New York: Bangladesh should set up an independent commission to probe the large numbers of deaths and injuries during the Hefazat-e-Islaam-led protests May 5-6, Human Rights Watch said Saturday.
The commission should also investigate violence that killed dozens in February, March and April after protests and counter-protests following the verdicts by the country’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).
The exact number of deaths during the May 5-6 protest remains unclear, with figures ranging from the official figure of 11 deaths to Hefazat’s estimate of thousands.
Independent news sources put the figure at approximately 50 dead, with others succumbing to injuries later. The dead include several security personnel.
“Bangladesh will see a plethora of demonstrations this year in response to additional verdicts from the ICT and in the run-up to national elections,” said Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch.
“Without an independent investigation, accountability, and improved policing methods, we could see serial bloodbaths.”
Human Rights Watch called on opposition parties such as the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Jammat-e-Islami Party as well as organisations such as Hefazat to condemn and take steps to deter their supporters from carrying out unlawful attacks, including on law enforcement officers or members of the public with different political views.
It called on the government to publicly order the security forces to exercise restraint while dealing with demonstrations.