Monday, December 10, 2007

Bangladesh pardons jailed teachers

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh pardoned four university teachers on Monday, six days after they had been jailed for inciting violent student unrest in August, which forced the army-backed government to impose curfew in major cities."President Iajuddin Ahmed has approved the clemency considering mercy petitions filed by their (teachers) respective wives," a senior official of the Presidential Palace told Reuters.The clemency came after a series of silent protests by teachers and students of major universities in the country.

Although rallies and marchers were banned by the army-backed interim government that assumed power in January following weeks of deadly political violence, the teachers and students continued to wear black badges and held silent rallies on their campuses for last few days.A Bangladesh court sentenced the teachers of the Rajshahi University, located about 187 miles northwest of the capital Dhaka, last Tuesday to two years in jail for inciting violent student unrest in August.Four other teachers from the Dhaka University, the country's biggest, are being tried on similar charges by another court, officials said.The four have been detained for allegedly instigating student unrest in the capital. Following the clemency granted to their colleagues at Rajshahi, the four Dhaka University teachers are also expected to be exempted of the charges.

A man was killed in Rajshahi and several hundred were injured there and in other cities as students fought battles with police, in defiance of a state of emergency in force since January.Authorities ordered an indefinite curfew in Dhaka and five other cities in late August following violence sparked by an alleged assault on some students by army troops during a football match on the Dhaka University campus.

The curfew was lifted after a few days later but all major universities in the six cities remained closed for up to two months

(Reporting by Nizam Ahmed, writing by Anis Ahmed)

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