On August 4, 2018, police reportedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas at university and high school students protesting for improved road safety. At least 25 students were injured.
The students’ protest was in response to a July 29 incident in which a speeding bus killed two students. Tens of thousands of students took to the streets following the crash, demanding improved road safety conditions. The August 4 protest, which took place in Dhaka’s Jigatala neighborhood, became violent when police and alleged members of the pro-government Awami League used violent force against the student protesters. This reportedly included police firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the students, including students rushing to nearby hospitals for treatment. Police have denied reports that they fired rubber bullet or tear gas at the protesters.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violent force against students apparently to restrict or retaliate against the peaceful exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bangladesh is a party. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with such activity, so long as it is undertaken peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.