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Bangladesh: A Massacre of Demonstrators

Bangladesh: A Massacre of Demonstrators

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 Fefazat-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 Fefazat-E-Islam demanding punishment of the so called 'atheist bloggers', who allegedly remained under the protection of the state agents, for writing blasphemous materials. Fefazat-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 Fefazat-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.

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

ENDS

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