Sunday, September 28, 2008

Human Rights Violation by Army & Impunity in Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash
Democracy is detained in Army locker in Bangladesh, so it is very clear to understand that the human rights are controlling by the command of Army and their associates.
The people of Bangladesh struggled for 22 years to establish their rights in different sectors nationally; then for their provincial autonomy and finally for independence. They owned their victory in nine months war and found Bangladesh independent. But it is very afflicting that all fundamental rights were stunted by Army interference in different times. The Army autocrats ruled the country unruly killed thousands of civilians and Army people, even the father of the nation Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, but they have got indemnity in all the cases.
A prolonged and unjustifiable state emergency has increased lawlessness and since January 11, 2007 all fundamental rights have been suspended. The armed forces have been enjoying unbridled power and sheer impunity. Many human rights defenders have been threatened, tortured and implicated in fabricated cases. A few numbers of defenders have been killed extra judicially also.
Now a day, it is said in Bangladesh that the present autocratic government is controlling the different judicial courts as their liking also. The armed forces of Bangladesh have been enjoying human rights according to their wishes and capacities during the state emergency. They are not accountable to any authority at all. Instead, they are allowed to do and undo whatever they want section 20 of emergency powers rules 2007 authorizing the law and order maintaining forces to use force in order to execute any order issued according to rules. It can be stated in this regard that at the time of ‘Operation Clean Heart’ in 2002 about 58 civilians were killed by the Army and about 600 civilians were killed in the name of ‘Crossfire’ or ‘Encounter’ by Elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from 2004 till today.
Though some other persons were also killed by the police in same way of extra-judicial killings. Dr. Mizanur Rahman Tutul who was the chief of banned organization called Purbo Bangla Communist Party (ML-Red flag) was killed by police in Naogaon on 27th July, 2008 in the name of ‘Encounter’. Though RAB was arrested Dr. Tutul on 25th July, 2008 from

Dhaka. There are hundreds of examples of such activities of law enforcing agencies in the country.
Bangladesh is a People’s Republic country. Constitution of Bangladesh dictates its nationals as the owners of the country. In the independence war 30 lacks of peoples lost their lives and two lacks of widows lost their modesty by the Pakistani Armies and their associates. It is declared in the preamble of the Constitution ‘that it shall be a fundamental aim of the state to realize through democratic process a socialist society, free from exploitation a society in which the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedom, equality and justice political, economic and social will be secured for all citizens’. It is the great sorrows of us that the owners of the country (people) are always being tortured by the state servant (Army) of the country.
In this regime, it is the normal practice of the joint force, Army, RAB to torture the professors of universities, journalists and human rights defenders. No action is to be taken against these accused persons and sometimes they used to be facilitated. For example some Army personnel tortured some students of Dhaka University after negligible events on 20th August, 2007 for which students movement started throughout the country, in that movement it turned of a much movement. Then some honorable professors of Dhaka and Rajshahi University were arrested with some students and officials of the universities. They were also tortured in the Army camp and different fabricated cases were started against them by which the arrested professors, officials and students were convicted by an unfair trial. Then public opinion went against the present self declared government and the government became bound to release the convicted professors, students with two official order. Though some students of Dhaka University are still facing trial till now.
I am also victimized by the present ruling authority for my activities in doing duties as a Human Rights Activist and a Journalist. I started my service as a Journalist in 1989 and then as a Human Rights Activist in Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) and Bangladesh Rehabilitation Centre for Trauma Victims (BRCT) in 2001. In my country democracy was practiced for three & half years just after liberation up to August, 1975. Then it was again establish in 1991after an election when parliamentary government was formed and it continued up to January, 2007 though there were so many obstacles in the way to establish the rule of law in fact. It is also said that the

period of parliamentary form government many ministers, Member of Parliament (MP)’s were involved in corruption but if we compare the GDP
in the period of different government, we can see that in the period of elected government in the year 1972-1975 and 1991-2007 it was far better than that of other government.
I want to produce some picture of violation of rule of law and human rights and how I was also victimized as a Journalist and human rights activist. Job of a Journalist is very risky not only in our country but also allover the developing and under developing countries especially when a devoted one wants to publish or to produce a fact which hampers the interests of egoists or the persons in power.
In Bangladesh many journalist were tortured after 11th January, 2007 in the regime of the Army backed care taker government. In its popular public campaign against corruption, the interim government has routinely used torture to extract confessions from criminal suspects or to gain information against those charged with corruption. Torture has also been used punish and to intimidate peaceful critics of the interim government and de facto military rule even to the journalists who disclose the facts of some events or activities of the government organization.
For example Shahidul Islam, founder and director of the human rights organization Uttaran, was beaten with sticks, boots and rifle butts in an Army camp according to relatives who saw him carried unconscious from the room where he had been interrogated. It is reported in Human Right Watch that one man who was present at the camp told to the organization I saw that they look him to the bathroom. I could hear them beating him. I could hear the sound sticks. When they brought him cut, his shirt was covered in blood. He could not walk and had to he carried. I think he was unconscious. These type of example have much more in Bangladesh. Such as Dulal at Charfasion of Bhola, Liaqat Ali of Thakurgaon. They tortured by Army in present Army backed government.
Being a journalist and human rights activist, I was victimized and was tortured by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) for my professional activities. On December 1, 2006, RAB murdered Ahsan Habib Babu, a Chatra (Students) League leader from Durgapur. On May 2, 2007 an accused terrorist Mohammad Benazir (BNP) was shot by RAB at his bedroom in front of his wife and minor daughter. On May 16, 2007 RAB tortured jail-guard Sahebul Islam. RAB was killed a Workers Party local Leader Kamrul Islam alias Majnu Sheikh in a litchi garden at Choto Bangram of Rajshahi on May 18, 2007.
I reported these incidents in CSB News, Radio German Deutsche Welle and in the daily Sangbad. When one Benazir was shot on May 2, 2007 it was reported by me in CSB News. None of the RAB personnel, who were involved in the alleged operation, did agree to give their statements in front of television camera regarding the incident. In the evening, I send the report to my head office [Dhaka] from bureau office [in Rajshahi]. In a news bulletin broadcasted at 01.00am early in the following morning [3 May 2007], the report was screened on air.
Then, at 9.33 pm on 3 May 2007 I received a call in my mobile phone number: [+88]01720084944 from RAB officer Major Rashidul Hasan Rashid from another mobile number: [+88]01714049431. I said 'Greetings' when I received the phone. As soon as I received the phone, the caller asked me that why the broadcasting of the news regarding the RAB's operation was stopped just after airing only two bulletins. In reply, I told the person that 'it is a matter of the head office'.
He [Major Rashid] became annoyed with me and said, ‘you broadcasted this report intentionally.' I replied, ‘‘it is my professional duty, not more intention at all.' He [Major Rashid] asked, "Why did you broadcast the crying face and statements of Benzir's wife and child daughter?" In response, I asked him, “Do you want to know it officially?”
At this stage, Major Rashid became very rude and I cannot mention the words he shouted at me in my language [the language was very bad]; he was outraged and said, "If you fail to give the right answer that why did you broadcast the report, then I shall take actions against you" I said, "I have not committed any crime." Major Rashid asked again, "Why did the other TV channels not broadcast the same report? You did it intentionally and your this particular action belongs to 'anti-state activity'."
He [Major Rashid] again said, "Mind it, you, any of your colleagues and the camera of the CSB News are not seen at all within the jurisdiction and activities of RAB. If it is seen any further that you or your CSB's camera is close to the activities of the RAB, then RAB go for action against you. After this, he [Major Rashid] disconnected the (mobile phone) line." I was complained to Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Amnesty International regarding this threat. Then an investigation was commissioned.
After giving the detailed address, I signed on my written statement, which was received with signature and official chop by the Reader to APC [Assistant Police Commissioner], Model Police Station, Boalia, RMP, Rajshahi on 3 July 2007. Mr. Golam Mostofa, the Field Officer of the

National Security Intelligence (NSI) interrogated me regarding the said intimidation and threats on 15 July 2007.
Besides, at around 06.00pm on 22 July 2007, Mr. Moyeen, an Inspector of the Special Branch of the Rajshahi city of the RMP visited my office and took my statement. Inspector Moyeen also asked about the security problem of me, I replied that the RAB is involved in extra judicial killings in the country and I feared that I could be a victim of such killing. I reported that I have been continuing my works but worry that the RAB or his men may target me for further harassment or intimidation.
On the April 9, 2002 and on the December 17, 2006 I reported about the corruption in the management of Delwar Hossain Waqf Estate in Rajshahi. On March 4, of 2000 I reported about Mahfuzul Alam Loton, the son of the sacked Motawali (of the Estate) Abdus Samad and his gang’s terrorist activities. On April 25, 2007 my report on the corruption of this estate was broadcasted by CSB News.
Working as a regional coordinator of a human rights organization, Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights, I did some fact-finding on RAB’s human rights violations especially extra judicial killings. These facts were sent to the Home minister, Prime minister and the Chief adviser seeking necessary actions. For these reasons RAB was furious with me.
Reacting to my reports in CSB News and the daily Sangbad on corruption in Delwar Hossain Waqf Estate in Rajshahi, Mahfuzul Alam Loton, son the Motawali Abdus Samad filed a GD (General Diary No. 1160) on June 20, 2007 charging me of a false extortion attempt of Taka 50,000 in the Boalia model police station.
After closed CSB News On October 2, 2007 the same complaint was submitted in the same police station as Izahar (FIR) and it was recorded as a case (No. 2, Section 385/386). I immediately applied to the high court and received an ad-interim bail. But violating the court ruling RAB arrested me on the October 24, 2007 at 01.30am. In this night, around 10 to 12 plainclothes RAB members came to my rent house. When I and my wife asked for their identity they said they were government officials. We said if they don’t identify themselves we won’t open the gate. In the meantime I tried to contact others. The son of the landlord came down from his flat and asked them why they were not identifying themselves. He was beaten and sworn at for this.
In the meantime police also came. I was opened the door but the front grill of the house was still locked. Our 4-months old son was in my lap. I was arrested instantly after opening the lock. A mask was put on my face. Before
mask my eye’s covered a towel. My son was still in my hands. They searched the house but found nothing. I was beaten by RAB in front of my child son Fiman Farnad (now 15 month old) and my wife Farhana Sarmin (She is now study in Rajshahi University) was also witness to this. At the same time when Mr. Likhon, 26, the son of my landlord Mr. Abul Kashem, asked about the identity of the persons arresting me. He was also beaten. I was taken to RAB-5 office. I was kept hanging from the ceiling with my hands tied with ropes. I was beaten mercilessly on feet and back.
After taking me in RAB-5 office I was kept hanging from ceiling with ropes in my hands, with the mask on my face. In the morning the RAB officer Major Rashidul Hasan and Humayun Kabir (DAD) tortured me physically. They have sworn nasty words towards me. Major Rashid was gave me electric shocks. They handed me over to Boalia police station at 04.30 in the afternoon under section 54 (Under Section 16/2 of Emergency Power Rules-EPR. Boalia police station put me on Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court under section 16 (2) of the EPR.
I was tortured the whole night until about 04.00pm, the next afternoon. My fault was that I reported about RAB’s offenses (extra judicial killings). RAB arrested one of terrorist Benazir on May, 2, 2007 on the charges of possession of illegal arms. While arresting him they shot both of his legs in front of his minor daughter Prianka and his wife. Benazir is now crippled with two bullet marks on his feet. He is also detained in this hospital area of Rajshahi central jail. RAB did not find any arms from him. I reported about this in CSB News and broadcasted interviews of his wife.
RAB murdered an innocent man Workers party leader named Majnu in a litchi garden in the town. I also reported this. So, I became a target. I have been framed in multiple cases and is being tortured. When I was being tortured I was being shouted at with these kinds of words… “Will you do the Benazir report again…” “Litchi garden report again…” “AHM Khairuzzaman Liton’s family report again...” “Now face the consequence… son of a pig… son of a bitch…” etc...etc. RAB wants to kills me in the name of 'Crossfire or Encounter'.
I was under medical attention of Rajshahi central jail for 10 days. As a new detainee I was went to the case table in front of the trial court of the Jail house on the first day. When I went to case table, two detainees holding me from my two sides. I had no power to walk. I could not even sit properly, only could put pressure in one side of the bottom. I was broke into my tears. Many cases were lodged against me. I was being prepared to be killed in “crossfire or Encounter.”
I came to know later that another false extortion case was lodged against me by Abdul Jalil who is the father of a rapist Chatradol cadre Harun in the Puthia police station. The son of the plaintiff was caught red handed by the
peoples while doing to rape a teenager girl. Harun was later released on acquitted. Abdul Jalil, father of Harun was murdered a poor farmer & activist of Bangladesh Awami League Abdul Halim by poison because he (Halim) refused to withdraw the rape case against the rapist Harun. I had conducted the fact-finding mission of this rape case and identified Harun and his father Abdul Jalil as the offender.
Mahfujul Alam Loton, the plaintiff of the first extortion case against me, witness Ziaul Haque Tuku and Asaduzzaman Asad all are working as a RAB sources. I filed a GD (No. 310) against Loton on March 7, 2000 because after my report had been published in the daily Sangbad on March 4, 2000 members of his gang tried to kill me. Later Asaduzzaman Asad, a witness in Loton’s case took Taka 30,000 as extortion from a local businessman but he used my name. This was reported in the daily Sangbad, “Extortion is use the name of a journalist,” on January 19, of 2003.
Delwar Hossain Waqfo Estate is well known in Rajshahi. Due to corruption allegation with the management, I reported with the Daily Sangbad on 9 April 2002 and 17 December 2006. I also reported in CSB News on 25 April 2007 on the same. For this reason, Mr. Mahfuzul Alam Loton (son of sacked Motawalli of the estate Mr. Abdus Samad) filed an extortion case against me with Boalia Model Police Station. Because, Motowalli Mr. Abdus Samad was terminated from his responsibility for corruption. Mr. Loton is also a paternal uncle of A H M Khairuzzaman Liton, newly elected Mayor of Rajshahi. I did many facts findings report about Extra-Judicial Killing and published/broadcasted series of report in this connection on DW, CSB News & the the daily Sangbad.
I was freed from Rajshahi central jail on 19th November, 2007 after 28 day’s’. But, again an extortion false case filed against me on 25th November, 2007. The plaintiff Mr. Abdul Latif Biswas is a accused in a sensational extortion case. I reported with the daily Sangbad on 23rd August 2003 against Mr. Latif on his antisocial activity. Mr. Latif is the President of Puthia BNP & former administrator of Puthia municipality. On November 21, 2007 I received once again threat by the RAB that I would be booked with yet another fabricated charge and would be shot dead as if I was killed in an encounter or crossfire.
I am surprised that none of the regular benches of the High Court Division has heard the petition of me since the reopening of the courts although
Justice A F M Abdur Rahman's vacation bench ordered that the case to be placed before a regular bench when the court is reopened. I regret that the High Court has neither held the RAB officials accountable for violating its
order as a contempt of court charge nor the magistrates of the Rajshahi CMM Court for detaining me in prison in the case for which I was already bailed by the High Court.
The magistrate's courts and judge's courts in Bangladesh has recently been separated from the executive branch of the government, which was in effect since 1st November 2007. On this, I am inquisitive to learn whether the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, which is the authority to deal with the subordinate judiciary of the country, has yet taken any action regarding these issues involving contempt of courts and unauthorized abuses of governmental power. Not only me, but my family also is under threat from the RAB. As of now I am keeping myself away from my home in order to be safe.
There is an another shocking news I have learned that the key perpetrator, Major Rashidul Hassan Rashid, a military officer deputed in the RAB, who played the leading role in these extra-judicial killings of the victims Ahsan Habib Babu, a students league, Kamrul Islam alias Maznu Sheikh, a Workers Party leader, Ali Jafor Babu, a prominent businessmen and about twnty others. Some other persons like Benzir and jail guard Shahebul Islam is highly affected and became disabled by their torture. Major Rashid is recruited to serve in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Ivory Coast; he was joined the UN Mission on 10th July, 2008. It is to be noted that I have informed it by a high ranking police officer of Rajshahi range and one RAB officials but I committed them not to disclose their identity. Everybody may understand how the Bangladeshi authorities look into the matters of human rights abuses and treat the victims and the perpetrators as well, according to their policy.
The journalist and human rights defender Mr.Tasneem Khalil who wrote an article to criticize the government was taken to the army camp in DGFI by army and brutally beaten. Now he was exiled by the Bangladesh government and lives in Sweden. There are so many examples like the above three incidents.
Torture has been a familiar and widespread problem in Bangladesh. It is a routine feature of criminal investigations used by the police to obtain confessions. It is also used for politically motivated purposes against alleged national security suspects, government's critics and perceived political opponents to obtain information to intimidate or to convey more broadly
message of fear. The system of detention is also a kind of serious violation of human rights. On 11th January 2007, the state emergency was declared and more draconian Emergency Rules issued on 25th January which initially
Prohibited political activity, processions, meeting, assemblies, demonstrations, and trade union activities etc and the restrictions also imposed on press freedom.
The emergency regulation have also facilitated arbitrary arrests of a wide rang of government critics peaceful protesters and political party members. About twenty thousands of people have been arbitrary arrested under emergency rule though exact figure are not available. Those detained include nearly 200 senior political leaders, prominent businessmen and the government officials.
Emergency powers encourage mistreatment in detention. The security forces frequently arrest people in the middle of the night without warrant. They are often in plainclothes and offer no identification and cite the emergency laws to justify their actions, Instead of bringing those people under arrest before a Magistrate, the security forces routinely take them to Army barracks and other unofficial places of detention where they are subject to mistreatment and torture.
Specially unauthorized killing in the name of Crossfire & Encounter was started in the regime of Khaleda Zia government which is uninterrupted till now. Not get justice is a common feature in Bangladesh. About 15 journalists were killed in last 15 years. But most of cases still not trial. Not only that, father of the nation Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed with his seventeen family members including child and women by Army. After 30 years trial has done but yet not execute.
Around six hundreds people have reportedly been killed by the RAB, a paramilitary police force whose members are drawn from the Army and police, set up in March, 2004. Sources say the deaths have been caused by crossfire between RAB agents and suspected criminals, but there are persistent reports that the deaths have been deliberate killings by the RAB. Despite this, no RAB agents have ever been brought to justice for any of the killings. The caretaker government like previous governments in Bangladesh has failed to protect people against Army and RAB excesses, or to bring any of their personnel to justice for abusing human rights, torture and killings.
Professionals like journalists and human rights activists of Bangladesh facing arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, fabricated charges and death threats from the law-enforcing agencies and security forces while the atrocities of the law-enforcers are criticized in various media. Since the state
of emergency was imposed in the country such threat and intimidations by state’s security forces have alarmingly increased here. Yet none of the alleged perpetrators have been prosecuted for their alleged crimes. As a result, the worst type of culture of impunity is cultivated in Bangladesh, despite the nation’s presence in the UN human rights council since May, 2006.
It is common practice in Bangladesh that the law-enforcing agents use the criminals as their source with purpose of repressing criminal’s activities. However, the law-enforcers frequently overlook the crimes committed by their source and indirectly protect them. Besides, the law-enforcers often abuse their authority and use their sources to punish their personal opponents by fabricating the complaints against them or blackmailing or even killing those people.
I want to give a few recommendations to establish the freedom of press and to protect the human rights which is the first and main step to establish the rule of law and to develop a country, the culture of democracy should be practiced continuously and strictly in this regard regional cooperation forum can be formed and it should be active forming a few rules and it should be maintain strictly.
Freedom of press should be grunted in Bangladesh constitution it is grunted in article 39 (b) but it is not binding upon the government therefore we should fight to establish the rule of constitution. Judiciary should be independent in practical and all kinds of killing by the machineries of the government should be stopped. No persons should be torture by the law enforcing agencies. No rule or ordinance can be formed or passed which are contradictory to the main theme of constitution. No accused persons should be impunity. UN charter should be followed strictly and in this regard the international organization should act impartial and independent. In conclusion, we the people of this region will get the way of development peace, fundamental rights and torture-free citizen life with regional cooperation.

Jahangir Alam Akash
Journalist & Human Rights Activists
C-361 Seroil, Ghoramara-6100
Boalia, Rajshahi, Bangladesh
Cell : +8801720084944
E-mail :

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Jahangir Alam Akash Editor Euro Bangla