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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Bangladesh political protests

31 October 2023

Police personnel stand guard during a rally by Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP) activists demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the release of BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia, in Dhaka on October 28, 2023. ©Credit: Photo by Ahmed Salahuddin/NurPhoto

We are deeply concerned by a series of violent incidents during ongoing protests in Bangladesh. As the country heads towards elections, we call on all political actors to make clear that such violence is unacceptable and to avoid any statements or actions that could constitute incitement to violence.

As of this 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.

We urge the Government to observe the greatest restraint to curb political tensions at this critical time, and to take steps to ensure that human rights are fully upheld, for all Bangladeshis, before, during and after the elections.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva
Ravina Shamdasani + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] or
Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9296 / [email protected] or
Jeremy Laurence +41 22 917 9383 / [email protected] or
Marta Hurtado + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected]

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