Protests During the First Phase of Lockdown in Bangladesh: An Analysis Based on Media Reports

In Bangladesh, the government began a nationwide lockdown from 26 March to 30 May 2020, as a standard measure to control COVID-19. The virus and associated restrictions gravely impacted most low-income and vulnerable citizens. Workers’ rights and working conditions of labourers in various sectors have been tremendously affected. The workers demanded relief in exchange for staying at home. When their demands were not met, workers decided to find their livelihoods for themselves. Along with general citizens, they held protests and movements in demand of multiple rights. This study tracks the protests and movements during the first phase of the pandemic to observe trends in citizens’ demands and the government’s response to the movements. Scanning news media reports from credible sources, 251 protests were tracked across the country from 20 March to 28 May 2020. The study found that 221 out of 251 protests were held by workers, and the rest by citizen groups from different backgrounds. The majority of protests were held in urban areas, and by RMG workers. Workers predominantly asked for wages and employment opportunities. The trend in protests shows that workers prioritized their livelihood needs ahead of their health and safety. The government was late to address demands or did not attempt to resolve them at all. The study recommends treating lockdowns as a last resort and only applying them if it comes with a comprehensive relief plan and can protect healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. It also asserts that a nationwide vaccination drive is necessary as a long-term solution.

Authors: Khan, Insiya; Hoque, Rafsanul
Type: Research Brief
Year: 2020