On July 29, university students Dia Khanam Mim and Abdul Karim Rajib were struck and killed by a bus in Dhaka, Bangladesh when two bus drivers were racing to pick up passengers. Since then, students have taken to the streets to demand safer roads in this country where more than 4,000 pedestrians were killed in road accidents last year.
According to a source, who asked to be kept anonymous due to safety concerns, these students “have been protesting peacefully” and “took it upon themselves to manage traffic.” They have created emergency lanes, checked the licenses of passing drivers, and otherwise regulated traffic.
The protests were met with violence.
“This protest was entirely peaceful, wholesome and supported by most citizens. The government’s reaction to this was to send out student political parties to also don school uniforms and partake in the demonstrations,” according to the source, who said these individuals then proceeded to violently attack protesters and to vandalize public property.
According to the BBC, police have reportedly used tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters, most of whom are teen-aged students, reportedly as young as 13. There have also been clashes between the protesters and pro-government groups who are said to be members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) which is a student organization that supports the ruling Awami League party.
At least 150 people were injured in clashes on Aug. 4 according to Bangladeshi English-languages newspaper, The Daily Star. This included students, pedestrians, journalists, and ruling party activists, according to the newspaper.
The violence continued Monday and, according to the same source cited earlier, “today police and Bangladesh Chattro League attacked all private university in Dhaka.” He added, “They literally went into private university and attacked students.”
Journalists and anyone attempting to record these protests have been targeted. According to The Daily Star, four of their journalists were attacked while covering the protests. The three men were beaten, and two of them were taken to the police station where they were reportedly beaten again. The woman was groped and harassed until she could convince pro-government men that she had deleted her video of the protests.
Journalists within Bangladesh are risking their safety and their liberty to tell the world what is happening. These events, however, have not received much attention in the international press. The world should know what is happening here and should demand the protection of the journalists, peaceful protesters, and children who are being attacked and threatened.
Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2