UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] called [press release] Thursday for restraint and respect for the rule of law in the wake of violent protests in Bangladesh. The statement echoes a nearly identical one [press release] issued in May, after 30 people were killed in protests in the province of Dhaka. Violent protests in Bangladesh have been fueled by the recent collapses of several garment factories in the nation, which have killed [UN News Centre reports] more than 1,000 people, including nine individuals killed in a factory fire on October 8. Parliamentary elections in Bangladesh are expected [UN News Centre report] to be held between now and the end of January. Ban urged "all parties to ensure an environment conducive to credible and peaceful elections."
Protests in Bangladesh have been escalating in large part due to increased brutality by the security forces responding to the violence. Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report in August documenting the brutality [JURIST report], as a result of which more than 150 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured since February. A large portion of the current protests involve the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami [organization website] and residual anger over the nation's recent war crimes trials. HRW issued [JURIST report] an appeal to the group in March to end violent protests and clashes between the group's supporters and Bangladeshi police, which resulted in at least 46 deaths [BBC report] that month alone. Appeals to members of Jamaat-e-Islaami to respect the rule of law and engage in peaceful exchange have been made particularly difficult by an August ruling [JURIST report] by a Bangladeshi high court declaring the organization an illegal political party. Predictably, there has been an increase in violent protests since the decision rather than an increase in constructive dialogue.