When the Law enforcers use unlawful weapons!
Miftah Haidar
05 Dec,2017

The use of noise emitting devices or “sonic weapons” by the police on last 30th November, against peaceful protestors remonstrating against the government's decision to increase power prices for the umpteenth time this year—a genuine complaint—is an absolute shame.

The right to free expression is a fundamental right in Bangladesh, as guaranteed and protected by its Constitution (Article 39), and is even included in the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 19). Through blatant and unnecessary use of force, the police have again violated this most sacred right of protestors, which is worryingly becoming the norm in the country.

While that is unacceptable, what is even worse are the increasingly deadly methods that the police keep resorting to in order to quash any form of dissent. For example, by using rubber-bullets, teargas shells, pepper sprays, etc.—all of which can cause permanent damage to a person. In fact, it was only a few months ago when a student lost his eyes to the reckless use of a police weapon while observing his basic right to free expression. Despite that, the police used sonic weapons on protesters which can disrupt or destroy eardrums, cause severe pain, disorientation, nausea and even incapacitate people. What is even worse is that they used it near two hospitals—Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital and BIRDEM Hospital. 

Yet the police claim that the sound waves were at a tolerable level and that they did no harm to the patients brings to the fore a question as to why then the sonic weapons were used. In all that has happened, the police, which have come to be used by the ruling party in partisan interest, seem to have been hell bent on how to suppress dissent rather than thinking of how adversely such devices could affect humans. The police must consider issues of devastating effects of their weapons on human health.

Such repressive practices by law enforcers must stop. There is no excuse for denying people their fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution, and even less so, by using uncalled for and deadly force.