- Nov. 14, 2023
-- In response to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), prominent members of the Bangladeshi civil society have raised their concerns on alleged disinformation regarding the violent political protests in Bangladesh on October 28 that were carried out by the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami.
The OHCHR briefing, titled "Bangladesh Political Protests" and dated October 31, 2023, has been criticized for its biased and misleading portrayal of recent events and the parties involved.
Bangladeshi civil society leaders argue that the title and content of the briefing do not accurately reflect the ground reality of the incidents that transpired, especially on and after October 28, 2023.The allegations:Misrepresentation of Facts:
violent incidents were organized and carried out by the Jamaat extremist organization in Bangladesh, which included arson, police killings, and vandalism. Yet the OHCHR report labeled such activities as "political protests". This is a gross mischaracterization of what actually transpired on the ground in the preceding weeks as these protests by the opposition were violent.Specific Incidents Misconstrued:
Claims made in the OHCHR briefing about the deaths of 11 individuals, including opposition party members and other civilians were also inaccurate. It presents these deaths as part of the violence. Although the opposite is true. For example, BNP claimed Rafique Bhuiyan, 73, was murdered by police, who were following the law to stop the violent protesters. However, Mr. Bhuiyan's daughter Ms. Urmee Bhuiyan told the media that her father was not only not caught up in the violence of the protests, but that he died of a brain hemorrhage after falling off a rikshaw in Dhaka City's Shegunbagicha area.
Another conflicting piece of information, which was reported by the OHCHR in its press briefing, was regarding the death of bus aid, Md. Nayeem, who—according to signatories to this letter and Bangladesh government sources—did not die at the protests but was actually burned to death by "opposition protesters" in the early hours of October 29th while he was sleeping.
Furthermore, Bangladesh's leading English daily, The Daily Star, ran an article and headline titled, "BNP man falls to his death," regarding the passing of Abdur Rashid's an opposition activist. The publication, quoting eyewitnesses, stated that Rashid fell to his death during the protest. However, nearly every other mainstream media publication reported that Rashid met his demise by falling from the rooftop of an under-construction building while fleeing after setting fire to a bus in the other part of Dhaka City on October 29.Evidence of Violence by Opposition Protesters:
A number of eyewitness statements provide detailed evidence of violence perpetrated by opposition protesters, including the brutal killing of a police constable and the burning of a bus.Media Coverage and Misinformation:
The OHCHR briefing has been picked up as fact by several international news agencies without taking into consideration that the information was not accurate.Police Response and Law Enforcement:
Bangladesh civil society members have actually come out in defense or the actions of the Bangladeshi police during the protests, stating that they used standard non-lethal means to control the situation, contrary to what the OHCHR briefing suggests.A Call for Accurate Reporting
The civil society members urge the OHCHR to verify facts and figures more diligently and to provide a more accurate version of events to the public including the need for impartial and factual representation of the incidents.Signatories of the Statement
Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Economist & Environmentalist;
