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Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Mass student protest paralyses Dhaka for 7th day

Mass student protest paralyses Dhaka for 7th day

Bangladesh has witnessed massive student protests over the past several days, after two teenagers were killed by a speeding bus in the capital Dhaka on July 29.

Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged students on Sunday to go home as police fired tear gas during an eighth day of unprecedented protests over road safety which have paralysed parts of Dhaka.

The protests began after two teenagers were mowed down, and students took to the streets to demand road safety.

In his report to Manila, Ambassador to Dhaka Vicente Vivencio T. Bandillo said the Embassy has yet to receive reports of Filipinos among those injured in the protests.

The protesters stopped trucks, buses and cars, demanding to see the licenses of drivers and check if vehicles were in roadworthy conditions. "Our police force has started a week-long drive to bring discipline on the roads", Ms Hasina said at an event in Dhaka yesterday. Chanting "we want justice", the protesters on Thursday even defied pouring rain to march in Dhaka.

A vehicle carrying the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat was the subject of a late-night attack in the capital Dhaka, on Saturday as she was leaving a farewell dinner for the chief of a nongovernmental organization.

He said the party office which was close to Jigatala was vandalised by some unidentified youths, dressed in school uniforms, moments before the clashes erupted.

Rights group Amnesty International called for Alam's immediate and unconditional release, saying he was held after an interview to Al-Jazeera English on the Dhaka protests. The attack came after the U.S. ambassador left the residence of Badiul Alam Majumder, a secretary of a local civil society advocacy group known as Shujan, around 11:00pm (local time) on Saturday.

Earlier the embassy had criticised the police crackdown on the protesters, whom it described as having "united and captured the imagination of the whole country".

Spontaneous student protests are rare in Bangladesh, and the Prime Minister suggested her political rivals were using the issue to stir up anti-government sentiment ahead of a general election this year.

"There is no justification whatsoever for detaining anyone for exclusively peacefully expressing their views", Omar Waraich, Amnesty's deputy South Asia director, said in a statement.

The protesters are demanding safer roads in Bangladesh, where corruption is rife, making it easy for unlicensed drivers and unregistered vehicles to ply the roads.

The traffic chaos of the past week began easing on Monday, as vast demonstrations gave way to sporadic protests, though hundreds of students clashed with police in Dhaka's Bashundhara area where some private universities are located.

A senior telecoms official who asked to remain anonymous said: "The (regulatory commission) has slowed down the Internet at the order of the government".

It was not immediately clear how many people may have been injured.

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