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Bangladesh: Government should initiate dialogues with teachers and refrain from using force

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The Government of Bangladesh should refrain from using force on the teachers, who have been demonstrating for a week and should instead initiate dialogue with them to meet their grievance, said the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights organization representing 47 human rights organizations from 16 Asian countries including Bangladesh.

Hundreds of teachers and employees of non-governmental schools, colleges and technical educational institutions have been demonstrating since 8 January 2013 against the state’s financial contributions to non-governmental educational institutions. They intended to meet the concerned authorities and submit their memorandum, only to be met by teargas, baton and pepper spray from the law enforcers to disperse them. The teachers were not even allowed to stage hunger strike on the premises of the Central Shaheed Minar (language martyrs monument), which is a symbol for democratic protests against all sort of injustices.

“We strongly condemn this heavy-handedness showed by the police. This is a clear violation of the Constitution of Bangladesh that guarantees the rights of peaceful assembly and association as fundamental rights of its citizens, as well as the international human rights laws with regard to peaceful assembly and association including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Bangladesh is a state party,” said Yap Swee Seng, the Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.

The group urged the Government of Bangladesh to heed the advice of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, whose chairman has also condemned the brutality of the police and asked the Government to respect and protect peoples’ right to peaceful assembly and association.

“We witnessed with grave concern that the law enforcers have always try to link such protests with alleged ‘conspiracy’ to topple the Government. This is completely unjustifiable as these poor teachers have come to the capital from all over the country to put their demand in completely peaceful means and to make their voice heard by the government,” stated Yap.

“Obviously, the brutal clamping down of the demonstration of the teachers is a gross violation of freedom of peaceful assembly and association, said Yap, referring to General Comment No.31 of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, that oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, stated “where restrictions are made, States must demonstrate their necessity and only take such measures as are proportionate to the pursuance of legitimate aims in order to ensure continuous and effective protection of Covenant rights”.

Noting that Bangladesh is going to submit its national report for the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of its human rights record at the end of this month to the United Nations Human Rights Council, FORUM-ASIA urged the Government of Bangladesh to make use of this opportunity to show its political will in respecting and protecting human rights and address the grievances of the teachers through dialogues.

For further inquiries, please contact:

1. Mr. Sayeed Ahmad, FORUM-ASIA, Country Program Manager, +66842176150, [email protected]

2. Ahmed Abid, FORUM-ASIA, South Asia Program Officer, +66846719735, [email protected]

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