Bangladesh government warns about 'fake news'

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Bangladesh has been experiencing large protests by students raising issues about road safety.  Reports of harsh crackdowns by the authorities have been termed “fake news” by the government.

The government has been criticized by Human Rights Watch and others for their handling of the protests, amid reports of the student wing of the ruling party attacking protestors “with machetes and sticks”. But the general-secretary of Awami League says there is no clear evidence against them.

Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu has denied statements from the U.S. Embassy (Independent) and the United Nations over attacks on student protesters demanding safe roads.

“There was no suppression and oppression or attack on children. Sporadic clashes took place in two or three places in Dhaka and police tried to control the troubles,” said Inu in a news briefing at his office on August 7 (bdnews24.com).

According to the Next Web news site, the government sent a text message to citizens saying that rumors of murders and rapes of student protestors are false.

The deaths of two students after a bus hit them on the capital’s Airport Road preceded the upsurge in protests (Dhaka Tribune). Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, called the parents of the victims, Diya Khanam Mim and Abdul Karim, who were students at Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment College.

Besides giving the families BdTaka 2 million each in compensation, Hasina assured them of justice for their loss and ensuring road safety measures to prevent recurrence of such tragedies.

The parents of Mim and Karim then urged the protesters to return home.

Later, admitting that the students’ demands are reasonable, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said at a news briefing that the authorities have started meeting the demands following Hasina’s orders.

Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader, however, said continuing with the protests was unreasonable now as the process to take the measures was already under way. But even after taking necessary steps opposition desperately tried to spreading rumours using social media platforms and leaked phone conversation of BNP leader shows that they were tried to take political advantage by spreading rumours but it was a student protest by the innocent school boys!

“They were spreading unfounded and misleading information through live broadcasting on Facebook,” said Nazmul Alam, an additional deputy commissioner at the police’s cyber security and crime department.

Police started two cases against 45 people under the ICT Act at their Ramna station after the rumours like deaths and rapes of protesters spread on the social media.

One of the arrested people, Arman, describes himself as a “cyber analyst” and blamed Saidul and Alamgir, members of a page Arman administers, for the posts spreading the rumours.

He, however, took responsibility for the rumours as the admin of the page named ‘Fight for Survivors Right – FSR’ in a post before being arrested.

Earlier, the law enforcers arrested actress Quazi Nawshaba Ahmed on charges of spreading rumours through a live video on Facebook.

Drik Gallery managing director and photographer-activist Shahidul Alam was also arrested on similar charges after his media comments and social media posts on the issue.

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