Thursday, January 10, 2008

Amnesty International in Bangladesh

Irene Z. Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, has been here lecturing the caretaker government on human rights.

Over the last sixteen years, when student politicians were dying at the rate of 50 per month and these boys were raping and killing with abandon, where was – the hopelessly misnamed – Irene?

Between 1985 and 2000, 15 student politicians were murdered on the campus of Tejgaon Polytechnic College. These boys were minors.

In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too.

The Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols. It spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life .

The reader will notice that all the highlighted rights have been violated in the case of the student politicians of Bangladesh. For student activists begin their violent careers well before they are eighteen.

To read an interview of a student politician, visit

Irene Khan is Bangladeshi, and she knows very well what democracy has meant for high school students – she comes to Bangladesh regularly to visit her mother. Yet she has never raised the point with the previous, democratically elected leaders of Bangladesh. Instead, she is pushing for the restoration of democracy here.

See the article:

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