OHCHR calls govt to show greatest restraint, uphold human rights

Reuters file photo

Amid the ongoing political unrest in Bangladesh, the office of the high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) at the United Nations has urged the government to 'observe the greatest restraint while curbing the tensions'.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the OHCHR said, “We are deeply concerned by the series of violent incidents during ongoing protests. We urge the government to observe the greatest restraint to curb political tensions at this critical time, and to ensure that human rights are fully upheld, before, during and after the elections.”

A policeman in action in Dhaka on 28 October.

It also made clear that such violence is unacceptable and called on political actors to avoid any statements or actions that could constitute incitement to violence.

The statement noted that as of Tuesday morning, at least 11 people have died in connection with the protests in many parts of the country. Among the dead are two policemen, six opposition party staff members and two bystanders.

On 28 October, opposition protesters allegedly attacked the residences of the chief justice and other judges, and approximately 30 journalists were assaulted by protesters and masked individuals riding on motorcycles, who are thought to have been ruling party supporters.

In responding to the protests, police have reportedly attacked protesters with rods, batons, rubber bullets and sound grenades. They have also raided the homes of opposition activists across the country, indiscriminately arresting and detaining hundreds, including the activists’ family members.

We urge the police to ensure that force is only used when strictly necessary and, if so, in full compliance with the principles of legality, precaution and proportionality.

On 30 October, the head of the opposition BNP, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, was arrested and charged under the explosive substances act in connection with the alleged arson attack on the chief justice’s residence. He remains in detention. Several other senior opposition leaders are reported to have gone into hiding for fear of arrest.