Activists hold placards during a demonstration demanding the repeal of the Digital Security Act in Dhaka. AFP
Hundreds of people in Bangladesh took part on Saturday in a second day of demonstrations sparked by the death of a writer at a high security prison in a case that has drawn international concern.
Protesters marched at the University of Dhaka chanting slogans condemning the government’s treatment of Mushtaq Ahmed as well as other dissident writers, journalists and activists.
Another protest was staged at the National Press Club.
Demonstrators demanded the scrapping of Bangladesh’s hardline Digital Security Act (DSA) under which Ahmed was imprisoned. The law has been used to crack down on dissent since it was enacted in 2018.
Security forces clashed with students in Dhaka on Friday night. Police said six people were arrested while activists said at least 30 were injured.
Ahmed collapsed and died at Kashimpur High Security Prison late on Thursday. He was first detained in May after criticising on Facebook the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 53-year-old, a crocodile farmer and a writer known for his satirical style, was charged with spreading rumours and conducting “anti-state activities.”
UAE commits additional $230 million aid for people of Yemen
Founder's Memorial, a creative tribute to Zayed eternal legacy
Protesters have called his death a “custodial murder” after he was denied bail six times in 10 months.
“Mushtaq Ahmed’s death was not a normal death. We’ll say it was a murder,” said Manisha Chakraborty, a protester with a left wing group.
Demonstrators said they would march to the office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina carrying a coffin later Saturday.
Facing international questions on the case, authorities have ordered a probe into Ahmed’s death, senior government official S.M. Tarikul Islam told AFP.
“We formed a committee to probe whether there was negligence by jail officials or procedures in his treatment,” Islam said.
Thirteen ambassadors from countries including the United States, France, Britain, Canada and Germany have expressed “grave concern.”
“We call on the government of Bangladesh to conduct a swift, transparent and independent inquiry into the full circumstances of Mr. Mushtaq Ahmed’s death,” the ambassadors said in a statement released late on Friday.
They said their countries would be following up over “wider concerns about the provisions and implementation of the DSA, as well as questions about its compatibility with Bangladesh’s obligations under international human rights laws and standards.”
Rights groups have also raised concerns about the case.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for “a swift, transparent and independent investigation”, while PEN America said authorities should drop charges against Kabir Kishore, a cartoonist who was detained along with Ahmed.
The CPJ said Kishore passed a note to his brother during a hearing this week stating that he had been subjected to severe physical abuse in police custody.
The clashes, which began on Friday at the main mosque in the capital Dhaka, spread to several key districts in the the Muslim majority nation of 168 million, leaving five people dead and scores injured.
Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who had just turned 20, had been on life support since being taken to hospital on Feb.9, after she was hit by what doctors said was a live bullet at a protest in the capital, Naypyitaw.
Protests rocked Bangladesh on Saturday as hundreds of people took to the streets to demand justice after a series of rapes and sexual assaults that have spurred the government to seek capital punishment for offenders.
An average of 30 people a day were killed by firearms in S.Africa in the first three months of this year, according to official crime statistics. During the same three months, police recorded more than 4,000 cases of illegal possession of guns.
Sheikh Sultan praised the efforts of the multi-sectoral Unesco Regional Office and their continuous initiatives to support children in the Arab world, stressing that Sharjah always seeks to enhance cooperation in this field.
In their first detailed briefing on the crash, Indian Railways officials said that failure of the track management system was the main focus of investigations.