Pepper spray on Khaleda violation of Convention, HC order: Dab

Doctors Association of Bangladesh (DAB) yesterday said that pepper spray on BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia was the violation of Chemical Weapon Convention and the High Court prohibition not to use it.
Leaders of the DAB, a pro-BNP professional organisation, made the statement at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity three days after police used pepper spray when the former premier was talking to journalists at her Gulshan office premises on Monday.Khaleda Zia, who was confined to her Gulshan office from later Saturday as the main gate of the office was locked up from outside by police was not allowed to go out to join a rally to mark the first anniversary of January 5 poll that her party had boycotted.
The DAB leaders protested and condemned the use of pepper spray on Khaleda Zia, her party colleagues and journalists in a closed area and sought justice to the people and called upon them to build resistance against such move.
They expressed concern that Khaleda became very sick because of use of pepper spray on her.
According to North Carolina Medical Journal, pepper spray can cause death. That’s why Chemical Weapon Convention, of which Bangladesh is one of the signatory countries, imposed ban on using pepper spray, they said.
Besides, upon a writ High Court on January 21 imposed ban on use of pepper spray as the government used pepper spray on teachers rally and demonstrators in protest against oil price hike that left two one teacher dead and two persons blind.
‘It seems that the prohibited chemical weapon was used on the elderly leader with an ill motive which is totally immoral and inhuman attitude towards her,” said Dr SM Rafiqul Islam Bacchu, senior joint-secretary general of DAB.
He said the pepper spray made of ethanol and propylene glycol is a poisonous chemical weapon and very harmful to human health.
“If the pepper spray is applied directly on human body, it causes inflammation—itching in eyes, respiratory problems, pain in chest lacrimation—falling tears regularly, etching on upper side of the body,” he said.
The DAB leader said there is a possibility of death due to pepper spray if it is applied on the elderly persons and those have respiratory problems and going under treatment. “Besides, there is also possibility of serious physical damage including pulmonary toxicity, carcinogenic effect and cancer,” he added.
Quoting a report from American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU, Dr Islam said 27 people died in 1993 due to pepper spray in police custody in California. Besides, 61 persons died in Loge Angeles due to pepper spray in six year from 1990.
Replying to a question, the DAB leader said the former premier is given oxygen, nebuliser as she is suffering from respiratory problem and she was also given eye treatment.
Asked whether Khaleda would be taken to any hospital, he said the doctors, who are taking care of her would take decision in this regard after she is freed from confinement.
Former pro-VC of BSMMU Prof MA Mannan, former chairman of orthopedic department Prof Md Shahabuddin, eye expert Dr Abdul Quddus, Dr Md Shahabuddin, chest expert Dr Zahirul Islam, DAB leaders—Dr Obaidul Kabir Khan and Dr Saiful Islam Selim among others, were present on the occasion. – Staff Reporter