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Bangladesh Urged to Probe Islamist Deaths

Published: 12/05/2013 12:18:24 AM GMT
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DHAKA — Troubled by images of police violently attacking peaceful protesters, an international human rights body has urged the Bangladeshi government to set up an independent commission to investigate deaths and injuries to p (more)

DHAKA — Troubled by images of police violently attacking peaceful protesters, an international human rights body has urged the Bangladeshi government to set up an independent commission to investigate deaths and injuries to prevent future bloodbaths in the Muslim country.

“Bangladesh will see a plethora of demonstrations this year in response to additional verdicts from the ICT and in the run-up to national elections,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net on Saturday, May 11.

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“Without an independent investigation, accountability, and improved policing methods, we could see serial bloodbaths.”Scores of protesters have been killed in a violent police breakup of a rally by tens of thousands of Islamists in the capital Dhaka demanding anti-blasphemy laws last week.

The exact number of deaths during the May 5-6 protest remains unclear, with figures ranging from the official government figure of 11 deaths to thousands by organizers Hefazat.Independent news sources put the figure at approximately 50 dead, with others succumbing to injuries later.

Clashes erupted after police fired teargas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the protestors, led by a group called Hefajat-e-Islam.

The protestors say their want to reinstate pledges to Allah in the constitution, new laws to ban blasphemy and Islamic education be mandatory.HRW called on the government to publicly order the security forces to follow the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

Adams also criticized Hefajat-e-Islam or Protectorate of Islam for recruiting boys from seminaries to take part in the demonstrations.

They “were terrified by the experience of seeing dead bodies and large-scale violence”, Adams said.

“Putting children in harm's way is extremely irresponsible.”

Responsibility

The leading rights organization urged to Bangladeshi government to shoulder its responsibilities towards victims.

“The Bangladeshi government has a responsibility to victims, whether protesters, bystanders or police, to ensure that an effective investigation is carried out into each death,” Adams said.

“The toxic swirl of rumor and rhetoric surrounding the protest of May 5-6 will only get worse unless the government acts quickly in a transparent manner.“Given the lack of trust between various parties, it is imperative that these answers come from an independent and impartial body.”

Bangladesh is the world's third-largest Muslim majority nation with a population of some 148 million.

The country has been in turmoil over the trial of Islamist leaders on alleged war crimes during the 1971 independence war.

Tension further escalated over postings by bloggers seen as defaming Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

The turbulence also followed constitutional amendments that eliminated the state principles of absolute trust and faith in Allah the Almighty.

More than 100 people have been killed in the clashes this year in clashes between Islamists and security forces.

A flashpoint could be the reaction to the May 9 death penalty handed down against Mohamed Kamaruzzaman, a leading official of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, for alleged war crimes.

The new violence could plunge Bangladesh into a cycle of violence as the two main political parties, locked in decades of mutual distrust, exploit the tension between secularists and Islamists ahead of elections that are due by next January.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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