Thursday, November 19, 2009

Climate change and Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash, Climate change is an important issue in the effort for global peace. Average global temperatures and sea levels are changing every day. The whole world is worried about the unnatural changes occurring in global climate. Next month, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, one of the most important conferences this year, will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18. The issue of global climate change that we are facing is more pressing than ever. Climate change is affecting mankind in various ways.

As a Bangalee, I want to share how climate change is affecting the daily life and economy in Bangladesh. Already, the seasons have experienced unusual changes in Bangladesh. Every year, the country faces unexpected rains, dry spells, temperatures and other symptoms of changes in global weather patterns.

Bangladesh is experiencing frequent severe weather patterns, in the form of floods, cyclones, heavy rains, droughts, river erosion and salinity intrusion due to climate change. Bangladesh's vulnerability to climate change lies mainly in its dense population and that a large part of its area consists of low-lying coastal areas and expansive floodplains. At present, Bangladesh has a population of 163 million people. While the country's population has been increasing, on the one hand, its forests are being depleted, on the other.

An increasing world population and harmful industrialization worldwide are the main causes of climate change. The severity of storms, droughts, rainfall, floods and other natural disasters has been increasing in Asian countries, and in Bangladesh in particular, due to climate change. Global warming threatens our agriculture, which is the backbone of Bangladesh. Every year, natural disasters have widespread effects on Bangladesh, touching every corner of the country. Due to limited resources, Bangladesh does not have the capacity to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to mitigate the damage.

Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is the city most threatened in Asia by climate change. If things continue as they are, in the future, the economy will fail and human life itself will be threatened. At present, there are 10.3 million people living in Dhaka. In 2025, the population will have increased to 20.5 million.

At the same time, every day, Bangladesh is losing ponds, lakes, dams and forestry. National and regional varieties of fish are being lost. Specialists have reported that 54 varieties of fish in Bangladesh have already been lost due to climate change. And forest animals are also being lost. At least 70 percent of people in Bangladesh are living in very poor situations. Many elements of both human society and the environment are sensitive to climate variability and change. Human health, agriculture, natural ecosystems, coastal areas and temperatures are all sensitive to changes in climate.

According to the Water Development Board, there is a total of 11,000 kilometers of embankment that the by Water Development Board developed, of which around 250 kilometers were damaged by water surges during Cyclones Sidr and Aila. The existing embankment at Hatia requires a 4.5-meter height increase to protect against storm surges and sea-level rises due to the effects of climate change. Any future embankments should be designed to be two to four meters higher than the existing ones.

Due to climate change, the weather in Bangladesh has changed. Water levels have fallen, temperatures have risen, and the incidence of floods, dry spells and cyclones have all increased, affecting both people's lifestyle and the crops. At least 30 rivers, including the the Padma, the Gomti and the Teesta, have dried up. And most of the other rivers in Bangladesh are being lost because they are being filled with soil. Parts of northern Bangladesh are becoming desert. Geological and biological changes in the area are threatening normal life.

People all over the world are hoping that a positive, effective outcome, which is so needed, will result from the UN conference on climate change and that the world's leaders will figure out a sustainable solution from their discussions there.

Bangladesh needs technological and economic support to survive the effects of a changing climate. Just as important is the proper handling of any foreign funds Bangladesh may get, since we know that corruption is another large barrier to our prosperity.

Bangladesh is an underdeveloped country in Asia. How will this country continue to exist in the face of the challenge of climate change? That is a major question. Now, we will have to see what help for Bangladesh regarding this challenge of climate change comes from the Copenhagen conference.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How I will recover my dignity, reputation and all other loses?


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) was 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 was described his inhuman torture history. He has spent six years in the Guantanamo detention center. Really it was brutal and horrible. Journalist and writer Tara McKelvey from USA was 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.
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 was lost his political carrier. Though, he has been belonging with Bangladesh Awmai League from last 42 years. 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?

Jamaat-e-Islam responsible for Islamic militancy



By Jahangir Alam Akash, People in Bangladesh are waiting for the day when war criminals will be brought to trial. In reality, the Islamist political party and anti-liberation force Jamaat-e-Islam is behind the Islamic militancy in Bangladesh. Both individual Jamaat party leaders and the party as a whole have been involved with war crimes that took place in Bangladesh during the fight for independence in 1971.

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.

It is clear that our neighbor India directly helped our fight for freedom and provided refuge for those who fled from the fighting in Bangladesh. On the other hand, the Jamaat-e-Islam party was against our fight for freedom. They organized killings, raping, looting and burning during that time. After independence, Bangabandhu’s government started conducting trials against the war criminals and even convicted some of them. But on August 15, 1975, some army men killed Bangabandhu, along with his family. Still, his two daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehena, were on a visit abroad at that time, so they survived.

But now, the war criminals and anti-liberation force want to kill them as well. To achieve this, they are using the Islamic militants. 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 people of Bangladesh are still crying out for a trial of the war criminals.

Now, the international community wants to support Bangladesh in bringing its war criminals to trial. With Bangladesh working towards conducting trials for the 1971 war criminals, Pakistan should follow its lead to stop the recurrence of genocide and to end the culture of impunity.

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.

Killings without justice!!!



By Jahangir Alam Akash, 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.

The State Minister for Home Affairs and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh openly support the extrajudicial killings, despite the fact that Bangladesh signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention Against Torture. Not only that, the constitution of Bangladesh also safeguards the right to life.
The government of Bangladesh has been violating the constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights since 2004. According to Art. 35(5) of the constitution of Bangladesh and Art. 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." And according to Art. 3 of the constitution of Bangladesh, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." But, in practice, Bangladesh does not ensure the right to life and has not complied with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the constitution of 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. The media's role regarding extrajudicial killings covered up under reports of "crossfire", "gunfights" or "encounters" is negative and constrained. The media has only been publishing the normal reports about these encounters filed by the RAB or the police themselves.
A few human rights organizations have long been asking the government to stop the killings, terming them "extrajudicial". Moreover, the High Court of Bangladesh, on June 29, 2009, 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.

Extrajudicial killings continue even in violation of the High Court's ruling. How can they continue? It’s very alarming for human rights, democracy and the right to life. And why is the High Court silent regarding this gross human rights violation?
According to the daily Star, on 16th November in Madaripur two brothers were killed by RAB in the name of so-called ‘shootout’. The dead were identified as Lutfor Rahman Khalasi, 45, and his younger brother Khairul Haque Khalasi, 28, of Kotbari Srinodi village in the upazila of Madaripur.
In July last year, their another brother Obaidur Khalasi killed in a similar "shootout". Lutfor Khalasi's wife Jharna Begum and son Bablu Khalasi, 20, claimed that Madaripur RAB did not give them any information after the RAB men picked up Lutfor and Khairul Saturday morning. At a press conference in Madaripur on 14th November, 2009, Jharna Begum and Bablu appealed for not killing the brothers in the name of crossfire.
They also mentioned in the press conference that RAB-3 had arrested the brothers from Rupganj in Narayanganj around 1:00am on 14th November. Jharna and Bablu were apprehensive that instead of handing the brothers over to police, RAB might take them to Madaripur and kill them in the name of an attempt to recover illegal arms. On receiving the news of their death, Jharna and Bablu claimed that the RAB team killed the two after knowing about the home ministry sending a directive for not putting them in crossfire.
Latest extra judicial killings has happened in Jhenidah on 17th November, 2009. Here the police was killed to Hasan alias Boma Hasan alias Batam, 35, son of Sayed Ali of Defolbaria village in Sadar upazila in Jhenidah.
On the other hand, the High Court on (same day) 17th November, 2009 issued a suo moto rule upon the government to explain within 48 hours why the killings of Lutfor Rahman Khalasi and Khairul Haque Khalasi of Madaripur in custody should not be declared illegal. The HC bench of Justice AFM Abdur Rahman and Justice Md Emdadul Haque Azad issued the rule following a newspaper report on the extra judicial killings. The home secretary, the director general of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the commanding officer of RAB-8 have been made respondents to reply the rule.
Both governmental and nongovernmental sources have said that the death toll has reached 130 from such extrajudicial killings - labeled as "crossfire" killings, "encounter" killings or "gunfight" killings by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the police - since Jan. 6, (January 7 to November 17, 2009) when the Awami League-led government assumed office. In Bangladesh, we have a so-called democracy, but there is no rule of law. Every day sees more killings of citizens by the state machinery, killings which are both well-planned and covered up.
According to the daily Star, Home Minister Sahara Khatun on 17th November, 2009 claimed that no incident of ‘crossfire’ took place in the country since the Awami League-led government took over early this year. “We are not carrying out any crossfire right now. No such incident took place since our government assumed office,” he told journalists after a special law and order meeting at the home ministry. Her comments came immediately after the High Court asked the government and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) for an explanation in 48 hours about the shooting and killing of two brothers in Madaripur. The court also asked them why the killings should not be declared extra-judicial.

