Over 100 killed during ‘war on drugs’ in Bangladesh
Twelve more alleged drug dealers were killed in overnight raids carried out by the Bangladesh’s law enforcement agencies, police said on Tuesday, taking the tally of those killed in the “war on drugs” to 105 since the launch of the nation-wide crackdown on narcotics trade about a fortnight ago.
The deaths of alleged drug dealers by the elite anti-crime unit, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and the police has invited criticism from the rights group and foreign diplomats expressed concerns over the “extrajudicial killings”.
Twelve people were killed last night by the RAB and police during their clampdown, between last night and this morning, in nine administrative districts, including the Bangladeshi capital, a police official said.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had on May 15 announced the launch of an aggressive war on drugs to smash the surging trade of Yaba, a cheap pill combining methamphetamine and caffeine.
In most of the cases, bodies of alleged drug traders were found lying on the street or roadside ditches following the raids, with law enforcement agencies claiming that some of the casualties were the result of “internal clashes” of drug peddlers.
The international affairs sub-committee of the ruling Awami League (AL) briefed on Monday about the drive to foreign diplomats, who expressed deep concern over the “extrajudicial killings”.
But AL leaders said that the law enforcement agencies were forced to retaliate after being attacked by the alleged drug peddlers.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that security forces have launched an ‘all-out war’ on drugs and the clampdown would continue until the drug trafficking was eliminated.
Bangladesh does not produce drugs, but in the recent years it had become the destination of “Yaba”, a narcotic substance often referred to as “horse drug”. The drug smuggled from neighbouring Myanmar is popular among young people. Doctors say, in the long-term it causes decline of cognitive functions.
The Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) strongly condemned the extrajudicial killings, with its chairman Kazi Rezaul Hoque saying that he plans to formally write to the government expressing grave concerns.
“We want to say unequivocally that the criminals, whoever she or he is, must face actions through due legal procedure,” he said, echoing demands from other rights watchdogs.
The media has also questioned the sudden launch of a violent anti-drug clampdown after newspaper reports wrote about “Yaba villages” in frontier Teknaf that bordered Myanmar for so many years.