Bangladesh Drug War Claims Hundreds Of Lives

By Victoria Kim 07/19/18

It is estimated that more than 200 people have been killed and 25,000 more imprisoned in the country.

people on the streets of Dhaka in Bangladesh

The violent anti-drugs campaign in Bangladesh has claimed more than 200 lives, according to human rights advocates. 

“It is unprecedented in Bangladesh. So many people have been killed in such a short period of time,” Sheepa Hafiza, executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). 

The group estimates that more than 200 people have been killed, with 25,000 more imprisoned, in Bangladesh since May, when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the “war on drugs.” While the authorities deny wrongdoing, reports of “cold-blooded murders by police and the elite security force” surfaced at that time, Deutsche Welle reported. 

Due to the violent and aggressive nature of the anti-drugs campaign, it is being likened to the drug war in the Philippines, launched by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. 

“This is very unfortunate. We condemn these extrajudicial killings and want fair investigations into each of these killings,” Hafiza told AFP.

A former chairman of Bangladesh’s National Human Rights Commission, Mizanur Rahman, also condemned the government’s actions. 

“By killing suspects during raids, the security forces are violating the country’s legal system,” Rahman said, according to Deutsche Welle. “Extrajudicial killings are unacceptable in a democratic country. The authorities must respect human rights and respect the rule of law during their operations.” 

According to TIME, Bangladesh is not the only country that appears to be taking cues from the Philippines. Just this month, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena announced that after a 40-plus year moratorium, the country will resume giving out the death sentence for drug offenders.

“From now on, we will hang drug offenders without commuting their death sentences,” said Sirisena. 

“We were told that the Philippines has been successful in deploying the army and dealing with this problem. We will try to replicate their success,” said a spokesman for the president, Rajitha Senaratne.

The last time Sri Lanka applied the death penalty was in 1976, according to the Guardian. According to Senaratne, this decision applies to 19 drug offenders whose death sentences had previously been commuted to a life sentence; they will now face execution.

Human Rights Watch estimates that the Philippines drug war has claimed at least 12,000 lives since 2016, primarily of “poor urban dwellers, including children.” 

Prior to his election, then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte had promised to kill 100,000 criminals in the first six months of his presidency. He has encouraged violent anti-drugs enforcement and praised mass killings of drug suspects.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr