Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Write to Freedom: Human Rights its Hindrances & Rule of Law in Asia

Human Rights its Hindrances and Rule of Law in Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash

Rule of law is one of the main factors to develop country and democratic culture is the basis of rule of law.But in Asia especiallyin Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mayan mar, Nepal democracy was hampered inseveral times. I am a Bangladeshi by national.I am working as a Journalist and Human Rights Activist in our country.I started my service as a Journalist in 1989 and then as a HumanRights Activist in Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) andBangladesh Rehabilitation Centre for Trauma Victims (BRCT) in 2001.In these past years I have gathered some experience in these tropicswhich may be very poor but I want to express it in this conference. Inmy country democracy was practiced for three & half years just afterliberation up to August, 1975. Then it was again establish in 1991after an election when parliamentary government was formed and itcontinued up to January, 2007 though there were so many obstacle inthe way to establish the rule of law in fact. It is also said that theperiod of parliamentary form government many ministers, MP's wereinvolved in corruption but if we compare the GDP in the period ofdifferent government, we can see that in the period of electedgovernment in the year 1972-1975 and 1991-2007 it was far better thanthat of other government.I want to produce some picture of violation of rule of law and HumanRights and how I was also victimized as a Journalist and Human RightsActivist.Job of a Journalist is very risky not only in our country but also allover the developing and under developing countries especially when adevoted one wants to publish or to produce a fact which hampers theinterests of egoists or the persons in power.In Bangladesh many journalist were tortured after 11th January, 2007in the regime of the Army backed care taker government. In its popularpublic campaign against corruption, the interim government hasroutinely used torture to extract confessions from criminal suspectsor to gain information against those charged with corruption. Torturehas also been used punish and to intimidate peaceful critics of theinterim government and defacto military rule even to the journalistswho disclose the facts of some events or activities of the governmentorganization. For example Shahidul Islam, founder and director of thehuman rights organization Uttaran, was beaten with sticks, boots andrifle butts in an Army camp according to relatives who saw him carriedunconscious from the room where he had been interrogated.It is reported in Human Right Watch that one man who was present atthe camp told to the organization I saw that they look him to thebathroom. I could hear them beating him. I could hear the soundsticks. When they brought him cut, his shirt was covered in blood. Hecould not walk and had to he carried. I think he was unconscious.I Jahangir Alam Akash being the coordinator of the Task force againsttorture (TFT), Rajshahi, the regional coordinator of BangladeshInstitute of Human Rights (BIHR), the bureau chief of first 24 hoursnews channel in Bangladesh CSB News (recently closed) and the dailySangbad (Bengali Newspaper) & also general secretary of Rajshahi Unionof Journalists.I was victimized and was tortured by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Thefact is that on 23rd October, 2007 midnight at 1.30 am a group (10/12members) of civil dressed Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)-5 Rajshahipersonals came to my rented house at 55/2 Housing estate Uposhahar inRajshahi and pressed switch of all calling bell in that buildingcontinuing tuning guar leis. Hearing the sound of calling bell the sonof the owner of the building named Likhon (26) came out and asked theRAB personals about their identity and came of their coming. But theyrefused to disclose their identity and cause of coming, rather hastedin angry and shouted to open the main collapsed door quickly as wellas urging filthy language. Being afraid, when he opened the collapseddoor they entered into the building and started to beat him.Thereafter they knocked at the door of my residence. My wife FarhanaSarmin asked them to know their identity and cause of coming but theyrefused to answer at first. Then my wife said them if they did notdisclose their identity and cause of coming she would not open thedoor then they tried to break the door lock to enter the residence butfailed. Thereafter they disclosed that they are the member of RAB-5.They also said that they came in to knowledge through reliable sourcethat there are some arms in this house and they would search thehouse. When she again asked them to show search warrant they repliedthat they have search warrant issued by the concerned court. Though,they could not show the warrant. Then my wife called our neighbors aswitness and opened the door. Then they stormed the room and grabbed meand started to slab me as well using filthy language. Thereafter theyput me hand cuff and tied my head covering eye, nose, ear and mouthwith black cloth and started to beaten in front of my 4 months old sonand my wife and then lifted me in their van and look at their camp.Then I was kept hanging from ceiling with ropes in my hands, with themask on my face and tortured physically till next noon. They gave meelectric shocks and beaten by bamboo sticks under my foot. In thisconnection I was published a book name is "15 hours in totaldarkness". They handed me over to Boalia police station at 4.30 pm inthe afternoonunder section 16 (2) Emergency Power Rule (EPR). I am very muchgrateful to AHRC especially Mr. Zaman. If AHRC & zaman not have takenmy case, then RAB might be kills me in the name of 'Crossfire orEncounter'.I was victimized due to broadcasting news on different abuses of powerby the RAB-5 and other corrupted persons who are close to local RABpersonal on CSB News and the daily Sangbad the alleged RAB personaland other persons were aggrieved with me. For this reason to takerevenge and give punishment they arrested me.It is mentionable that on 2nd May, 2007, a team of RAB went to thehouse of an alleged criminal house in the city of Rajshahi. The RABshot at the person in the bedroom in front of his wife and a youngdaughter. The CSB News broadcast the news this attemptedextra-judicial killing by the RAB team in the news bulletin on May 3rdof 2007. The wife of the bullet injured person accused the RAB forshooting on her husband before the TV camera. It is also mentionablethat three false cases were implicated against me just before andafter arresting me due to reporting on corruption and human rightsviolation.Regarding my cases- in one of the three cases I have been on bail bythe High Court division of the Supreme Court until 6 July 2008, thetrial court has also fixed the next date to hear the case, accordingto the directions of the High Court.In the second case, the trial court heard my case on 12 May whetherthe charge should be framed against me or not; however, the judge didnot pass his order so far although there was a date fixed on 25 May topass the order. The next date of this case is fixed on 8 July.The third case has already been investigated by the police and theirreport was submitted to the trial Court on 8 January 2008. The foundthe alleged charges against me are false and recommended the Court tobring charge against the complainant for lodging the false complaints.However, the Court has not yet decided about this issue although threeseparate dates of hearing of this case already passed on. The nextdate to pass order following the police investigation report is fixedon 19 June. I heard court accepted this report, however, did not giveany order against the false complaint.I am afraid that following repeated pressures from the law-enforcers,especially, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) the trial courts mayorder to put me in jail again canceling my bail as soon as the tenureof the bail granted by the High Court is over on 6 July. I am in sucha fear as a result of a recent verdict passed by the AppellateDivision of the Supreme Court, which declares that any personimplicated in the Emergency Power Rules of 2007 is not eligible to getbail until the trial is over whether is the charge against him or her.There is an another shocking news I have learned that the keyperpetrator, Major Rashidul Hassan Rashid, a military officer deputedin the RAB, is recruited to serve in the UN Peacekeeping Mission inIvory Coast; he is supposed to join the UN Mission on 10 July 2008.You may understand how the Bangladeshi authorities look into thematters of human rights abuses and treat the victims and theperpetrators as well, according to their policy. The journalist Mr.Tasneem Khalil who wrote an article to criticize the government wastaken to the army camp in DGFI by army and brutally beaten. Now he wasexiled by the Bangladesh government and lives in Sweden. There are somany examples like the above three incidents.Torture has been a familiar and widespread problem in Bangladesh. Itis a routine feature of criminal investigations used by the police toobtain confessions. It is also used for politically motivated purposesagainst alleged national security suspects, government's critics andperceived political opponents to obtain information to intimidate orto convey more broadly message of fear.The system of detention is also a kind of serious violation of humanrights. On 11 January 2007, the state emergency was declared and moredraconian Emergency Rules issued on 25th January which initiallyprohibited political activity, processions, meeting, assemblies,demonstrations, and trade union activities etc and the restrictionsalso imposed on press freedom. The emergency regulation have alsofacilitated arbitrary arrests of a wide rang of government criticspeacefulprotesters and political party members. About twenty thousands ofpeople have been arbitrary arrested under emergency rule though exactfigure are not available. Those detained include nearly 200 seniorpolitical leaders, prominent businessmen, and the governmentofficials. The leaders of both major political parties includingSheikh Hasina of Awami league and Begum Khaleda Zia of BNP have beenarrested and bail was denied. Though, Sheikh Hasina was released onbail for his health treatment.Emergency powers encourage mistreatment in detention. The securityforces frequently arrest people in the middle of the night withoutwarrant. They are often in plainclothes and offer no identificationand cite the emergency laws to justify their actions, Instead ofbringing those people under arrest before a Magistrate, the securityforces routinely take them to Army barracks and other unofficialplaces of detention where they are subject to mistreatment bandtorture.It is also mentionable that the successive governments including thoseof Military Rules General Zia, General H M Ershad, and the electedgovernment of Prime Ministers Begum Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasinasometimes used the DGFI to serve partisan interests in violation of UNcharter. Specially unauthorized killing in the name of crossfire &Encounter was started in the regime of Khaleda Zia government which isuninterrupted till now. Not get justice is a common feature inBangladesh. About 15 journalists were killed in last 15 years. Butmost of cases still not trial. Not only that father of the nationBangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed by Army with his 17family members. After 30 years trial have done but still not execute.Sustainable democracy, poverty, militancy, terrorism, hole nationdivided by two groups, corruption, some British rule, Emergency & emergency power rules, lower good governance & judicial is the main problem in Bangladesh.I want to submit a few recommendations to establish the freedom ofpress and to protect the human rights which is the first and main stepto establish the rule of law and to develop a country, the culture ofdemocracy should be practiced continuously and strictly in this regarda regional cooperation forum can be formed and it should be activeforming a few rules and it should be maintain strictly.Freedom of press should be grunted in Bangladesh constitution it isgrunted in article 39 (b) but it is not binding upon the governmenttherefore we should fight to establish the rule of constitution.Judiciary should be independent in practical and all kinds of killingby the machineries of the government should be stopped. No personsshould be torture by the law enforcing agencies.No rule or ordinance can be formed or passed which are contradictoryto the main theme of constitution.UN charter should be followed strictly and in this regard theinternational organization should act impartial and independent.In conclusion, we the people of this region will get the way ofdevelopment peace, fundamental rights and torture-free citizen lifewith regional cooperation.

Jahangir Aalm Aaksh


C-361 Shiroil

P.O Ghoramara-6100

P.S Boalia, Dist. Rajshahi


Cell : +8801720084944

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Jahangir Alam Akash-Editor of Euro Bangla


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Jahangir Alam Akash Editor Euro Bangla http://www.eurobangla.org/ editor.eurobangla@yahoo.de http://youtube.com/user/jaakashbd