2018 Bangladesh quota reform protests

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Bangladesh Quota Reform Protests 2018
Quota reform protest Dhaka 01.jpg
Quota reform protesters at University of Dhaka.
Date 8 April 2018 – present
Location Bangladesh
Goals Decrease amount of quotas in government jobs in Bangladesh
Methods Processions, Road Blockade
Resulted in Government declaration to abolish quota system in government recruitment.
Parties to the civil conflict
Students of different universities of Bangladesh
Number
Thousands
Casualties
Approx 262 fatal injuries [1]

The 2018 Bangladesh Quota Reform Protests were protests demanding reforms in policies regarding recruitment in the Bangladesh government services. The protests initially began in Shahbag and on Dhaka University campus on 8 April 2018, and eventually spread to other parts of Bangladesh within days.[2] The protests rapidly attained popularity among students of different universities forcing the government to announce changes in its policy.

Causes and demands[edit]

Under the existing Bangladesh government recruitment system, 56 percent of government job entry positions are reserved for specific "entitled" classes: 30 per cent for children/grandchildren of 1971 "freedom fighters," 10 per cent for women, 10 per cent is for districts based on population, 5 per cent for ethnic minorities, and 1 per cent for people with disabilities.[3][4]

As a result, only 44 percent of the job candidates are able to secure positions on the basis of merit, causing discontent among a large section of general students who say that they are deprived despite scoring higher than candidates who fall under any quota. Previous protests on the same issue were made in 2013 and 2008 but failed to bring change in government quota policy.

In July 2018, protests and counter-violence erupted at various Bangladeshi universities, particularly the University of Rajshahi (RU), over the ‘quota reform movement,’ which sought to change the quota system. RU's vice-chancellor, Professor M. Abdus Sobhan, dismissed the quota-reform movement as an "anti-government movement with a motive to carry out sabotage."[4]

Timeline[edit]

21 March[edit]

On 21 March 2018, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the quota system in government jobs for freedom fighters, their children and grandchildren will continue when a section of students and job-seekers were agitating seeking quota reform in government jobs.[5][6][7]

8 April[edit]

On 8 April 2018, hundreds of students began protests in Shabag after 2 pm. The protesters under the name Council to Protect Students' Rights demanded the quota system reforms by bringing down quotas altogether to 10 percent and filling up vacant quota posts by candidates from the merit list. At 7.30 pm, police started lobbing teargas shells, charged baton and used water cannons on the crowd. At 8.30 pm, protesters were attacked by a group of Bangladesh Chhatra League activists led by DU unit General Secretary Motahar Hossain Prince.[8] More than 160 protestors were injured in the clashes that took place at Dhaka University campus.[8]

9 April[edit]

Students of BUET protesting to reform quota system.

University students from all over Bangladesh boycotted classes, took out processions and blocked highways since morning to express solidarity with the demonstrators of the central program. Thousands of students of BUET, Rajshahi University, Jahangirnagar University, Chittagong University, Khulna University, Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (KUET), Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), Barisal University, etc. participated in the demonstrations in respective cities.[9] A delegation of protesters met Minister Obaidul Quader Chowdhury at the Secretariat in the afternoon. Mr. Quader asked to postpone protests for one month so that the government may examine the quota system. But protesters refused to pause their programmes until there was specific announcements from the prime minister.[10] Minister of Agriculture and presidium member of the ruling Awami League Matia Chowdhury made a controversial remark in Parliament by calling the quota reform protestors 'children of razakars'.[11]

10 April[edit]

Students of Stamford University Bangladesh, East West University, North South University, Daffodil International University, Eastern University (Bangladesh), Independent University, United International University, American International University of Bangladesh and University of Information Technology and Science took to different streets in Dhaka and blocked a number of key thoroughfares for several hours.[12] Leaders of Bangladesh Shadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad called for a nationwide road blockade and strike at universities and colleges from 11 April, 2018.[13]

