DHAKA, Bangladesh

More than 1,000 Bangladeshi university students staged a demonstration Sunday in the capital Dhaka, forming a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club as they demanded to be issued visas so they could immediately return to China to resume in-class learning, which has been stalled for nearly two years due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Around 10,000 Bangladeshi students studying at Chinese universities and other academic institutes returned home in November 2019 when COVID-19 first broke out in China’s Wuhan city, according to a press release circulated by the students.

“Nearly 8,900 students have applied for coronavirus vaccines and already 6,000 of them have been vaccinated with both doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine under the special supervision of Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry,” said the release, citing the ministry’s records.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Abid Ashraf Bishal, one of the organizers of the demonstration, held under the banner “Voice of Bangladeshi Students in China,” said as most of the students have met the Chinese government’s precondition of getting the Sinopharm vaccine before returning to the country, they should be given visas and other assistance for their travel to China.

“The smaller part who have yet to take vaccines will also be inoculated immediately, so our study period should not be delayed anymore,” Bishal added.

Students carrying colorful festoons and banners also urged the relevant authorities to pay attention to their academic careers.

“Save our careers, save our lives,” “Please open the Chinese border for students through bilateral discussions” and “We are vaccinated, ready for quarantine. Now what is your excuse?” said banners and placards.

“The Chinese government should respond positively to the logical demands of the students, and I am hopeful that China will do that,” Md Shahabul Haque, general secretary of the Association of Bangladesh-China Alumni (ABCA), told Anadolu Agency.

Deeming the immediate resumption of academic activities vital, the press release added that Bangladeshis have been studying in China with scholarships mostly with leave without pay or permanently leaving their jobs in their home country.

“Now they do not get a monthly allowance from China and are suffering from an acute economic crisis that is affecting their academic careers as well as their families,” it said.

Bangladesh has so far recorded around 26,600 coronavirus-related deaths and more than 1.5 million cases, though more than 1.4 million people have recovered the disease.

The South Asian nation has so far administered more than 28 million COVID-19 vaccines, including first and second doses.

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