BANGLADESH: A massacre of demonstrators

AHRC-STM-088-2013-23

News reports from Bangladesh allege that a series of attacks on demonstrators have taken place, at around 3am today, May 6, 2013. The extent of the injuries and death is difficult to be ascertained at the moment. The Daily Star, a Bangladeshi newspaper, gave the figure of deaths as 5. However, several internet reports have mentioned that the number of deaths could be as high as 2,500 or more. Pictures of dead bodies have also been distributed over the internet. Major news channels in Bangladesh have been silenced. Two private television channels that were showing live pictures of the attacks upon the demonstrators were immediately closed down. The authorities have, later in the morning, imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, (a provision similar to declaring internal emergency) in the city of Dhaka, under which more than four persons are not allowed to converge in public places and the declaration absolutely prohibits public protest. Worse, the executive authorities could use deadly force against civilians under this provision. All forms of public gatherings, rallies and protests have been prohibited until the midnight today, May 6.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that the security forces, including the Border Guards Bangladesh, the Rapid Action Battalion and the Police, started a massive crackdown on the demonstrators of the Hefazat-E-Islam early morning on Monday. According to unverified information the AHRC has received, a huge number of lives have already been lost. Numerous victims have been shot at close range by the state agencies. It appears that the international community stationed in Dhaka is fully aware of the brutal crackdown and the wanton extrajudicial execution happening within Dhaka and in the outskirts of the city.

Graphic pictures [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] and audiovisual records [ Video 1] [Video 2]are available through the social media, from unverified sources, that reveal the deadly reality on the ground. It is reported that the security forces are using heavy artillery, which are normally used in the war fronts.

Bangladesh, recently has become extremely violent. The violence surfaced over the issue of objectionable blog-postings concerning Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). It is reported that a large number of protesters gathered in Dhaka since early morning yesterday, May 5, 2013, under the umbrella of a group named Hefazat-E-Islamdemanding punishment of the so called ‘atheist bloggers’, who allegedly remained under the protection of the state agents, for writing blasphemous materials. Hefazat-E-Islam has been demanding 13 points including a legislation on blasphemy, reformation of the country’s ‘women policy’ and adoption of the name of Allah in the constitution.

The AHRC does not agree with any of the demands made by the Hefazat-E-Islam. Our concern, however, is for the right of everyone to participate in protests. At all times the sacredness of the right to life must be respected.

The violence that is going on in Bangladesh must stop now. The international community has a moral as well as a legal obligation to intervene, which could save lives and could prevent the situation from deteriorating further. The United Nations must take all necessary actions, most importantly through the office of the Secretary General to bring an immediate end to the bloody impasse that has befallen upon the country.

Source: Asian Human Rights

4 COMMENTS

  1. A newspaper report say that ‘foreign troops’ in the guise of BGB/RAB/police gears took part in the massacre of Hefazat people at the early hours of May 6. Some say that our PM has been kind of a hostage of that ‘foreign’ hands for which she cannot implement what she says besides why some of his ministers and advisers have become more powerful than her. We are really afraid if we are going to become another Sikkim or Bhutan. God save us.

  2. Something else that is also quite sad in this Asian Human Rights Watch report is that “the international community stationed in Dhaka is fully aware of the brutal crackdown and the wanton extrajudicial execution happening within Dhaka and in the outskirts of the city” meaning that they especially the US would have been consulted prior to the crackdown and indeed, they especially the US did give their go-ahead to the carnage.

    Does this not remind us of 1971 when US gave similar endorsement to Yahya’s massacre of the Bangladeshis ( then East Pakistanis) fighting for self-determination.. Without the US blessings there is no way that this massacre of protesting hefazatis could have happened.

    It is about time that the ordinary Americans ask their government to abandon the path of self-seeking hypocritical behaviour and demonstrate its commitment to democracy and human rights that they so loudly claim to be its global guardian of, to hold Bangladesh to account for the brutal killings of innocent protesters. From the time this government took over the rein in 2009, its record of human rights has been anything but kosher – it has made extra-judiciary killing its favourite past-time.

    True that many of the demands of hefazatis are difficult to consider but that does not mean we go on butchering them for making those demands – this is barbarism at its heinous worst! .

  3. Some people dressed as BGB/police/RAB mostly BGB looked like outsiders to me.
    It can be figured out by some of those images.

  4. It is sad that the government is killing unarmed people. Middle of the night while everyone is at sleep and cutting the power out to ensure that the people become disoriented and falls into the trap set by the so called law enforecement agencies where they met their unjustified death. Current govenrment is trying to silence anyone and everyone who talks about the government failures and corruptions. It is clear that they have so much to hide. It is sad……

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