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2 British MPs urge Bangladesh govt to protect free speech

  • Published at 03:47 pm August 16th, 2018
File photo of renowned photographer Shahidul Alam Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

They also called for rights to peaceful protest to be upheld

Two British MPs of Bangladeshi origin – Rushanara Ali and Rupa Huq – have urged the Bangladesh government to protect people’s rights to peaceful protest and free speech.

British Labour Party MP Rushanara Ali, in a statement, on Wednesday, said: Incidents of unlawful or disproportionate violence or action against protestors and journalists must be brought to an end. The right to peaceful protest and free speech should be protected, and the perpetrators of violence should be held to account.”

She went on to mention in the statement that it was deeply concerning that student protests seeking better road safety had led to violent clashes; she welcomed the government’s recognition of the need to improve road safety, and hoped that progress would follow as a matter of urgency.

In Bangladesh, thousands of students protested  following the death of two of their peers—who had been killed by a speeding bus on July 29. The demonstrators had been demanding justice for the deaths, as well as calling for stricter enforcement of traffic laws.

Rushanara also called for the immediate release of internationally acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam, who had been arrested on August 5 following an interview he gave with Al Jazeera about the protests.

Another Labour Party MP, Rupa Huq, said she has written to the Bangladesh High Commission and UK Foreign Office, urging Bangladesh’s authorities to drop the case against Shahidul.

Shahidul’s treatment is clearly a breach of human rights and a denial of the country's constitutional rights to freedom of expression, she wrote in the letter posted on her Twitter account.