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Appeal to the International Community to Put Pressures on Bangladesh Government to End Human Rights Violations

Edit Date:10/10/2011 12:00:00 AM

 

 
Group of Bangladeshi Citizens
 
 
We’d like to draw your kind attention to the undemocratic and totalitarian practices of the current regime of Bangladesh, especially to its dangerous culture of disappearances and extra-judicial killings, infringement of the freedom of speech and the stifling of dissent voices, and interception of opposition programmes and tortures on opposition leaders and activists. The regime has turned the country’s legal system into a mockery of the law. Many commentators believe that the country’s law courts are now simply extensions of the regime’s political clout. Under the circumstances, political repression has gone unabated and the victims do not have adequate legal recourse against persecution.

After two years of military-backed interim government’s rule, Bangladesh, a nation of 155 million citizens, had a general election in December 2008, which brought the Awami League (AL)-led alliance to power (the London-based Economist [30 July 2011] alleges that the election was manoeuvred by foreign influences). However, it is dismaying that the ruling party in Bangladesh has resorted to all-out repression of the opposition parties from the very beginning, creating what the human rights groups call “a reign of terror” wherein political vendetta, establishing torture cells, mounting violence and murders have become almost regular phenomena. Street killings, and, significantly, oppressive harassment by the police have crossed all previous records in the country.

The political persecution and massive human rights violations have been mentioned in various reports including the U.S. Department of State’s 2010 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh which contains detailed accounts of hundreds of extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture and other forms of maltreatment of opposition people. Arbitrary arrests and detentions, denial of legal representation and of fair trial, harassment of the press and killings of journalists, and preventing opposition parties from holding rallies are some of the recent developments in the country and these are alarmingly on the rise. We mention below few instances out of hundreds of such occurrences in the country.

On 25 June 2010, the police arrested (read abducted) Dhaka City Corporation ward councillor and BNP central leader Chowdhury Alam at around 9:30pm while he was leaving the party's central office at Naya Paltan in Dhaka. As is the case with many other disappearances, no one knows his whereabouts. Family members of the victims of all such disappearances now understand that their near ones are no longer alive! According to the Daily Star, Dhaka (3 October 2011), seventeen people were ‘vanished’ in the first nine months of year 2011. In 2009, Odhikar, a human rights group working in Bangladesh, reports that 251 people have been killed and 15,559 have been injured largely by the cadres of the ruling party. According to the Center for Media Research and Training, in the first three months of 2010, 609 people were killed, which include 33 political murders and 29 extra-judicial killings by law enforcement authorities. Since Awami League came to power in early 2009, members of its student wing Chhatra League (many of whom are non-student hired hooligans) have beaten up members of opposition students' organizations on college and university campuses around the country and illegally ousted thousands of them from college and university dormitories..
 
The country was shocked to see how on 6 July 2011 the police beat up Zainul Abdin Farroque , Chief Whip of the Opposition, in the street of Dhaka.
A policeman punches Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque in the face after he fell on the ground near the parliament complex. (Source: Daily Star, Dhaka, 7 July 2011)
 
 
 
This is how the police mistreated a suspected opposition political activist in the street of Dhaka on 22 September 2011.
 
 
 
The police arrested pro-BNP lawyer and former deputy attorney general MU Ahmed from his residence in Dhaka in the early morning on 11 August 2011. Inhuman tortures in police custody led to a massive heart-attack and Mr Ahmed died on 26 August 2011.
Lawyer MU Ahmed's brother Abdus Samad and son Sabbir Ahmed are in tears at National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases. The pro-BNP lawyer was rushed to the city hospital after he suffered a massive heart attack in police custody. Inset, Sabbir shows a mobile snapshot of his father on the hospital bed. (Daily Star, Dhaka, 12 Aug 2011)
 
 
 
Awami League musclemen brandishing their weapons after attacking a peaceful BNP procession and beating up Boraigram Upazila Chairman Mr Sanuallah Noor Babu (writhing in pain on the ground) in Natore, Bangladesh on 08 October 2010. Mr Sanuallah Noor Babu died on the spot.

List of such atrocities and murders goes on, and the scope of this petition does not allow the mention of all.

The Awami government has formed a farcical war crime tribunal to try the “war criminals” of 1971 and accordingly have created a discourse in which they have selectively targeted the leaders of BNP and Jamaat Islam Bangladesh. This politically-motivated trial is, according to the International Bar Association and other legal experts including US Ambassador for War Crimes Stephen Rapp, a mockery of justice and intended to persecute opposition political leaders.

We’re horrified by the repeated incidents of the police attacking and using hot water cannon, rubber bullet, baton, etc. on peaceful opposition processions and demonstrations. For instance, on 13 September 2011, members of Jamaat Islam brought out a demonstration in the streets of Bianibazar Thana in the district of Sylhet. The police intercepted it and started beating up the processionists. Hundreds of Jamaat members were injured and many were arrested. Police also attacked some hospitals and arrested many doctors who were on regular duties.

In this precarious juncture, we urge you to put pressure on the government of Bangladesh to stop all politically-motivated arrests and extra-judicial killings immediately, and bring the responsible parties to justice; release those opposition activists who are detained unlawfully, and compensate the victims; protect all human rights and, if the proposed trial of war crimes is to go, form an international Tribunal under the auspices of the United Nations to bring the real culprits to justice rather than falsely implicating and incriminating leaders, scholars and personalities from the opposition camp.

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