What You Need to Know About the Student Protests in Bangladesh
More than 100 people were injured on Aug. 5.
What started out as a simple protest for road safety in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 29 has grown into a larger indictment of the political status quo after pro-government groups and police repeatedly attacked student protesters, according to Al Jazeera.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets Sunday in a city of 18 million for the eighth-straight day to manage traffic, call on the government to improve road safety, and advocate for broader reforms, Al Jazeera reported.
The protests started when two students were mowed down by speeding buses on July 29. Dhaka’s roads are notoriously dangerous and haphazard, with little road enforcement, according to Yahoo. Around 12,000 people die each year in road accidents throughout the country.
To make the roads safer, the students argue, the government has to enforce speed limits and ensure that all vehicles are registered, according to SBS News.
During the demonstrations on Aug. 5, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the students, injuring more than 100 people, and various reporters and photographers were attacked.
The government has tried to disrupt organizing efforts by the protesters by shutting down internet access in Dhaka.
#VIDEO Journalists, incl. @AP photographer @ahadfoto, covering #Dhaka#WeWantJustice student protests severely injured by armed attackers in police presence. @dailystarnews says attackers from ruling Awami League's student front #Bangladesh Chhatra League: https://t.co/C2nbd3qWf5pic.twitter.com/dZ5VOQqS3L— Mahfuz Sadique / মাহফুজ সাদিক (@MahfuzSadique) August 5, 2018
Since the government began cracking down on the students, the protests have captured the support of the broader public, according to the BBC.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on the students to return home and has said that the streets will be made safer.
But the students are leveraging the growing strength of their protests to demand for an end to corruption. The protests have also dovetailed with longer-running protests calling for an end to discriminatory civil service hiring practices.
For now, though, the students are committed to securing safer roads.
"We won't leave the roads until our demands are met. We want safe roads and safe drivers," protester Al Miran told AFP.