South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, vehemently condemns the assaults on and arrests of Bangladeshi students protesting to amend the government quota system.
Since April 2018, students, teachers, and citizens’ groups in Bangladesh have been protesting to amend a government recruitment system which accommodates only 44% of positions on a purely meritocratic basis. Protestors have made a range of demands, some calling for reform or a total abolition of quotas and retention of quotas for women and marginalized groups. In the past few weeks, ruling party affiliated student groups have physically assaulted protesting students across the country. The police have also assaulted and arrested university teachers and rights activists.
While the Bangladeshi government has recently set up a committee to examine the issue, the continued violent repression of peaceful protesters is an unacceptable violation of the basic rights to freedom of assembly and peaceful protest.
SAHR calls for an independent judicial inquiry into these violations of human rights. SAHR also advocates the government to ramp up efforts to find an equitable solution to the quotas conundrum; one that will allow greater meritocracy while protecting vulnerable groups.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights.