HRW accuses govt of becoming ‘increasingly authoritarian’

David Bergman

Human Rights Watch accused the Bangladesh government of ‘heading down an increasingly authoritarian path’ in an intervention before the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
Philippe Dam, deputy director of the international rights organisation in Geneva, told the UN Council that since January 2014 ‘disappearances and arbitrary arrests of opposition party members, closing down critical media, and arresting and charging editors and bloggers, journalists and civil society members have become more common.’
The statement said, ‘Thousands of opposition members and protesters were arrested, and unknown numbers remain in custody. Many opposition leaders have chosen to leave the country or go into hiding.’
The statement went onto criticise the country’s security forces, ‘whose extrajudicial killings and other frequent abuses have been independently documented over successive governments, continue to enjoy near total impunity.’
In an interview with the Guardian, published on Monday, prime minister Sheikh Hasina rejected accusations of authoritarian rule. ‘All the democratic institutions are working and people are satisfied and people are enjoying it,’ she said.
Philippe Dam told New Age that the rights watchdog focused on Bangladesh in its three minute intervention before the 30th meeting of the UN human rights body as the country had a ‘large number of chronic and serious human rights violations which fly under the radar on the global scene.’
Philippe said, ‘We feel that international attention is needed to address all these concerns, [and] that the Bangladesh government has shown no capacity or political will to address these issues.’
The statement, broadcast live on the internet, also criticised the government’s failure in taking ‘sufficient steps to protect bloggers expressing atheist sentiments, leading to the brutal murders of four bloggers in 2015 alone.’
Although the Bangladesh government had an opportunity to respond before the Human Rights Council, it did not do so.

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