The Human Rights Forum Bangladesh (HRFB), a coalition of 20 human rights bodies, on Sunday voiced concern over plainclothes police’s obstruction to BNP’s ‘peaceful’ sit-in programme in front of the Jatiya Press Club.
A statement, signed by HRFB convener Sheepa Hafiz, said law enforcers’ attitude was contrary to the Constitution as plainclothes police suddenly attacked a ‘peaceful’ ongoing sit-in programme of BNP and desperately dragged away Chhatra Dal Dhaka north unit president SM Mizanur Rahman tearing off his clothes after a serious tussle on March 8.
“The on-duty police members need to keep it in mind that the right to rallies and expressing thoughts and opinions is recognised as basic rights through the Constitution’s articles 37and 39. “It’s the responsibility of the police force to protect the rights, not to violate those,” the statement reads.
Referring to the media reports, it said HRFB observed that police took tough stance against BNP’s recent different peaceful programmes.
On February 24 last, the statement said, police charged batons and splashed water from a water cannon before dispersing BNP leaders and activists who gathered in front of their party’s Nayapaltan central office to stage their scheduled black-flag demonstration demanding party chairperson Khaleda Zia’s release from jail. “Around 50 leaders and activists of the party were also arrested.”
It said holding public rally, protest meeting, and taking out procession are political parties’ ‘democratic rights which are also recognised by the Constitution. “It’s the duty of the law enforcers to ensure safe and peaceful exercise of the rights.”
The HRFB observed that such attacking attitude of the law enforcers towards exercise of civic rights is unexpected and unacceptable. “We demand the law enforcers play more responsible role with tolerance. We also urge them to be respectful to the right of holding peaceful rallies and meetings.”unb