Extrajudicial Killings in the USA: Time to Change Their Spectacles

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M Nazrul Islam: On Tuesday, May 24, blood was shed on the campus of the United States again. A young man named Salvador Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers one by one with a firearm he got as a gift on his 18th birthday. The gunman, Ramos, attacked Rob Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a small town about an hour’s drive from the Mexican border. Members of the Border Patrol rushed to the scene and shot the young man to death. In other words, another extrajudicial killing took place in the United States.

This is not the first time that gunmen swooped on educational institutions in the United States. Such incidents took place many times. Just days before the Tuesday shooting incident, 10 people were killed in a gun attack on a super shop in Buffalo, New York, according to the BBC and AFP. A 2012 gun attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut killed 20 children and six others. There have been 26 such incidents in the United States last year. Gun-related attacks are the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in 2020, surpassing road accidents.

A gunman has been shot dead by police near a school in Toronto, Canada, shortly after gunfire erupted at an elementary school in Texas.

The issue of banning seven former and current RAB officers accused of human rights violations has come up again following the extrajudicial killings in the United States and Canada, which are known as the countries of advanced human rights.

The U.S. Department of Human Rights has highlighted the issue of extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh. Highlighting a number of statistics, it has been said that the law enforcement agencies of Bangladesh are involved in these extrajudicial killings.

On December 10 last year, the United States issued a sanction on seven former and current RAB officers for alleged human rights abuses. The country’s Treasury Department and Foreign Office issued the ban separately. These officers include the former Director-General of RAB and the current Inspector General of Bangladesh Police.

Let’s take a look at extrajudicial killings by law enforcement in the United States. Turkish media outlet TRT World has provided vital information about the United States being at the top of extrajudicial killings by law enforcement. According to a report published on June 1, 2020, a total of 7,666 people were killed in police shootings in the United States in the seven years from 2013 to 2019. Of these, 1,106 were shot by police in 2013, 1,050 in 2014, 1,103 in 2015, 1,071 in 2016, 1,095 in 2017, 1,143 in 2018 and 1,098 in 2019. Of these, the year 2018 saw the highest number of deaths by police shooting – 1,143. The average number of people killed every year between 2013 and 2019 is around 1,100. The reports also said that more than 1,200 Black people were killed in police shooting in 2015. These statistics did not include the deaths in police custody or other means of killing.

At the same time, 13 per cent of Black in the United States have been killed or injured in police shootings, at least three times as many as Whites.

A report published by the Washington Post on February 12, 2019, states that the number of people killed in police shootings in the United States has been close to one thousand for four consecutive years. According to the report, 996 people were killed in police firing in 2018 while the number was 987 in 2017, 963 in 2016, and 995 in 2015.

The Associated Press-AP, USA Today and a joint survey of researchers from North-Eastern University found that the United States had the highest number of mass killings in any year in 2019.

In 2020, there were 996 extrajudicial killings in the United States. Ninety-six per cent of homicides occurred in police shootings. Of the deceased, 27 per cent are African-Americans, although they constitute 13 per cent of the total population. According to the Human Rights Report, no action has been taken against the police in 98.8 per cent of the cases. However, the United States brought charges against Bangladesh on the pretext of human rights violations.

Following the US sanctions, international relations expert Dhaka University Professor Imtiaz Ahmed told Deutsche Welle: “Any extrajudicial killing is bad. Such extrajudicial killings are taking place in many countries. But the United States will not have the courage to take such a step there. Expressing concern, he said: “The United States does not take such action on its own.” He opined extrajudicial killings are not acceptable in Bangladesh. But, it does not have to be informed by the United States. Bangladesh is not in a situation to worry about such US sanctions,” he said.

Let’s look back a little further. On the black night of March 25, 1971, the barbaric Pakistani army started mass killing. Three million people were martyred in nine months. Later, the worst brutal example was set on August 15, 1975, when the Father of the Nation was assassinated along with his family. On November 3, four national leaders were killed in prison. Now let’s come to the latest example. From 2001 to 2006, there were thousands of extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh. The state apparatus was used for the horrific grenade attacks on August 21 and indiscriminate killings of countless political leaders and activists, including Shah AMS Kibria and Ahsanullah Master. Where were the eyes of human rights in the United States then? They did not find any crisis of democracy at that time!

The question for the human rights flag bearers is – does RAB plunder human rights, or does it protect human rights? Whether RAB is doing right or wrong – is investigated. The 9,000-member force has lost 27 lives while conducting various operations. One thousand members lost their body parts while more than 2,000 members were injured. Many of the tasks by RAB have been lauded as role models for many countries. This force has fully suppressed the militants in Bangladesh. The so-called human rights bearers do not see these achievements.

They must remember that under the leadership of Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina, the rule of law has been established in Bangladesh. The country is moving forward with the concerted efforts of the people to fight against the recent global recession.

In the backdrops of recent events, it is right to say that countries like the United States or Canada should now look at themselves in the mirror. It is high time to change the spectacles they wear for analysing the human rights situation in Bangladesh.

Source: Daily Sun

The writer is the President of All European Awami League

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