Dhaka: A global human rights group has accused authorities in Bangladesh of using abusive measures in handling a student-led protest calling for safer roads. New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Tuesday that ruling party men armed with sticks and machetes have swooped in on protesters and journalists since the students took to the streets on July 29 after two students were killed in a road accident in Dhaka.
Several journalists, including an Associated Press (AP) photographer, were injured in attacks with sharp weapons, sticks and iron rods by youths wearing helmets at Dhanmondi, Jigatala and Science Laboratory areas on Sunday, while covering the protests.
Human Rights Watch also criticised the arrest of a renowned activist and photographer Shahidul Alam on charges of spreading false information about the protest. The protests grew last week, becoming a major embarrassment to the government, which faces a general election later in 2018.
Bangladesh approves new road safety law, mulls death penalty
- The Bangladesh government approved the draft of the Road Transport Act 2018, extending the punishment for rash driving deaths.
- According to the new law, traffic offenders will be punished with a penalty of five years’ of non-bailable imprisonment as compared to the country’s existing transport law that entitled the maximum penalty of three years behind bars with the provision of bail.
- As per reports, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led government has also promised to consider capital punishment for fatal road accidents. The draft was approved at a Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister.
Arrest attackers within 72 hours: journalists
- Journalists in Bangladesh gave a 72-hour ultimatum to the government to arrest those involved in attacks on some of their colleagues while covering the unprecedented protests by the students over road safety.
- ‘Journalists gave a 72-hour ultimatum to the government for arresting the attackers. Or, they will launch tougher programmes from August 11,’ BFUJ chief Molla Jalal said.
- Meanwhile, Bangladesh Road Transport and Bridges minister Obaidul Quader has asked journalists to come up with evidence that the BCL was involved in the attacks on their colleagues.
- The journalists have demanded the government to identify and arrest those involved in attacks on journalists after analysing the video footages.
- Thousands of students brought parts of Dhaka to a standstill after two teenagers were killed by a speeding bus on July 29.
- A number of journalists also formed a human chain at the SAARC Fountain in Karwan Bazar.
Don’t punish Alam: india’s Raghu Rai urges Bangladesh PM
- Noted Indian photojournalist and a friend of Bangladesh Liberation War Raghu Rai urged Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to not punish activist and photographer Shahidul Alam in an open letter published on Facebook.
- ‘May I humbly request and plead not to punish the honest, the truthful representative of the youth. As the spirit of democracy – the truth must survive for itself that kindles the light in heart of millions of your countrymen and many of us,’ Raghu Rai wrote in the letter.