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FORUM-ASIA calls out systematic repression in Bangladesh, demands fair elections

FORUM-ASIA raises alarm over ongoing repression against opposition parties in Bangladesh, emphasizing the need for peaceful protests and democratic elections. With escalating violence and arrests during recent demonstrations, the organization urges authorities to adhere to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, and end repression against dissent.



DHAKA, BANGLADESH: The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) has raised alarm over ongoing repression against opposition parties in Bangladesh, specifically targeting their peaceful protests.

The network of 85 member organisations across 23 countries issued a stern call to action, appealing to the Bangladeshi authorities to immediately halt violence and uphold the citizens’ right to assemble peacefully.

It stressed the importance of adhering to democratic principles to ensure the forthcoming elections, slated for January 2024, are conducted freely and fairly.

On 29 July, a volatile situation ensued when hundreds of workers from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) held sit-in protests at all access points to the capital city of Dhaka.

The situation took a severe turn when police reportedly deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons to disperse the crowds.

In retaliation, BNP workers allegedly threw bricks and targeted police vehicles with sticks.

This clash resulted in injuries to over 100 opposition party workers and approximately 20 police officers.

Furthermore, the BNP has claimed that at least 124 of its members have been arrested by law enforcement.

This incident is not an isolated event; previous demonstrations led by opposition parties have faced similar violent confrontations, tear gas attacks, assaults, and arrests at the hands of police.

These events are part of a broader political scenario, where the opposition, including the BNP, is calling for the resignation of the incumbent government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The opposition has consistently accused the current administration of rigging the 2018 elections, sparking apprehensions about potential manipulation in the upcoming electoral process.

FORUM-ASIA expressed deep concern over these occurrences and the ongoing crackdown on dissenters.

The organization asserts that such actions significantly undermine the democratic fabric of Bangladesh and infringe on the citizens’ basic rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, protest, and freedom of expression.

In its call to action, the group urged the authorities to show restraint and adhere to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

They emphasized that the repression of dissent and violence against protesters must come to an end.

The statement concluded by urging the Bangladesh government to foster a conducive environment for free and fair elections, indicating the international community’s keen interest in the country’s adherence to democratic principles and human rights.

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