As protests in solidarity with Black American George Floyd, killed by police in the state of Minnesota, spread across the globe, Bangladeshi students mark two years since two movements were brutally crushed by police and security forces in the country. Two years of impunity for attacks and gross violations of human rights of young people demanding simple government reforms.

In April 2018, university student protesters took to the streets to demand reforms to the national quota system in government employment, which had left highly-educated graduates from poorer sections of society with menial jobs and poor future prospects. The protests broke out amid growing inequality and government’s and politicians’ failures to address this problem. A few months later, a bus ran over two schoolchildren leading in Dhaka to spontaneous protests throughout the country. Citizens were demanding the enforcement of basic road safety laws.

Police and other security forces, as well as ruling-party-aligned cadres, responded with force to both movements, using teargas, rubber bullets, high-pressure hot water cannons and other makeshift weapons. The police then launched an open-ended and unspecific chargesheet that allowed them to round up student leaders and human rights defenders, some of whom complained of torture while in police detention.

Democracy under attack

Journalists documenting the events...

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