Published in The Daily Star on Jan. 22 ::
Expressing concern at the ongoing political violence, the Amnesty International has urged the government to “carry out thorough and impartial investigations into all instances of arson attacks and killings, and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials”.
In a statement dated January 20, the London-based rights watchdog said the human rights situation in Bangladesh continues to deteriorate as the government and opposition supporters have been battling each other in the streets over the past three weeks.
“Street violence continues to claim lives and lead to injuries, against the background of an opposition-imposed blockade on transportation. At the same time, several senior members of the opposition with no proven link to the violence have been detained on accusation of instigating it,” the statement reads.
It called upon the government to release anyone detained “solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression or peaceful assembly”.
“Harassment of media editors and executives covering stories not favoured by the authorities continues, while security forces have announced their intention to open fire on anyone suspected of carrying a bomb,” the statement says.
The rights body urged the government to ensure that “law enforcement officials do not use excessive or unnecessary force and that where force is used, that force is in accordance with international standards”.
Turning to the war crimes tribunal, it said, “In yet another manifestation of the current repressive climate for human rights in Bangladesh, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) appears to be using contempt of court convictions in a way that shrinks the space for freedom of expression.”
It also asked the government to make sure that all the institutions of the state abide by the human rights obligations to which Bangladesh has committed.