Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam arrested over ‘provocative comments’

Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam arrested over ‘provocative comments’

Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam arrested over ‘provocative comments’

Armed men attacked a convoy of cars carrying the USA envoy to Bangladesh in the capital Dhaka on Saturday night.

With Bangladesh heading to elections this year, Waraich warned, "t is crucial that the government adheres to its global obligations, including the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and security of persons".

The United Nations said it was "deeply concerned about the reports of violence" and that concerns about road safety were "legitimate".

The protests in Dhaka and beyond began after a speeding bus killed two teenagers on Jul 29, with demonstrators pressing for the government to get to grips with Bangladesh's chaotic and lethal roads.

The latest clashes on Monday in the Rampura neighbourhood saw police use tear gas to dispel hundreds of students from a private university, local police chief Rafiqul Islam told AFP. "These rights should be respected and protected, and there should be an immediate and effective investigation into the use of force by police, the violent actions of pro-government vigilantes who also attacked the students, and why the police did nothing to stop them".

After initially dismissing students' concerns, the government sought to mollify them, approving a draft law on Monday that would beef up the maximum penalty for accidents caused by reckless driving to five years' in prison, up from the current three.

But it was not immediately clear whether the government was extending the application of the death penalty to road offences, or saying that deliberate or reckless killings with a vehicle would be prosecuted under existing laws of murder or culpable homicide that already attract capital punishment. The police fired tear gas shells to disperse protesters on Sunday.

Bangladeshi students shout slogans and block a road during a protest in Dhaka Bangladesh
Bangladeshi students shout slogans and block a road during a protest in Dhaka Bangladesh

The students issued nine demands including the construction of speed bumps on unsafe roads, the enforcement of laws requiring licences and the death penalty for reckless drivers who cause death.

Abdus Shabbir, an emergency room doctor, told the French news agency (AFP) his hospital had treated more 115 students Saturday and some of them had injuries consistent with rubber bullets.

Police arrested an actress on Friday night for spreading rumours to instigate violence by alleging that four protesting women students were taken to hostages at ruling Awami League's Dhanmandi office.

Dozens of protesters were attacked by people alleged to be ruling party activists, some armed with machetes, leaving scores injured including half a dozen photographers.

Alam had posted photos and a live video of the protests on his Facebook page a few hours before he was detained.

He said the sense of alienation and impunity had been deepened by the prosecution in recent months of the country's main opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, and the jailing or deaths and disappearances of thousands of opposition activists in past years.

Bangladeshi students shout slogans and block a road during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh. "His arrest marks a unsafe escalation of a crackdown by the government that has seen the police and vigilantes unleash violence against student protestors", said Omar Waraich, Amnesty International's Deputy South Asia Director.

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