Pinoys in Bangladesh asked to stay safe amid nationwide student protests

Pinoys in Bangladesh asked to stay safe amid nationwide student protests

Students occupying an intersection in central Dhaka were fired with tear gas by Bangladeshi police.

DHAKA - A massive student protest in Bangladesh Friday, sparked by the death of two teenagers mowed down by a speeding bus in the capital, has alarmed the government ahead of a general election and prompted a warning against opposition meddling.

The protests began after two teenagers were mowed down, and students took to the streets to demand road safety.

The students have stopped thousands of vehicles including those of top officials and judges demanding to see if the cars were registered and the drivers licensed.

Abdur Rahim, a leader of the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers' Federation, said bus operators would stay off the streets until security improves.

Police in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, fired tear gas and used batons on Saturday to disperse.

Several journalists, including an Associated Press photographer, have been attacked. The Bangladesh Chatro League is a students' political organisation linked to the ruling Awami League party.

Rights group Amnesty International called for Alam's immediate and unconditional release, saying he was held after an interview to Al-Jazeera English on the Dhaka protests. He added that he would comment on the matter further on Sunday.

Activists have also taken to social media in droves to call on local and global media organisations to cover the story.

Students have now been protesting for nine days, and have ignored repeated calls from the government for them to return home. Many protesters blamed the student wing of the ruling party for the attacks.

"We must bring changes", said Selina Akter, a mother of two schoolchildren who joined the group.

"We have assured them that all their demands will be fulfilled and a law will be proposed in the next session of parliament", Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan told Reuters.

Protesters, some as young as 13, have been stopping traffic on Dhaka's notoriously clogged streets to check vehicles and drivers have valid documents before letting them drive on.

Her Awami League party has also defended the actions of party activists accused of violence. According to reports from local media channels, 3G and 4G services have been slowed down and suspended in some parts of the region for the past 24 hours to make it hard for students to organize protests.

The United Nations said it was concerned for the safety of the young people caught up in the protests.

The events in Dhaka have been compounded by the fact that the country's long-time ally India has recently made 4 million ethnic Bengalis in the Indian state of Assam effectively stateless by failing to list them on a registry of Indian citizens.

On Saturday the protests took a violent turn in Dhaka's Jigatala neighbourhood, with more than 100 people injured as police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators.