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Rise of Fascism in Bangladesh

Edit Date:8/17/2010 12:00:00 AM

 

 
 
29 July 2010
I: EDITORIAL: DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS DOCKED IN BANGLADESH 
   
II: AWAMI LEAGUE’S TRANSITION TO ONE-PARTY DICTATORSHIP (BKSAL) (1971-1975) 
   
III: CLAIMS OF OWNERSHIP, POLITICS OF VENGEANCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN BANG BANGLADESH 
   
IV: AWAMI FASCISM: ATROCITIES KNOW NO BOUNDS 
   
V: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT 
   
VI: THE AUGUST 15, 1975: WHAT IT MEANT TO BANGLADESH 
   
VII: CHHATRA LEAGUE’S SEXUAL OFFENCES: A WIDESPREAD STATE OF DENIAL 
   
VIII: VIOLENT ATTACK ON MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH 
   
IX: RULING PARTY’S CHHATRA LEAGUE: THEIR REIGN OF TERROR  
   
X: THOUGHTS ON RU INCIDENT: UNTOLD FACTS 
   
XI: WAR CRIME TRIBUNAL IN BANGLADESH: A MOCKERY AND MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE  
   
XII: WAR CRIME TRIBUNAL: WHY IS IT A KANGAROO COURT? 
   
XIII: REPORT from U.S. Department of state: SOME EXCERPTS:  
   
   
 

I: EDITORIAL: DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS DOCKED IN BANGLADESH 
After two years of military backed interim government’s rule, Bangladesh had a general election in December 2008, which brought the Awami League (AL) to power with a two third majority in the parliament. Following the election, the people of Bangladesh and the international community expected that this newly elected government would follow the path of democracy by establishing the rule of law, cooperating with the opposition parties and strengthening the democratic institutions. However, it is so unfortunate and dismaying that the ruling party in Bangladesh has resorted to repression of the opposition parties from the very beginning. They have already created a reign of terror throughout the country wherein political vendetta, establishing torture cells in educational institutions, rapes, mounting violence and murders have become a regular phenomenon. The rising expectations of the people have turned into rising frustrations. A brief account of the current situation in Bangladesh is as follows:  

Political Violence and Killing: In the year of 2009, Odhikar, a human rights organization, reported that 251 people have been killed and 15,559 have been injured largely by the cadres of the ruling party. From January to mid February 2010, more than 45 people have been killed, and another 3 thousand people have got injured.  

BDR Revolt and Army Massacre: In February, a total of 67 senior army officers including the Director General of the BDR (and his wife) were brutally killed by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR). Subsequently, a total of 29 persons died during the investigations. It has been reported that some government officials were involved in the carnage. The full investigation report has yet to be disclosed to public.   

Campus Violence and Killing: Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student/youth wing of the ruling party Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) instigated clashes in 97 educational institutions that resulted in few dozen deaths, many injuries, and closing down of 77 campuses throughout the country. About a dozen people have been brutally killed due to their internal clash. 
 
Crushing Opposition and Persecution of Political Leaders: The former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has been ousted from her residence. Many leaders of the opposition parties are facing harassments and confinements and their free movements are obstructed and denied by the government. Recently, the government has vowed to “exterminate” Bangladesh Jamaate Islami (BJI) and its student wing Shibir (known by the US govt. as a model Democratic Party in Bangladesh) through “combing operation”. More than three thousands workers and leaders of BJI and Shibir have been arrested, detained, and tortured. Two have already been killed by the law enforcement officers.   
   
Abusing and Misusing Existing Legal Apparatus: While the issue was resolved completely in 1973, out of extreme political vendetta the government is committed to trying “war‐criminals” who sided with Pakistan during the independence war in 1971 (targeting mainly the leaders of BJI) under The Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973. Many of the provisions of this law are against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights1948, Covenants on Civil and Political Rights 1966, and a host of others international legislations, and above all, the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution of Bangladesh. It will certainly be a “Kangaroo Court”.    

Press Harassment and Killing of Journalists: In the first three months of the current regime, 18 journalists were injured, 5 threatened, 3 attacked, and 4 assaulted, as well as a number of instances where the publication of news materials was obstructed by the authorities. Journalists criticizing the ruling regime’s human rights records are in constant death threats. Few have already been brutally killed over the last few months. The government imposed ban on the Daily Amardesh, and Channel 1. The editor of Amardesh, Mr. Mahmudur Rahman, was arrested on a false and concocted case and is under remand and torture. There were widespread reports that the government threatened the media for publishing the reports on the misdeeds of the party in power. 
 
Extrajudicial Killings: Out of 38 persons killed/died in the first 6 months since January 2009, 28 of them died in crossfire. From amongst these 28 persons, 14 persons were killed by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), 6 by the Police, 4 by RAB‐Police, 3 by the Army and 1 by Detective Branch (DB) of Police. During this time, 6 persons were allegedly tortured to death by the police. In addition to these figures, 2 persons were shot by the Ansar, 1 person by the Police and 1 by the Forest guards. Extrajudicial killings have dramatically increased in recent days. Odhikar reports, during the period of January – June 2010, 61 people have been killed extra-judicially. It has been further alleged that of these people, 29 were killed by RAB, 25 by Police. In addition to this, 04 were killed during joint drives of the RAB and Police. Of these 61 casualties, 13 passed away while they were in custody of the law enforcement agencies. 

Torture Cells and Rape House: In some universities, the youth/student wing of the ruling government has set up torture cells to inhumanly torture their political opponents and teachers. They have also established “rape and drug house”. Recently in Pirojpur, three hijab wearing girls were arrested, harassed, and tortured in police custody despite finding no clue of militancy. Previously a BCL cadre celebrated his “century of rapes” that drew media attention.  

Moving towards One Party Rule: With the help of former Soviet‐trained communist leaders (who have joined in the ruling government), the government is moving towards one‐party rule crushing and banning opposition parties, democratic practices, and rule of law. The government has become not only aggressive but also extremely violent in wiping out all traces of other parties’ symbols. Numerous false cases have been filed against their leaders. During another regime (1971-1975), the ruling party’s former leader Shaikh Mujibur Rahman established “one party rule” based on Soviet model banning all other political parties and newspapers (except four state-controlled newspapers). Recently, following a court ruling, the government is committed to banning religion-based politics. It will not only undermine and exterminate people’s religious freedom and democratic pluralism, but also lead the leaders of various opposition parties to undergo unprecedented torture, detention, and execution, many of which have already started.  

Minority Oppression: There are many instances in which the Hindu minority group has been oppressed by the ruling party. Recently a Hindu temple in Dhaka city has been demolished by the youth wing of the ruling party. Land grabbing from the minority by the thug-activists of the ruling party has been a common practice in Bangladesh.   

Only credible elections do not guarantee democracy, human rights, and rule of law. We are urgently in need of the international cooperation and assistance to restore and preserve democracy, rule of law, human rights, freedom of movement, and minority rights in Bangladesh. For more, please visit: http://www.odhikar.org  
   
   
 

II: AWAMI LEAGUE’S TRANSITION TO ONE-PARTY DICTATORSHIP (BKSAL) (1971-1975) 
On 16th December 1971, a new country was born - Bangladesh. As a newborn country, Bangladesh had lots of hopes and aspirations. It was time for the "Father of the Nation" to materialize the dream that he had presented to the people. The liberation war had broken all the class barriers in the society. A great opportunity was created to forge a national unity leaving aside the age-old class differentiations. The people expected that the leaders would rise above the group and party interest and would unite the people to harness their patriotism and productivities to rebuild the war torn country to fulfill the dream of a 'Golden Bengal'. 100 millions of Bangladeshis would find their rightful place in the world community with dignity and honour. Historical heritage, distinct self identity, the vision of the able leadership, right direction, patriotism, sacrifices, hard work and above all united efforts of the nation could achieve cherished goal step by step with the passage of time. Creation of a progressive, happy and prosperous Bangladesh and reaching its fruits at the doorstep of every citizen would have matched with the spirit of the liberation war. The independence would have then become meaningful. But the people had already become apprehensive about the sincerity of the leadership.  
 
Our political leaders had always done much sweet-talking than actual deeds. Promises had been even greater. People have heard such for ages and got used to such empty promises. Who ever had gone to power had always failed the people. They had oppressed the people paying no heed to their demands. The isolation of the leaders from the people and their selfish interest were the main reasons for such betrayals. Our leaders mostly are alien in their own societies. That is why people are apathetic toward them. Once in power they do everything to meet their own vested interest and later justify their deeds with power and position. The people remain enslaved in the merry go round of betrayal and deception. The politicians always placed their self-interest above the interest of the nation. Even at times the country and the people became sacrificial goats to meet their greed and lust.  
 
Soon after stepping on the soil of the independent country Awami League came out with the ambiguous slogan of "Mujibbad". After three and half years when "Mujibbad" was proven to be an empty slogan Sheikh Mujibur Rahman like any other power hungry dictator promulgated 4th amendment and took all powers in his own hand by forming one party autocratic regime of BKSAL. This unprecedented constitutional coup de' tat was called his 'Second Revolution'. As he usurped absolute power apparently things for a while looked calm on the surface but beneath that uneasy calm political and social conditions were fast deteriorating. The main reason for such deterioration was the presumption of the rulers that by dishing out favours and benefits rule can be perpetuated forever. They depended on this belief because of their lake of understanding of the complexities of the newly independent country. It's problems and solutions were beyond their perception. They lacked any ideology, conviction, experience and vision. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman like other third world dictators considered his own ideas and thoughts to be the ultimate. He never cared to take any advice or suggestion from any one, other than his 'kitchen cabinet' comprised of his family members. His all knowing attitudes were to a great extend responsible for his administrative failure.  
 
He also did not have a clear idea about the difference between party and the state. This became clear even in 1956-57 when he deferred with the then Chief Minister Mr. Ataur Rahman Khan. Mr. Khan wanted to keep the administration totally neutral. He knew that if the administration were brought under the party control then it would be difficult to run the administration efficiently. But Sheikh Mujib refuted his contention and said, "The administration has to accept party domination. Not only that administration will just help and assist the party to execute its policies, but the administration will also be helping in increasing its influence among the people". Mr. Ataur Rahman Khan had to surrender to Sheikh Mujib as he was then considered very powerful in the party. Thus during this time Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the Minister of Commerce and Industries indulged in rampant corruption, nepotism and misuse of power. He used his power in giving out permits, licenses, bank loans, and sanction to establish industries to people who were loyal to him and his cronies.  
 
After taking over the reign of Bangladesh he started ruling the country in the same old style. Some were given money, some undue promotions, appointments as the directors of the abandoned business concerns and industries, license permits, dealerships etc. to buy support and personal loyalty. This is how only within two and half years a total anarchy was created in the economic sector. Many of his confidants were also involved in smuggling in collaboration with the Marwaris. Thus under the patronization of Awami rule a new class of 'novo' rich grew like mushroom. They accumulated from national resources but did not reinvest into the economic cycle. Most of their wealth was spent in non-productive sectors or transferred abroad. With these people Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted to establish 'GOLDEN BENGAL' in the country. It was really very hard to understand what he was up to? Was it his ignorance or cunning mechanization? Was it appropriate that he should place his party's interest over the national interest? Did the nation expect that from him?  
 
It was not only his party people who got involved in rampant corruption. His immediate family members were also involved. Gazi Golam Mustfa who was a close confidant of Sheik's family became famous as 'Kamble Chor' in the country for his open misappropriation of relief goods being the Chairman of the Red Cross. The donors and the international relief agencies also came to know about his malpractices. International press and media became very vocal against this notorious thief. His only brother Sheikh Naser not only garbed the abandoned properties and businesses in Khulna his hometown, but also became one of the ringleaders of the smuggling activities. All his nephews Sheikh Moni, Abul Hasnat, Sheikh Shahidul Islam not only became politically very powerful, they also amassed enormous wealth under the patronization of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. His sons, particularly Sheikh Kamal also got involved in amassing fortunes and other unethical activities such as Bank robberies.  
 
Regarding the state of corruption during Mujib's regime, the reputed journalist Lawrence Lift Shulz wrote in the Far Eastern Economic Review on 30th Aug 1974. "Corruption and malpractices are nothing new. But Dhaka people thinks the way the corruption and malpractices and plunder of national wealth that had taken place during Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's regime is unprecedented".  
 
It was virtually impossible for the government to gain any economic or political achievements with such loots and plunders in a newly independent war ravaged country. The looters did not plough back their ill-gotten wealth in the national economy; they spent that fortune for their luxuries and comforts. But the government had to pay heavily as its image got tarnished in the eyes of the people and the world.  
 
The government became isolated from the people. Against the promise to turn Bangladesh into 'Golden Bengal' the ruling elites turned Bangladesh into a "bottom less basket". The common people viewed this as a national betrayal. They became dejected with the Awami League leadership. Awami League lost the people's support, which was so vital for any government to govern. Gradually they also lost the support of many powerful quarters within the government itself. Their support within the students, youths and armed forces eroded substantially.  
 
An agricultural country Bangladesh is heavily dependent on the nature. It was a gigantic task to feed 100 millions people in a devastated country. The donors and the international communities came forward generously to help Bangladesh in its reconstruction. Till 30th December 1973 Bangladesh received grants and aid credit amounting 1.4 billion US Dollars. Beside through UNROB huge amount of relief assistance was also provided. In spite of this all the hopes and aspirations of the newly independent nation got lost into the nightmare of AWAMI-BKSAL miss rule.  
 
AWAMI-BAKSAL period is the dark chapter in the history of Bangladesh. Volumes would not be enough to write the full history. On Jan. 25, 1975 with a stroke of pen Sheikh Mujibur Rahman killed democracy and imposed on the nation the yoke of one party rule of BAKSAL. He snatched away from the people freedom of press, freedom of expression, fundamental rights along with all political rights. All national dailies and periodicals were banned except 4 government-controlled dailies. Constitutional rights of the judiciary were also high jacked and was brought under the administrative control. Rule of law thus was buried.  
 
The period of AWAMI-BKSAL rule was full of barbaric atrocities. The history of AWAMI-BKSAL rule was basically history of murder, rape, loot, oppression, plunder, famine, capitulation to the foreign exploiters, white terror and above all betrayal to the spirit of the liberation war. People could never be able to forget those horrifying memories. In the name of socialism they plundered the national wealth, they kept the border open for the smuggling, for their mismanagement of the economy the country got recognized internationally as the 'bottomless basket'. There was no famine in Bangladesh during or just after the war but hundreds and thousands of people had to die out of the man made famine of'74 during the rule of AWAMI-BKSAL.  
 
Sheik Mujib and his government presented the people fascism in the name of democracy, social injustice in the name of socialism, national disunity in the name of Bengali nationalism and communal disharmony in the name of secularism. In this way after subjugating the whole nation in a state of gasping suffocation all the opposition was crushed systematically through state terrorism with a view to close all the constitutional and democratic avenues to bring any change of government. The nation was thrown into an era of total darkness with no hope to breathe afresh.  
 
It was Awami League of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that mortgaged the national independence and state sovereignty signing the 25 years long-term unequal treaty with India. By creating Rakkhi Bahini, Lal Bahini, Sheccha Shebok Bahini and other private Bahinis AWAMI-BKSALISTS unleashed an unbearable reign of terror killing 40000 nationalists and patriotic people with out any trial.  
 
On 24th Feb 1975 President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman through a decree announced formation of the only political party of the country Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League or BKSAL. He also declared himself to be the chairman of BKSAL. In the 3rd article of the announcement it was stated, "Till any further order from the President all the members of the Parliament of the defunct Awami League, all its members, Cabinet Ministers, deputy Ministers, state Ministers will be considered as the members of the BKSAL. Bongo Bir Gen. Osmani and Barrister Mainul Hossain decided to defy this order and not to join BKSAL instead they both resigned from their Parliament membership.  
 
Due to the announcement of the so-called 'national party' all other political parties got abolished. Finally CPB, NAP Muzaffar and Awami League got merged into BKSAL. Out of the 8 opposition members in the Parliament 4 joined BKSAL.  
 
On 6th June 1975 the organizational structure and the constitution of BKSAL was announced. That day names of 115 members central committee were announced. In that 115 members-- vice President, Prime Minister, speaker, deputy speaker, Ministers, deputy Ministers, state Ministers, 3 Chiefs of the army, navy and airforce, DG BDR, DG JRB and the secretaries of all the ministries were included.  
 
The Executive Committee of BKSAL:  
 
(1) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, (2) Sayed Nazrul Islam, (3) Mansoor Ali, (4) Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed, (5) Abdul Hasnat Mohammad Kamruzzaman, (6) Abdul Malek Ukil, (7) Prof. Yusuf Ali, (8) Manaranjan Dhar, (9) Mohiuddin Ahmed, (10) Gazi Golam Mustafa, (11) Zillur Rahman, (12) Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moni, (13) Abdur Razzak.  
 
List of the Central Committee of BKSAL:  
 
(1) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, (2) Sayed Nazrul Islam, (3) Mansoor Ali, (4) Abdul Malik Ukil, (5) Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmad, (6) A.H.M Kamaruzzaman, (7) Mahmudullah, (8) Abdus Samad Azad, (9) Yusuf Ali, (10) Fani Bhushan Majumder, (11) Dr. Kamal Hussain, (12) Sohrab Hussain, (13) Abdul Mannan, (14) Abdur Rab Shernyabat, (15) Manaranjan Dhar, (16) Abdul Matin, (17) Asaduzzanan, (18) Korban Ali, (19) Dr. Azizul Rahman Mallik, (20) Dr. Mozzaffar Ahmad Choudhury, (21) Tofayel Ahmad, (22) Shah Moazzam Hossain, (23) Abdul Momen Talukder, (24) Dewan Farid Ganj, (25) Professor Nurul Islam Choudhry, (26) Taher uddin Thakur, (27) Moslemuddin Khan, (28) MD Nurul Islam Manju, (29) AKM Obaidur Rahman, (30) Dr. Khitish Chandra Mandal, (31) Reazuddin Ahmad, (32) M. Baitullah, (33) Rahul Quddus(Secretary), (34) Zillur Rahman, (35) Mohiuddin Ahmad MP, (36) Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moin, (37) Abdur Razzaq, (38) Sheikh Shahidul Islam, (39) Anwar Choudhry, (40) Sajeda Choudhry, (41) Taslema Abed, (42) Abdur Rahim, (43) Abdul Awal, (44) Lutfur Rahman, (45) A.K. Muzibur Rahman, (46) Dr. Mofiz Choudhry, (47) Dr. Allauddin, (48) Dr. Ahsanul Haq, (49) Raushan Ali, (50) Azizur Rahman Akkas, (51) Sheikh Abdul Aziz, (52) Salahuddin Yusuf, (53) Michale Shushil Adhikari, (54) Kazi Abdul Hakim, (55) Mollah Jalaluddin, (56) Shamsuddin Mollah, (57) Gaur Chandra Bala, (58) Gazi Ghulam Mustafa, (59) Shamsul Haq, (60) Shamsuzzoha, (61) Rafiqueuddin Bhuiya, (62) Syed Ahmad, (63) Shamsur Rahman Khan, (64) Nurul Haq, (65) Kazi Zahurul Qayyum, (66) Capt.(Retd) Sujjat Ali, (67) M.R. Siddiqui, (68) MA Wahab, (69) Chittaranjan Sutar, (70) Sayeda Razia Banu, (71) Ataur Rahman Khan, (72) Khandakar Muhammad Illyas, (73) Mong Pru Saire, (74) Professor Muzzafar Ahmad, (75) Ataur Rahman, (76) Pir Habibur Rahman, (77) Sayeed Altaf Hussain, (78) Muhammad Farhad, (79) Motia Choudhury. (80) Hazi Danesh, (81) Taufiq Inam(Secretary), (82) Nurul Islam(Secretary), (83) Fayezuddin (Secretary), (84) Mahbubur Rahman(Secretary), (85) Abdul Khaleque, (86) Muzibul Haq (Secretary), (87) Abdur Rahim(Secretary), (88) Moinul Islam (Secretary), (89) Sayeeduzzaman(Secretary), (90) Anisuzzaman(Secretary), (91) Dr. A Sattar (Secretary), (92) M.A Samad(Secretary), (93) Abu Tahir (Secretary), (94) Al Hossaini (Secretary), (95) Dr Tajul Hossain(Secretary), (96) Motiur Rahman. Chairman. TCB, (97) Maj. Gen K.M. Safiullah, (98) Air Vice Marshal Khandakar, (99) Comodore M.H.Khan, (100) Maj Gen. Khalilur Rahman, (101) A.K. Naziruddin, (102) Dr. Abdul Matin Choudhury, (103) Dr.Mazharul Islam, (104) Dr.Sramul Haq, (105) ATM Syed Hossain, (106) Nurul Islam, (107) Dr. Nilima Ibrahim, (108) Dr. Nurul Islam PG Hospital, (109) Obaidul Haq Eiditor Observer, (110) Anwar Hossain Manju Editor Ittefaq, (111) Mizanur Rahman BPI, (112) Manawarul Islam, (113) Brig. A.M.S. Nuruzzaman DG Jatiyo Rakki Bahini, (114) Kamruzzaman teachers Association, (115) Dr. Mazhar Ali Kadri.  
 
In the same declaration 5 sister organisation of BKSAL were also formed:-  
 
General Secretaries:  
 
1. Jatiyo Krishak league Fani Bhushan Majumdar  
2. Jatiyo Sramik league Professor. Yousuf Ali  
3. Jatiyo Mahila league Sajeda Choudhury  
4. Jatiyo Jubo league Tofayel Ahmed  
5. Jatiyo Chattra league Sheikh Shahidul Islam.  
 
The general Secretaries nominated were most trusted confidants of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The members of the central committees of these organizations consisted of members taken from CPB, NAP Muzaffar and Jatiyo league of Ataur Rahman Khan.  
 
In accordance with forming of BKSAL on 16th June 1975, News Paper Cancellation Act was promulgated. Under this Act only four nationalized dailies were allowed to be published along with a few weeklies. Rests were all banned.  
 
Thus after complete burial of democracy the whole country was subjugated under unprecedented reign of white terror. Being denied of personal security the people was suffocated and became hostages in their own homeland under the tyranny of the autocratic BKSAL rule. The political leaders and workers alike miserably failed to grasp the famous doctrine, "Of the people, by the people and for the people." Thus people could not achieve their cherished dream in spite of their glorious straggle and sacrifice. All their efforts had got lost once again in the blind alley because of the betrayal of the leadership. 

Courtesy:Azizul Karim, SonarBangladesh, April 29, 2005. Available at:http://www.sonarbangladesh.com/Awami_BAKSAL.html 
   
   
 

III: CLAIMS OF OWNERSHIP, POLITICS OF VENGEANCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN BANG BANGLADESH 
                                   

What is happening in Bangladesh in human rights violations by the present Awami League regime in power no doubt reminds us of some of the of violent regimes in some African and Asian countries. It continues to divide the nation and rule, and in the name of secularism, it launches anti Islam oppression and brings back the controversial issues of the1972 constitution and reinforces the notorious Fourth Amendment. It also brings back the idea of father of the nation to imply Mujib and his family and the AL as if the owners the country. In Hasina's rule human rights is given a new definition that it applies only for the AL alliances. Instead of the respect for rule of law, the anarchy caused from the party's ownership mentality by its Jubo League, Student League cadres, and their widespread practice of thug culture of looting, tender grabbing, rape in hostels and murder of the opposition members, the country shows deteriorating signs of rights violations.  Despite the tightly controlled TV and the print media by the government the violations reminds us of the 70's BKSAL's widespread violation of human rights. (2The difference though is that with India directly controlling the information sector, everything is shown by the media as normal. Whereas in reality people find it as if the normalizing of the unthinkable. Sohel Taj. This is as if Bangladeshis is again back to the past 70th fascist system at a time when people were grasping for freedom of the press, the right to life, religion, and liberty that the UN document, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) so staunchly asked national governments to comply.   

Post independence period and struggle for collective rights and individual rights:      
Bangladesh was born in its long fight against human rights violations by the rulers of Pakistan. In this struggle no doubt people fought for their collective rights such as economic rights, language rights, and among others for the minority rights. But as soon as the country became independent, the then ruling political party began to act like it owned the country and used the state as the medium of oppression to undermine the citizen’s individual rights. The trend set in motion by the Mujib regime in the extra-judicial arrests and killings, in discouraging multiparty democracy, and Mujib's daughter Hasina's who began her political entry by asking for forgiveness for the misdeeds of the BKSAL brings the Human rights abuses back in her second term in office. The AL, a party largely by the thugs, of the thugs and for the thugs is not alone in the promotion of the culture of oppression. Following this trend, the successive political parties in power have also been abusing the judiciary and administration and unlawfully detaining the citizens opposing such violations.  

Human rights and development:  
Contrary to the political party’s promotion of a thug culture, scholars and human rights activists find protection of rights important because it opens the door for a country’s stability and to its road to development. To stop human rights abuse advocates tend to “argue for increased codification of individual legal rights to protect them from state infringement of their natural rights.”But the question is whether this is sufficient to dramatically change the existing trend is arguable. True, in violation of international legal standards, article 46 of Bangladesh's Constitution empowers parliament to pass laws that provide immunity from prosecution to any state officer for any act done to maintain or restore order, and to lift any penalty, sentence, or punishment imposed.”(2) In view of the above scenario, instead of describing the events of human rights violations in detail, this paper emphasizes more on the importance of understanding the socio-political background behind such violation in Bangladesh.  

Bangladesh is a feudal society:  
Sociologically speaking, for most part Bangladesh is a feudal society. The present research reveals that ever since the independence of Bangladesh, in the name of democracy, the successive governments in essence had been promoting hero-worshiping and propagating the concept of feudal ownership of the country and it demands allegiance often by intimidation and violence and in this direction it tries to exclude and disown the opposition of even their rights to exist. The examples are in abundance. The AL government in its ongoing sweep against the opposition has been harassing the BNP by suing, arresting for simple matters as one BNP leaders recent remarks that Zia as the first president of Bangladesh. (1) Khoka. This is cited by the AL as a gross violation of the constitution, which was actually made by the AL.  The government in its witch hunt policy is also reviving the war crime issue settled by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the then president of Bangladesh.(1)  In this attempt, after close to four decades the AL is identifying citizens in the opposition as the political outcasts by using such terms as “rajakar,”(collaborator of the Pakistan army) in some instances it was even killing Jamat party followers in the open daylight.(1)You tube. Not long ago Ziaur Rahman, a valiant liberation war hero, and one of founders of modern Bangladesh was even branded by the existing AL leaders as being "a razakar" and now the AL government even officially removed his names from government institutions. So is the story of AL claim of the ownership of Bangladesh.  

BKSAL is back:  
Few newspapers such as Amerdesh publisher, Holiday and the NewAge reporters, dared to criticize the government policies, were attacked and some reporters killed by the RAB, Police, and by the SL thugs.  The Amerdesh editor was even physically attacked by the AL goons in UK. The scenario of human rights violations show that BKSAL of Mujib regime is back again. The grand alliance of Hasina is truly the BKSAL alliance of the past with the new addition of the autocrat Ershed lately joined in with Hasina. In its promotion of the so-called progressive politics, Hasina is bringing back the failed policies of the dictatorial BKSAL regime of the past. The arrest, persecution, attack by RAB shows Hasina's politics of confrontation. In further attempts to justify Mujib's BKSAL government that in the past was removed from power by the freedom fighters for its failures in the human rights promotion are now shown as a progressive government that should be followed as a model. Through propaganda, it promotes the victim complex that Mujib the great father of the nation was indeed a progressive politician murdered by misguided army officers.  
To promote the AL politics and dehumanize the opposition, it places “mask of the devil” on the AL enemies to promote vengeance. Surprisingly and so naively almost all the cases against the AL man sued for the allegations of mischief’s were withdrawn by the government with approval from the loyal courts showing the appearance of neutrality and the cases against the BNP leaders however were perused. 
To tackle the opposition party, it controls the streets by the local godfathers, Joinal Hazari and the notorious Shamim Osmani’s are now back and with student involvement in campuses and additional security and support for human rights violators provided by India. In this status quo everything seem normal and good for the AL. However, these are no doubt the signs of the revival of the familiar BKSALi despotic trends of the past the present government is so devotedly trying to practice. 

Politics of ownership and fascism:  
Additionally, considering the hereditary leadership continued by the Begums especially Hasina Begum, and the AL's prevailing theme of father of the nation (Pitha) or the announcer (Ghosok) by the BNP, the respective parties demand the ownership of the feud we also call Bangladesh. Based on the above existing scenario, there is little doubt that Bangladeshi political system is clearly feudal in the guise of being democratic. But in its modern mix in the staged election, the false promises and fake claims that the "government is devoted for the people because it is by the people," and in the prevalence of intolerance to the opposition, and the return of a thug rule, the imposition of authoritarianism, the belief in a supra territorialism of Bengali nationalism over Bangladeshi nationalism, the tendency of hero-worship, Bangladesh governance could be described as the Bangladeshi brand of fascism at best.  In contrast if we would like to call it a democracy that Bangladeshis proud to claim, and the constitution claims, I believe whether codifying human rights of the citizens or not, the present system will continue to be there until the realization among people that it is not the leaders or any of the party that owns the country, and in such a system only we would call a democracy where the formal institutions of bureaucracy (not any godfather or the SL) would be in charge of the distribution of wealth to the citizens.  

Bangabandhu chatona:  
In trying to understand the Bangladesh problems, it also reminds us the mentality of the Muslim League politicians in Pakistan of the 50th and the 60's that they demonstrated that it is them only owned Pakistan and in Bangladesh we see similar trend as if the AL owns Bangladesh for Bengalis. This is not a sign of progress but of the existance of fascism. Mujib who founded the student League (was wrongly propagated by the as the founder of Awami League,) himself was a musleman in his student life. Records show he finished his matriculation at the age of 22 when regular students finish their higher university deplomas. In one occasion, he refused to pay fines to Dhaka University demanded for his non student like behaviour about his involvement in the fourth class employees association. These are not necessarily the model characteristics of a fatherly figure for a progressive Bangladesh. But no doubt among others he was also one who helped in the independence of Bangladesh. Having said this, however he shouldn't be given credit for his gross human rights violations in the role of President of the country. What Mujib truly was is evident in his famous quotes in the post liberation period provided below:  
"Seraj Sikdhar thumi Akhon Khotai?" (Where are you now, you Seraj Sikdhar?) 
"Nokshal ke Dheka Matro Guli Korbei" (Shoot down Naxal, just at the sight !) 
Jatir Pitha Hoichee Bola, Noitoo Lal Ghora Dabaidetham (The problem is I am the father of the nation otherwise I would have crushed them!)
Adibashis, Tomra Bangalee Hoyee Jao! "Tribals, You better become Bengalees!"  
Those lines remind us of Mujib the leader of the thug of thug leaders. In addition, his one party rule, his banning of all the newspapers except four government papers, his paramilitary forces including the Rakhi Bahini killing his opponents, and his district governors comprised of the known thugs selected for ruling Bangladesh districts as the smaller feuds show the type of of a leader, whose chetona (consciousness) the Hasina AL officially promotes is destined to create a feudal society born to become democratic.   

Human rights awareness and development:  
Contrary to the AL's continued power politics, the ownership claims and the politics of vengeance, in South Africa we see even in their bitter racial divide Nelson Mendala used the politics of reconciliation and human rights development in the country which brought relative stability and peace.  On the other hand in the battleground Bangladesh, after the 1/11 event, and the BDR mutiny, it is clear the forces opposing the pro-Indian government was also seriously weakened.  Under the circumstances while the India chosen AL celebrates its triumph, the losers seem to be the common people of Bangladesh for losing its promise of both human rights and development. Whereas Bangladesh was born through its fight against human rights violation by the former feudal rulers of Pakistan as if to save a plant called Bangladesh, the leaders that were trying to get light and air to help the plant drive toward blooming, now due to their return back to the politics of feudal wars and vengeance, it helps invert attacks to itself to stagnation in almost out of sullen spite.  

Courtesy: Dr. Abid Bahar (from Canada).  
   
   
 

IV: AWAMI FASCISM: ATROCITIES KNOW NO BOUNDS 
While the result of the 2008 general election in Bangladesh generated a massive shock and awe for many, people began to have complacent breath as the military-led undemocratic government was over. However, the recent scenarios in Bangladesh show that “the thieves have been replaced by a dangerous gang of robbers.” The current Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) government came to power with a mask of progressive vision, but all it has is retrogressive agenda largely orchestrated by its local ultra-secularist and fascist gangs. Here are some of the recent brutal legacies of BAL governments and its dangerous cadres:  

Killing and Murdering:  
Killing and murdering has become widespread since BAL assumed power three months ago. The unruly gangs of BAL activists not only brutally killed their political opponents, but also their own activists. The recent brutal killing of their own leader in Dhaka medical College is just one of numerous examples. If they kill their own leader so brutally due to internal factions and feuds, one can imagine how dangerous and heinous they are for their political opponents. Every day people are witnessing the extreme savagery and ferocity of BAL activists in Bangladesh. In the year of 2009, Odhikar, a human rights organization, reported that 251 people have been killed and 15,559 have been injured largely by the cadres of the ruling party. From January to mid February 2010, more than 45 people have been killed, and another 3 thousand people have got injured. 
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Pilkhana tragedy and displacing blames:  
The world was totally stunned to see the worst form of gruesome killing of 57 army officers and their families and burning and dumping the corpses in Pilkhana, Dhaka on February 24-25, 2009. All these were done largely with the direct behest and active involvement of BAL government. The State Minister Jahangir K. Nanak has already fled the country once investigation began to dig into his linkage to the notorious carnage. The more tragedy is that rather than bringing the killers to justice, the government has taken a very comprehensive approach which involves procrastination, diverting people’s attention to something else, wiping out evidences by the deaths of perpetrators and witnesses in custody, rewarding some killers in Dubai airport, blaming the victims and sanctifying the perpetrators. If the BAL government fails to establish true justice, it will generate grave consequences for Bangladesh. There is a widespread apprehension that the investigation report may not even be published. 
 
 
Torture cell:  
The BAL cadres in most universities including Jahangirnagar and Rajshshi have set up torture cells to inhumanly torture their political opponents. The victims include their own activists posing challenges for leadership, political opponents, and teachers. The methods of torture are so brutal and inhuman, they sometimes eclipse the methods applied in Abu Gharib prison and Gunatanamo Bay. The extreme tortures by BAL arms thugs have already claimed many innocent lives. 
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Rape and Drug House:  
Many BAL activists in many universities and institutions have very successfully established rape house. Many innocent female students are victims of this grave inhumanity. While all these practices are very open secret, people and the victims do not voice out against these because of potential grave consequences. The inhumanity of these rapists sometimes reach to such an extreme verge that they—rather than being remorseful—celebrate their actions in a boastful manner. Manik, a BAL cadre in Jahangirnagar University, openly celebrated his “rape century” when he completed raping 100 girls that drew a huge media coverage! Apart from inhuman rape, many BAL controlled hostels turn to drug house at night.  
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Burning people alive:  
The extreme brutality of the BAL cadres takes many forms. One of the gravest forms is burning people alive. One of the well cited examples is setting fine on a bus full of passengers by BAL cadres. Around a dozen innocent people were brutally burnt to death. One of the most savage BAL cadres, who later on became an MP, used to burn people alive in the flaming fire in brick fields. As reported by one of his close associates, “the odor and the weird sound of the burning corpse make him very happy!”   
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Dancing on the corpse:  
October 28, 2006 is one of the most horrible days in the history of humanity. The unprecedented rejoice and elations over the Nobel Peace Prize won by Dr. Muhammad Yunus were still mounting everywhere in Bangladesh. The whole world suddenly became stunned and terribly shocked to see the gruesome political violence created by BAL activists. The unruly BAL activists started mercilessly beating their political opponents to death with poles and oars and dancing on the corpses with joy! The second shock—deeper than ever—appeared when instead of eschewing these violence and gruesome murders, further violent strategies were adopted and an attempt was made by some BAList intellectuals along with their political masters to justify the former violence with a view to blaming the victims and sanctifying the oppressors. None of these brutal murderers were put to justice, rather the victims families were put in extreme intimidation and harassments. 
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The above are just few of numerous instances of BAL brutality in recent times. The total history of BAL’s savagery, fascism, inhumanity and gross human rights violations is parallel to none. The Hindu minorities who often support BAL regimes are also the grave victims of BAL atrocities.  Recently BAL cadres demolished a Shib Mandir (Hindu Temple) in Dhaka in a broad day light, and the local court surprisingly refused to take any case against these fascist cadres.   

The extreme brutality of the BAL-created “Rakhkhi Bahini” and “BAKSAL” is still in the imagination of elderly generation, if not in younger generations’  mind. The same patterns of the brutality are currently going on in full swing and in various ugliest forms, not occasionally but almost daily: murdering, raping, looting, grafting, plundering, intimidating, containing, lying, fabricating, insulting, and many others. The current BAL regime is a total reign of fascism and a dangerous tyranny.  

Ironically, rather than focusing on these BAL rag-tags’ gravest forms of savagery and inhumanity, the BAList media and intellectuals are very discursively and deliberately diverting people’s attention to something else, such as war-criminals and Jongis. While the war criminals and Jongis are serious issues to be resolved, people need to be very careful of how blames of all social owes are reduced and transferred to the issues of war-criminals and Jongis! Bangladesh and its people are totally unsafe and extremely unfortunate to have the Neo-Nazis on power.  We all must resist this extreme fascism. We must not betray our conscience!            

 Courtesy: Dr. M. Sayemi (Virginia, United States).     

   
   
 

V: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT
(23 February 2010; AI Index: ASA 13/005/2010):  

BANGLADESH: POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ARBITRARY ARRESTS HAMPER IMPARTIAL INVESTIGATION OF CAMPUS VIOLENCE  

The government of Bangladesh must refrain from arbitrary mass arrests, which appear to have been directed only at the opposition student activists. Criminal investigations must be impartial, regardless of the suspect’s political affiliation or party membership. Moreover, the authorities must ensure that the detainees are brought promptly before a court and allowed to challenge the legality of their detention, that they are not at risk of torture or other ill-treatment, and that they have access to their lawyers, families, and proper medical care.  

Last week more than 300 supporters of Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student wing of the opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami, were arrested in Dhaka, Rajshahi, Chittagong and other cities. The majority of them were picked up from dormitories or rented accommodation in and around university campuses. It is not known if any of them have been charged with a recognizable criminal offence. 

The arrests followed a wave of violence at major university campuses in Bangladesh, where rival student activists of the ruling Awami League party and opposition parties have fought each other over control of university halls of residence. At least four students, one from Dhaka, two from Rajshahi, and one from Chittagong universities have been killed in the midst of these clashes since early February. 

The death of the first student on 2 February at Dhaka University was due to violent clashes between two rival factions of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of the Awami League. No members of this group appear to have been investigated for his death. The government’s apparent reluctance to investigate in this case further highlights the political motivations underlying its response to the violence at the universities.   

Bangladesh Chhatra League members have also been involved in clashes with the Islami Chhatra Shibir at Rajshahi, Chittagong and other university campuses. While members of the Islami Chhatra Shibir have been the main targets of the mass arrests, Bangladesh Chhatra League activists have continued to clash and attack opposition supporters, with no accountability. Amnesty International acknowledges the responsibility of government authorities to prevent violence at the university campuses and bring those responsible for the killings to justice. However, the one-sided manner in which the police have carried out the arrests so far indicates that criminal investigations into the violence are unlikely to be impartial or fair.


Raids on student residences have been carried out at random and any Islami Chhatra Shibir supporters found there have been detained. People have reportedly been arrested arbitrarily as police have made no efforts at the time of arrest to separate ordinary student members of the Islami Chhatra Shibir from those suspected of involvement in the attacks.  


The majority of the detainees are being held in jails. More than 70 of them are detained at the Dhaka Central Jail; up to 100 at the Rajshahi Central Jail; and up to 70 at the Chittagong Central Jail. More students have been picked up from other cities. According to reports, lawyers were not allowed to meet them, so they have effectively been deprived of the right to appoint legal counsel and apply for release on bail.  

Between 30 and 35 of the Islami Chhatra Shibir detainees are reportedly in police custody under interrogation. Torture in police custody is widespread in Bangladesh. Detainees in police custody have no access to lawyers or family visits during the period of their remand even though there are legal provisions for such access. 

The government’s politically motivated response to the violence has allowed attacks by members of the ruling party’s student wing to continue, including against news reporters covering these attacks.  Bangladesh Chhatra League activists attacked and injured 11 journalists working for different Bangladeshi dailies who were covering Bangladesh Chhatra League’s incidences of beating of other students on the Rajshahi university campus on 11 February. 

Background 

Violence at university campuses is a frequent occurrence in Bangladesh. Groups involved in the violence are student wings of the main political parties. These student groups are mainly Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL, affiliated to the Awami League, which has the majority of seats in Parliament but rules in coalition with 13 much smaller parties); Islami Chhatra Shibir, (Shibir, affiliated to Jamaat-e-Islami, currently in opposition), and Bangladesh Chhatra Dhal (BCD, affiliated to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, currently in opposition). These groups have in the past reportedly kept arms and have used violence leading to deaths and injury of people. Political parties have pledged, but failed, to disarm them. None of the political parties has condemned the violence carried out by their own members, while often only blaming their opponents for the violence. 
   
   
 

VI: THE AUGUST 15, 1975: WHAT IT MEANT TO BANGLADESH
 
Walk the 1972-75 of Bangladesh:  
 
Let us put the present to pause for a while and rewind the history of Bangladesh to the period 1971-1975. This exercise is especially important for the generations in their 40s and below, who have not seen the birth pangs of the new nation in 1971, nor did they experience the “golden rule” of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972-1975. These generations, as well as the entire nation, are continually being fed with disinformation and distorted versions of our history. They are fed up with the repeated changes in the history books at every turn of the government.  
 
To make the matter worse, the highest judicial class of the country decided to put its seal on a highly controversial and partisan issue concerning the declaration of independence of Bangladesh. Obviously, question does arise about the much touted independence of our judiciary. 
 
Mujib in 1971:  
 
In 1971, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became the undisputed leader of then East Pakistan. In the 1970 elections, his Awami League won 162 out of 300 seats in the National Assembly, thereby giving him the right to form the next government of Pakistan. But that became an illusion. In the face of Pakistani juntas overt and covert conspiracy to deny the legitimate rights to the Bengalis, there was an all out pressure on Sheikh Mujib since March 1, 1971 to make the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI). March 7 offered him that chance. Instead of an UDI, Mujib came out with a call “Ebarer sangram swadhinatar sangram, ebarer sangram muktir sangram” [This struggle is for freedom and liberation]. He refused to take questions from press and left the stage as quickly as he came, leaving the audience disappointed, perplexed and totally confused.  
 
Awami pundits argued that Sheikh Mujib refrained from making the UDI after watching the Pakistani fighter planes hovering above. It made little sense. According to eye witness accounts, Mujib came prepared what he wanted to say at the race course gathering. He even said to have ended his speech with “Pakistan Zindabad” [Long Live Pakistan] along with “Joy Bangla” [Victory for Bangla]. Later, however, the former slogan was removed from the tape. Would the Pakistanis dare to make a British style Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Dhaka at that stage? I don’t think so.  
 
(On April 13, 1919 the British Indian Army, under the command of Brigadier Reginald Dyer opened fire and emptied all its ammunition on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children at Jallianwalla Bagh in Amritsar. Official account put the casualties at 1526 in the 10-minute havoc, leaving a deep impact on the course of independence struggle in India.)  
 
Other pundits tried to explain that his March 7 speech itself was the UDI, and he did not have to make a separate one on the night of March 25/26, 1971, in an effort to undermine the declaration of independence Major Ziaur Rahman made at Kalurghat radio station, Chittagong on March 27, 1971. Was it not then strange that Sheikh Mujib went to negotiate with the Pakistani leaders from March 15 to 24, 1971 to chalk out the future of Pakistan? He even retorted to the inquisitive reporters as late as on the morning of March 25 that he was not a fool to continue the dialogue if there was no progress. (Please see Ittefaq, Pakistan Observer and other dailies of March 26, 27, 1971). Little did he know that President Yahya and his cohorts had already left Dhaka, leaving instructions to start Operation Searchlight aimed at annihilating the Bengalis. The same night, he was flown to Karachi, his family remaining in safe custody of the Pakistan military. Apparently, Sheikh Hasina was a happy young girl then; she conceived Joy around that time.  
 
Mujib Warned of Pakistani Crackdown Plan:  
 
According to a source, Captain Amin Ahmed Chowdhury (now retired Major General) brought a message from Lt Col M R Chowdhury, Major Ziaur Rahman, Captain Rafiqul Islam and others in Chittagong to convey to the top political leadership that Pakistanis were planning a crackdown on the Bengalis soon and they sought advice. Upon receipt of the message through Col M A G Osmani on March 17, 1971, the Sheikh ignored the warning and continued his dealings with the Pakistanis.  
 
As such, following questions do arise in the minds of common people: 

  1. Sheikh Mujib had the opportunity to make UDI on March 7, 1971, but he did not.
  2. Sheikh Mujib went on to negotiate on March 15 with the Pakistani junta to save Pakistan, having earlier said “ebarer sangram swadhinatar sangram.”
  3. Sheikh Mujib was warned of the Pakistan military build up in East Pakistan and their evil designs by the Bengalis elements in the military, as well as then top student leaders, yet he preferred to continue dialogue to maintain Pakistan’s unity.
  4. Ominous landings of planes and ships loaded with troops and armaments in East Pakistan were no secret. How come a seasoned politician like Sheikh Mujibur Rahman failed to visualize the game plan the Pakistani generals were preparing, unless he was a party to it himself?
  5. When the crackdown started, he was advised by others to leave his residence and go hiding. He preferred to stay and subsequently surrendered to the military on the night of March 25, 1971. His family was allowed to stay at his residence in safe military custody.
  6. A close associate of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman once said, “Sheikh Saheb loved to be arrested. It made him martyr and popular, at the same time staying away from the flashpoints of trouble.”(Also see Witness to Surrender, by Siddiq Salek testifying Sheikh Mujib’s several requests to the military authorities in March 1971 to be taken to custody.)
  7. What was Sheikh Mujib working on---an autonomous East Pakistan or an independent Bangladesh?

Yet, when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman returned to independent Bangladesh from Pakistani custody on January 10, 1972, he was the most loved person in the country. As one espousing flattery, he was slowly shelved into a cocoon of sycophants and drawn away from the people who once prayed for his welfare and fasted for his recovery from surgery. The common man felt betrayed, and the reasons are not far to seek. Let us revisit the following: 
 
Rakkhi Bahini:  
 
This draconian force, created at the advice of India and under the personal control of Sheikh Mujib, was extensively used to eliminate any political opposition to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his administration. Anyone not towing the official line was either thrown in the prison or eliminated. According to various estimates about 40,000 political adversaries were killed during the Mujib rule. In an apparent admission to the crime, Sheikh Mujib bragged on the parliament floor, “Kothay akhon Siraj Sikdar (where is Siraj Sikdar now)? He was referring to the popular leftist leader who was killed in police custody. Sufferers still shudder at the thought of the atrocities committed by the Rakkhi Bahini. That was the golden rule! 
 
Man-made Famine:  
 
Almost half a million people perished in the man-made famine of 1974-75. There was no dearth of relief materials but those did not reach the needy. They were kept hoarded by then ruling circle and were dispensed on political expediency or sold in the black market. Struggles between humans and animals for eatables in the waste were common sight in the cities. At night, most part of Dhaka city was carpeted by emaciated destitute, with connected social vices. Dead bodies were deprived of the minimal burial rites. At the same time, people witnessed the royal style weddings and birthday ceremonies at the Gonobhaban, the official residence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. (Please see NY Times of December 13 and 24, 1974). That was the administrative efficiency!  
 
Emergency:  
 
Not being able to cope with the growing opposition to his rule, Sheikh Mujib clamped emergency in December 1974. Fundamental rights were suspended, political activities totally banned, all but 4 government controlled newspapers closed. That was the freedom! 
 
Fourth Amendment/Presidential Rule:  
 
In January 1975, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made himself the President, changing the constitution through 4th amendment in just 20 minutes without any debate. He thus amassed all state powers to himself, making him the unchallenged dictator. That was the democracy! 
 
BAKSAL/One-Party Dictatorship:  
 
In early 1975, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formed Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League, virtually an extension of his ruling Awami League. All other political parties were banned and people were forced to join the BAKSAL. For the first time, members of the military and bureaucracy were politicized by allowing them to join the new party. 61 BAKSAL governors with party officials were to be installed in the districts on September 1, 1975 with a view to running the country in a Russian commissar style. That was the dream people fought and gave blood for!  
 
People Sought Relief:  
 
It was a suffocating situation in the country and people wanted relief, and the soonest before it was too late. They looked towards the patriotic elements of the military, which could not ignore their call and a need for national survival. The military response came in the form of the August 15, 1975 REVOLUTION.  
 
It was regrettable that a few persons on both sides including, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, died in the pre-dawn short military action on the day. I am, however, not aware of the circumstances under which those casualties took place. At the same time, one may visualize that casualties in such an action of historic proportion could not be unexpected. According to a foreign judge, the death of 22 persons on August 15, 1975 outweighed the benefit the coup brought to the nation where political killings and extra judicial deaths were routine. The 22 deaths perhaps stopped deaths of thousands that would have been committed had there not been August 15, 1975.  
 
Public Jubilation:  
 
The August 15 action was hailed by the entire nation, locally and outside. There were jubilant processions all over the country, even ignoring the curfew at the time, Shukrana prayers were offered and sweets were distributed in happiness. People said, Al-hamdulillah [uttered at the time of good news] not Innalillah [pronounced at the time of bad news]. International community, including major powers and India, recognized the new government immediately. 
 
These are no fictional stories. If one visits the newspaper archives and opens the pages of issues of the time, one will find the truth and much more. On August 15 this year, when the senior Awami leaders and their followers will shed crocodile tears for the man-god they are trying to make of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I would like to ask the following questions to them:

  1. Why did they fail to protests the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahamn at that time?
  2. Why did the army, navy, airforce, BDR, police and Rakkhi Bahini fail to counterattack and crush the coup leaders, if the coup was perpetrated by a few disgruntled officers as the court opined?
  3. Why did the chiefs of army, navy, air force, BDR, police and Rakkhi Bahini rush to the new president on the morning of August 15, 1971 to express their support to the coup and publicly announce their allegiance to his administration?
  4. Wasn’t the new cabinet of President Khandakar Mushataque Ahmed formed entirely of the Awami League members of parliament?
  5. Why none of the coup leaders took any leadership position in the new administration or sought elevation in ranks even though they had the chance to do so?

Appeal to the Nation
Before you evaluate the coup of August 15, 1975, please walk back the memory lane to the early period of Bangladesh and judge if it saved the nation from the heavy hands of a repressive regime or it betrayed the national aspiration. In fact, the August 15, 1975 action bailed the nation out of a virtual collapse and retrieved democracy from the evils a one-party dictatorship.  
 
If Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Shaikh Mujib, is determined to avenge the death of her father and she actually took, no logic will deter her. But she, or anybody for that matter, cannot call the coup leaders “killers.” They will remain “Surja Santan” (the son of the sun) of the nation, even if they are taken to the gallows. History will recognize their contribution. And at that moment, Honorable Judges, will you be able to give back their heads? Will you then be prepared to take responsibility for the miscarriage of justice and be condemned in history?

If Hasina hangs the Surja Santans, she could not do it in isolation. The whole military and all the law enforcing agencies, and in fact the entire nation that supported the coup on August 15, 1975 should be taken to the gallows. As we are mourning or celebrating the August 15 this year, we need to walk back to the period of 1972-1975 of Bangladesh and judge Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his deeds and fallacies. And then see why August 15, 1975 was called for.  
 

By: A O Chowdhury, NY, USA, E Mail: alaldulal@aol.com
Courtesy: NewsFromBangladesh (Tuesday August 11 2009 13:44:59 PM BDT) 
   
   
 

VII: CHHATRA LEAGUE’S SEXUAL OFFENCES: A WIDESPREAD STATE OF DENIAL  
[As feminists have repeatedly pointed out, eve-teasing is a western and Christian construct, it refers to the temptress nature of Eve, thereby placing the responsibility for sexual harassment on women. On the victims, not the perpetrators. From earlier denial, looking-the-other-way, to victim-blaming? Is this the new AL strategy being fashioned by its ideologists? Rahnuma Ahmed asks] 
 
WHILE working on last week’s column, ‘The Nation, or Chhatra League...?’ (published on April 12), I had been in two minds. Should I include sexual offences—aggressive behaviour, molestation, physical assault, violence, rape, asking a buddy to video the incident of rape for subsequent commercial release as pornography, gang-rape—allegedly committed by Bangladesh Chhatra League leaders and activists? 

No, it deserves a separate column, I thought. 
I was unaware of media reports on Eden College. For over two months, I’d been totally absorbed in researching and writing the Weather series (February 1–March 29), and had been oblivious to much of what was happening around me. This included allegations against the BCL’s women leaders and activists at Eden. But more on that later. 

By all accounts, there seems to have been a sudden and horrific increase in nationwide violence, largely against girls and young women, over the last couple of months. Ten-year old schoolgirl Shahnaz Begum of Digalbagh village in Mymensingh was raped by two brothers. Killed. October 2009. Eti Moni, a class ten student of Jaldhaka municipality in Nilphamari was raped. Strangled to death. October 2009. A schoolgirl of class three was raped at Ramanandapur village in Pabna sadar. October 2009. Nashfia Akand Pinky, a class IX student, committed suicide by hanging herself because she had been mercilessly teased and harassed, Pashchim Agargaon, Dhaka. January 2010. Nilufar Yasmin Eeti’s parents were shot dead by a young man after they turned down his proposal of marriage, Kalachandpur area in Gulshan, Dhaka. March 2010. Fourteen-year old Umme Kulsum Elora, a student of class VII, committed suicide by taking pesticide because of continued harassment. April 2010. Mariam Akter Pinky, a student of class ten, died of burn injuries fuelled by kerosene in Konabhaban village in Kishoreganj; her mother says she saw the young man who had harassed her for the last two years run out of the room. April 2010... there are many more. I stare uncomprehendingly at the horror of it all. 

As I scan the newspapers, a recent headline catches my eye, Man stabs himself over refusal of marriage proposal. One lone man. He had preferred to kill himself. Not the woman. 
   
And what about sexual offences which, according to media reports, have specifically been committed by BCL leaders and activists? Ahsan Kabir Mamun, also known as Mamun Howladar, information secretary of Pirojpur district committee of the BCL, raped a class X student in Pirojpur, Barisal. September 2009. The incident was recorded on cell phone by his childhood friend ‘Ganja’ Monir, who happens to be a BNP activist. It was later available as a pornographic CD for sale in local video shops. Mamun insists it was recorded ‘secretly’, while Monir says he was carrying out Mamun’s instructions. Mamun did not deny having raped the girl, but added, the recording (not committing the crime itself, mind you) had been done to ‘tarnish’ his political and business image. The two families, he said, were closely related. He was to be married to her soon. Her family responded by demanding that he should receive ‘exemplary punishment’. 
   
A group of 16 young men, in September 2009, abducted a class VII student of Pakhimara in Kalapara upazila in Patuakhali. The young girl was returning home from a Puja mandap accompanied by her cousin Nasir, whom the men beat up and drove away. They took her to a nearby garden. According to media reports, she was gang-raped, allegedly by ten of her abductors. All BCL activists. More recently, in February 2010, four students of Chittagong Medical College, all BCL leaders and activists, allegedly raped a girl on a hill adjoining the CMC campus. 
   
Young women, who are either university students, or walking through campuses, have complained of being physically assaulted by BCL activists. In early November, a Rajshahi university student was assaulted and confined for an hour. One of the assaulters was Kawsar Hossain, a fellow student of the same university who had declared his love for her but had been turned down. A similar incident had occurred several months earlier, on the same campus, when another BCL activist, accompanied by his associates, assaulted a woman student and her companion. On February 21, BCL activists beat up a young girl and her friends who were returning from the central Shaheed Minar, in front of the Dhaka University vice-chancellor’s residence. A BCL activist of Jasimuddin Hall approached the young girl, and began harassing her. Her companions and passersby came to her aid but other BCL activists, from nearby halls, joined in the attack. Five people were injured. This month, in April, students of statistics department of Jagannath University refused to attend classes until a BCL activist, who had reportedly assaulted a woman student belonging to their department, was punished. 
   
What is wrong with the BCL? Or, more precisely, what wrongs do its leaders and their followers commit? Violence. Extortion. Tenderbaji. Sexual offences are never mentioned. Not by the prime minister, nor by any high (let alone, low-) ranking AL member. It is an offence that has no name. And therefore, it does not exist. If it does not exist, its existence need not be acknowledged... That is how denial has worked. And at the ground level, someone or the other obliges, whether it be party functionaries. Or local-level police. Or the college principal. For instance, in the case of Pakhimara, where the gang-rape occurred, local-level AL leaders fined the 16 young men 10,000 taka each for having ‘tortured’ the girl. Their offence was characterised as ‘intent to rape’. Not gang-rape, no. The victim’s family was forced to declare this at a hurriedly called press conference. Forced to file a defamation case against the publisher, editor and reporter of a Bangla daily for having reported the rape as rape. AL leaders pressurised the editor of a local daily to sack his reporter for having reported the rape. The culprits were not arrested. The victim’s family fled in fear of reprisal. The allegation of gang-rape had been manufactured to taint the ruling party’s image, said Rakibul Ahsan, Kalapara upazila AL secretary. 
   
In Pirojpur, Mamun was expelled from his post of information secretary. His membership was cancelled for life, but he, along with Monir, is still absconding. In Chittagong Medical College, an emergency academic council meeting suspended the four alleged rapists. News reports add, the identity of the girl was not known. Hence, no rape case was filed. In Rajshahi University, although Kawsar was expelled from the university, was imprisoned, he was still allowed to take his exams. On flimsy grounds. The departmental chairperson had not received his expulsion order from the university authorities. In Dhaka University, although BCL activists who caused assault and injury on February 21 have been suspended, they are still staying in the residential halls. Two have been given executive positions in the newly-formed BCL hall unit. 
   
But after the Pahela Baishakh concert fiasco at Raju Chattar in Dhaka University, it has become increasingly harder to deny that which has no name. According to newspaper reports, 20 female students were molested. By BCL cadres. Also, by outsiders. Women concert-goers complained. They were pinched. Grabbed. Breasts. Buttocks. Two women students’ kameezes were ripped, forcing them to accept shirts offered by male concert-goers, to cover themselves. Police rescued fifteen young women from among dense crowds, encircled by men. The concert was abruptly closed down as things threatened to get out of control. According to newspaper reports, groups of BCL activists had battled with each other over splitting 40 lakh taka given by a private mobile phone company. To DU BCL leaders, for having organised the concert. But no, the university authorities claimed not to know anything about it. Neither did the BCL leadership. No, they hadn’t heard anything. 
   
A Bangla proverb, shaak die maach dhaka, the (foolhardy) attempt to cover live fishes with spinach leaves, expresses well the attempts of DU authorities post-concert. The DU vice-chancellor, Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique, inaugurated a three-day Rover Scout campaign. Petitioning signatures. Processions. Rallies. The slogan? ‘No to Eve teasing.’ Surely this undermines last year’s High Court ruling? A ruling which was heartily welcomed by women’s organisations in Bangladesh. Any kind of physical, mental or sexual harassment of women, girls and children at their workplaces, educational institutions and at other public places, including roads, is a criminal offence punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. The ruling has the status of law. So where does this all this drivel about eve-teasing come from? As feminists have repeatedly pointed out, eve-teasing is a western and Christian construct, it refers to the temptress nature of Eve, thereby placing the responsibility for sexual harassment on women. On the victims, not the perpetrators. From earlier denial, looking-the-other-way, to victim-blaming? Is this the new AL strategy being fashioned by its ideologists? Why should women’s organisations and women’s rights activists who have struggled hard for women’s right to public space for many long years be a party to undermining our hard-won HC ruling? One which we had all agreed was a ‘revolution’? 
   
There are other things that I find deeply troubling. The recent revelations sparked by squabbles over dividing the loot earned from admission profiteering at Eden Women’s University College. According to newspaper reports, factions opposed to BCL unit president Jasmine Shamima Nijhum and general secretary Farzana Yasmin Tania have alleged that, besides admission profiteering, these women leaders are involved in tenderbaji, wheeling and dealing, buying up BTV slots, and lobbying. They use first year students, those from village backgrounds, telling them that this is the way to fulfil their dreams of becoming leaders, and becoming wealthy. The girls are encouraged to dress up. They are taken to the houses of different leaders. Sometimes to hotels. And asked to entertain them. According to the allegations, the BCL leaders leave the hostel after 10 at night. Returning the next day, at 10 in the morning. Women students who refuse to do as told are either turned out of the hostel, or their room is broken into, or locked up. The principal of the college, according to news reports, is fully complicit in these happenings. 
   
Both Khaleda Zia, the leader of the opposition (‘the girls of Eden college are being used to entertain the ministers and MPs whose salaries and allowances have been raised’), and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, Jamaat secretary general (‘women students are used to satisfy the leaders’), have capitalised on these stories, using them as opportunities to attack the government. 
   
While AL apologists shush the leader of the opposition for having defiled the honour of ‘all’ students of Eden College for a bad apple or two, while a journalist friend tells me that one or two students of Eden have since retracted their statements, I return to my memories of Jahangirnagar University, to the anti-rape movement in 1998 when the university authorities, to quell the movement, had barked: which one among you have been raped? Come, stand up, be identified. 
   
Hundreds of women students had spoken up in a single voice: we have all been dishonoured. The prime minister, her women cabinet ministers, and the leader of the opposition could take lessons from that.

 
Courtesy: The NewAge Editorial, April 19, 2010.  
   
   
 

VIII: VIOLENT ATTACK ON MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH
[January-June 2010]  

A. Government imposes ban on media

Arrest and torture of Mahmudur Rahman, Acting Editor, Amar Desh

  1. The publication of the Bangla-language daily Amar Desh has been closed as the government cancelled the declaration of the newspaper on June 1, 2010. The police sealed off the press of Amar Desh at about 11.00 pm that night.
  2. On June 10, 2010, a bench of the High Court Division consisting of Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana and Justice Sheikh Hasan Arif ordered the continuation of the Amar Desh publication. But the police did not allow the press to be opened for publication, despite the directive from the High Court Division. On June 15, 2010, the Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, has stayed the order of the High Court Division for four weeks following an appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court by the Attorney General for Bangladesh against the stay order granted by the Division Bench in this regard.
  3. About 400 journalists and technical staff were working at the daily Amar Desh at the time of its closure.
  4. At about 4 am on June 2, 2010 Mahmudur Rahman, the acting Editor of Amar Desh, was arrested by armed police from the newspaper office under a case filed by Md. Hashmat Ali at the Tejgaon Industrial Area Police Station. Police resorted to baton charging the protesting journalists in order to arrest Mahmudur Rahman.
  5. After arresting Mahmudur Rahman, a case was filed accusing over one hundred journalists and other office staff on the allegation of beating Sub Inspector Md. Shafiqul and obstructing government duty. Apart from Mahmudur Rahman, other accused persons were Sanjeeb Chowdhury, Abdal Ahmed, Zahed Chowdhury and Alauddin Arif.
  6. Earlier at around 9:00 am on June 1, 2010 the publisher of the newspaper, Md. Hashmat Ali, was allegedly picked up from his residence by the members of the National Security Intelligence (NSI). It is alleged that while sitting in the office of the NSI, Md. Hashmat Ali signed some blank sheets of paper and was then allowed to leave the office of that agency. The papers signed by Md. Hashmat Ali, now mention that although he handed over his shares of the newspaper sometime back to Mahmudur Rahman, the latter was still publishing Md. Hashmat Ali’s name as the publisher; and due to this he was sued for publishing certain reports along with Mahmudur Rahman. However, earlier an application had been submitted by Mahmudur Rahman to the Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka, to include his name as the publisher of Amar Desh by replacing the name of Md. Hashmat Ali. But the district administration cancelled his application after keeping it pending for a long time as per government instructions.
  7. It has been alleged that Mahmudur Rahman was taken to an unknown destination after his arrest. He was produced before the Court of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate following his arrest and the Court granted bail on the case filed by Hashmat Ali. The Court also ordered the police to question Mahmudur Rahman at the jail gate while police prayed for a five day remand. On June 2, 2010, the police baton charged an agitated group of people at the time of producing Mahmudur Rahman before the Magistrate Court. A case was filed with Kotwali Police Station on the same day of the allegation for beating policemen and accordingly the prosecution asked for seven-day remand by showing Mahmudur Rahman arrested under the same case. The Court granted three day remand under the Tejgaon Police Station case and one day remand under the Kotwali Police Station case.
  8. On June 6, 2010, Mahmudur Rahman was shown arrested in a pending case filed at Uttara Police Station under sections 6(1) of (kha)/8/9(1)/11/13 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2009 and also in a sedition case filed at the Airport Police Station under sections 121/ka, 124/ka and 114 of the Penal Code. The prosecution applied for a 20-day remand under Uttara and Airport Police Station cases and the Court granted a four-day remand in the Anti Terrorism Case under Uttara Model Police Station and another four day remand in the sedation case lodged at the Airport Police Station. Thus, Mahmudur Rahman was taken into remand for a total period of 12 days.
  9. On June 8, 2010, Mahmudur Rahman said in the Court that, “I have been tortured. I wanted to eat when I was hungry. But the police did not provide any food or even a drop of water. This government wants to kill me. I might not be able to survive.”12 He was again produced before the court on June 9, 2010 and was directed to be sent to Tejgaon Police Station under a three day remand however, he was taken to the Cantonment Police Station. On June 12, 2010, after being in remand for three days in relation to case No. 2 (6) 2010, under the Tejgaon Police Station, Mahmudur Rahman, was brought before the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate Kamrunnahar Rumi. He informed the Court that on the night of 10 June, 2010 at around 1.45 am, five men entered into his cell and forcefully removed his clothes. They then proceeded to jab him very hard with their elbows in his chest and back, whereupon he lost consciousness. When he regained his senses, he found himself lying in the room of the Second Officer of the Cantonment Police Station. He was sent to jail as the investigating officer at the Tejgaon Police Station did not appeal for further remand.
  10. Meanwhile the Metropolitan Magistrate Rashed Kabir ordered that the police take Mahmudur Rahman into remand after court custody under the case filed under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2009 following a prayer for remand on June 9, 2010. He was then taken to the Detective Branch office for interrogation and produced before the Court on June 16, 2010. The Court ordered that Mahmudur Rahman be sent to jail and undergo a full medical check-up as per the Jail Code. He then became ill in jail. On June 20, 2010, while undergoing treatment, Mahmudur Rahman was taken to the Detective Branch office again from the Dhaka Central Jail by the Detective Branch Police Inspector Manzur Murshed, who is investigating a sedation case lodged at the Airport Police Station, for interrogation. It was observed that when Mahmudur Rahman was going towards the van he could not walk properly and looked pale. Sources from the jail informed that Mahmudur Rahman has been suffering severe pain to his neck, head and feet due to torture.13
  11. On June 23, 2010 at about 6.30 in the morning, Mahmudur Rahman was taken to an unknown location for 'interrogation' in the custody of the investigating officer of the Detective Branch of Police Inspector Manzur Murshed. He was produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate Court of Mustfa Shahriar on June 24, 2010 where he mentioned that he was blindfolded and kept in a very small and dark room, handcuffed to the window bars from 7 am to 5 pm at the office of RAB-1. He questioned the court, “What is the definition of torture?” When he was detained in RAB-1 for interrogation he was forced to put his signature and thumb impression on blank papers. He was sent to the Dhaka Central Jail on June 24, 2010. On June 29, 2010, when his lawyer met him at the Dhaka Central Jail, he found him thin and ill. He was also complaining of pain at various parts of his body. His lawyer demanded his proper treatment at a specialized hospital.
  12. It is to be mentioned that five cases have been filed against Mahmudur Rahman after his arrest and he was shown arrested into a pending case.
  13. Odhikar is gravely concerned by the manner in which the cases have been filed against Mahmudur Rahman and the use of coercive techniques to break into the printing press to seal off the press and a newspaper office and to arrest an editor of a daily newspaper, allegedly without any arrest warrant. Odhikar also believes that the arrest of Mahmudur Rahman on such grounds will only add to the continuation of the suppression of the media by the State.
  14. Odhikar has been protesting against the Anti Terrorism Act of 2009 from the very beginning. Odhikar has always expressed its concern regarding the use of this repressive law to suppress dissenting voices.
  15. Torture in custody is a stern violation of human rights. Article 35(5) of the Constitution of Bangladesh states, "No person shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment". On October 5, 1998, Bangladesh ratified the UN Convention against Torture. But the government does not follow the obligations under this international convention.

B. Channel 1: closes down

  1. A private television channel, Channel 1 was shut down by the government on April 27, 2010. A three-member team of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission led by S M Shahiduzzaman, Director (Legal and Licensing) went to the Channel 1 office at Uday Tower in Gulshan and switched off its transmission on the ground that it used rented broadcasting equipment. The Post and Telecommunications Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju said, that Channel 1 had mortgaged its broadcasting equipment although the telecommunications law prohibited the transfer of frequency ownership and broadcasting equipment. As the owners failed to pay back the loan, its broadcasting equipment had been auctioned. Meanwhile Channel 1 authority claimed that the bank auctioned its equipment and a company won the bid, although the auction winner had not yet made the payment. Thus the channel still owned the equipment.
  2. The channel had more than 400 staff, including journalists, technicians and administrative officials. It is to be mentioned that Focus Multimedia Company Limited (CSB News) had been shut down for allegedly filing forged documents to obtain frequency allocation from the military backed ‘Caretaker’ government in August 2007.
  3. Although the regulatory control of the telecommunication sector is an issue, it is also linked to the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and conscience. Due process of law should be followed in a transparent manner.

C. Government blocks Facebook

  1. Despite the rhetoric of ‘Digital Bangladesh', on May 29, 2010, the Bangladesh government blocked access to Facebook. The decision came after the arrest of Mahbub Alam Rodin (30) for uploading satiric images of some leading politicians, including the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. A team of the Rab-10 detained Rodin at Ranking Street in Wari, Old Dhaka, at about 00:30 in the morning. Moreover, the government was embarrassed when the report of the Anisuzzaman Inquiry Commission regarding the BDR mutiny was put up in Facebook, where the names of some high ranking government officials were mentioned. On June 5, 2010, the government withdrew its restriction on Facebook due to negative public reaction.

D. Journalists under Attack

  1. Between January and June 2010, journalists have been attacked, assaulted and harassed in various ways. During this time, 02 journalists were killed, 52 were injured, 35 threatened and 29 were assaulted. 15 journalists were attacked.
  2. On May 21, 2010, the President of the Gazipur Pouro Awami League, Advocate Waziuddin Miah and several others attacked Sohrab Hossain, a physically disabled editor of the local Daily Mukto Khobor over the publication of a certain news item.
  3. Sayyed Nur, Farid Ullah and several other Chattra League activists led by the President of the Naikhongchori Chattra League, Taslim Iqbal, attacked Abul Bashar Noyon, the Naikhongchori, Bandarban representative of the Dailies Amardesh and Karnafuli. The Chattra League members also ransacked Noyon’s office located at ‘Media Palace’ adjacent to the Union Parishad, where Noyon was working when the attack took place. The attack was related to the publication of a certain news item on May 1, 2010.
  4. Senior journalist and regional correspondent of the Shaptahik 2000 in Sylhet Foteh Osmani, who was stabbed by a group of criminals on April 18, 2010, succumbed to his injuries at the Apollo Hospital in Dhaka on April 28, 2010. He was attacked with sharp weapons by criminals in front of the Eidgah in Sylhet while he was returning home from the Doladoli area of the city with a friend.
  5. The supporters of the Awami League-backed Chattra League attacked two journalists in the Dhaka University campus. On April 4, 2010, a group of activists of Awami League-backed Chattra League led by Sajid Jahan Saikot, President of S M Hall17 unit of Chattra League beat up Fayez Ahmed, reporter of the weekly ‘Budhbar’ and Anis Raihan, reporter of ‘Shaptahik’ in front of the Public Library on the Dhaka University Campus.
  6. On March 1, 2020, Monirul Islam, the Sharsha representative of the Daily Lokshamaj of Jessore was beaten with a hammer and was severely injured by 10-12 persons including Rashed, Monir, Samaul, Hamaj and Yunus who were all members of the Jubo League18. The Daily Lokshamaj published a series of articles disclosing the criminal activities and trade that went on in Sharsha.
  7. On February 23, 2010, Nurul Kabir, the Editor of New Age received death threats from an unidentified person.
  8. On February 14, 2010, Touhodi Hasan, the Kushtia representative of the Daily Prothom Alo and Sharif Biswash, the Kushtia representative of Desh TV were beaten in front of the police by the Chattra League19 of Kushtia Government College unit, when they had gone to the scene to report the shutting down of the admission process by the members of the Chattra League.
  9. Odhikar expresses deep concern over the attacks and threats by the political activists, mostly supported by the government party on journalists who are engaged in their job. It demands that those responsible be immediately brought before justice and punished.

