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HRW’s concern over violence

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Staff reporter
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has expressed its concern over the ‘deadly street violence’ in Bangladesh and urged both the government forces and the opposition political parties to show restraint to stop endangering lives.
The New York-based global rights watchdog urged the government to ‘publicly order security forces to avoid using lethal or excessive force when dealing with protesters, while at the same time, observed that ‘political parties, including Jamaat-i-Islami and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), should keep supporters from engaging in violence’.
The HRW made the call through a report published on its website on December 16.
“Security forces and opposition militants are engaged in a vicious cycle of attacks that are leading to death, destruction, and fear,” the report quoted HRW Asia director Brad Adams as saying.
“Jamaat and others in the opposition may have legitimate reasons to hold protests, but that is no excuse for the appalling levels of violence by their supporters,” Brad Adams said.
He observed that Bangladesh security forces and political parties have a long history of turning their members loose for political purposes, and that most victims of such political aggressions are ordinary citizens who have absolutely no involvement in politics.
The HRW report noted that more than 100 people have been killed and hundreds injured in the past two months since the political crisis in Bangladesh began over upcoming elections and the conduct of war crimes trials.
The report also recommended the government for setting up ‘an independent commission to carry out prompt, effective, and impartial investigation into the violence and hold all those responsible to account.
The recommendations to the government also include measures to ensure that the security forces are following UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
About the violence carried out under the banner of opposition parties, the report said, “Members of Jamaat and its youth wing, Shibir, and supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party have engaged in countless attacks on security forces and others. Attacks have included throwing homemade grenades and petrol bombs at police, arson attacks to enforce a road blockade, derailing passenger trains, setting fire to the homes and businesses of Hindus and Awami League officials, and throwing grenades into crowded streets.”
More than 12 ruling party activists have reportedly been killed in one district, Satkhira, known as a stronghold of the Jamaat, the report added.