On May 23, 2023, members of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) clashed with police during a demonstration on government corruption, police harassment, and a rise in commodity prices, among other issues.
According to the police, they tried dispersing the reportedly peaceful protesters, but when activists refused to leave and began to throw stones, they subsequently fired tear gas into the crowd. Police also reported that the protesters vandalized a bus by setting it on fire. Police reportedly detained 10 student activists.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence in the course of a student-led protest. While state authorities have the right to take reasonable measures to ensure order, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from disproportionate actions, actions that may result in unnecessary harm, and or actions which encroach on the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – conduct which is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bangladesh is a party. Likewise, while students have the right to publicly assemble and express themselves on and off campus, such actions must be conducted peacefully and responsibly. Violence in the course of an on-campus protest, coming from any source, undermines academic freedom and democratic society more generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)