Bangladesh: the repression of drugs becomes deadly

According to reports, more than 50 people have been shot dead in Bangladesh last week after authorities launched counter-narcotics raids that have already been compared to a Filipino-style war on drugs.

Authorities said the large-scale raids capital Dhaka, according to the BBC. Only on Saturday, up to 100 people were arrested.

Several thousand suspected drug traffickers have been detained since the crackdown began, while hundreds of drug users have received fines, the BBC reported, citing Bangladesh police and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Forces.

The operation began in response to an alleged increase in the methamphetamine trade, particularly sales of cheap stimulant pills known as "yaba." Some have blamed the Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar for the increased contraband smuggling. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the current crackdown on drugs will coincide with the intensity of the country's past efforts to stifle Islamic militancy, an operation tainted by reports of extrajudicial and arbitrary executions.

The relatives of a supposed trafficker accused the RAB paramilitary forces of attacking their relatives for political activism, not drugs.

"He was killed only because he was a popular activist of the student wing of [opposition]" Mahid Ahamed Ansari told the Guardian about his brother, Amzad Hossain, who was reportedly shot dead on Tuesday .

Pinaki Bhattacharya, a human rights activist based in Dhaka, told Guardian that the wave of police shootings "created an atmosphere of terror throughout the country."


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