Thursday, December 31, 2009

Human rights deteriorate in Bangladesh



By Jahangir Alam Akash, Human rights in Bangladesh were anything but healthy in 2009 under the ruling Awami League led alliance. According to a report on Thursday by the oldest Bengali newspaper of Bangladesh, the Daily Sangbad, around 4,000 people were murdered, which averages to about 11 deaths each day. There were 10 politically motivated murders and 12,074 torture cases related to women. Tender grabbing was a common feature of the ruling party cadres.

There has been an alarming rise in human rights violations in the country since the new Awami League led coalition come to power in January. But the government denied any wrongdoings. It has also denied any role in the extrajudicial killings in the country and has continued to violate the country’s constitution and other laws.

The attitude of people in law enforcement agencies has not changed, at least on the issue of extra judicial killings despite the judiciary ordering them to stop killing people under the guise of “crossfire,” “encounter,” and “gunfight.” Although much of such action has stopped, it is not a sustainable solution. But the decision has been hailed an eye-opener by many including human rights organizations.

The High Court issued the suo moto order over extra judicial killings on November 17. It gave the government two weeks, initially, to explain why the killing of two brothers, Lutfor and Khairul Khalasi by law enforcement agencies in Madaripur on Nov.16 should not be declared extrajudicial. The government has yet to reply and the Attorney General has sought more time, presumably until the court resumes on January 3, 2010.

During the year although there were some positive activities by the government, most sectors in the country were devoid of any human rights, the rule of law and good governance. Religious minorities were oppressed and press freedoms were violated almost every other day.

When the Awami League was in opposition, they opposed extrajudicial killings but when in power, they turned a blind eye. Despite the High Court orders, law enforcers killed more than 11 people. According to media reports, from Jan.7 until to Dec.14, law enforcers killed some 142 people. Law enforcers have killed some 1,600 peoples since 2002 when Operation Clean Heart, led by the army began.

Repression of minorities and indigenous people has been an ongoing event with impunity to the perpetrators. The murdered include a converted Christian NGO worker Swapan Mondal, Hindu freedom fighter Nirapad Kobiraj - killed by the RAB under the excuse of crossfire, a senior citizen Jatindra Lal Dey, an indigenous girl Maching Khai Marma who was also raped, schoolteacher Akhil Saha, Ashish Sarker, and businessmen Sumon Goala and Goutam Sarker.

During the year, many cases of rape and physical torture of women and girls belonging to ethnic minorities were reported. Also, least 70 incidents of land grabbing occurred in minority communities across the country.

Other criminal acts observed were violence against women, sexual harassment of women and girls in educational institutions, offices, factories and other workplaces. So-called social leaders victimized at least 15 families by issuing extrajudicial penalties such as beatings and canings in the name of arbitration, mediation or conciliation.

Seventy-six people including 57 army officers were killed in a mutiny after the ruling coalition came to power. Reportedly, 66 members of the Bangladesh Rifles died in the custody of the alleged mutineers. It is believed they were tortured and then killed. Yet, the perpetrators have not been brought to justice.

During the year, terrorists killed three journalists including a young community journalist. The New Age reporter F.M. Masum was brutally tortured by so called elite forces for reporting corruption scandals of influential politicians. Many journalists were also threatened, tortured and harassed for similar reporting.

The one good act of the government was to sentence to death the 12 accused in the murder of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh. The highest court of Bangladesh pronounced the verdict. Although the death penalty is one of the greatest human rights violations, the whole nation looked at the case as a trial of war criminals whose acts led to mass rape, murder, riots, looting and other inhuman activities during Bangladesh’s liberation war of 1971.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Press freedom under threat in Bangladesh



By Jahangir AlamAkash, Press freedom in Bangladesh is again under threat after some reports on corruption were recently published. A national daily supported by an opposition party is facing the heat from the ruling party for publishing a corruption report while another progressive national daily is facing a defamation suit filed by the main opposition party for publishing a crime report.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jammat-e-islami owned daily newspaper Amar Desh published a report on corruption by the son of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Sajeeb Wazed Joy and the energy adviser to Hasina, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, which has become the most talked about issue in the country.

After the report was published, some members from the ruling Bangladesh Awami League as well as some top leaders in the government threatened the newspaper with dire consequences. Reportedly, there was an attempt to also kidnap the journalist who wrote the report.

Amar Desh in its Dec. 17 issue published a report headlined “Allegations of US$5 million bribes against energy adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi and prime minister’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy.” The report was on kickbacks received by both men from an unsolicited deal with the U.S. oil company Chevron.

The general secretary of the Awami League Syed Ashraful Islam in a press briefing on Dec. 20, said, “false report publishing is immoral and also a violation of the policy of newspaper and the fundamental rights,” and called for more responsible journalism.

We do agree with his speech. But, those who believe in the freedom of speech, freedom of the press and democracy do not threaten the media or journalists. The allegation against Joy and the energy advisor is not a simple issue. So the government should set up an independent and competent panel to investigate the issue.

Also, those threatening the newspaper can go to the court and fight a legal case for false reporting. But they cannot threaten the journalist, as that is a denial of press freedom and the right to free expression, which hampers democracy.

A multi-billion dollar defamation suit was filed on Dec. 20 against the acting editor of the daily, Mahmudur Rahman, publisher Md Hasmat Ali and its news editor. Hanif Ali Sheikh, the general secretary of Awami League, Natore district, filed the case with the chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court. After hearing the case, the Chief Judicial Magistrate Sharif Uddin issued summons and has asking the accused to appear before the court on Feb. 23, 2010.

Now, as the issue of corruption, as published, is under the court, the hope is that people from the ruling party do not intimidate the media again. Let the court decide whether the report is true or false.

On the other hand, a 20 crore takas (US$2.89 million) defamation suit was filed against the progressive national Bengali daily Janakantha and its editors for publishing an article about opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s elder son Tariuque Rahman and BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.

Janakantha’s editor and publisher Atiqullah Khan Masud, advisory editor Toab Khan and executive editor and eminent writer Swadesh Roy have been accused of defaming the two BNP leaders as they were dubbed killers in the news write-up.

Moazzem Hossain Babul, general secretary of the district Jatiyatabadi Ainjibi Forum, filed the case with the chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court of the Ka region. After hearing the case, summons was issued against the editors asking them to appear before the court in March 2010.

In the case statement, the complainant mentioned that the daily in its Dec. 17 issue published an article titled “39th Bijoy Dibosh abong Khoshepora Khunir Chhadmabesh,” wherein Tarique was called as “killer of August-21” and Chowdhury “killer of 71.”

In Bangladesh, a criminal defamation case is a common problem for the press. As a professional media worker, I demand the government and the opposition to uphold press freedom and democracy. Do not attack to press, media or journalists. Please abolish the journalist oppression culture. At the same time the journalist’s community should reorganize their professional unity and leave their political fascination for press freedom and professionalism.

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jahangiralamakash@gmail.com

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cyber crime and the killer of human rights today dot info in Bangladesh


By Jahangir Alam Akash, The human Rights Today dot Info was a website on press freedom, freedom of speech, minority and indigenous rights, human rights and for the peoples who have oppressed and who have no voice. But, from today that popular website has died; it was killed by the so-called website provider. Why our website has killed please follow and read the bellow’s article.
The present global age is a digital one. Bangladesh, as a Third World developing country, is not yet up to speed digitally. In Bangladesh, there are no policies for internet business or the internet sector. There are also no cyber laws, which has allowed a lot of crimes to be committed. Internet customers are being harassed by providers. Not only that, but customers are losing their money.

The web hosting sector is especially corrupt. Internet service providers (ISPs) often commit forgery with customers, and the government has no control over the ISP providers. For this reason, the average person is suffering, while providers have been getting money from customers in the name of offering web domain names, hosting, design and registration.

The present government of Bangladesh has declared that they will create a digital Bangladesh. But, the IT sector hasn’t been unified under a policy. Because of this, most IT customers are being cheated by the providers.

In Bangladesh, domain and web providers have sprouted up everywhere, but they have no moral or social obligations. They only want to make money within a short time, so they are cutting the throats of the customers and making huge amounts of money. Some providers don’t give the website controls to the customer, and so have cheated the average customer.

A website owner told to Human Rights Today that he started a website on media and human rights in Bangladesh in 2008, but the provider still hasn’t given him the controls, even though he wanted to have control from the beginning. He mentioned that the provider has hacked into his site in the name of a hacker at least two times.

In light of this situation, he communicated again with the provider to get control of his website. And now is the time for the annual registration renewal. The provider charged around 20,000 Taka for the domain name and hosting registration for the next year. But the provider still didn’t provide control to the website owner.
Mr. William Gomes, a renowned human rights activist and the executive director of the Christian Development Alternative (CDA), told Human Rights Today, “We need a good policy for ISP providers. Otherwise, the problem won’t end.”

We think that the Bangladesh government should immediately form a policy for ISP providers, so that they are accountable to the customer. The government should take action to remove all kinds of irregularities concerning ISP providers, for the digital Bangladesh.

Victimized by cyber crime!!!

On Nov. 25, 2009, the secular and free website Humanrightstoday.info was hacked. It was a web news portal about human rights, press freedom, minority oppression, peace, democracy and advocacy for those people who have no voice, specifically in Bangladesh.

The website was operated from Bangladesh by me. I was brutally tortured by the elite force RAB, because I disclosed the inhuman atrocities committed by the RAB in Bangladesh. Because of my profession, I have made an enemy of Islamic militant groups, a few corrupt politicians and a few influential members of the administration.

After my torture, I started the Humanrightstoday.info website. Then I went to Germany, and I continued to operate my site from Germany. The site had been gaining in popularity. It was the only site that published the actual facts and figures regarding human rights, press freedom and minority oppression in Bangladesh. However, I do not have the economic means to continue operating the site, so now I have started my own blog (http://jaakash.wordpress.com).

I am a professional journalist, writer and human rights defender based in Bangladesh. I was the editor of Humanrightstoday.info. I have worked with Radio German-DW; Ekushey TV; CSB News; the oldest Bengali newspaper in Bangladesh, the Daily Sangbad; Dainik Bangla; Ajker Kagoj; the New Nation; the Morning Sun; APB; etc.

I have also worked as a regional coordinator for the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Center for Trauma Victims (BRCT). I was the general secretary of the Rajshahi Union of Journalists, Rajshahi University Press Club, and an executive member of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ). I have also been involved with cultural organizations. I was the publicity secretary of the historical cultural organization of Bangladesh Udichi Shilpi Goshthi, Rajshahi district unit.

Every day around the world, cyber crime is happening, yet the perpetrators of cyber crime are escaping punishment, even though the big and rich countries have good laws against cyber crime.

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jahangiralamakash@gmail.com

Friday, December 18, 2009

My experience on International Human Rights Day




By Jahangir Alam Akash, For the first time, I was not in Bangladesh on International Human Rights Day. On December 10th, the whole world observes this day for human rights, even though most countries in the world do not have a good human rights situation. Last year on this day, I was in Gopalgonj and Barishal, in Bangladesh, with Hindu minorities. At that time, I was in hiding to safeguard my life from the RAB and Islamic militants, who wanted to kill me. This past year, I have missed my dear country of Bangladesh and my people, especially those who are being oppressed. My heart feels pain for them.

On December 10, 2009, I was in The Hague in the Netherlands. The Hague is a city of peace and justice. The Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) invited me to attend their International Human Rights Day programme on December 10th. They organized a very nice and effective two-day programme for human rights. I enjoyed two days with participants from different cultures from all over the world. The event was jointly organized by Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) in partnership with Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, Freedom Legality and Rights in Europe, and De BRUG. The organizers facilitated an opportunity for migrant civil society representatives to discuss human rights issues affecting their communities, both in the Netherlands and in their home countries.

On the first day, December 9th, a series of workshops were organised under five different thematic areas and were attended by more than 70 participants. The workshop was opened by the representative of the City Council in The Hague, Mr. Anne Mulder. Mr. Mulder acknowledged that, "Democracy needs permanent maintenance." Mr. Sital, Chairman of the GHRD, extended his welcome to the audience, expressing his concerns on the ongoing human rights violations among specific groups in society. Ms. Maggie Murphy from UNPO asked the delegates to consider whether they were talked about or talked to.

The workshop culminated in the compilation of a Human Rights Manifesto, outlining constructive recommendations for the Dutch government on human rights issues affecting the migrant community. The workshop was organised under different thematic areas, covering the topics of embracing diversity and non-discrimination; socioeconomic development; human rights from a gender perspective; protection of human rights defenders; and human trafficking. The outcomes of the workshop were translated into the five point Manifesto on Human Rights, signed by the representatives as an appeal to the Dutch Parliament for concrete actions.

On the second day, December 10th, the programme commenced with a colourful march from the Dutch Peace Palace to the Dutch Parliament to present the Manifesto to policymakers. In the parliament, De BRUG members were received by Mr. Ewout Irrgang, MP for the Socialist Party and an expert on development cooperation, and they had the opportunity to discuss their concerns as stipulated in the Manifesto.

Personally, I was also present when the Manifesto was handed over to the Dutch MP. The day concluded with a social evening at the IN Holland University, which included a debate with, among others, Mr. Robert Zeldenrust from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a performance by Ms. Pravieni Baboeram.

In the afternoon of December 10th, in front of the Dutch Parliament, there was a huge gathering from different human rights organizations. The road from the Peace Palace to the Dutch Parliament was full of noise, with shouts of slogans, like human rights, justice, equality, dignity, no more war, no more violence, no more women repression, no more genocide, no more discrimination, etc.

As a human rights defender, I was very much pleased after seeing the performances of the young interns and volunteers for GHRD, Petra Sjunnesson from Sweden, Ms. Aruna Soedhwa from the Netherlands, Kajal Sununan from South Africa, Mavis Maison from Ghana, Maureen Waweru from Kenya, and Qaiss Ajiz from the Netherlands. I really think that all of them understood human rights and were doing as well as any trained human rights defender. And I want to thank Jenny Lundstrom, because without her good work, the Manifesto wouldn’t be finalized. It is my hope that the Manifesto of the GHRD will be effective for global human rights. http://jaakash.wordpress.com/ jahangiralamakash@gmail.com

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A wish for peace to return to Bethlehem



By Jahangir Alam Akash, Bethlehem is a historical place. It's the birthplace of Jesus and also an ancient city of the Church. This makes it a holy site for Christians around the world. Bethlehem is a popular city during Christmas. At one time, there was peace in Bethlehem, and Arabs and Jews had a good friendship. But, now there is an ongoing battle between both Jews and Arabs, and the wonderful time of peace that existed 2,000 years ago is gone. Why is there fighting there among men? When will peace come again?

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Bethlehem was first settled by the Canaanite tribes, naming the city Beit Lahama. They built a temple to the God Lahama on the present Mount of the Nativity. Around 1200 BCE, the Philistines had a garrison stationed in Bethlehem because of its strategic location. The city also is significant to Jews, because it is the burial place of the matriarch Rachel and the birthplace of King David. Samuel anointed King David in Bethlehem, and David was a descendant of Ruth and Boaz, who were married in Bethlehem. Following the Israelites' rule, the Greeks occupied the region until the arrival of the Romans in 160 BCE.

Today, Bethlehem has a population of approximately 50,000 people, with the Muslims holding a slight majority. Manger Square is the focus of activities for Christmas celebrations not once, but three times a year. In addition to the traditional Western celebration which begins on December 24, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 6 and the Armenian observance takes place on January 19.

The Church of the Nativity was built in the 4th century by the mother of the Byzantine emperor, Constantine. Helena was also responsible for the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The present building, the oldest church in Israel/Palestine, was reconstructed in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian and further repaired by the Crusaders. During the Turkish occupation in 1517, the Franciscans and the Greeks fought over control of the Sanctuaries. Following the War of Independence in 1948, Bethlehem fell under the control of the Jordanians. Then, after the 1967 Six Day War, the Israelis took control of Bethlehem.

In Bethlehem, the Greek Orthodox Church has 15 churches and institutions; Roman Catholics have 25; Protestants have 8 churches; the Syriac Orthodox Church has one church; and the Ethiopians and the Coptic Christians have one each. There are also several mosques, including the Mosque of 'Umar, across the street from the Church of the Nativity. This mosque was erected in 1849. According to Christian tradition, this is where Mary spilled some milk while nursing Jesus when she was hiding from Herod's soldiers. The milk turned the rocks of the cave a chalk white colour. The rock is believed by some to have healing power and to make nursing easier for women.

As human beings, we want to see reflections of the nonviolent life of Jesus Christ and his words of forgiveness and love. For those disputing people among both Jews and Muslims, please walk with your family and friends, and make new friends with others who seek a more peaceful world. No one religion or person can reach that, especially anyone who allows the killing or torture of another human being.

All men and women are equal. Our first identity is as human beings. Why can't we forget our religious difference? Of course, we can believe in a creator, in the name of God/Creator/Allah/Superpower/Nature, etc. Every person can create love, friendship, amity, pleasure, fellow-feeling, cordiality, and good relations with others, in every group or community.

According to the International Middle East Media Center, 40 percent of the 32,000 residents of Bethlehem are Christians, and 60 percent are Muslims. The wall around Bethlehem increased the level of unemployment in the city to 29 percent, as the city’s main income depends on Christian pilgrims and tourism. The Christmas peace candle is being lit everywhere from house to house, starting from December 1st, especially in the houses of Christians.

I wanted to know the opinion of prominent human rights leader and journalist Bernhard Hertlein about this Christmas and global peace. When I asked him about this, he shared his feelings. He said, "As a Christian, for me, peace in Palestine is a great wish. It seems so hopeless. But, once there was a wonder in Bethlehem, 2,000 years ago, so it might happen once more. If Jews and Arabs can learn to live together without walls, human rights violations and bomb attacks, it will be very good for world peace."

My hope is that Bethlehem would once again be a role model for coexistence with a great peace and love between Muslims and Christians. My great hope for this Christmas in Bethlehem would be no walls and no human rights violations. World peace and happiness will come in the near future. http://jaakash.wordpress.com/ jahangiralamakash@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Women continue to be oppressed in Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash, Many women in Bangladesh suffer from rape, gang rape, murder, torture and acid throwing. The position of women in Bangladesh is vulnerable. Even though Bangladesh has an elected government, the difficulties facing women haven’t ended. Violence against women is a common feature in Bangladesh, and women face various problems under the system of repression.

The main types of the oppression of women include dowry, trafficking, kidnapping, rape, physical torture and acid throwing. Almost every day, women are victimized by these acts of violence and repression. And domestic violence at the hands of husbands is a very routine practice in Bangladesh.

According to a survey conducted by the Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, at least 937 women were killed during the period from January to October this year. Prominent human rights leader and BMP president, Ayesha Khanam, said that although an elected government is now in power and there are conscious people in the ministry and in parliament, women continue to face violence. (Source: The Daily Star, 12/7/2009)
There is one example of a sensationalistic gang rape case. On Sept. 25, an adolescent was gang raped following her abduction by ten Bangladesh Chhatra League activists while she was returning from a Puja Mandap in the Kolapar subdistrict of the Patuakhali district. Also, on Nov. 8, one Bir Bengal attempted to rape a woman, Jamnua Chakma, age 21, in the Ghilachari army camp in the Naniachar subdistrict of Rangamati. She is wife of Shyamal Kanti Chakma.

In Bangladesh, there are many laws for the protection of women, yet the oppression of women hasn’t lessened. It is hard to imagine that it will be stopped in the near future. What is causing this situation? It is because there is no rule of law and no good governance. Impunity and corruption are very common in Bangladesh, and illegal political interference on behalf of criminals is another reason that women’s persecution continues.

Bangladesh has many laws for the protection of women. For example, the Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act 1933, the Family Court Ordinance, the Cruelty to Women (Deterrent Punishment) Ordinance, the Trafficking in Women and Children Act 1993, the Dowry Prohibition Act, the Prevention of Women and Child Repression Act (2000), etc.

The problem is that every case of oppression of women involves the police, witnesses, lawyers, magistrates or judges, and often doctors. If all the parties involved perform their professional and moral obligation, then the perpetrator will be punished. But, with some exceptions, most of the parties are involved in corruption or are irresponsible. Political pressuring can also hamper the investigation of cases involve women’s repression. Sometimes, to protect themselves, witnesses in the cases will not give truthful statements to the court.

The Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) is a Bangladesh Awami League government-supported human rights organization. According to this organization, during the first six months of this year, 1,479 women were raped. The Minister for Home Affairs Sahara Khatun shared this figure with the national assembly.

According to a monitoring cell at the police headquarters, from January to October 2009, at least 3,413 women were tortured over dowry, 83 women fell victim to torture, 2,336 were abducted, 2,476 were raped, 36 were killed after rape, 33 were injured after rape, and 117 women were killed.

In order to prevent violence against women, it is necessary to practice the rule of law, carry out proper and competent investigations, and implement existing laws protecting women. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure the security of witnesses and victims, and corruption must be fought against during the time from when the case is filed until the trial is finished. And political pressuring must be stopped. To prevent women’s oppression, men must first come forward. The question remains: is the Bangladesh government ready to tackle any and all kinds of violence against women? http://jaakash.wordpress.com/ jahangiralamakash@gmail.com

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas, Obama’s Nobel Prize and war



By Jahangir Akash, Jesus Christ was born this month. The whole world has been making preparations to celebrate the holy day of Christmas. The main philosophy of Jesus Christ is peace, love, joy, fellowship, justice, goodwill and harmony. But today's world is lacking peace, love, harmony, joy and fellowship. Most of the peoples of the world are struggling with poverty, discrimination, injustice and inequality. It is a very unfortunate situation for human beings.

In this holy month of December, people feel worried after hearing the sound of war coming from a Nobel award winner. Mr. Barak Hussein Obama is the most discussed personality in the world. He already is identified by people as a controversial and wartime president. He has received criticism from different sectors, including from his own country's citizens.

Recently, the Obama Administration gave the orders to send another 30.000 troops to Afghanistan. Mr. Obama said that within one and half years, the Afghan war would be finished. But experts say that war is always uncertain, so no one can say that the war will finish within the time frame. The United States and its allies have been fighting the Taliban and Islamic militants for the last eight years. Already, around 1.000 American soldiers have been killed during this period. But bin Laden has yet to be found.

The Afghans had the experience of fighting the Soviet army for ten long years, before the Soviets withdrew their forces from Afghanistan. At that time, the United States had been supporting Islamic forces in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. At one time, the United States and Pakistan worked together to help the Taliban gain the seat of power in Kabul. Most of the Afghan people do not support the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan. The Taliban have been taking advantage of this opportunity. It's only right for Afghan people to settle the problems of Afghanistan.

Obama has not learned from the Vietnam War. The situation of Afghanistan will not be improved by the controversial president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. It is not possible for an outside force to solve Afghanistan's problems. The people of the world were hoping that Mr. Obama would work for peace. If he would work for world peace, then his name would be written on the pages of history. Why NATO has continued operating when other similar organizations like CENTO have been abolished for a long time? For the sake of world peace, NATO should be abolished. Applied force and war will not solve any problems.

Obama has tried to prove the legitimacy of the Afghan war, even while he was receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. It is true that Islamic militancy is a great threat to peace, there is no doubt that the Taliban and other Islamic militants are enemies of progress, democracy and humanity. Indeed, had not want no one should. Because had means death, torture and the violation of human rights. Women and children would always be victimized by was. War can never bring peace and happiness.

Most Asian countries have been suffering from great poverty, illiteracy, discrimination, injustice, politics mixing with religion, Islamic militancy, inequality, genocide, violence against women, trafficking, indignity, and a lack of good governance, democratic practices and the rule of law . The question is, in this situation, how can we build a secular and peaceful society and world?

The people do not want more of the world was, violence, poverty, human rights violations, genocide or discrimination. We need love, peace, justice, dignity and equality. Merry Christmas! Hope, peace and love will win. http://jaakash.wordpress.com/ jahangiralamakash@gmail.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Investigative journalism and Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash, If you want to continue your investigative journalism impartially or truly (with due respect professionally) on state killing-torture or human rights violation from Bangladesh then you would be victimized illegally. This is a great true for Bangladesh and I myself it’s an example. I was made several investigated report on extra judicial killings, minority oppression, corruption and Islamic militancy for TV news channel, Radio and for newspaper which has published. By my professional activities I was obtained some enemy from a few influential political leaders and administrative officials who were affected by my reporting. And they were taken revenged against me during the emergency in 2007-2008. I just want to share to the valuable readers and viewers of my experienced. Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark. Recently I went there. International human rights organization the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has organized a conference on ‘Preventing terrorism within the fight against terrorism: tools for journalists’ on 6th November, 2009. The organizers were given me an opportunity to join that conference. Around 30 Journalists and human rights defenders from 16 countries were participated in this conference. The conference was supported by the European Commission. Sami Al Haj, a cameraman for the Al Jazeera TV station was showed a report about the human rights violation at Guantanamo. And he has described his inhuman torture history. He has spent six years in the Guantanamo detention center. Really it is brutal and horrible. Journalist and writer Tara McKelvey from USA has described on the Abu Ghraib prison’s human rights violation. It was a nice, fruitful and important conference. Now, I want to share on my torture history. How and why I was brutal tortured by Army in Bangladesh? I want to draw a picture on human rights and press freedom in Bangladesh. Torture is a common feature in Bangladesh. Now torture has become institutionalized. In Bangladesh, it has become common for extrajudicial killings to be sanitized under the names of “crossfire” or “encounter” by law-enforcing agencies. A culture of impunity has also been a common practice by the state since 1975. Here, extrajudicial killings by the joint security forces continue unabated. I experienced torture firsthand while I was detained at an Army camp during the state of emergency declared by Bangladesh’s military caretaker government from Jan. 2007 to Dec. 2008. I want to share with you some of my experiences. Every day, the suppression of the media and freedom of speech is becoming more apparent in Bangladesh. I would like to draw a picture of the destruction of Bangladeshi media from my own perspective. The people of Bangladesh struggled for 23 years to establish their rights in different sectors throughout the country, then for provincial autonomy, and finally for independence. They owned their victory through a nine-month-long war, after which they found Bangladesh independent. But it is very troubling that Bangladeshis’ fundamental rights have been restricted through interference by the Army, at different times. The Army autocrats who rule the country have caused the deaths of thousands of civilians and Army people, even the father of the nation, Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in 1975, but they have always received impunity. In recent past regime of army backed caretaker government, it was common Practice for the joint forces, the Army, and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) to torture university professors, journalists and writer and human rights defenders including famous dramatist columnist Malay Bhoumic, professor Anwar Hossen Neem Chandra Bhoumic, Harun-ur-Rashid, present vice chancellor of Rajshahi University Abdus Sobhan, ex vice chancellor of the same university and present ambassador of UK Saidur Rahman Khan. No action can to be taken against these perpetrators. Personally, I have also been victimized by the recent past authority for my activities as a journalist, writer and human rights activist. I was tortured for 15 hours. My crime was that I was made several investigative reports about the RAB’s offenses of extrajudicial killings, Islamic militancy and Indigenous and minority torture as well as corruption and political terrorism. I want to paint a picture of the violation of the rule of law and human rights in Bangladesh. The RAB arrested a terrorist named 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 and his wife. Benazir is now crippled with two bullet marks on his feet. He is also detained in the hospital area of the Rajshahi central jail. The RAB did not find any arms in his possession. Another killing was happened in the name of ‘Encounter’ by RAB-5. RAB murdered a local Workers party leader Maznu Sheikh alias Kamrul Islam at Chotobongram in Rajshahi city on May 18, 2007. I reported about these on CSB News and broadcasted interviews of their relatives (wife, mother, brother and localities). In the same time I was published these report on the daily Sangbad and broadcasted in DW Radio. When Benazir was shot, it was reported by me on CSB News. None of the RAB personnel who were involved in the alleged operation agreed to give statements in front of a television camera regarding the incident. In the evening, I send the report to our head office in Dhaka from our bureau office in Rajshahi. In a news bulletin broadcasted at 1:00 a.m. the following morning, the report was broadcast. Then, at 9:33 p.m. that evening, I received a call from RAB officer Major Rashidul Hasan Rashid. Soon as I As soon as I picked up the phone, the caller asked me why the broadcasting of the news piece about the RAB’s operation was stopped after being aired only twice. In reply, I told him that “it is up to the head office.” Major Rashid became annoyed with me and said, “You broadcasted this report intentionally.” I replied, “It is my professional duty, nothing more than that.” He asked, “Why did you broadcast someone crying and the statements of Benazir’s wife and daughter?” In response, I asked him, “Do you want to know it officially?” At this stage, Major Rashid became very rude. I cannot mention the words he shouted at me in our language, since the language was very bad. He was outraged and said, “If you fail to give the right answer about why 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 actions belong to ‘anti-state activity’.” He also said, “Make sure that you, any of your colleagues, and the CSB News camera are never seen within the jurisdiction and activities of the RAB. If they are, then the RAB will take action against you.” After that, he hung up. I complained to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Amnesty International and other human rights and media organizations as well as DW authority regarding this threat. Then AHRC was given a letter to the government. After then, an investigation was commissioned. After giving a detailed report, I signed my written statement, which was received with signature and official chop by the reader to assistant police commissioner in Boalia, Rajshahi on July 3, 2007. Mr. Golam Mostofa, the field officer of the National Security Intelligence questioned me regarding the said intimidation and threats, on July 15, 2007. Then, at around 6:00 p.m. on July 22, 2007, Mr. Moyeen, an inspector of the Special Branch of the city of Rajshahi visited my office and took my statement. Inspector Moyeen also asked about the threat I felt, and I replied that the RAB is involved in extrajudicial killings and I feared that I could become the victim of such a killing. I reported that I have been continuing my work, but I still worried that the RAB or his men might target me for further harassment or intimidation. So I became a target. I have been charged multiple times with false and political motivated charges and have been arrested, tortured and detained. I was arrested from my house at midnight and tortured in front of my wife, child and rental house owners. I was taken to the RAB-5 office. I was hung from the ceiling with my hands tied with ropes and was beaten mercilessly on my feet and my back. I was kept hanging from the ceiling with ropes around my hands, with the mask on my face. And also they gave me electric shocks. When I was being tortured I was being shouted at with words like: “Will you do the Benazir report again…?” “Litchi garden report again…” ‘Khairuzzaman Liton’s family report again…” Now face the consequences; son of a pig… son of a bitch…” etc. The RAB would like to be able to kill me, and officially call the killing a “crossfire” or “encounter.” RAB sent me to the local police with the charge under the section 16(2) of Emergency Power Rules 2007. I was under medical attention in the Rajshahi central jail for 10 days. As a new detainee, I was sent to the case table in front of the jail house’s trial court on my first day. When I went to case table, two fellow inmates had to hold me on both sides. I had no power to walk. I could not even sit properly, but could only put pressure on one side of my rear, when sitting. I broke into tears. Many cases were lodged against me. I felt I was being prepared to be killed in a “crossfire” or “encounter.” And RAB also wanted to kill me. There is more shocking news I have learned about a key perpetrator, Major Rashidul Hassan Rashid, an RAB military officer who played the leading role in the extrajudicial killings of Ahsan Habib Babu, a student’s league leader; Kamrul Islam, alias Maznu Sheikh, a Workers Party leader; Ali Jafor Babu, a prominent businessman; and about twenty others. Some people like Benazir and a jail guard, Shahebul Islam, were highly affected and disabled by their torture. Major Rashid has been recruited to serving in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Ivory Coast; he joined the UN mission on July 10, 2008. This makes it clear how well the Bangladeshi authorities look into human rights abuses and treat the victims and the perpetrators. Even after my release I continued to be threatened. The existing Bangladeshi law was my sole instrument against summons by the police and unfounded accusations. Unimpressed by the consequences I was threatened with my published 4 books over the past 10 months: the books are « Extrajudicial killings and Revenge » (February, 2009), « Militant Godfathers and other Issues » (February, 2009) From (April, 2009) and « 15 hours in total darkness » (February, 2008). In 2007 journalist Tasneem Khalil, who wrote an article criticizing the government, was taken by Army members to the facilities of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, Bangladesh’s intelligence agency, and was brutally beaten. Now he has been exiled by the Bangladeshi government and lives in Sweden. Cartoonist Arifur Rahman arrested and sent to the jail for made a cartoon. Though, he was freed from jail later and he was freed from the case by the court ordered. In the regime of BNP-Jammat government journalist Saleem Samad, writer-journalist Shahriar Kabir, professor of Dhaka University and famous writer Muntasir Mamun also brutally tortured and detained illegally. There are so many examples like mentioned above. In Bangladesh still going on extra judicial killings in the name of ‘Crossfire’ ‘Encounter’ or ‘Gunfight’. Though, the present government is democratic. Recently in Gofforgaon upazilla under Mymensing district journalist Biblop was tortured by the supporters of ruling party lawmakers. In last 16 years almost 29 journalists-writers were murdered in Bangladesh including Manik Saha, Deponkar Chakraborty, Goutam Das, Humayun Kabir Balu, Shamsur Rahman Cable, Harun-ur-Rashid Khokon, Saiful Alam Mukul, and Sheikh Belaluddin. But yet real investigation and trial has not end. Journalist’s community and the relatives of killed journalists are waiting for justice. In last 38 years since independence hundreds journalists brutal tortured including Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, Atiquallah Khan Masud, Alhaj Zahirul Haque, Probir Shikder, Tipu Sultan. In the present Awami League regime journalist F M Masum, who is working with the New Age was brutally tortured by RAB recently. On the other hand, In Bangladesh, the brutal persecution of the Christian religious minority and indigenous ethnic minorities is going ahead full steam. Until now, the persecution that both communities faced never saw the light of justice. A culture of the denial of justice in Bangladesh is the root of all the persecution against the ethnic and religious minorities, which isn’t only affecting a part of the country, but is plaguing the entire criminal justice system in Bangladesh. General Zia and his predecessors introduced persecution against the minorities in Bangladesh. Bangladesh became Islamized under the military regime, rather than being a true parliamentarian democracy. Bangladesh was not born with the blessing of being united beyond ethnic and religious differences, but rather has been Islamized, yet with a secular policy. The attack on the religious minority brings with it the idea of “Islam in the constitution”. The communal spirit began with political motives and ended in mass destruction such as the attack on present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed back in 2001. The victims of the brutal attack are still looking for justice. At that time also, a bomb attack killed 10 and badly injured 20 others at the Baniarhar Catholic church in Maksudpur, in the Gopalganj district. In 1998, an indigenous