Bangladesh: No justification for wave of petrol bomb attacks

Bangladesh authorities should investigate and bring to justice in fair trials all those responsible for heinous petrol bomb attacks, Amnesty International said after another 20 people were wounded overnight.

“There can be no justification for these horrific petrol bomb attacks, which invariably target members of the general public. These incidents must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible held to account,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher.

“Politically, Bangladesh is on a knife’s edge, and the violence is threatening to spiral out of control. Leaders on all sides of the political divide have a duty to ensure this does not happen – they must act responsibly and publicly call on their supporters not to engage in human rights abuses.”

The human rights situation in Bangladesh has seen a sharp deterioration as supporters of the government and the opposition have clashed on the streets of Dhaka and other major cities since January.

There has been a spate of petrol bombs attacks since 5 January when the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) imposed a transport blockade. More than 50 members of the general public have died of burn injuries after buses and other vehicles have been attacked. At least seven people have been burnt alive. Hundreds more have sustained serious burn injuries, with more than 1,300 buses and other vehicles estimated to have been attacked.

Last night, there were three attacks in the Kishoreganj, Chapainawabganj and Chittagong regions, which left 20 people wounded. Eyewitnesses blamed supporters of the BNP, although the party has denied any involvement.

“The leaders of all political parties, including the Bangladesh Nationalist Party should act responsibly to de-escalate the situation,” said Abbas Faiz.

Amnesty International is also concerned about the deaths in Bangladesh as a result of police operations. More than 20 people have died in recent months in what the police term violent encounters with the security forces, but are suspected extrajudicial executions.

Amnesty International is urging the Bangladeshis authorities to ensure that these killings are investigated impartially, and anyone involved in unlawful killings are brought to justice.