Bangladesh: Over 127 killed in “gunfights” in anti-drug war; NHRC calls for investigation into all cases

At least 127 people have been killed in so-called “gunfights”, mostly involving infamous Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police, in the last 17 days amid the ongoing nationwide anti-narcotics crackdown by the Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies.

Following allegation of killing Teknaf municipality councillor Akramul Haque in cold blood on 27 May, the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh (NHRC) has called for investigation into all such killings.

During a press conference at Cox’s Bazar Press Club on Thursday, Akramul’s wife Ayesha Begum alleged that her husband was murdered in cold blood and she gave journalists four unverified audio clips. In one of the clips, a female voice is heard continuously screaming over a mobile phone hearing gunshots during a phone call. Ayesha claimed that the female voice was hers and the gunshots were fired at her husband.

On Friday, National Human Rights Commission Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said he himself heard the audio clips and demanded that “All the incidents [of shootout] should be investigated properly,” reported The Daily Star.

Earlier on 29 May, the National Human Rights Commission wrote to the Home Minister urging him to ensure constitutional rights of all including the alleged drug dealers and suspected criminals.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a statement on the situation in Bangladesh and urged “all Member States to adhere to their commitments to promote balanced, human rights-based approaches to drug control, in line with the three international drug control conventions and the outcome document of the United Nations General Assembly special session on the world drug problem.”

The UNODC said it is closely following developments in Bangladesh.

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