leader, Alfred Soren, was brutally killed by those in power. The day of the attack, the perpetrators looted his house, destroyed his belongings, and set the house on fire. Until now, his family members and the public have never seen the light of justice. Cholesh Richil, an indigenous Christian leader, died in custody on March 18, 2007, following brutal torture at the hands of the army. Richil’s civil rights were grossly violated by government agents. It is puzzling why the government has not yet made a proper investigation to unearth the mystery behind this leader’s death. The perpetrators of this crime should not have impunity. The killing of Richil has not been filed as a criminal case to date. From 1979 to 1981, the indigenous people of Bangladesh became cornered by landless people from the mainland in the process of their rehabilitation by the government. An ill-fated ten-year-old indigenous child, Klanto Chiham, was killed by brutal teachers after being tortured at Maymansingh. A dacoit, or robber, killed a Christian school teacher, Mangsang, at Madhupur in Tangail. A member of an even smaller minority, Dr. Goni Gomes, a converted Christian from Islam, was killed by Islamic militants. The constitution does not give proper identity to the indigenous peoples. This is Bangladesh! We demand that these persecutions stop right now and that the government give all rights due to the minority groups and bring the perpetrators to justice. Nonstop minority repression has been going on. Press Freedom: Day by day journalism in Bangladesh is going on very danger and risk. Press freedom is golden dear in Bangladesh. Actually here is no real press freedom. Journalist’s killings and torture is a common feature in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh press freedom is a golden dear. In this horrible situation journalists are working here. Though government always says that, journalists and media are free. In practice, media is not free. Media peoples are working hundred percent with self censorship. Because most of the media owners are black money holder or they have other business. Every day, the suppression of the media and freedom of speech is becoming more apparent in Bangladesh. I would like to draw a picture of the destruction of Bangladeshi media from my own perspective. 29 journalists and writer were killed in last 16 years in Bangladesh. Out of these three were killed in this year (2009) including a community young journalist. Yet, not get justice of the journalist’s families as well as journalists community. Still they are waiting for getting justice. Journalist’s killings and repression is a common phenomenon in here. Many journalists in different places in Bangladesh have been tortured and threatened by the ruling party men including some law makers in this year. These incidents apart, harassment either in the form of physical torture or filing false cases is on the rise in recent days across the country. At least 130 journalists felt prey to various types of harassments in the country since January, 2009. After my investigating report about Islamic militancy, extra judicial killings, minority oppression and corruption I was tortured with electric shocked by army (RAB) and they also hung me with the ceiling for 15 hours with blind folded and with a black mask in 2007. Still I have been facing two false and political fabricated cases. In the regime of last army backed caretaker government many journalists were tortured. In the regime of BNP-Jammat government journalist Saleem Samad, writer-journalist Shahriar Kabir, professor of Dhaka University and famous writer Muntasir Mamun also brutally tortured and detained illegally. The killed journalists and writer are 1) Manik Saha (Khulna), 15 January, 2004, 2) Humayun Kabir Balu(Khulna), 27 June, 2005, 3) Shamsur Rahman Cable (Jessore), 16 July, 2000, 4) Harun-ur-Rashid Khokon (Khulna), April, 2003, 5) Saiful Alam Mukul (Jessore), 30 August, 1998, 6) Dipankar Chakrabarty (Bogura), 20 October, 2004, 7) Goutam Das (Faridpur), Sheikh Belaluddin (Khulna), 2005, 9) S.M. Alauddin (Satkhira), 19 June, 1996, 10) Golam Mazed (Jessore), 11) Mir Ilias Hossen Dileep (Jhenidha), 15 January, 2000, 12) Shukur Ali alias Shukur Hossen (Dumuria-Khulna), 5 July, 2002, 13) Nahar Ali (Dumuria-Khulna), 18 April, 2001, 14) Ahsan Ali (Rupgonj-Narayangonj), 20 July, 2001, 15) Kazi Md. Kamruzzaman (Nilfhamari),1996, 16) Syed Faruk Ahamed (Shrimongol-Moulobhi Bazar), May, 2002, 17) Bazlur Rahman (Chuadanga), 18) Kamal Hossen (Khagrachari), 21 August, 2004, 19) Anwar Apolo, 20) Abdul Latif Nabil, 21) Zamaluddin (Rangamati), 5 March, 2007, 22) Nurul Islam Rana (2009, Uttara-Dhaka), 3 July, 2009, 23) M.M.Ahsan Bari (2009, Gagipur-Dhaka), 26 August, 2009, 24) popular writer Dr. Humayun Azad (Dhaka University), 27 February, 2004, 25) Sarwarul Alam Noman (Mymensing), 1995, 26) Faruk Hossen (Jessore), 27) Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury (Jessore), 1994, 28) Rezaul Karim Reza and 29) Abdul Hannan(2009, Demra, Dhaka). But yet real investigation and trial has not end. Journalist’s community and the relatives of killed journalists are waiting for justice. Another form of journalist’s repression in Bangladesh is defamation. Every year many journalists have been facing criminal defamation. Personally I was grossly suffered with defamation. With a false defamation charged had went to jail for three days in 1992. Still many journalists with editors are facing with defamation charges. In Bangladesh, justice and press freedom is a golden dear. Those who are involves in corruptions they always controlled by the governments. Presents trends of media are that, black money holders are coming in the ownership of media house. So, journalists are firstly, self censored for their owners. Another media controlled key is advertisement of government. That is why; media is not playing good role for the peoples. For media freedom, another problem is that in Bangladesh has no definition about contempt to court and defamation. So, always, media has fearing regarding these. Which content will go to contempt to court or defamation for publishing? Media peoples have not known this. Only for this recently famous national daily the Prothom Alo has charged with contempt to court. There have no national broadcasting rule. Though, we got recently right to information act and community radio rule. Now, we are waiting for see what would come better for media freedom of these two rules. On the other hand, many law including official secrecy act which are big barrier for press freedom. Journalist’s communities in Bangladesh are waiting for justice of their killed and tortured colleagues. I think, in Bangladesh if society has not changed as qualitative then press freedom is so far from practically. In practice, has no rule of law, good governance in Bangladesh. Whole nation politically, socially divided by two major groups. Journalist’s community has also divided by two groups and also they have lack of professionalism. 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, critics of the government, and perceived political opponents, in order to obtain information, to intimidate or to convey more broadly a message of fear. The system of detention is also a kind of human rights violation. Article 35 (5) of the Constitution of Bangladesh clearly said that, No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment - thus, it is a fundamental right of all Bangladeshis that they are protected by the Constitution against torture. There is a biggest difference between the constitutional provision and the belief of the general people. This experience started on the very day when the nation adopted its constitution as the supreme law of the land immediately after the independence of the country from the colonial regime. That same difference of allowing torture to persist without any credible scope of justice to the victims remains after 38 years of independence. The police, along with its other branches such as Special Branch (SB), the Detective Branch (DB) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), are not the only agencies that practice torture. The paramilitary forces the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) the armed forces, especially the Bangladesh Army, and the intelligence agencies like the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and National Security Intelligence (NSI) of the country, all maintain special torture cells of their own. There are temporarily created cells like the Joint Interrogation Cell (JIC) and the Task Force for Interrogation (TFI) Cell and they are notorious for their brutality. There is little support for the people they are supposed to be protecting. The law enforcement agencies and the security forces care little for the ordinary people of Bangladesh. The personnel, who serve in the police, armed forces and the paramilitary forces stand face to face before the people treating the commoners as criminals in general and subject them to torture in the name of maintaining law and order in the country. In reality, a country likes Bangladesh where a fair trial is beyond imagination of the justice seekers it is absolutely impossible to get a legal remedy against a perpetrator of torture. Human rights organization The Asian Human Rights Commission informed us that, in Bangladesh 629 police stations in the country. If a single person is tortured per day in these police stations then an alarming number of 229,585 persons are being tortured in Bangladesh every year. Torture at the hands of the state actors regularly causes permanent and temporary disability of persons and amounts to hundreds of deaths every year. But, despite the recurrence of these grave incidents it repeatedly fails to shake the conscience of the policymakers of the nation. The governments of various regimes do not feel any responsibility to bring to an end this brutal practice. Ironically, the political parties of the country pledge to uphold rule of law and human rights before every general election and then turn a blind eye to abuses by the police once they are elected to power. Bangladesh’s parliament is in session for the second time after a new government led by the Bangladesh Awami League assumed office this year. A draft Bill urging the need of punishing torture and custodial death as a crime has also been in place since 5 March 2009. The Bill was registered by a Member of the Parliament, Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, of the ruling political party, as a Private Member’s Bill as the government did not clarify its position regarding the issue. A ruling party with more than two thirds majority in the parliament can eliminate torture and allow thousands of victims to get justice from the courts of law in order to fulfill the government s commitment to the people thereby meeting their constitutional obligations. We general people of Bangladesh urges to the Parliament of Bangladesh to prove its commitment that they want to end the practice of custodial torture and the culture of impunity on their own soil. We also urge the parliamentarians to legislate the draft Bill in order to open the doors of the judiciary for the victims of torture. The victims should have easy access to the complaint mechanism and protection from threats and intimidation. The burden of proof should be upon the perpetrators of torture with an obligation of compensating the victims for their sufferings if the perpetrators are found guilty. Article 46 of the Constitution must be repealed as it is used to offer impunity to the perpetrators of torture. Sections 132 and 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure must be repealed immediately. Section 132 allows the state actors to abuse their power in the name of good faith without any checks and balances, and Section 197 denies the independence of the judiciary. The peoples also urge the civil society, including the media and the rights groups of Bangladesh to initiate movements against the practice of custodial torture and impunity by demanding the criminalization of torture. Freedom of the press should be granted in Bangladesh’s constitution; it is granted in Art. 39 (b), but it is not binding upon the government. Therefore, we should fight to establish the rule of the constitution. The judiciary should be independent in practice, and all kinds of killings by the government machinery should be stopped. No persons should be tortured by law-enforcing agencies. No rule or ordinance that is contradictory to the main theme of constitution should be formed or passed. No accused persons should have impunity. The U.N. charter should be followed strictly and, in this regard, the international organization should act impartially and independently. I think that, to establish freedom of the press and to protect human rights that are 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 Bangladesh. In this regard, a forum for regional or global cooperation should be formed, should be active in creating a few rules, and should be strictly maintained. It is necessary to give punish those who are perpetrators and should Bangladesh government stop Impunity for the greater interest of democracy and peace. Lastly, I want to say I have been giving high price for press freedom and human rights with my whole family. Only for my professional activity my father in law has lost his political carrier. Though, he has been belonging with Bangladesh Awmai League since 1967. He was elected MP from Bangladesh Awami League in 1991. After my persecution I have been paralyzed socially, economically, mentally and physically. Not only that, I have lost my job, dignity, reputation. How I will recover my dignity, reputation and all other loses? How and where I will get justice? In Bangladesh should need good governance, rule of law and democratic practice for investigative journalism. jahangiralamakash@gmail.com http://jaakash.wordpress.com/
video

Friday, December 11, 2009

Website hosting business in Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash, The present global age is a digital one. Bangladesh, as a Third World developing country, is not yet up to speed digitally. In Bangladesh, there are no policies for internet business or the internet sector. There are also no cyber laws, which has allowed a lot of crimes to be committed. Internet customers are being harassed by providers. Not only that, but customers are losing their money.

The web hosting sector is especially corrupt. Internet service providers (ISPs) often commit forgery with customers, and the government has no control over the ISP providers. For this reason, the average person is suffering, while providers have been getting money from customers in the name of offering web domain names, hosting, design and registration.

The present government of Bangladesh has declared that they will create a digital Bangladesh. But, the IT sector hasn’t been unified under a policy. Because of this, most IT customers are being cheated by the providers.

In Bangladesh, domain and web providers have sprouted up everywhere, but they have no moral or social obligations. They only want to make money within a short time, so they are cutting the throats of the customers and making huge amounts of money. Some providers don’t give the website controls to the customer, and so have cheated the average customer.

A website owner told to Human Rights Today that he started a website on media and human rights in Bangladesh in 2008, but the provider still hasn’t given him the controls, even though he wanted to have control from the beginning. He mentioned that the provider has hacked into his site in the name of a hacker at least two times.

In light of this situation, he communicated again with the provider to get control of his website. And now is the time for the annual registration renewal. The provider charged around 20,000 Taka for the domain name and hosting registration for the next year. But the provider still didn’t provide control to the website owner.
Mr. William Gomes, a renowned human rights activist and the executive director of the Christian Development Alternative (CDA), told Human Rights Today, “We need a good policy for ISP providers. Otherwise, the problem won’t end.”

We think that the Bangladesh government should immediately form a policy for ISP providers, so that they are accountable to the customer. The government should take action to remove all kinds of irregularities concerning ISP providers, for the digital Bangladesh.

http://jaakash.wordpress.com/

jahangiralamakash@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Human rights defenders and the situation of human rights in Bangladesh


