At least one person is dead and dozens more are injured after clashes across Bangladesh between activists of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the opposition Awami League.
According to the U.S. State Department’s latest human rights report, violence has become a pervasive element in Bangladesh, both in politics and against government institutions. Human rights monitors say that over three-hundred people were killed and nearly nine-thousand others were injured in political violence in Bangladesh during 2005.
In January of that year, an Awami League leader, Shah A.M.S. Kibria, and four others died in a grenade attack on a political rally in Habinganj. In August 2005, coordinated bombings in sixty-three of the country’s sixty-four districts, mostly targeting courts and judicial institutions, killed two persons and wounded over one-hundred others. Bangladeshi authorities recently arrested Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai, leaders of the banned Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh extremist group, for their part in these bombings and other attacks.
Extrajudicial killings by security forces increased during the year. According to press reports, nearly four-hundred people were killed by the Bangladesh military, the police, and the government’s Rapid Action Battalion security force in crossfire incidents. “Nearly all abuses went uninvestigated and unpunished,” says the State Department report. Other violations of human rights in Bangladesh include arbitrary arrest, torture, lengthy pretrial detentions, restrictions on freedom of the press and infringements of religious freedom.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. has a special obligation to promote human rights:
“That is why we are working with other democracies to develop the institutions that will ensure human rights are respected over the long term.”
Ms. Rice said the U.S. “must help struggling democracies deliver on the high hopes of their citizens for a better life.”
The United States will continue to support the people and government of Bangladesh on human rights issues. The Bangladesh government must act to protect the rights of all of its people in accordance with its constitution. Otherwise, Bangladesh's reputation as a tolerant, moderate society will be tarnished.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.