[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Friday called on [press release] the government of Bangladesh and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) [party website, in Bengali; GlobalSecurity backgrounder] party leadership to encourage an end to the violence wracking the country. Violence between JI protesters and Bangladesh police erupted [Reuters report] on Thursday after the International Crimes Tribunal Bangladesh (ICTB) [Facebook page] sentenced to death [JURIST report] JI leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedee [JURIST news archive]. Riots across the country have resulted in at least 46 deaths [BBC report], with hundreds wounded. HRW Asia director Brad Adams [advocacy profile] stated:
The leadership of Jamaat should immediately issue public statements to its followers to stop these violent, unacceptable attacks against law enforcement officers and those who support the verdicts of the war crimes trials. At the same time, the government should instruct the security forces to strictly observe its obligation to use maximum restraint and avoid lethal force unless necessary to protect their lives or those of others. If cool heads don’t prevail, Dhaka could dissolve into uncontrolled violence.
Media reports indicate that most deaths were the result of police using live ammunition against protesters, but supporters of the current ruling party have also engaged in violence. JI has denied that any party members were responsible for lethal violence, but reports indicate that some members were responsible for attacks against Hindu temples and houses.
Last month the Bangladesh parliament [official website] approved amendments [JURIST report] to the country’s war crimes laws to allow prosecutors to appeal sentences given to defendants convicted of war crimes. These amendments are a response to protests [JURIST report] that ensued after Abdul Quader Mollah, another JI leader, was given a life sentence [JURIST report] for war crimes committed during the Bangladesh Liberation War (BLW). The protesters believed a life sentence was too lenient and that Mollah, who was convicted of charges including murder, rape and torture, should have been given the death penalty. The law passed by parliament will be effective retroactively [AP report] to July 2009, allowing prosecutors to appeal Mollah’s sentence.