By Jahangir Alam Akash:
Human rights are a golden deer in Bangladesh. Most of the human rights are violated by torture. Torture has been a familiar and widespread problem in Bangladesh. Torture is a common feature in Bangladesh. Now torture has become institutionalized. In Bangladesh, crimes against humanity have become widespread. Peace, good governance, rule of law, and democracy are nonexistent as in practice in Bangladesh. Almost every day, perpetrators have getting impunity from the state. As a result, there is a constant increase in all kinds of inhumanity. At the same time, sectarianism has increased very rapidly. And our religious minorities are suffering. After ended of two years unnatural emergency we have gotten an elected government. But, the human rights situation hasn’t changed.
It has been around 38 years since Bangladesh saw independence. During our fight for freedom, thirty million people died. And two million women lost their dignity through wartime rape. After a nine-month-long war, Bangladesh was born into the world, led by the great national leader, and “father of the nation”, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. After Bangabandhu’s murder, the army took power. All the war criminals were freed from jail and absolved of their crimes. From 1975 to 1990, Bangladesh was ruled by the military. Thereafter, Islamization began. General Ziaur Rahman and General H.M. Ershad together subverted the 1972 constitution for their own gains. Both of the military rulers put Islam into constitution. And the peoples of Bangladesh have under in unnatural emergency in 2007 to 2008.
Minority oppression:
In Bangladesh, the brutal persecution of the minority and indigenous ethnic minorities is going ahead full steam. Until now, the persecution that both communities faced never saw the light of justice. A culture of the denial of justice in Bangladesh is the root of all the persecution against the ethnic and religious minorities, which isn't only affecting a part of the country, but is plaguing the entire criminal justice system in Bangladesh. The attack on the religious minority brings with it the idea of “Islam in the constitution”.
I want to draw a simple picture about some sensational minority repression in the present regime. Hindu minority Akhil Chandra Saha (Charghat, Rajshahi), Ashish Sarker (Mirzapur, Tangail), Sumon Goala (Jamalpur), Goutam Sarker (Dhaka) has murdered and Radha Rani Halder has raped by a gang (Shoriotpur), Christian minority Sawpan Mondal has killed and Maching Khai Marma (Chittagong Hill Tracks) has raped then murdered in this year. The chairman of the Rajshahi board of education, Dipakendranath Das has threatened by the Mayor and an influential ruling party leader A.H.H Khairuzzaman Liton.
The constitution does not give proper identity to the indigenous peoples. This is Bangladesh! Alfred Soren, Choles Richil, Principle G.K. Muhury, Journalist Manik Saha, Goutam Das, Diponkar Chakkkraborty murders are sensational minority killings incidents. But yet hasn’t punished real culprits and masterminds of these killings. We demand that any kinds of persecutions stop right now and that the government give all rights due to the minority groups and bring the perpetrators to justice. We want an equal society without torture and human rights violations.
War criminals:
The people of Bangladesh are still crying out for a trial of the war criminals. So, in order to combat Islamic militancy, it is essential to finish the trials of war criminals – both individuals and the party itself - who were involved with the mass killings, rapes, lootings and destruction during the freedom fighting in 1971. The war criminals killed our intellectuals, journalists, writers, filmmakers, doctors, women and children, and anyone who collaborated with the Pakistani army. Not only that, but they are also responsible for the rape, destruction and lootings that took place during the war for independence. Thus, the trial of those war criminals is essential.
War criminals, the Jamaat party and militant Islamists in Bangladesh are similar to one another. These three groups are very dangerous for secularism, yet they are still quite active in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has waited 34 years for a verdict in the murder case of Bangabondhu, the father of the nation. But finally, on last November 19th our disgrace has ended. We want see the execution. Though, as a human rights defender we opposed all death penalties. Now we are waiting eagerly for the execution of war criminals, killers of the four national leaders. We also want to see the current government reestablish the constitution of 1972, stop mixing politics with religion and extra judicial killings.
Extra judicial killings:
The term "extrajudicial killing" means execution without justice. This is a grave human rights violation. It’s both a violation of Bangladesh's constitution and of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But these types of killings still occur frequently in Bangladesh. At least 138 peoples were killed in extra judicially from 7th January to 7th December, 2009 (this is the present Awami League government regime). And around 1,600 peoples have been killed in extra judicially by RAB, police and other forces. On the other hand minority oppression has been going on. The High Court of Bangladesh, asked the government to explain why killing people without a trial, in the form of extrajudicial killings, is not being declared as illegal, and why measures are not being taken against the perpetrators. After this ruling, we still haven't seen anything happen.
The government of Bangladesh has been violating the constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights day after day since 2004. In 2004, the BNP-Jamaat government made a decision about extrajudicial killings and formed the RAB. Around 1,600 people have been killed from 2004 to 2009, without justice. Even the Home Minister, state minister for Home and the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken the side of extra judicial killings openly.
Islamic militancy and problems of Bangladesh:
Militant Islamism is a great threat to global peace. Most Asian countries are fertile ground for such militants. People’s happiness has been sabotaged by militant Islamists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The militant Islamist groups are also still very active and organized in Bangladesh. They have been running arms and explosives training camps. Militant Islamists attacked the Twin Towers in the United States, and, more recently, Al-Qaida has been threatening Germany as well. So, militant Islamism is now a global threat and problem.
In Bangladesh, most of the political parties are using religion for political purposes. Almost the whole system in Bangladesh has fallen victim to the burning problems of criminalization, Islamization, corruption, a lack of accountability and responsibility, and a disabled democracy. And Bangladesh has other major problems, such as widespread poverty, natural disasters, climate change, a bad education system, no good planning, and no rule of law. You can find dishonesty, immorality, irresponsibility and corruption everywhere in Bangladesh.
We can see that state institutions such as the judiciary, the rule of law, regulations, the constitution and the national assembly have been disabled.
Journalist’s killings and torturing:
The community of journalists in Bangladesh is waiting for justice for their killed and tortured colleagues. Actually the situation is not good for journalist, writer and human rights activist in Bangladesh. Especially those who are working impartially for the peoples and those peoples have no voice; they have been suffering from the government side as well as RAB-Army. In this year on October another journalist F.M.Masum has tortured brutally by RAB. And the present government regime three journalists were killed by the terrorist including a community young journalist. Some lawmakers of ruling party Awami League and their cadres were torturing and threatening to the journalists in Maymensingh, Patuakhali, Chuadanga, Rajshahi. In last 16 years 28 journalists and a writer were murdered. Out of 29 three have killed in this year. But yet real investigation and trial has not end. It is necessary to punish those who perpetrate human rights violations and that the Bangladesh government should stop giving them impunity, for the greater interest of democracy and peace.
Women and child rights:
Women and children are also victimized with inhumanity, discrimination. Every year many women and children have been trafficking from Bangladesh to other country. Human trafficking is a great crime, which means crime against humanity. According to the UNICEF study report, 400 women and children in Bangladesh are victims of trafficking every month. According other various study report, one million women and children have been trafficked out of the country in the last three decades. Around 300,000 children and women between the ages of 12 and 30 have been trafficked from Bangladesh to India in last one decade. In the case of internal trafficking, women and children are often taken away from their homes on false promises of a better life with good employment by the traffickers who sell them to brothels. Mainly in the neighbor country border area that means north and southern part of Bangladesh has many points for women and children trafficking. Child labour has prohibited black and white, but in practice we see everywhere child labour in Bangladesh. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in 2002-2003 there are 4.9 million working children, 14.2 percent of the total 35.06 million children in the age group of 5-14 years. The total working child population between 5 and 17 years old is estimated at 7.9 million. Women rights situation has also most vulnerable. Women murder, torture, rape, acid thrown is happening very often in Bangladesh.
What will come for me?
I have made an investigative report on extra judicial killings, minority repression, corruption and Islamic militancy. So, that I have targeted by government, RAB, political corrupted and Islamic militant group. Still I have been facing threats. I was implicated a series of false and political motivated cases which has running in the court. What happened in my life?
On 24th October of 2007 early in the morning (at 01.30am) I was arrested by RAB from my rental house. When the armed RAB peoples were arresting me then they have tortured, blindfolded me with a towel and a black mask in front of my wife and little son and my house owner. RAB was taken me to their torture camp. They were hung me with the ceiling and were given me an electric shock. They were torturing me for 15 hours. In that time I was senseless several times. And after was taking my finger print and picture they were sent me to the local police station with the charge of emergency power rule (with non bail able section). And in the evening police took me in the court, but that time there was no magistrate. Later they put me to the central jail in Rajshahi. After torture I wasn’t able to walk. So, that in jail hospital I was spent 10 days. I was freed from jail after 28 days on bail by an order of court. Actually, RAB wanted to kill me in the name of so-called crossfire. That is why again I was targeted by RAB. Then I was flown from my home and work place. In January of 2008 I was death threatened by Islamic militant organization JMB. Only for my professional activity my father in law has lost his political carrier.
For my uncompromising professional activities I have been suffering with the brutality of RAB-Army. Before my persecution I was threatening by the army, Islamic militant group, government and other political influential’s those who were affected by my work.
As a persecuted journalist-writer now I am enjoying a scholarship in Deutschland for one year with my wife and son. Hamburg Foundation has giving me this opportunity. But, next May it will be expiring. Then what I will do or where I will go I don’t know? If I will go back my country then again I would be suffered by RAB and Islamic militant group. Just before coming in Deutschland I was threatened by the banned Islamic militant organization JMB which has link with Al-Qaida.
Conclusion:
As a politically persecuted journalist-writer and human rights defender I have been giving high price for press freedom and human rights with my whole family. After my persecution I have been paralyzed socially, economically, mentally and physically. Not only that, I have lost my job, and professional and social dignity, reputation. How I will recover my all loses? How and where I will get justice? In spite of my horrible persecution I didn’t stop my writing and professional work. I want to continue my writing and work. My next book in English name is ‘Struggle for Peace’ will be published in next February, 2010.
I think, for the security and safety (physically, socially and economically) of human rights defender, writer and journalists should need the more and more solidarity from international community. Especially those organizations have been working for human rights like Global Human Rights defence, Amnesty International, AHRC, RSF, CPJ, IFJ, Hamburg Foundation and IPI from them and other international media and HR organizations. 09.12.2009
Jahangir Alam Akash
Exiled Journalist, writer and human rights defender
Editor, the Human Rights Today
Executive Director, Justice Foundation, Bangladesh
jahangiralamakash@gmail.com
http://jaakash.wordpress.com/

Victimized by cyber crime

On November 25 to 4 December 2009, the secular and free website Humanrightstoday.info was hacked for three times. It was a web news portal about human rights, press freedom, minority oppression, peace, democracy and advocacy for those people who have no voice, specifically in Bangladesh.

The website was operated from Bangladesh by me (journalist Jahangir Alam Akash). I was brutally tortured by the elite force RAB, because I disclosed the inhuman atrocities committed by the RAB in Bangladesh. Because of my profession, I have made an enemy of Islamic militant groups, a few corrupt politicians and a few influential members of the administration.

After my torture, I started the Humanrightstoday.info website. Then I went to Germany, and I continued to operate my site from Germany. The site had been gaining in popularity. It was the only site that published the actual facts and figures regarding human rights, press freedom and minority oppression in Bangladesh. However, I do not have the economic means to continue operating the site, so now I have started my own blog (http://jaakash.wordpress.com).

I am a professional journalist, writer and human rights defender based in Bangladesh. I am the editor of Humanrightstoday.info. I have worked with Radio German-DW; Ekushey TV; CSB News; the oldest Bengali newspaper in Bangladesh, the Daily Sangbad; Dainik Bangla; Ajker Kagoj; the New Nation; the Morning Sun; APB; etc.

I have also worked as a regional coordinator for the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Center for Trauma Victims (BRCT). I was the general secretary of the Rajshahi Union of Journalists, Rajshahi University Press Club, and an executive member of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ). I have also been involved with cultural organizations. I was the publicity secretary of the historical cultural organization of Bangladesh, Udichi Shilpi Goshthi of Rajshahi district unit.

Every day around the world, cyber crime is happening, yet the perpetrators of cyber crime are escaping punishment, even though the big and rich countries have good laws against cyber crime.
http://jaakash.wordpress.com/

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Torture, journalism, me and Bangladesh!


By Jahangir Alam Akash, Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark. Recently I went there. International human rights organization the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has organized a conference on 'Preventing terrorism within the fight against terrorism: tools for journalists’ on 6th November, 2009. The organizers were given me an opportunity to join that conference. Around 30 Journalists and human rights defenders from 16 countries were participated in this conference. The conference was supported by the European Commission.
Sami Al Haj, a cameraman for the Al Jazeera TV station was showed a report about the human rights violation at Guantanamo. And he has described his inhuman torture history. He has spent six years in the Guantanamo detention center. Really it is brutal and horrible. Journalist and writer Tara McKelvey from USA has described on the Abu Ghraib prison’s human rights violation. It was a nice, fruitful and important conference. Now, I want to share on my torture history. How and why I was brutal tortured by Army in Bangladesh? I want to draw a picture on human rights and press freedom in Bangladesh.

Torture is a common feature in Bangladesh. Now torture has become institutionalized. In Bangladesh, it has become common for extrajudicial killings to be sanitized under the names of "crossfire" or "encounter" by law-enforcing agencies. A culture of impunity has also been a common practice by the state since 1975. Here, extrajudicial killings by the joint security forces continue unabated.

