DHAKA: About 300 scholar activists rallied in Bangladesh‘s capital on Monday to denounce the dying in jail of a author and commentator who was arrested final yr on expenses of violating a sweeping digital safety legislation that critics say chokes freedom of expression.
The protesters marched via the Dhaka University campus and Dhaka’s streets towards the nation’s Home Ministry to additionally demand the annulment of the digital safety legislation and the discharge of seven scholar activists arrested throughout current protests denouncing the dying of 53-year-old Mushtaq Ahmed.
They broke a barricade by eradicating barbed wire fences on the best way to the ministry, however had been intercepted by a couple of hundred law enforcement officials exterior the ministry in downtown Dhaka.
“The state must take responsibility. He has been killed, it was not a natural death. How come he was held for nine months in jail without any justice?” mentioned one protester, Mahfuza Akhter.
“We want justice,” she mentioned.
There had been no rapid experiences of any violence.
Ahmed’s dying Thursday evening sparked protests on streets and on social media, and prompted international human rights teams, together with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, to induce Bangladesh’s authorities to conduct an intensive investigation. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, demanded that the federal government cancel the safety act.
Ahmed was arrested in Dhaka in May final yr for making feedback on social media that criticized the federal government’s dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic. He was denied bail no less than six occasions. At least 10 different individuals had been charged with sedition below the digital safety legislation in the identical case Ahmed confronted.
The CPJ has demanded the discharge from jail of political cartoonist Kabir Kishore, who was arrested within the case final yr. Kishore’s attorneys mentioned throughout earlier courtroom proceedings that he was “mercilessly tortured” in custody.
While a postmortem report mentioned Ahmed died naturally, the protesters and his attorneys mentioned that he was tortured, and that regardless of being sick was held in jail for 9 months and denied bail.
On Monday, the protesters used a loudspeaker to chant slogans that blamed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for Ahmed’s dying.
Police have mentioned Ahmed tried to tarnish the picture of the nation and unfold confusion.
The 2018 Digital Security Act features a jail sentence of as much as 14 years for any propaganda or marketing campaign towards the nation’s independence conflict, its founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the nationwide anthem or flag. It additionally says an individual will be jailed for as much as 10 years for destroying communal concord or creating unrest or dysfunction.
The broad characterization of expenses led Amnesty International to conclude that the legislation “is plagued by a lack of clear definitions, explanations and exceptions, including repressive non-bailable penalties for at least 14 offenses.”
Hasina says the legislation is critical to keep up order. Opposition events and editors have warned that the scope of the legislation will be misused towards critics, and the CPJ mentioned it was getting used “repeatedly and unjustly against journalists.”
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