The government of Bangladesh has sided with the extrajudicial killings. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also said, in an indirect way, that extrajudicial killings will continue. She spoke clearly, upholding "crossfire" killings. What was said by our popular Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in New York is very unfortunate for the rule of law, democracy, the constitution, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the people of Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina talked with journalists in New York on Sept. 27, 2009. Referring to "crossfire" killings at the time, she said, “I do not believe in extrajudicial killings. But if anyone launches an armed attack (against a law enforcer), then they shouldn't be allowed to kill them like sitting ducks.” (Source: Bdnews24.com).
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. From March 26, 2004 until Oct. 21, 2009, around 1,600 people have been killed without justice.
On the other hand, around 58 peoples have killed in the name of so-called heart attacked in the custody of joint forces in the regime of BNP-Jammat. In present regime around 50 BDR have killed in same way after mutiny.

In conclusion, we want to say that the reports of so-called "crossfire" killings, "encounter" killings or "gunfight" killings that are made by the RAB and the police are totally false. I believe that terrorism should never be combated or controlled through state killings. It is the establishment of the rule of law that is essential to control terrorism. 17.11.2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The culture of politics in Bangladesh


By Jahangir Alam Akash, The internal politics of Bangladesh have been polluted. Once upon a time, politics was connected with good things like service and benefits for the people. But now, the situation is that no one can work with politics without money. Politics have become criminalized in Bangladesh.For around 20 years, I have been writing against corruption, Islamic militancy, religious minority oppression, state torture and the abuse of power in my home country of Bangladesh. I have worked for The Daily Sangbad - the oldest Bengali national newspaper -, Dainik Bangla, Ajker Kagoj, Banglar Bani, as well as the New Nation, the Morning Sun, the News Day, Ekushey Television, CSB News, the Associated Press of Bangladesh, The Editor.Net and the Bengali language service of Deutsche Welle (DW), dainik Patrika, dainik Uttar Bangla, dainik Teesta, etc.I also worked with human rights organizations, such as the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Centre for Trauma Victims (BRCT), the Task Force against Torture and the Bangladesh Institute for Human Rights (BIHR). And I was the executive editor of the monthly publication Manabadhiker Anusandhani. At present, I am the editor and publisher for the online news portal Human Rights Today.Info, which promotes press freedom, human rights and minority rights in Bangladesh.For a decade, I have been conducting investigative journalism on the issues of Islamic militancy, extrajudicial killings, women’s and children’s rights, oppression of minorities and indigenous peoples, and corruption in Bangladesh. I am working for peace, democracy and the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples, as well as for human rights.For simply doing my professional duty, my whole family and I have paid a high price financially, mentally, physically, socially and politically. After the last general election, we heard that my father-in-law, Tajul Islam Mohammad Faruque, a former Member of Parliament, lost his nomination for the MP election from the Bangladesh Awami League. It was because I was campaigning against extrajudicial state killings that have been conducted by the elite RAB force.This is despite the fact that he has been working with the Bangladesh Awami League over the last 42 years. He is currently also the president of the Bangladesh Awami League for the Rajshahi district. Mr. Tajul Islam M. Faruque and Fazle Hossen Badsha organized a movement against militancy in Rajshahi. Not only that, but, at first, Mr. Faruque protested against minority repression as a political leader in Rajshahi under the rule of the BNP-Jamaat regime.We also heard that Mr. Faruque lost his nomination due to lack of money, my professional activities and the hostility of AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, the present mayor of Rajshahi. There is a rumor that the nominated candidate for the Bangladesh Awami League gave a huge amount of money to the party fund for the Rajshahi-5 seat (Puthia-Durgapur), which is the seat that Mr. Faruque desired a nomination for. Grassroots leaders were also in favor of the nomination going to Mr. Faruque. This is the culture of politics in Bangladesh.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Minorities face attempted murder in Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash, Another gross incident of minority repression has happened in Natore, Bangladesh. With the help of the local administration, some politically powerful people were involved in this violation against three religious minority families. Minorities gain no security from the so-called "minority friendly" government regime. The criminals were trying to murder some religious minorities.

According to the Daily Sangbad, in the middle of the night of Nov. 1, 2009, in the village of Tazpur in the Singra subdistrict of Natore, the perpetrators locked the doors of the houses of the minorities from the outside, then set fire to the houses using petrol. One minority man, Rash Bihari, had to be taken to the Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, since he was seriously burned. The houses of Ratan Ghosh, Nripen Ghosh and Batbihari Ghosh were totally burned.

Sources said that some local influential people have been trying to seize 200 bigha (approx. 66 acres) of "Debottor" land - land dedicated to and belonging to a Hindu deity - for a long time. A group of terrorists led by Union Parishad members Hasib and Sazedur Rahman Khan attacked minorities in the Tazpur village on Oct. 24. They ransacked the houses of 12 religious minority families and looted money and other property. At least 23 people, including women and children, were seriously injured in the attack. The attackers also raped a minority woman. Subsequently, a case was filed against the attackers by Sreebash Halder. A total of 33 people were accused in connection with this case.

Then, on Nov. 1, the accused were released on bail from the court. That same night, they again attacked the minority families in the Tazpur village. Another case was filed by Nogendranath Ghosh with the Singra police station against the attackers, but the attackers have yet to be arrested. Religious minorities live in fear after being attacked again and again. These incidents are reminiscent of the Bashkhali incidents of Chittagong that happened during the rule of the BNP-Jamaat government.

The present government should prove itself a real friend for the religious minorities of Bangladesh by protecting them and make an example of all the perpetrators of crime against minorities by punishing them.

Human rights situation in Bangladesh worsens

By Jahangir Alam Akash, The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom of the U.S. Department of State recently published a report on the human rights situation in Bangladesh. This report gave the present government of Bangladesh a stamp of approval for human rights. According to the report, the human rights situation is getting better, especially with oppression against religious minorities on the decrease. How can the U.S. state department say that the human rights situation in Bangladesh is improving? We don’t know, but the real situation is quite the opposite.

In Bangladesh, the real situation of human rights does not resemble the U.S. state department’s report. Almost every day, violations of human rights occur in various forms. Religious minorities, including Hindus and Christians, are in a panic. Repression of religious minorities is happening throughout the country. There are innumerable examples of the repression of religious minorities under the present regime in Bangladesh. Here is a list:

On June 30, a schoolteacher, Akhil Chandra Saha, was killed by miscreants at Charghat in Rajshahi. Since then, the 21 minority Hindu families of Miapur village have been in a panic. A sensational incident of minority oppression happened in August, when armed criminals forced Nitai Chandra Das, 70; his cousin Shambhu Das, 50; Shambhu’s wife Kajol Rani Das, 42; her son Sajal, 14, and daughter Swarna, 8; Shambhu’s brother Mohabir Das, 45; his wife Lakshmi Rani Das, 38; and her daughters Beauty, 18, and Sweety, 12, from their homes and confined them to a workshop. The criminals also stole some belongings, including gold ornaments, from the victims’ houses.

On July 1, a poor Hindu young person, Ashish Sarker, 25, was abducted and murdered in Mirzapur in Tangail. At the end of June, a Hindu businessman named Sumon Goala, 25, was murdered in Pearpur-Jamalpur Sadar. Recently, a Hindu woman, Radha Rani Halder, 28, was gang raped in Shoriotpur. On July 3, perpetrators attacked four Hindu families and vandalized their deities, while trying to occupy cremation ground belonging to Hindus in the Palash subdistrict of the Narsingdi district. Ten people, including women and children, were seriously injured during the attack.