I experienced torture firsthand while I was detained at an Army camp during the state of emergency declared by Bangladesh's military caretaker government from Jan. 2007 to Dec. 2008. I want to share with you some of my experiences. Every day, the suppression of the media and freedom of speech is becoming more apparent in Bangladesh. I would like to draw a picture of the destruction of Bangladeshi media from my own perspective.
The people of Bangladesh struggled for 23 years to establish their rights in different sectors throughout the country, then for provincial autonomy, and finally for independence. They owned their victory through a nine-month-long war, after which they found Bangladesh independent. But it is very troubling that Bangladeshis' fundamental rights have been restricted through interference by the Army, at different times. The Army autocrats who rule the country have caused the deaths of thousands of civilians and Army people, even the father of the nation, Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in 1975, but they have always received impunity.
In recent past regime of army backed caretaker government, it was common Practice for the joint forces, the Army, and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) to torture university professors, journalists and writer and human rights defenders including famous dramatist columnist Malay Bhoumic, professor Anwar Hossen Neem Chandra Bhoumic, Harun-ur-Rashid, present vice chancellor of Rajshahi University Abdus Sobhan, ex vice chancellor of the same university and present ambassador of UK Saidur Rahman Khan. No action can to be taken against these perpetrators.
Personally, I have also been victimized by the recent past authority for my activities as a journalist, writer and human rights activist. I was tortured for 15 hours. My crime was that I was made several investigative reports about the RAB’s offenses of extrajudicial killings, Islamic militancy and Indigenous and minority torture as well as corruption and political terrorism.
I want to paint a picture of the violation of the rule of law and human rights in Bangladesh. The RAB arrested a terrorist named 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 and his wife. Benazir is now crippled with two bullet marks on his feet. He is also detained in the hospital area of the Rajshahi central jail. The RAB did not find any arms in his possession.
Another killing was happened in the name of ‘Encounter’ by RAB-5. RAB murdered a local Workers party leader Maznu Sheikh alias Kamrul Islam at Chotobongram in Rajshahi city on May 18, 2007. I reported about these on CSB News and broadcasted interviews of their relatives (wife, mother, brother and localities). In the same time I was published these report on the daily Sangbad and broadcasted in DW Radio.
When Benazir was shot, it was reported by me on CSB News. None of the RAB personnel who were involved in the alleged operation agreed to give statements in front of a television camera regarding the incident. In the evening, I send the report to our head office in Dhaka from our bureau office in Rajshahi. In a news bulletin broadcasted at 1:00 a.m. the following morning, the report was broadcast.
Then, at 9:33 p.m. that evening, I received a call from RAB officer Major Rashidul Hasan Rashid. Soon as I As soon as I picked up the phone, the caller asked me why the broadcasting of the news piece about the RAB’s operation was stopped after being aired only twice. In reply, I told him that "it is up to the head office." Major Rashid became annoyed with me and said, "You broadcasted this report intentionally." I replied, "It is my professional duty, nothing more than that."
He asked, “Why did you broadcast someone crying and the statements of Benazir’s wife and daughter?” In response, I asked him, “Do you want to know it officially?”
At this stage, Major Rashid became very rude. I cannot mention the words he shouted at me in our language, since the language was very bad. He was outraged and said, “If you fail to give the right answer about why 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 actions belong to ‘anti-state activity’.” He also said, “Make sure that you, any of your colleagues, and the CSB News camera are never seen within the jurisdiction and activities of the RAB. If they are, then the RAB will take action against you."
After that, he hung up. I complained to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Amnesty International and other human rights and media organizations as well as DW authority regarding this threat. Then AHRC was given a letter to the government. After then, an investigation was commissioned. After giving a detailed report, I signed my written statement, which was received with signature and official chop by the reader to assistant police commissioner in Boalia, Rajshahi on July 3, 2007.
Mr. Golam Mostofa, the field officer of the National Security Intelligence questioned me regarding the said intimidation and threats, on July 15, 2007. Then, at around 6:00 p.m. on July 22, 2007, Mr. Moyeen, an inspector of the Special Branch of the city of Rajshahi visited my office and took my statement. Inspector Moyeen also asked about the threat I felt, and I replied that the RAB is involved in extrajudicial killings and I feared that I could become the victim of such a killing. I reported that I have been continuing my work, but I still worried that the RAB or his men might target me for further harassment or intimidation.
So I became a target. I have been charged multiple times with false and political motivated charges and have been arrested, tortured and detained. I was arrested from my house at midnight and tortured in front of my wife, child and rental house owners. I was taken to the RAB-5 office. I was hung from the ceiling with my hands tied with ropes and was beaten mercilessly on my feet and my back. I was kept hanging from the ceiling with ropes around my hands, with the mask on my face. And also they gave me electric shocks.
When I was being tortured I was being shouted at with words like: “Will you do the Benazir report again…?” “Litchi garden report again…” ‘Khairuzzaman Liton’s family report again…” Now face the consequences; son of a pig… son of a bitch…” etc. The RAB would like to be able to kill me, and officially call the killing a "crossfire" or "encounter."
RAB sent me to the local police with the charge under the section 16(2) of Emergency Power Rules 2007. I was under medical attention in the Rajshahi central jail for 10 days. As a new detainee, I was sent to the case table in front of the jail house's trial court on my first day. When I went to case table, two fellow inmates had to hold me on both sides. I had no power to walk. I could not even sit properly, but could only put pressure on one side of my rear, when sitting. I broke into tears. Many cases were lodged against me. I felt I was being prepared to be killed in a “crossfire" or "encounter.”
There is more shocking news I have learned about a key perpetrator, Major Rashidul Hassan Rashid, an RAB military officer who played the leading role in the extrajudicial killings of Ahsan Habib Babu, a student’s league leader; Kamrul Islam, alias Maznu Sheikh, a Workers Party leader; Ali Jafor Babu, a prominent businessman; and about twenty others. Some people like Benazir and a jail guard, Shahebul Islam, were highly affected and disabled by their torture. Major Rashid has been recruited to serving in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Ivory Coast; he joined the UN mission on July 10, 2008. This makes it clear how well the Bangladeshi authorities look into human rights abuses and treat the victims and the perpetrators.
Even after my release I continued to be threatened. The existing Bangladeshi law was my sole instrument against summons by the police and unfounded accusations. Unimpressed by the consequences I was threatened with my published 4 books over the past 10 months: the books are « Extrajudicial killings and Revenge » (February, 2009), « Militant Godfathers and other Issues » (February, 2009) From (April, 2009) and « 15 hours in total darkness » (February, 2008).
In 2007 journalist Tasneem Khalil, who wrote an article criticizing the government, was taken by Army members to the facilities of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, Bangladesh's intelligence agency, and was brutally beaten. Now he has been exiled by the Bangladeshi government and lives in Sweden. Cartoonist Arifur Rahman arrested and sent to the jail for made a cartoon. Though, he was freed from jail later and he was freed from the case by the court ordered. In the regime of BNP-Jammat government journalist Saleem Samad, writer-journalist Shahriar Kabir, professor of Dhaka University and famous writer Muntasir Mamun also brutally tortured and detained illegally. There are so many examples like mentioned above. In Bangladesh still going on extra judicial killings in the name of ‘Crossfire’ ‘Encounter’ or ‘Gunfight’.
Though, the present government is democratic. Recently in Gofforgaon upazilla under Mymensing district journalist Biblop was tortured by the supporters of ruling party lawmakers. In last 16 years almost 29 journalists-writers were murdered in Bangladesh including Manik Saha, Deponkar Chakraborty, Goutam Das, Humayun Kabir Balu, Shamsur Rahman Cable, Harun-ur-Rashid Khokon, Saiful Alam Mukul, and Sheikh Belaluddin. But yet real investigation and trial has not end. Journalist’s community and the relatives of killed journalists are waiting for justice. In last 38 years since independence hundreds journalists brutal tortured including Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, Atiquallah Khan Masud, Alhaj Zahirul Haque, Probir Shikder, Tipu Sultan. In the present Awami League regime journalist F M Masum, who is working with the New Age was brutally tortured by RAB recently.
On the other hand, In Bangladesh, the brutal persecution of the Christian religious minority and indigenous ethnic minorities is going ahead full steam. Until now, the persecution that both communities faced never saw the light of justice. A culture of the denial of justice in Bangladesh is the root of all the persecution against the ethnic and religious minorities, which isn't only affecting a part of the country, but is plaguing the entire criminal justice system in Bangladesh. General Zia and his predecessors introduced persecution against the minorities in Bangladesh. Bangladesh became Islamized under the military regime, rather than being a true parliamentarian democracy. Bangladesh was not born with the blessing of being united beyond ethnic and religious differences, but rather has been Islamized, yet with a secular policy.
The attack on the religious minority brings with it the idea of “Islam in the constitution”. The communal spirit began with political motives and ended in mass destruction such as the attack on present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed back in 2001. The victims of the brutal attack are still looking for justice. At that time also, a bomb attack killed 10 and badly injured 20 others at the Baniarhar Catholic church in Maksudpur, in the Gopalganj district.
In 1998, an indigenous leader, Alfred Soren, was brutally killed by those in power. The day of the attack, the perpetrators looted his house, destroyed his belongings, and set the house on fire. Until now, his family members and the public have never seen the light of justice. Cholesh Richil, an indigenous Christian leader, died in custody on March 18, 2007, following brutal torture at the hands of the army. Richil’s civil rights were grossly violated by government agents. It is puzzling why the government has not yet made a proper investigation to unearth the mystery behind this leader’s death. The perpetrators of this crime should not have impunity. The killing of Richil has not been filed as a criminal case to date. From 1979 to 1981, the indigenous people of Bangladesh became cornered by landless people from the mainland in the process of their rehabilitation by the government. An ill-fated ten-year-old indigenous child, Klanto Chiham, was killed by brutal teachers after being tortured at Maymansingh. A dacoit, or robber, killed a Christian school teacher, Mangsang, at Madhupur in Tangail. A member of an even smaller minority, Dr. Goni Gomes, a converted Christian from Islam, was killed by Islamic militants. The constitution does not give proper identity to the indigenous peoples. This is Bangladesh! We demand that these persecutions stop right now and that the government give all rights due to the minority groups and bring the perpetrators to justice. Nonstop minority repression has been going on.
Press Freedom: Day by day journalism in Bangladesh is going on very danger and risk. Press freedom is golden dear in Bangladesh. Actually here is no real press freedom. Journalist’s killings and torture is a common feature in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh press freedom is a golden dear. In this horrible situation journalists are working here.
Though government always says that, journalists and media are free. In practice, media is not free. Media peoples are working hundred percent with self censorship. Because most of the media owners are black money holder or they have other business. Every day, the suppression of the media and freedom of speech is becoming more apparent in Bangladesh. I would like to draw a picture of the destruction of Bangladeshi media from my own perspective.
29 journalists and writer were killed in last 16 years in Bangladesh. Out of these three were killed in this year (2009) including a community young journalist. Yet, not get justice of the journalist’s families as well as journalists community. Still they are waiting for getting justice.
Journalist’s killings and repression is a common phenomenon in here. Many journalists in different places in Bangladesh have been tortured and threatened by the ruling party men including some law makers in this year. These incidents apart, harassment either in the form of physical torture or filing false cases is on the rise in recent days across the country. At least 130 journalists felt prey to various types of harassments in the country since January, 2009.
After my investigating report about Islamic militancy, extra judicial killings, minority oppression and corruption I was tortured with electric shocked by army (RAB) and they also hung me with the ceiling for 15 hours with blind folded and with a black mask in 2007. Still I have been facing two false and political fabricated cases. In the regime of last army backed caretaker government many journalists were tortured. In the regime of BNP-Jammat government journalist Saleem Samad, writer-journalist Shahriar Kabir, professor of Dhaka University and famous writer Muntasir Mamun also brutally tortured and detained illegally.
The killed journalists and writer are 1) Manik Saha (Khulna), 15 January, 2004, 2) Humayun Kabir Balu(Khulna), 27 June, 2005, 3) Shamsur Rahman Cable (Jessore), 16 July, 2000, 4) Harun-ur-Rashid Khokon (Khulna), April, 2003, 5) Saiful Alam Mukul (Jessore), 30 August, 1998, 6) Dipankar Chakrabarty (Bogura), 20 October, 2004, 7) Goutam Das (Faridpur), Sheikh Belaluddin (Khulna), 2005, 9) S.M. Alauddin (Satkhira), 19 June, 1996, 10) Golam Mazed (Jessore), 11) Mir Ilias Hossen Dileep (Jhenidha), 15 January, 2000, 12) Shukur Ali alias Shukur Hossen (Dumuria-Khulna), 5 July, 2002, 13) Nahar Ali (Dumuria-Khulna), 18 April, 2001, 14) Ahsan Ali (Rupgonj-Narayangonj), 20 July, 2001, 15) Kazi Md. Kamruzzaman (Nilfhamari),1996, 16) Syed Faruk Ahamed (Shrimongol-Moulobhi Bazar), May, 2002, 17) Bazlur Rahman (Chuadanga), 18) Kamal Hossen (Khagrachari), 21 August, 2004, 19) Anwar Apolo, 20) Abdul Latif Nabil, 21) Zamaluddin (Rangamati), 5 March, 2007, 22) Nurul Islam Rana (2009, Uttara-Dhaka), 3 July, 2009, 23) M.M.Ahsan Bari (2009, Gagipur-Dhaka), 26 August, 2009, 24) popular writer Dr. Humayun Azad (Dhaka University), 27 February, 2004, 25) Sarwarul Alam Noman (Mymensing), 1995, 26) Faruk Hossen (Jessore), 27) Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury (Jessore), 1994, 28) Rezaul Karim Reza and 29) Abdul Hannan(2009, Demra, Dhaka).
But yet real investigation and trial has not end. Journalist’s community and the relatives of killed journalists are waiting for justice. Another form of journalist’s repression in Bangladesh is defamation. Every year many journalists have been facing criminal defamation. Personally I was grossly suffered with defamation. With a false defamation charged had went to jail for three days in 1992. Still many journalists with editors are facing with defamation charges.
In Bangladesh, justice and press freedom is a golden dear. Those who are involves in corruptions they always controlled by the governments. Presents trends of media are that, black money holders are coming in the ownership of media house. So, journalists are firstly, self censored for their owners. Another media controlled key is advertisement of government.
That is why; media is not playing good role for the peoples. For media freedom, another problem is that in Bangladesh has no definition about contempt to court and defamation. So, always, media has fearing regarding these. Which content will go to contempt to court or defamation for publishing? Media peoples have not known this. Only for this recently famous national daily the Prothom Alo has charged with contempt to court.
There have no national broadcasting rule. Though, we got recently right to information act and community radio rule. Now, we are waiting for see what would come better for media freedom of these two rules. On the other hand, many law including official secrecy act which are big barrier for press freedom.
Journalist’s communities in Bangladesh are waiting for justice of their killed and tortured colleagues. I think, in Bangladesh if society has not changed as qualitative then press freedom is so far from practically. In practice, has no rule of law, good governance in Bangladesh. Whole nation politically, socially divided by two major groups. Journalist’s community has also divided by two groups and also they have lack of professionalism.
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, critics of the government, and perceived political opponents, in order to obtain information, to intimidate or to convey more broadly a message of fear. The system of detention is also a kind of human rights violation.
Article 35 (5) of the Constitution of Bangladesh clearly said that, No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment - thus, it is a fundamental right of all Bangladeshis that they are protected by the Constitution against torture. There is a biggest difference between the constitutional provision and the belief of the general people. This experience started on the very day when the nation adopted its constitution as the supreme law of the land immediately after the independence of the country from the colonial regime. That same difference of allowing torture to persist without any credible scope of justice to the victims remains after 38 years of independence. The police, along with its other branches such as Special Branch (SB), the Detective Branch (DB) and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), are not the only agencies that practice torture. The paramilitary forces the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) the armed forces, especially the Bangladesh Army, and the intelligence agencies like the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and National Security Intelligence (NSI) of the country, all maintain special torture cells of their own. There are temporarily created cells like the Joint Interrogation Cell (JIC) and the Task Force for Interrogation (TFI) Cell and they are notorious for their brutality.
There is little support for the people they are supposed to be protecting. The law enforcement agencies and the security forces care little for the ordinary people of Bangladesh. The personnel, who serve in the police, armed forces and the paramilitary forces stand face to face before the people treating the commoners as criminals in general and subject them to torture in the name of maintaining law and order in the country. In reality, a country likes Bangladesh where a fair trial is beyond imagination of the justice seekers it is absolutely impossible to get a legal remedy against a perpetrator of torture.
Human rights organization The Asian Human Rights Commission informed us that, in Bangladesh 629 police stations in the country. If a single person is tortured per day in these police stations then an alarming number of 229,585 persons are being tortured in Bangladesh every year. Torture at the hands of the state actors regularly causes permanent and temporary disability of persons and amounts to hundreds of deaths every year. But, despite the recurrence of these grave incidents it repeatedly fails to shake the conscience of the policymakers of the nation. The governments of various regimes do not feel any responsibility to bring to an end this brutal practice. Ironically, the political parties of the country pledge to uphold rule of law and human rights before every general election and then turn a blind eye to abuses by the police once they are elected to power.
Bangladesh's parliament is in session for the second time after a new government led by the Bangladesh Awami League assumed office this year. A draft Bill urging the need of punishing torture and custodial death as a crime has also been in place since 5 March 2009. The Bill was registered by a Member of the Parliament, Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury, of the ruling political party, as a Private Member's Bill as the government did not clarify its position regarding the issue. A ruling party with more than two thirds majority in the parliament can eliminate torture and allow thousands of victims to get justice from the courts of law in order to fulfill the government s commitment to the people thereby meeting their constitutional obligations.
We general people of Bangladesh urges to the Parliament of Bangladesh to prove its commitment that they want to end the practice of custodial torture and the culture of impunity on their own soil. We also urge the parliamentarians to legislate the draft Bill in order to open the doors of the judiciary for the victims of torture.
The victims should have easy access to the complaint mechanism and protection from threats and intimidation. The burden of proof should be upon the perpetrators of torture with an obligation of compensating the victims for their sufferings if the perpetrators are found guilty. Article 46 of the Constitution must be repealed as it is used to offer impunity to the perpetrators of torture. Sections 132 and 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure must be repealed immediately. Section 132 allows the state actors to abuse their power in the name of good faith without any checks and balances, and Section 197 denies the independence of the judiciary. The peoples also urge the civil society, including the media and the rights groups of Bangladesh to initiate movements against the practice of custodial torture and impunity by demanding the criminalization of torture.
Freedom of the press should be granted in Bangladesh's constitution; it is granted in Art. 39 (b), but it is not binding upon the government. Therefore, we should fight to establish the rule of the constitution. The judiciary should be independent in practice, and all kinds of killings by the government machinery should be stopped. No persons should be tortured by law-enforcing agencies. No rule or ordinance that is contradictory to the main theme of constitution should be formed or passed. No accused persons should have impunity. The U.N. charter should be followed strictly and, in this regard, the international organization should act impartially and independently.
I think that, to establish freedom of the press and to protect human rights that are 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 Bangladesh. In this regard, a forum for regional or global cooperation should be formed, should be active in creating a few rules, and should be strictly maintained. It is necessary to give punish those who are perpetrators and should Bangladesh government stop Impunity for the greater interest of democracy and peace.
Lastly, I want to say I have been giving high price for press freedom and human rights with my whole family. Only for my professional activity my father in law has lost his political carrier. Though, he has been belonging with Bangladesh Awmai League since 1967. He has elected MP from Bangladesh Awami League in 1991. After my persecution I have been paralyzed socially, economically, mentally and physically. Not only that, I have lost my job, dignity, reputation. How I will recover my dignity, reputation and all other loses? How and where I will get justice?
Please watch these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xzaCRYCkqs (BIHR part-1)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BthGnl-WEGo (BIHR part-2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnyyJHp3ET0 (BIHR part-3)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1G8BUvZ_mc (Unbearable time)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHqyDmeLpvc (Unbearable time part-1)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9P1mZ7zKww (Unbearable time part-2)

jahangiralamakash@gmail.com
http://jaakash.wordpress.com/
http://jahangiralamakash.blogspot.com/

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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