11 April[edit]

After midnight, Iffat Jahan Esha, the president of Sufia Kamal hall unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League tortured and wounded a female student named Morsheda in Sufia Kamal Hall of DU for participating in quota reform protests.[14] Photo and video of the incident quickly went viral on different social networking sites which drew attention to other general students. At 1 am, around 5,000 students of the university thronged in front of the Kabi Sufia Kamal Hall and took position in front of the gate in protest of the incident.[15] Members of Chhatra League tried to block the protesters from getting out of halls to demonstrate by locking gates and threatening them, but protesters eventually broken down the locked gate at Bijay Ekattor Hall and came out.[16]

Resuming the ongoing agitation demanding quota reforms in government jobs, students made demonstrations in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Comilla and other places. Many roads including two major highways were blocked by students of University of Dhaka, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Jahangirnagar University, and other institutions.[17] Dhaka-Rajshahi highway remained blocked since morning by several hundred students of Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (RUET).[13] More than 6,000 protesters blocked the CDA Avenue in Chittagong.[18]

In a speech delivered in Parliament, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina criticised the protesters for creating public sufferings and angrily said: "Alright then, there won't be any quotas. There is no need for quotas. They will take BCS exams and get jobs on their merit".[19][20][21] While many protesters rejoiced this statement as fulfillment of their demands, others remained skeptic about the commitment of the government and opted to wait until more specific declaration from the government regarding reformation of quota system is made.[22]

2 May[edit]

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reaffirmed abolition of quota during a press conference at Ganabhaban, Dhaka on 2 May, 2018.[23]

30 June[edit]

The students started second phase of protests saying there has been no sign of quota reform implementation after three months had been passed since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's announcement in Parliament. Protesting students came under several attacks by Bangladesh Chhatra League in Dhaka University and Rajshahi University.[24]

Members of quota reform movement scheduled a press briefing on Jun 30, 2018 at Dhaka University campus but could not hold it as they were attacked allegedly by the members of Bangladesh Chhatra League.[25]

2 July[edit]

When students were staging a demonstration demanding quota system reform at Dhaka University campus, then at point Faruk Hasan (joint convener, Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad) was snatched away allegedly by a group of Bangladesh Chhatra League men. Moriom Mannan, a first year honours student of Political Science department at Tejgaon College, who joined the protests that day, came to rescue Faruk, but she herself experienced physical assault, verbal abuse and mental tortures allegedly inflicted by activists against quota reform movement and policemen.[26]

Later that day Faruk Hasan went on traceless after being picked up by Bangladesh Chhatra League men allegedly from central Shaheed Minar area.[27]

2 July Rajshahi University Attack[edit]

On 2 July, 2018, during their protest march near the main gate of Rajshahi University (RU), a master's student and joint convenor of the quota reform movement at the same university, Toriqul Islam, and 15 others, were attacked by some Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) men, including several local BCL officers, as nearby police stood still. Toriqul was beaten with a hammer and sticks and other weapons, resulting in multiple leg fractures and severe head injury.[28][4][29][30][31][32]

A video footage shot by media journalists covering the quota reform protests, during the attack allegedly showed the following attackers:[33][34]

  • Abdullah Al Mamun, student of the sociology department of the university and assistant secretary of RU BCL, attacking with hammer
  • Latiful Kabir alias Manik, a student of history department of the university an activist of Muktijoddha Santan Command, was seen with a machete
  • Mehedi Hossan alias Mishu, a student of sociology department of the university and organising secretary of the RU BCL and , was seen with a large stick. Mehedi confessed his involvement in the attack.
  • Ramijul Islam alias Rimu, 4th year student of History department of the university and vice president of RU BCL, was seen kicking Toriqul’s head. Ramijul confessed his involvement in the attack.
  • Hasan Labon, student of Law department of the university and organizing secretary of RU BCL
  • Ahmed Sajib, student of Applied Mathematics of the university and vice president of RU BCL
  • Shovon Kaiser, student of Economics of the university and vice president of RU BCL
  • Mizanur Rahman, ex student of political science of the university and vice president of RU BCL
  • Gufran Gazi, student of information and library management of the university and vice president of RU BCL
  • John Smith, 4th year student of Urdu of the university and activist of RU BCL
  • Soumitra Karmakar, student of fine arts of the university and assistant secretary of RU BCL