On July 16, some miscreants stole valuables, desecrated the Kali Temple and also demolished the deity at the Raroa Kali Temple at Gopalpur in the Sherpur sibdistrict of the Bogra district. On July 2, a Hindu housewife, Anguri Biswas, 23, was abducted in Rajoir in the Madaripur district. In August, a group of hoodlums under the leadership of Hafizur Rahman Hafiz and his elder brother Azizur Rahman Aziz, the cultural secretary of the Juba League, forcefully occupied seven decimals (282.94 sq.m.) of land belonging to a Hindu owner, Surjya Kanta Debnath, in the Nalitabari subdistrict of the Sherpur district. In connection with this, allegations were made by the victim that two shops were demolished and that his daughter, Lipi Debnath, was physically assaulted during the operation.

In the same month, 20 religious minority families were forced to leave their homes due to the continuous kidnapping of women and children and the collection of “security” money in the Sonagazi-Feni district. It has been learned that the perpetrators Jafar, Seraj, Younus, Saiful, Ripon, Sabuj, Selim, Nasir and more than 20 miscreants were regularly collecting illegal money from 20 Hindu families. If they refused to pay the money, then they would begin to receive threats.

On the night of Aug. 31, a gang of criminals attacked three Hindu families in the Dighalkandi Sahapara village of the Puthia subdistrict of Rajshahi, injuring 12 people. Sources said that the hoodlums also looted five houses and shops during the attack, in an attempt to convince those families to move away from their land. The injured included Profulla Chandra Saha, his wife Bijli Rani Saha, his brother Bijoy Saha, Sukumar, Chand, and Nomita, who were admitted to the Puthia Health Complex in critical condition. Around 30 perpetrators, believed to be BNP-Jamaat cadres, attacked the homes of Vanpuller Bijoy, Sukumar, and Uttam. They also looted Sukumar’s grocery store and the stitching shop of Uttam’s wife, Nomita, during the attack.

Sources said that, on Aug. 27, men from the neighboring village of Kacharipara beat up two youths, Nayan and Sujon, in Sahapara. Following the incident, 10 Hindu families filed a general report with the local police station, expressing their anxiety. In October, a religious minority woman was abducted while she was asleep with her husband, Sagor Das, and gang raped in the Sathiya subdistrict of the Pabna district. Purnima Rani, the daughter of Dulal Roy of Chitra Para-Joypurhat, is missing after being falsely promised to be married with a Hindu boy. The Muslim perpetrator is related to a very powerful Juba League leader in Joypurhat.Purnima Rani could not be recovered, despite desperate arbitration with the powerful Awami League leaders. Also, the police on duty sometimes neglected to register cases against those perpetrators. Although the case was registered after much endeavor, the perpetrators also started constantly intimidating the victim’s family. Thus, a sense of insecurity prevails amongst the Hindu communities.

There are also forceful conversions after entrapment and false personification. Nabami Sarkar, the daughter of Akhil Sarkar of the Aimar Rasulpur village, and Krishna Rani and Prativa Rani of Govindapur were the victims of such fraudulent events. Fraudulent conversions with the intent to deceive minority girls are occurring, such as with Shika Debnath, daughter of Mina Debnath of the Shaljune village of the same subdistrict. The police do not respond to this particular minority issue if a rebort is filed with them. As discontentment prevailed amongst Hindu minorities, the police reluctantly detained Purnima Roy, daughter of Dulal Roy, on Oct. 1 who was wearing a burka. Thereafter, she was produced before a court and the court sent her to judicial custody. A shrewd Muslim boy in the Kusumba Union village of Govindapur lured a Hindu girl, Krisna Rani Protiva, into a trap, abducted her, and absconded. The victim’s older brother protested against this sort of trap and, as a result, was assaulted. Although the case was recorded, the police kept people silent about it. Later, the unfortunate girl was recovered.

Sawpan Mondal, 40, a Hindu (converted to a Christian) NGO employee was beaten to death in Soharwardy Uddayan (Ramna Kali Temple) by the some students of Dhaka University, who branded him an extortionist. On Sept. 12, the students caught him and beaten him mercilessly. The morning after, Mondal died from his wounds at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital during treatment. At least 25 Hindu families have been evicted from Kalapara in Patuakhali under the current regime.

