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Bangladesh: Demonstrations

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Foreign Secretary

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what information his Department holds on the number of people (a) detained and (b) charged for involvement in recent demonstrations led by (i) students and (ii) young people in Bangladesh on (A) reform of public-sector employment quotas and (B) road safety in that country.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

​There are no reliable figures for those detained and charged for their part in the recent public sector quota reform, and road safety protests, including no official figures. Media reporting in Bangladesh on the public-sector quota reform protests, indicated 30 students were arrested then granted bail during court hearings held in August. Media reporting in Bangladesh of the road-safety protests quoted a Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson on 15 August that there had been 97 arrests.

I was deeply concerned by the violence we saw in Dhaka in response to road safety protests and by the action taken against those peacefully protesting against the public sector quota system. In a statement on 7 August, the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Alison Blake, together with other EU Heads of Mission, was clear that the Government of Bangladesh should investigate incidents of unlawful or disproportionate violence against road safety protestors and journalists and hold the perpetrators to account. Subsequently, Joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development Minister Alistair Burt expressed our concern regarding the response to the road safety protests with the Government of Bangladesh, during his visit to Bangladesh from 28-31 August.

Bangladesh remains a Human Rights Priority Country for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We raised freedom of expression as a key concern in Bangladesh during the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review and we continue to encourage the Government of Bangladesh to work with Bangladeshi Civil Society to address their concerns regarding freedom of expression.

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