Washington: Expressing concern over eruption of violence in the country that has killed more than 46 people, the US has asked Bangladesh to help calm the ongoing situation and demanded citizens to engage in peaceful protest. "While engaging in a peaceful protest is a fundamental democratic right, we believe violence is never the answer. We encourage all Bangladeshis to peacefully express their views, and we welcome peaceful efforts by the Government of Bangladesh to help calm the situation," US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters.
"We are saddened by the loss of life during protests across Bangladesh," Ventrell said in response to a question. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch said that the Bangladeshi government and the Jamaat-e-Islaami party need to act urgently to ensure that security forces and party supporters do not engage in further acts of violence, which has already led to the death of over 40 people in the last 24 hours.
The violence broke out on February 28 after the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), a specially constituted court set up to prosecute those responsible for atrocities committed during the country s 1971 war of independence, convicted the vice-president of the Jamaat party, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, of war crimes and sentenced him to death. "The leadership of Jamaat should immediately issue public statements to its followers to stop these violent, unacceptable attacks against law enforcement officers and those who support the verdicts of the war crimes trials," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
"At the same time, the government should instruct the security forces to strictly observe its obligation to use maximum restraint and avoid lethal force unless necessary to protect their lives or those of others. If cool heads don't prevail, Dhaka could dissolve into uncontrolled violence. Given the enormous outpouring of emotion over the last few weeks over the trials, with thousands gathering country wide demanding the death penalty, it was incumbent on the Jamaat leadership to have made clear to its followers before the verdict to avoid violence that could escalate out of control. At the same time, the police and other security forces have used disproportionate force in some cases, leading to preventable loss of life and further inflaming the situation," he said.