According to the Daily Star, the chairman of the Rajshahi board of education, Dipakendranath Das, left the city on Aug. 30 for Dhaka after filing general reports with two police stations following threats on his life, allegedly from the city’s mayor, AHM Khairuzzaman Liton. The Rajshahi mayor asked the board chairman repeatedly over the phone to upgrade his daughter’s SSC results, Dipakendranath alleged. Khairuzzaman acknowledged that he had requested Dipakendranath to look into his daughter’s results, but denied the allegation of threatening the board chairman. In his identical reports filed with Boalia and Rajpara police stations in Rajshahi, the chairman alleged that he had been asked to leave Rajshahi forever over the phone on Aug. 27. The callers also threatened him with death. He had refrained from mentioning the names of any individual or party in his reports. Earlier on Aug. 27, the chairman alleged that the city mayor threatened to transfer him if he did not entertain his request of upgrading his daughter’s SSC results. Anika Faria Zaman, the mayor’s daughter, secured a GPA of 4.56 in this year’s SSC examinations. Dissatisfied with the results, she, along with 2,300 other examinees, appealed to the board on June 22 to review their results. When the reviewed results came out on Aug. 9, some 23 examinees got their results changed but Anika’s results remained the same.The board chairman explained that Anika failed to get a GPA of 5 because she secured an A- in Bangla and obtained an A in English, mathematics and chemistry. “There was no room to review her results, as they had already been issued,” he said. Dipakendranath alleged that the mayor threatened him twice, on Aug. 18 and 25, over the phone.

On June 12, a gang led by Nur Hosssain Master of Soraigachhi attacked the homes of 74 families, including 54 indigenous families in Katirpur of the Porsha subdistrict of the Naogaon district. They torched, damaged and looted the houses and also randomly beat up indigenous men, women and children during the attack.

On Sept. 2, more than 50 people, including the member-secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, Prof. Anu Muhammad, were injured when police charged at marchers heading for Petrobangla headquarters in the capital in protest against the government’s decision to award three offshore blocks to international oil companies. One bereaved Hindu family was prevented from lodging a first information report at the Rangunia police station, due to continuous threats from the killers. Police have tried to suppress the facts of the murder and, as a result, the perpetrators have gotten impunity.
On July 24, some men kidnapped Jatindra Lal Dey, 65, of the Sahandi Nagar Hindu Para village and strangled him half to death, then fled, leaving him at the Rangunia Subdistrict Hospital. Jatindra died on his way to the Chittagong Medical College Hospital.

In August, a group of religious minority communities in the Barman Para village of the Durgapur subdistrict of the Netrokona district made allegations regarding continuous repression against them. In a separate statement signed by some minority communities condemning the atrocities done against them, it is alleged that crimes against humanity, including physical torture, rape, kidnapping and land seizure, were continuously being committed against them. They also claimed that although the local government, including their Member of Parliament, was asked to stop these atrocities, and although the local Member of Parliament asked the officer-in-charge to take necessary steps, no remedial measures were taken by the police, unfortunately. As such, a case has been filed by Bimal Chandra Barman at the Durgapur police station.

In July, a religious minority schoolgirl of the Dalit family in the Jessore district of Bangladesh was gang raped on her way back from attending “Kirtan” religious songs. The victim was dragged to a nearby garden and raped by several men. In Bhola, there is a silent repression of religious minorities.

Lord Hardinge, 35 miles away from the Lalmohan police station, reported in writing that some Muslim land grabbers with bad motives instituted false cases in the court against destitute, law-abiding Hindus, making them leave the country. Hindus have been arrested without any tangible allegations, because in July the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhola made a judicial enquiry through the headmaster of a local high school - a reported activist of the Awami League - took negative view and submitted false reports against the
Hindus. No enquiry was made into the allegations against those Hindus with regard to their
involvement in theft and other false allegations.

On May 8, in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Maching Khai Marma, 18, was raped, then killed with a brick. On Sept. 28, Goutam Sarker, 33, was shot dead in Dhaka. He was a resident of 47 Farasganj Lane, Sutrapur. He was also the president of the Awami Sechasebok League of the 79th ward of Dhaka.

On Oct. 22, a Catholic family of the Dhaka diocese, under the St. Lawrence Catholic Church, was attacked by local Muslims. Some people fired guns at the house of the Catholic family. After that, a complaint was filed with the local police station as well as with the U.S. state department by the family with the help of an NGO.