3 July[edit]

Guardians and teachers of students, rights activists, and eminent citizens scheduled to hold a rally protest the continued attacks, torture and arrest of quota reform activists in front of the Jatiya Press Club at 4:00pm under the banner of "Udbigno Obhibhabok O Nagorik” (worried guardians and citizens). But Police barred demonstrators from holding the event claiming that they did not allow the programme as the demonstrators did not have the permission. When the demonstrators tried to assemble, Azimul Haque, additional deputy commissioner of police (Ramna Division), commanded his men to arrest whoever tries to take position there.[35]

On the same day, Faruk Hassan was shown arrested in a police assault case of Shahbagh police station.[27]

12 July[edit]

While addressing the parliament on 12 July, 2018 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that it is impossible to reform the freedom fighters' quota in public jobs because of a High Court verdict.[36]

17 July[edit]

While speaking at a function through video-conferencing from the Gono Bhaban on 17 July, 2018, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina explained her earlier declaration (on 11 April, 2018) of quota system removal was because there had been an anarchic situation created in the name of anti-quota movement.[37]

18 July[edit]

Under the banner of "All Combined Departments", around 500 students from different departments of Dhaka University formed a human chain on the Central Shaheed Minar premises in Dhaka, demanding exemplary punishment for those who attacked the quota reformists. Holding various placards protesting the recent attacks, they also demanded the release of quota reform leaders who were under arrest and a safe campus for all. Expressing solidarity with the students, assistant professor of DU's economics department Rushad Faridi attended the program. Besides, students of the university's history department formed a human chain at the Aparejeyo Bangla premises, protesting the recent attack on their fellow student Tanzir Hossain Sarker and demanded a safe campus for students. Associate professors Golam Saklayen Saki and MM Kawser were present at the human chain joined by around 200 students of the department. Later, the students brought out a silent procession from the spot. Boycotting regular classes and examinations, several hundred students of Jahangirnagar University also formed a human chain on the campus protesting the recent spate of attacks on some teachers and students and demanded reformation in the existing quota system.[38]

Concern over attack on quota reformists[edit]

The Embassy of Germany, USA, Norway, Switzerland and few other countries in Dhaka expressed their concern over the 'brutal attacks' on peaceful demonstration of the quota reform protesters.[39]

Against quota reform protest[edit]

Some politicians and university teachers have expressed their position against quota reform protest. Among them, Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman, Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University has compared the activities of quota reform protesters with that of Islamist militant outfits like the Taliban, Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram.[40] He also compared the protests by female students at Dhaka University dormitory a characteristic of militant outfits pointing out that the militant outfits use women and children as their last resort.[40] Vice Chancellor of Rajshahi University, M Abdus Sobhan, also condemned the protest by saying that it is not a quota reform movement rather it is an anti-government movement.[40] Dr. Muhammed Zafar Iqbal expressed that protesters were agitated at freedom fighters & thus disrespected freedom fighters' families.[41]

Arrests[edit]

