repression,” said Sultan MohammedZakaria, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher.
“Bangladesh’scommitments under international law and its own constitution enshrine the rightto peaceful assembly. The authorities must respect these commitments, protectpeaceful protestors and halt the use of unlawful and excessive force.”
26 Marchevents follow a spate of violent crackdowns on rallies over the past fortnightthat has left more than 100 injured.
On 25 March,more than 40 people were hurt after police fired rubber bullets and releasedteargas into a crowd in Dhaka protesting a visit by Indian Prime MinisterNarendra Modi. On the same day, local media reported that rulingparty-affiliated student body Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) members attackedprotesters in Dhaka University campus, injuring 20 students.
On 24 March,25 protestors were injured after police baton charged a peaceful rally in thenorth-eastern district of Sylhet organized by the Left Democratic Alliance(LDA).
On the sameday, police baton-charged and dispersed a peaceful rally organized by severalopposition parties in the northern district Rajshahi, arresting at least 10people including the former Vice President of Rajshahi University Student UnionRagib Ahsan Munna. Local sources told Amnesty International that policeseverely beat Ragib Ahsan Munna before detaining him.
On 23 March,local media reported that members of the BCL physically beat protesters joininga rally organized by Dhaka University’s Progressive Students Alliance, injuringat least 25 student activists.
Video footageof various protests seen by Amnesty International show that unidentified peoplejoined in attacks on protestors, with local media identifying them as beingmembers of the BCL and the ruling Awami League party. - Amnesty International'spress release