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Report about ongoing student movement in Bangladesh

August 2018

 

Update about student movement in Bangladesh
As we reported earlier, the student protest is continuing, but on different forms. Students demanded immediate release of student activists before Eid ul adha festival. Government, who have control over the lower court, had understood the situation, and partially met the demand of the students. Most of the student activists got bail from lower court before Eid. But false police cases is still there, so government can harass students anytime.
Students are not occupying streets at this moment, but the anger is there. There was some protest in capital even in Eid day, but in a smaller form. As National Election is due in December this year, the tension in politics have become the national attention. Now people understand that, under this undemocratic environment, political movement is important. CPB led left Democratic alliance is now demanding participatory election under neutral government as this autocratic government and election Commission have failed to gain the confidence of people and political parties to arrange a minimum free and fair election.   
Thank you. 
Md Kibria,
Member, International department, CPB
end of update

Angered by the deaths of two college going teenagers killed by a speeding bus in the capital Dhaka on July 29, and triggered by the irresponsible comment of Shipping minister Shajahan Khan (Who is also the executive president of Bangladesh road transport workers’ Federation), tens of thousands of students in Bangladesh had taken to the streets in protest. The demonstrators, mostly students in their mid-teens, blamed the government for failing to enforce traffic laws and chanted slogans like `we want justice’. During the processions, some students even took matters into their own hands and began enforcing rules and regulations in the road. The protesters had put forward a set of demands for the government. They included strict enforcement of traffic laws, ensuring safe roads and eradicating corruption in the transport sector, resignation of shipping minister. Furthermore, they call for harsh punishments for traffic violators, including the strict punishment for reckless drivers. Bangladesh Students’ Union (BSU) leaders and activists joined the protest in many corners of capital Dhaka and all over the country to express their solidarity.

 

In support of the students agitating for safe roads across the country, Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and Democratic left alliance also demanded justice for the victims of road accidents, discipline in the transport sector and resignation of shipping minister Shajahan Khan to free the cabinet from ‘mafia’.
In several solidarity meeting and speeches CPB warned the government that the country might plunge into anarchy if it used force to disperse the students pushing for their nine-point demands. CPB stated that, Juvenile protesters had showed the way out of anarchy and lawlessness in the transport sector which is intensively controlled by public money looters. CPB the students had proven that the anarchy prevailing in the transport sector should not continue any longer.

 

As the student movement went beyond government’s control, Bangladesh's education ministry had to shut down high schools and colleges in an effort to quell the unrest. The government also promised students their demands for reforms to road safety would be considered. But, the anger hadn't subdued as. With empty promises to calm down the previous student movement about quota reform in government jobs this year, the government had completely lost people’s trust. As the movement continued and Public and Private University students also joined the movement, the government started using its force to disperse the movement. Along with the Police, the student and youth wings of ruling party attacked on protesters. A lot of protesters including CPB and Bangladesh Students union activists injured during clashes in different parts of the capital city.

 

Moreover, Police and ruling party cadres filed around 30 police cases against the students charging them for vandalism and spreading rumors. Those who supported the movement on social media and asked to protest are now being harassed by the police and Chattra league (Student wing of ruling party). Chattra league cadres are continuing assaulting and harassing general students who were involved in the protest.

 

Till now, 22 private university students have been arrested by the Police and dozens of students assaulted by the Chattra league. Police also arrested eminent Photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam and tortured him physically in police custody in charge of `instigating’ the protest as he posted some videos supporting the movement and gave an interview to Al Jazeera criticizing government actions and policies. Police are also terrorizing the students by `block raid’ in the areas where students live in. Government agencies and ruling party cadres are threatening political and social activists to stop supporting the students and their demands.

 

CPB and CPB led left democratic alliance are protesting these barbaric actions taken by the authoritarian government to stop the spontaneous movement of students. CPB demands immediate release of Shahidul Alam and arrested students. CPB also demand to arrest those cadres of ruling party who attacked general students and journalists. CPB asked the government to stop the repression against the students and fulfill students’ demands immediately.

 

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