'Horrific culture of violence' plagues Bangladesh

Society is in danger when extra-judicial killings, rapes and other abuses are taken for granted, priest warns
'Horrific culture of violence' plagues Bangladesh

Bangladeshi activists take part in a human chain protest to demand justice over the brutal killing of a young girl in an April arson attack. (ucanews.com photo)

Rights abuses and violent crimes are plaguing Bangladesh amid extra-judicial killings as well as the rape and murder of women and children, according to a leading community organization.

Law enforcement agencies were accused of involvement in more than 200 extra-judicial killings in the first half of this year.

The victims of extra-judicial killings were mostly said to have been caught up in cross-fire during shootouts with lawbreakers, according to a July 2 report of the Aim-O-Salish Kendra (Law and Arbitration Center), which is based in the capital, Dhaka, and known by the acronym ASK.

The organization said the 'crossfire' justification was a common euphemism for extra-judicial killings.

Sultana Kamal, a Supreme Court lawyer and prominent rights activist, told ucanews.com that extra-judicial killings reflected a shortcut to cover-up a failure to maintain law and order that meant people had lost confidence in the justice system.

Due to a culture of impunity and complexities of the legal system, Bangladeshis had come to accept unconstitutional extrajudicial killings that flout human rights, she said.

Without proper rule of law, the scourge of murders, rapes and abuses would continue, Kamal added.

From January to June, 630 cases of rape were reported, according to ASK.

In these cases, 37 of the rape victims were murdered and seven victims committed suicide.

Further, some 104 children were murdered, 40 committed suicide and 42 died in mysterious circumstances while hundreds more were subjected to forms of abuse amounting to torture.

The day ASK published its report, police in southern Barguna district shot dead Sabbir Hossain Nayan, who triggered public outrage when a video circulated of him brutally hacking to death a young man in front of his wife.

The report, based on Bangladesh media accounts, found that in 2018 a total 466 people were reportedly victims of extra-judicial killings, 732 women were raped and 63 were murdered after being raped. Collated media reports indicated that 283 children were murdered.

Holy Cross Father Liton H. Gomes, secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh, said a horrific culture of violence had emerged from structural violence.

"We are living in a so-called democracy where democratic principles are largely absent," he said,

"There is no one to oppose or criticize the government when things go wrong, and it has become a norm that the party in power will torment the opposition and dissidents."

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Father Gomes warned that society was in danger when it took abuses, such as extra-judicial killings, rapes and the persecution of minorities, for granted.

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