According to Bangladesh police, more than 16 quota reform protesters including Md Rashed Khan, Faruk Hossain, Tariqul Islam, Josim Uddin, Mashiur were arrested between April, 2018 and July, 2018.[42][43][44][45]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "কোটা আন্দোলনে এ পর্যন্ত আহত ২৬২, আটক ৪৪ - daily nayadiganta". The Daily Nayadiganta. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Protests in Bangladesh put an end to a corrupt quota system". The Economist. 2018-04-21. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  3. ^ "বিসিএস পরীক্ষা". www.bpsc.gov.bd. Bangladesh Public Service Commission-Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh | বাংলাদেশ সরকারী কর্ম কমিশন-গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ সরকার. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  4. ^ a b c "Rajshahi police saw nothing!", July 9, 2018 Daily Star, Bangladesh
  5. ^ "PM: Freedom fighters quota will stay". Dhaka Tribune. 2018-03-21. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  6. ^ "Quota for FFs, their children, grandchildren to stay: PM". New Age | The Outspoken Daily. 2018-03-22. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  7. ^ Independent, The (2018-03-22). "Job quota for FF heirs to stay: PM". Job quota for FF heirs to stay: PM | theindependentbd.com. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  8. ^ a b "From protest to mayhem: How it all unfolded". Dhaka Tribune. 10 April 2018. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  9. ^ "Quota reform demonstrations spread countrywide". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  10. ^ "Protesters reject govt assurances, to press on with quota reform demonstration". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  11. ^ "Matia draws flak for comment". The Daily Star. 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  12. ^ "Pvt university students stage demo for quota reform". The Daily Star. 2018-04-10. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  13. ^ a b "RU, JU students block highways for quota reform". The Daily Star. 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  14. ^ "DU to expel Kabi Sufia Kamal Hall BCL chief Isha for 'torturing' quota reform protesters". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  15. ^ News, United. "DU hall unit BCL chief expelled for 'torturing' anti-quota protester". unb.com.bd. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  16. ^ "All-night protests at DU after Chhatra League leader assaults protester". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  17. ^ "Quota reform demonstrations continue into Wednesday". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  18. ^ "Quota reform: Thousands of protesters block off CDA Avenue in Chattogram". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  19. ^ "No more need for quotas if they cause problems, says Hasina". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  20. ^ "PM announces to abolish quota system in public service". The Daily Star. 2018-04-11. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  21. ^ "No longer any quota in public service: PM". Prothom Alo. 2018-04-12. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  22. ^ "Quota reform demonstrators to announce next steps Thursday morning". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  23. ^ "PM Hasina: I wasn't angry to accept demand for quota reform". Dhaka Tribune. 2018-05-02. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  24. ^ "Quota reform movement: Students seek teachers' support". Dhaka Tribune. 2018-07-06. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  25. ^ "7 quota reformists hurt in 'BCL attack'". The Daily Star. 2018-06-30. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  26. ^ "Girl shares horrors of assault, abuse by anti-quota reform men, cops". The Daily Star. 2018-07-05. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  27. ^ a b "Quota reform movement organiser Faruk sent to jail". New Age | The Outspoken Daily. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  28. ^ "Govt playing 'dubious role'". The Daily Star. 2018-07-07. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  29. ^ "Injured quota protester Tariqul moved to Dhaka," July 8, 2018, Dhaka Tribune
  30. ^ "Quota reform activist Toriqul denied treatment in govt hospital," July 6, 2018, Daily Prothom Alo
  31. ^ "Injured RU quota reformist Toriqul being brought to Dhaka," July 8, 2018, Daily Prothom Alo
  32. ^ "Injured quota reform leader Toriqul Islam being brought to Dhaka," July 8, 2018 Daily Star, Bangladesh
  33. ^ "Quota reform activist Toriqul denied treatment in govt hospital". Prothom Alo. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  34. ^ "Rajshahi police saw nothing!". The Daily Star. 2018-07-09. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  35. ^ "Just arrest!". The Daily Star. 2018-07-04. Retrieved 2018-07-07.
  36. ^ "FF quota to stay". The Daily Star. 2018-07-13. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  37. ^ "What's the logic behind movement?". The Daily Star. 2018-07-18. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  38. ^ "Committee for quota review may seek 90 more days". The Daily Star. 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2018-07-28.
  39. ^ Nation, The New (2018-07-10). "US embassy in Dhaka concerned over attack on quota reformists". The New Nation. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  40. ^ a b c "VC-iuos wisdom!". The Daily Star. 2018-07-09. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  41. ^ "Reforms in quota to public services needed: Zafar Iqbal". Bangla Tribune. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  42. ^ "Quota reform leaders fear arrest, enforced disappearance". Prothom Alo. 2018-07-04. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  43. ^ "Protests face attacks, arrest, intimidation". New Age | The Outspoken Daily. 2018-07-02. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  44. ^ "Job quota reform protest leader Faruk arrested in Dhaka". 2018-07-03. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  45. ^ Rahman, Prapti (2018-07-13). "Protests Rage in Bangladesh as PM Appears to Backtrack on Job-Quota Policy". BenarNews. Retrieved 2018-08-15.

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