(February 4, 2017 | Washington D.C.) Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights mourns the loss of Abdul Hakim Shimul, who was shot February 2, 2017 and succumbed to his wounds yesterday. Mr. Shimul was covering a violent clash between factions of the Awami League political party when he was shot in the head and face. He was first taken to a regional facility for treatment, and died later while being transported to a larger hospital in Dhaka. At least 10 people were injured in the violence. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights calls on the Government of Bangladesh to immediately investigate this killing and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The killing of Mr. Shimul demonstrates the danger that journalists in Bangladesh face when political in-fighting deteriorates into violent street fights,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “The Bangladesh police must immediately investigate this killing, the perpetrators should be held to account, and the Awami League must condemn in the strongest possible terms this intra-party violence.”
According to news reports, two rival factions of the Awami League resorted to violence in the Bangladeshi district of Sirajganj. It began when supporters of Shahzadpur Municipality Mayor Halimul Haque Miru attacked Bijoy Hossain, former vice president of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) at Shahzadpur College. The BCL is the Awami League’s student group. When supporters of Mr. Hossain marched in the Monirampur area yesterday evening to protest the assault, Miru allegedly opened fire on the marchers. Mr. Miru has reportedly been arrested. Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader also told journalists that political and administrative measures would be taken against those involved in the killing.
“While we appreciate the Awami League leadership committing itself to action, there must be an independent and complete investigation into the killing and into the events leading to the violence,” said David McKean, Asia Program Officer at RFK Partners for Human Rights. “So far, the promise of “political and administrative” action against the perpetrators on the part of the Awami League is wholly insufficient.”