08/07/2018, 14.22
BANGLADESH
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In Dhaka, protesters and journalists attacked by pro-government groups, a photographer arrested

by Sumon Corraya

After taking pictures of students attacked during the demonstrations, the photographer is accused of spreading panic and lies. Ruling party leader rejects accusations. Hundreds of students and teachers want to stop the protests.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The capital of Bangladesh has been paralysed for the past eight days by the protests of thousands of students. This follows the death of two young men in a car accident.

Government forces and supporters have tried to suppress the demonstrations, with some journalists caught up in the clashes.

The affected reporters – at least 10, including a woman – say they were attacked by young people from the Chatra League, a student organisation associated with the ruling party.

The group, which came armed to stop the students, lashed out at journalists and those who were documenting the protests in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi area.

Rahat Karim, a freelance photographer, complains that he was hit hard when he was "just taking pictures".

On Sunday evening, photographer Shahidul Alam (picture 2) was arrested for criticising the government's response to student protests.

Alam, a four-time World Press Photo jury member, took several pictures of young men attacking the demonstrators. He also criticised the government for the unsafe streets.

Yesterday, the police, after arresting him, asked the court for a 10-day remand to keep in jail. They got seven.

The photographer is accused of spreading "fear and panic" on the internet, using "fantastical and provocative lies".

In all, 45 people were accused of spreading rumours about the student protests. The police arrested three of them.

Obaidal Qader, secretary general of the Awami League, yesterday rejected the accusations against the student group linked to his party, asking journalists to provide evidence of the involvement of its members. According to Qader, outside groups attacked reporters and students.

Yesterday, 450 students and teachers met and agreed to stop the protests, during which several people were injured. The police fired rubber bullets and tear gas against demonstrators.

For Rema Gomes, a Catholic student, it is time to go home and allow the government to take action to make roads safe.

The young woman says she learnt not to do anything that might hurt others in missionary school.

For its part, the Bangladeshi cabinet yesterday gave final approval to a maximum five-year sentence for anyone found guilty of causing road accident deaths. This had mixed reactions among Bangladeshis. Some seem satisfied with it; others want harsher punishment.

In an attempt to prevent further demonstrations, the authorities also promised to introduce the death penalty for "deliberate" road deaths.

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