Bangladesh: Increasing repression of Freedom of Expression and the Right to Protest
This blog was written by Jerry Allen, Country Coordinator for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
Freedom of expression and the right to protest are being repressed in Bangladesh in the build-up to the elections in January 2024. The situation is increasing volatile in Bangladesh. This Blog raises awareness of this situation based on Amnesty reports. Here are recent statements by Amnesty International on the situation over the last few weeks:
16th August: Amnesty International is deeply concerned to learn that the whereabouts of six leaders of Chhatra Dal - the student wing of the main opposition party - are currently unknown.
21st August: Amnesty International is deeply concerned to learn about allegations that opposition leader, Mominul Islam Jishan, has been subjected to custodial torture by the police.
21st August: Bangladesh law enforcement authorities allegedly used live bullets against protesters. Amnesty states that the government of Bangladesh must urgently stop unlawful force against protestors and respect the right to freedom of expression.
22nd August: Open letter to the government on proposed “Cyber Security Act”: “our preliminary reading of the draft law leads us to conclude that the draft CSA retains the repressive provisions of the DSA which have persistently been used to threaten and restrict the right to freedom of expression in Bangladesh.”
23rd August: Amnesty International is deeply concerned by the arrest of Anisha Siddika, a 58-year-old woman who was apparently detained over her son’s Facebook post criticizing the trial and conviction of an opposition politician by Bangladesh’s controversial International Crimes Tribunal.
31st August: Government must remove draconian provisions from the Draft Cyber Security Act.
10th August: The Bangladesh authorities should cease their continued criminalization and harassment of Bangladesh human rights group, Odhikar, 21 human rights groups. Authorities should drop politically-motivated charges against Odhikar’s leaders.
4th August: Unlawful use of force against protesters must end immediately. The Bangladeshi authorities must urgently end the use of excessive force against protesters, Amnesty International said today, after verifying evidence of reports of violent attacks against protesters and opposition party leaders during a sit-in protest organized by the country’s main opposition party, on 28 and 29 July. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/08/bangladesh-unlawful-use-of-force-against-protesters-must-end-immediately/
31st July: Authorities must de-escalate the ongoing crisis and respect the rights of protesters. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/07/bangladesh-authorities-must-de-escalate-the-ongoing-crisis-and-respect-the-rights-of-protesters/
The Protect the Protest page on the AIUK website links to two blogs on the subject:
- 19th July: Police must avoid unnecessary force after protest violence. One activist dead and hundreds injured at opposition protests. ‘Having different political views is not tolerated within the country’ - Yasasmin Kaviratne
- December 2022: Authorities send a 'chilling message' when opening fire at protestors.
The May 2023 AIUK Magazine included an article on Free speech in Bangladesh: “Newspaper under Attack”.
1st September: the BBC reported that more than 170 global figures have called on Bangladesh's prime minister Sheikh Hasina to stop the "persecution" of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, the "banker to the poor".
5th September: Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “We are very concerned by the continued intimidation and harassment of human rights advocates and civil society leaders through legal proceedings in Bangladesh, including Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus, known for his work on poverty alleviation through Grameen Bank, and two leaders of the respected human rights organization Odhikar.”
28th August: Authorities must immediately release university student Khadijatul Kubra. Khadijatul Kubra (Khadija) has been in detention under the Digital Security Act, for a year. Khadija is a 19 year-old university student charged for hosting a webinar where a guest made remarks that were critical of the Bangladesh government.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.