Furthermore, extrajudicial killings are still very common in Bangladesh. On Oct. 31, another two people were killed in extrajudicial killings, falsely reported as a “gunfight” with the police in Sundarban in Bagerhat. The victims were Altaf Hossain, 42, and Mizanur Rahman, 35, both residents of Chandrakhali in Rampal. This latest incident raised the total death figure due to extrajudicial killings by the Rapid Action Battalion and the police to 118 since Jan. 6, when the Awami League-led government assumed office. This is despite the fact that, on the same day, the law minister, Barrister Shafique Ahmed, said in a training program on human rights that there should be initiatives to investigate any kind of extrajudicial killing, as the present government does not believe in such killings.

On Feb. 25-26, at Pilkhana BDR headquarters, some of the BDR members revolted and, during that time, they killed many members of the meritorious army; looted their money, gold and other wealth; and raped army officers’ wives and daughters. At least 75 people, including 58 meritorious army officers, were killed by the so-called mutineers. It was a gross human rights violation, which came after the brutal killing of the father of the nation, Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

We want to see fair trials held for the real and accused mutineers. We know that 48 BDR members already died after torture during detention. The whole nation is waiting for justice regarding the BDR mutiny. We also want to see the inquiry report into the BDR mutiny and killings.

So, there is a big difference between the U.S. state department report and the real situation of human rights and religious minorities in Bangladesh. We want an equal society without torture or human rights violations.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

War criminals, the JMB and militant Islamists

By Jahangir Alam Akash, 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. Militant Islamists are also very strong in Bangladesh, they 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. 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. You can find dishonesty, immorality, irresponsibility and corruption everywhere in Bangladesh. The militant Islamist groups are still very active and organized in the country. They have been running arms and explosives training camps. Members of state forces, who are also militant Islamists, are killing and covering up their killings, reporting them as "crossfires", "encounters" or "gunfights". And yet, the administration hasn't taken up these extrajudicial killings with the militant Islamists. So now, a big question in the mind of the public is whether or not the administration is friendly with the militant Islamists. The government has yet to try in court those accused in these incidents. The funding sources of the militants still remain hidden. On Sept. 25, 2009, a militant training center was seized by law enforcers from Khagrachhari. Law enforcers arrested Abdur Rahim alias Saifullah, second-in-command of the Chittagong division of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB), and seized powdered explosives, 14 grenade casings, 20 detonators, 49 books on jihad, 27 batteries and around 1 kg. of barbed wire. Later, on Sept. 27, law enforcers arrested four JMB cadres - Delwar Hossain alias Sajib, age 32, and Yunus Ali alias Yunus, age 20, at Shantipur of Matiranga; Delwar Hossain Dulal, age 23, in Gazipur; and Monir alias Ripon, age 25, in Comilla. Government sources said that Moulana Saidur Rahman's son Bashar plays a key role in running the organization. Seven members of the Shura, the highest policymaking body of the JMB, are Shiblu alias Shishir, Sohel Mahfuz of Kushtia, Mehedi alias Abir of Barguna, Nazmul alias Bhagne Shahid of Natore, Osman alias Shahid of Comilla, Sayeem of Dhaka and Mahmud alias Asad of Panchagarh. Of them, Shishir is in charge of the military wing, Sohel Mahfuz of the Dawat (invitation) Department, Mehedi of the southern districts, Nazmul of the northern region, Osman of the Chittagong division and Sayeem of the IT wing. The duties assigned to Mahmud are not yet known. Mostafiz alias Siddique of Gazipur has been working as an advisor for the banned outfit. An unnamed government source has said, "The network of the militant Islamists and their organizational activities are still very strong in Bangladesh." According to research, around 125 militant Islamist organizations are active in Bangladesh. But the government has banned only five of these organization, to date. The life of the present prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, is under threat by the militants. She is the main target of militant Islamists, sources said. We believe that if Bangladesh's government wants to combat militant Islamism, they it should ban the Madrasa (Islamic) system of education. At the same time, it would be necessary to start a one way, combined scientific system of education, to reduce all kinds of discrimination and poverty. Also, there should be an immediate trial for war criminals. We also demand that the influence of religion upon government politics should be banned at once.

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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