Dr. Sarwar Ali, Freedom Fighter, Trustee of Freedom War Museum and Executive President of Chhayanat; Professor Dr. Kamrul Hasan Khan, Freedom Fighter and Former Vice Chancellor, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU); Mr. K. H. Masud Siddiqui, Former Secretary and Former Member, Bangladesh Public Service Commission (PSC); Mr. Mohammed Nurul Huda, Former Inspector General of Bangladesh Police (IGP), Secretary & Columnist; Professor Dr. Md. Mustafizur Rahman, Former Vice Chancellor, Bangamata Sheikh Fojilatunnesa Mujib Science & Technology University; Mr. Ujjwal Bikash Dutta, Former Secretary and Former Member, Bangladesh Public Service Commission (PSC); Mr. Ramendu Majumdar, Actor and Stage Director; Professor Dr. Kanak Kanti Barua, Former Vice Chancellor, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU); Dr. Hassan Mahmood Khandker, Former Inspector General of Bangladesh Police & Ambassador; Ambassador Md. Abdul Hannan; Mr. Nasiruddin Yousuff Bacchu, Freedom Fighter, Writer and Cultural Activist; Mr. Saurendra Nath Chakrabhartty, Former Senior Secretary; Mr. Mohammad Sirajul Hoque Khan, Former Secretary; Mr. Mozammel Babu, President, Editors Guild; Mr. Aparup Chowdhury, Former Secretary; Mr. Mofidul Hoque, Trustee, Liberation War Museum; Mr. Asaduzzaman Mia, Former Police Commissioner, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP); Mr. Ashoke Kumar Biswas, Former Secretary; Kazi Reazul Hoque, Former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh; Dr. Proshanto Kumar Roy, Former Secretary; Mr. Md. Nasir Uddin Ahmed, Former Secretary; Mr. Subir Kishore Choudhury, Former Secretary; Mr. Md. Abdus Samad, Former Senior Secretary; Ambassador Suhrab Hossain; Mr. Molla Waheeduzzaman, Former Chairman, Privatization Commission; Prof. Dr. Muhammad Samad, Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Dhaka; Lieutenant Colonel (Retd.) Quazi Sazzad Ali Zahir, BP; Dr. Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Former Principal Secretary; Mr. Ashok Madhab Roy, Former Secretary; Ambassador AKM Atiqur Rahman; Dr. Benazir Ahmed, Former Inspector General of Bangladesh Police (IGP); Mr. Tanvir Mokammel, Filmmaker; Ambassador Golam Muhammad; Mr. Mohammad Sahidul Hoque, Former Senior Secretary; Dr. Abdul Mannan Choudhury, Former Professor, University of Dhaka; Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad; Mr. Kashem Humayun, Journalist; Dr. Jahangir Alam Khan, Economist; Mr. Osman Gani, Freedom Fighter and Publisher, Agamee Prakashani; Ambassador Chowdhury Ikhtiar Momin; Mr. Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Former Principal Secretary; Ambassador Mahbub Uz Zaman; Dr. Muhammed Sadique, Former Secretary and Former Chairman, Bangladesh Public Service Commission (PSC); Dr. Atiur Rahman, Former Governor, Bangladesh Bank; Mr. Iqbal Mahmood, Former Chairman, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC); Dr. Rubana Huq, Vice-chancellor, Asian University for Women (AUW); Ambassador ATM Nazrul Islam; Mr. M A Quader Sarker, Former Secretary; Mr. Sunil Kanti Bose, Former Secretary; Ms. Nasima Begum, ndc, Former Chairman Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh; Mr. Shamol Kanti Ghose, Former Secretary; Mr. Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, Journalist; Mr. Md. Fazlul Hoque, Former secretary and Member PSC; Mr. Md Dilwar Bakth, Former Senior Secretary; Mr. Nasir Ahmed, Poet and Journalist; Ms. Jesmin Ara Begum, Former District Judge & Former Member, National Human Rights Commission; Mr. Mazharul Islam, Publisher, Annaprakash;
Ms. Farida Yasmin, President, National Press Club; Mr. Shyamal Dutta, General Secretary, National Press Club and Editor, Daily Vorer Kagoj; Mr. Manjurul Islam, CEO, DBC News; Professor Dr. Ikbal Arsenal, Former President, SWACHIP; Professor Dr. Deen Muhammad Nurul Hoq, Former DG, Health; Prof. Dr. Md. Nurul Amin, Department of Public Administration, Jahangirnagar University; Professor Dr. Boren Chakraborty;
Mr. Pijush Bandyopadhay, Cultural Activist; Dr. Nizam uddin, Architect and writer; Ambassador Md. Shahidul Islam; Professor Dr. M A Mannan, Former Vice-Chancellor, Bangladesh Open University; Prof. Dr. Nuzhat Choudhury; Prof. Dr. Mamun-Al Mahtab; Mr. Md. Nojibur Rahman, Former Principal Secretary and Chairman, Capital Market Stabilization Fund (CMSF); Professor Dr. Rashid Askari, Former Vice Chancellor, Islamic University, Kushtia, Bangladesh; Mr. Morshedul Islam, Filmmaker; Ms. Selina Afroze, PhD, Former Secretary; Mr. Paban Chowdhury, Former Secretary; Dr. Harun-or- Rashid, Former Vice Chancellor, National University Bangladesh; Mr. Md. Shamsul Arefin, Former Senior Secretary; Dr. Khondaker Showkat Hossain, Former Secretary; Mr. Iqbal Habib, Architect; Dr. Masuduzzaman, Writer and Professor of Dhaka University.