Sat. Dec 2nd, 2023

By an author (Not willing to publish name)

Bangladesh ranked 162nd out of 180 countries according to the RSF 2022 World Press Freedom Index (The Daily Star May 4, 2022: Bangladesh 162nd out of 180 countries in Press Freedom Index, scores lowest in South Asia). Freedom of expression is seriously controlled by the draconian law, Digital Security Act (DSA). The harsh and abusive law by which Bangladesh authorities enforce power  to harass and indefinitely detain activists, journalists, and others critical of the government and its political leadership. Bangladesh authorities often arbitrarily or even deliberately arrest anyone who criticizes the government, especially the prime minister or her family. The DSA  were used systematically to target and harass dissenting voices, including those of journalists, cartoonists, writers, activists and human rights defenders. According to Human Rights report 2021, The Bangladesh government authorities imprisoned 433 people under the Digital Security Act, the majority of whom were held on allegations of publishing “false or offensive information. This law and  action by authorities is contradictory to Bangladesh’s commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as its domestic constitutional obligations. 

Here is some example as follows: In 2021, Human rights defender Shahnewaz Chowdhury was arrested for sharing his opinion in a facebook post and charged for deteriorating law and order. Same year, Journalist Rozina Islam was arrested and accused of stealing confidential documents. Actually she was trying to collect information about the agreement between China and Bangladesh about the COVID 19 vaccines deals. The Bangladesh government has not yet shared the price and deal of vaccines from China.  In October 2021, Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB- Paramilitary force) arrested Nusrat Shahrin Raka under DSA and Narcotics Control Act.  Actually her brother, journalist Kanak Sarwar was exiled a few years ago from Bangladesh because of publishing a news report of the son (Tareq Rahman) of opposition party’s leader (Khaleda Zia). Now, he is living overseas, he often criticizes the Bangladesh government in his youtube channel. He said that his sister was targeted and arrested in retaliation for his criticism of the government. Raka also filed a complaint with the police about a fake Facebook account that was created using her information to victimize her. With the reference of local human rights group Ain o Salish Kendra, Amnesty International Bangladesh 2021 report said that at least 157 people were killed and 10,833 injured in 932 incidents of political violence and clashes with the police and between supporters of ruling and opposition political parties during 2021. Report also said that on 25 March, at least 14 people, including a journalist, were injured at a demonstration which opposed the visit of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh. A political cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishor was arrested and detained along with writer Mushtaq Ahmed under the Digital Security Act, for posting satirical cartoons and comments on Facebook, critiquing the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mushtaq Ahmed died after 10 months in prison without trial due to ill-torture by authority. As well Kishore lost his hearing ability in his right ear due to the massive torture. A number of journalists, scholars are residing outside of the country because of fearness of being a victim of torture and killing. 

In summary, Bangladesh authority or ruling party uses digital security act; forceful disappearance; extrajudicial killing by the name crossed-fire; fake or fabricated criminal charge; etc to crackdown the opposition. Since 2009, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League won a third consecutive  election, keeping her at the top of the power, holding a firm grip  on the country’s politics, and establishing a one-party monopoly. No one can protest against her dynasty. Thus, people of Bangladesh outcry for democracy and seek help from the international organizations to discuss with the Bangladesh ruling party as well as other political parties in order to find a better political solution.  

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