Police Shoot, Kill Protestors Against Bangladeshi P.M.

Although countries which deem themselves to be democracies are expected to respect opposition groups’ right to protest, police killed two protestors and hurt dozens more during demonstrations against Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. These individuals, who belonged to the Bangladesh National Party (B.N.P.), were demanding that Hasina step down in the next elections, which are expected to be held in January.

Police claim that the protestors were shot “in self-defense” and that B.N.P. supporters were the ones who attacked protestors. Numbers vary, but the police report that 1,480 B.N.P. members have been arrested. (The B.N.P. says the number is closer to 3,000.)

While the international community has already reacted to these protests – including the United States, which has threatened and already canceled visas to Bangladeshi government officials – the response needs to be stronger. Countries across the globe, from Russia to Venezuela, have already strongly curtailed their citizens’ rights to freedom of speech, press, and assembly, eroding the liberties inherent to democracy as a model of government. Individual states, supranational organizations, and non-governmental actors must get engaged in safeguarding these rights, along with the right to oppose one’s government.

Prime Minister Hasina has been in power since 2009. Since then, her government has been called “authoritarian,” due to its crack-down on free speech, press, and political opposition through jailing, kidnapping, and even murdering its critics. Hasina has also been accused of rigging the 2014 and 2018 elections, although her government denies such claims. Any response from overseas has been called an intervention in Bangladesh’s internal affairs, making action from the international community inefficient.

While the outcome of these protests is still yet to be seen, the people of Bangladesh are impatient to be governed by someone who respects the plurality of ideas, human rights, and basic inherent democratic values. International actors must upkeep democratic ideals across the globe, whether it be in a global superpower or a small underdeveloped country.