Thursday, September 8, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: Government security forces deny assault of 22 Jumma students during a peaceful student procession for constitutional recognition of indigenous people

22 indigenous students beaten and tortured by the police in Khagrachhari, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

Police authorities have denied any fault after physically attacking and indiscriminately beating 22 Jumma students during a peaceful demonstration of 900 students of Khagrachari College for constitutional recognition of indigenous people in Bangladesh on the 7th of August 2011.

GHRD’s Country Observer for Bangladesh and also Cofounder of JusticeMakers Bangladesh, Advocate Shahanur Islam went to the spot to investigate the physical assaults and beatings – taking eyewitness and victim statements. GHRD was the first human rights organisation to investigate the event.

The police have denied all wrongdoing and have threatened that if such a peaceful demonstration were to occur again, protestors can expect even worse retaliation by the police and could lose their careers. Given the denial of fault by the police authorities, it is no surprise that no case has been filed or registered with the authorities.

As the procession left from the college compound gate, upwards of 60 policemen, including the Assistant Superintendent of the Khagrachari Police and the Officer in Charge of the Kotowali Police Station, created a barrier to direct the flow towards Chengis Square. There, they suddenly attacked the students with batons, kicking and slapping them.  22 students were injured, among which four were severely injured. As the procession was heading back, officers and army men surrounded the college gate and the hospital, they picked out one student, and indiscriminately beat him, resulting in severe injured. 

This gross human rights violation cannot be tolerated. The right to peaceful assembly is an undeniable human right and the police actions are a clear violation of Bangladesh’s commitments under international human rights treaties. The events reported above were just one of the many cases where the government showed clear intention to bring a halt to the voice of the indigenous people fighting to have their fundamental rights recognized.

GHRD and Justicemakers Bangladesh demand that a full and impartial investigation into the police misconduct is required and that those responsible are punished.

The End
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