Courtesy:
 Odhikar, a human rights group in Bangladesh. Available online at:http://www.odhikar.org/documents/2010/English_Reports/6_monthly_report%20_%20Jan-June_2010.pdf  
   
   
 

IX: RULING PARTY’S CHHATRA LEAGUE: THEIR REIGN OF TERROR  
[When public outrage was at its height, the AL general secretary and the LGRD minister Syed Ashraful Islam, presumably to deflect public anger, had said that the Islami Chhatra Shibir had penetrated Chhatra League… Unfortunately, no one believed him. At least, not the poor, not the meek, nor the law-abiding citizen...They knew that if they had committed any of these excesses, they would have had to pay. They knew that to get away with any of these excesses, you’d have to belong to Chhatra League, writes Rahnuma Ahmed] 

Apnader kacche desh boro, na Chhatra League boro? If anyone had asked the Awami League leaders this question right after the national elections in December 2008, they would have — without a shred of doubt — chorused, desh. Desh. 
 
 
In all likelihood, they would have added, with utter indignation, How on earth can you even think of asking such a question? It is true undoubtedly for ahem those parties, those utterly corrupt ones which had led the previous government, i.e., the BNP-Jamaat government, you know, the ones that brought the country to ruin. Those whom the people resoundingly defeated in the elections... Why yes, their student wings were corrupt. Their leaders and followers were downright thugs, from top to bottom. They have nearly-wrecked the glorious tradition of our public universities. They worked closely with criminal syndicates, under the patronage of the infamous Hawa Bhaban. It is they, these evil forces, who are self-serving, they don’t love the nation. Not one bit. And well, there’s no point in asking about the Jamaat separately, what else can you expect of those who were opposed to the birth of Bangladesh? Their student wing, those Islami Chhatra Shibir guys, the rog kata bahini, going around cutting tendons. Absolutely barbaric. But again, what else can one expect of rajakars and al-Badrs... the previous political party government, the BNP-Jamaat government, it is they who sacrificed the nation on the altar of progress, development and democracy. 
   
Whereas we, we are the party that won independence in 1971. Our student organisation, the Bangladesh Chhatra League was established before the Bangladesh Awami League itself, so, no, there can be no doubt... why, the BCL is part and parcel of the nation. Of its history. If you ignore the BCL, you ignore the nation’s historic struggles for democracy, you ignore the liberation war itself. The very birth of the nation. Both the AL and the BCL, we are devoted to the nation. We are indistinguishable from the nation. [We are the nation]. 
   
But soon enough, this glorious Awami League narrative began to suffer from hiccups. What BCL unleashed was so severe that Sheikh Hasina was obliged to step aside as its organisational leader last April. After the death of two students. Many more injured. Kicking out opponents to occupy and establish control over student halls of residence. Brandishing arms and firearms to establish supremacy. Turf wars between the BCL factions over leadership. Preventing contractors from submitting bid documents for purchasing equipment, for doing construction work. Within campus, outside campus. Extortion. Grabbing haat-ghat-math-pukur-nodi-nala... as the list of places being occupied kept getting longer, the prime minister expressed her disapproval. She stepped aside. She even refused to grant top BCL leaders who had rushed over, presumably to squirm apologetically until they regained her favour, an audience. At least that’s what the newspapers reported. 
   
Was it a good idea? Did her strong disapproval instil the fear of God in the BCL hearts? Did it prevent them from doing whatever they were doing? Make them mend their ways? Come to their senses? 
   
Whatever the intent of the prime ministerial gossha, it has largely proven to be ineffective. This has raised a pertinent question in public minds: if the most high-ranking national leader cannot gauge the effect of her disapproval, why express it? Why bother? Why not do something else, something that will be effective? Some go a step further. The disapproval, they think, was for public consumption only. Whatever be their faults and blemishes, the Awami League and the PM need the Chhatra League. 
   
But the BCL members have been the targets of violence, too. Faruque Hossain, a Rajshahi university student, was killed and dumped in a manhole. According to newspaper reports, by Islami Chhatra Shibir activists. Incidents of sporadic violence have occurred between the BCL and the ICS students on other campuses as well. These have spread elsewhere. Such as the Pabna Press Club incident. Two mess quarters where the ICS students lived had been set on fire, allegedly by the BCL cadres. As a mark of protest, the ICS had called a press conference at the local press club. Local-level administration and police hurriedly advised the press club to cancel the event. The ICS agreed to the cancellation. But outraged the BCL activists insisted on turning up. On ransacking the rooms of the press club. On assaulting journalists. 
   
Of course, it is no use blaming the BCL alone for what student fronts, particularly those belonging to ruling political parties, do. It is systemic, practised by all student fronts except those largely belonging to the left tradition. Here is a list of these ‘excesses,’ diligently compiled and published in a recent Shaptahik-2000 feature. Its writer has added, the list is far from complete (January 29, 2010):

  • Picking a fight for no reason but to display superior physical/armed prowess
  • Asserting control by whatever means, including killing one’s opponent
  • Taking protection money from contractors
  • Forcibly evicting tender competitors (tenderbaji)
  • Illegal VOIP connection
  • Forcibly stripping and photographing a girlfriend
  • Drug dealing (phensedyl, yaba)
  • Setting up adulterated pharmaceutical company
  • Manufacturing forged documents (licences, passports)
  • Using the names of leaders, even dead ones, for extortion
  • Holding fierarms high, shooting blank rounds during processions and rallies
  • Kidnapping neighbor’s daughter
  • Breaking out convicts from police custody
  • Extorting money from seller of land
  • Extorting money from buyer of land
  • Taking protection money from contractors
  • Beating up public works and water development engineer
  • Assaulting a UNO, threatening him with death
  • Grabbing land allocated for landless
  • Evicting a martyred freedom-fighter’s wife from her house
  • Cutting off a ear for insufficient applause to leader’s speech
  • Blockading roads for extortion
  • Raping and extorting money from sex-worker
  • Illegally renting out government billboard space
  • Grabbing river banks
  • Commandeering government land for political party
  • Leaning on police to file cases
  • Leaning on police to withdraw cases
  • Threatening teacher with gun to pass exams
  • Counterfeiting money
  • Severing tendons of arms and legs, plucking out eyeballs
  • Beating up a good student for attending exams
  • Blackmarketing
  • Extorting money from korbani cattle market
  • Grabbing korbani cattle-hide at throwaway price

An imposing list undoubtedly. Other excesses can easily be added. Such as, what-has-come-to-be-known as admission trade (better named, admission ‘profiteering’). Three city colleges—Dhaka College, Eden Women’s University College, Kobi Nazrul College—reportedly netted the BCL leadership one crore taka this year. Admissions could be purchased for Tk 20-25,000.

When public outrage was at its height, the AL general secretary and the LGRD minister Syed Ashraful Islam, presumably to deflect public anger, had said that the Islami Chhatra Shibir had penetrated Chhatra League. The BCL, he had claimed, was ‘neither our front organization nor our associate organization.’ Unfortunately, no one believed him. At least, not the poor, not the meek, nor the law-abiding citizen. In other words, the majority. They knew that if they had committed any of these excesses, they would have had to pay. They knew that to get away with any of these excesses, you’d have to belong to Chhatra League.  

Sahara Khatun’s attempts at explanation were similarly unsuccessful. When Abu Bakr Siddique, a Dhaka university student was killed this February as a result of factional fighting between BCL groups, the home minister had told the press, These are isolated incidents. It is no big deal. These things happen. What is more important is what steps we are taking...’ Steps? None. Obaidul Kader, Awami League MP and Presidium member, however, had sounded pretty honest when he had blurted out, The way Chhatra League is proceeding, it seems neither allopathy, nor homeopathy, nothing short of surgery will work.

While the prime minister recently expressed dismay at the Chhatra League’s excesses. I feel sad when I read the news, she had said. This led BCL activists to promptly beat up journalists, of Shaptahik-2000, Budhbar. 

A very literal understanding, No bad news. No sad PM. But once again questions have arisen: why does the PM insist on doing that which is either ineffective or easily misunderstood. 

Courtesy: The NewAge, April 12, 2010. The nation or Chhatra League...? 
http://www.newagebd.com/2010/apr/12/edit.html 
   
   
 

X: THOUGHTS ON RU INCIDENT: UNTOLD FACTS 
Irresponsible, undemocratic and dictatorial statements of government ministers and what Awami-Chhatra-Jubo League cadres have been doing all over the country over the death of a student at Rajshahi University on 9 Feb 2010 greatly baffle the nation. A section of the media has launched an all-out propaganda that Chattra League man Faruk Hossain was killed and few others were injured by Shibir activists, while it is still uncertain who killed him. Shibir leaders have categorically denied such involvement and iterated that intra-party conflict within the Chattra League cadres of RU left one of them dead and few other wounded. Police’s mysterious role and complicity has also been referred to by Jamaat-Shibir people and questioned by some media.  

Without any certainty about the identity of the perpetrators of the murder of Faruk Hossain, on the provocation of the people in power, police allegedly shot dead a Shibir activist in Chapainobabgonj apparently to be in the good books of the ruling party, while the terrorists of Chattra League chopped a bright Shibir worker of Chittagong University to death when he was on his way back to his dormitory after doing his usual tuition duties. Many Jamaat-Shibir people have been attacked and badly wounded at their homes and in the street, many Jamaat-Shibir offices have been burnt and vandalized and many educational institutions run by them have been damaged, leaving many traumatized and tortured and many parts of the country in lawlessness. Such misdeeds are continuing. While the murder of Faruk is being highlighted with hype, the atrocities and havoc wreaked by Awami-Chhatra-Jubo League people are under-reported and under-emphasized.  

On the same day when Faruk was killed, BNP councilor Ahamad Hossain of Dhaka City Corporation Ward-70 was murdered as he was leaving masjid, robbers looted a residence at East Goran in Dhaka and killed an old woman of the family, ruling party extortionists beat up and shot on the right leg of a businessman named Alamgir Hossain in Chougachha of Jessore as he refused to pay toll and as he sought police help, about 30 people were injured as factions of Awami League clashed in Narayanganj and Chuadanga. The list of such incidents occurred on the day Faruk died goes on. Days before, Abubakar Siddique, a meritorious student of Dhaka University hailing from a poor farmer family had to give his life for the factional clashes of Chhatra League in Sir AF Rahman Hall of the University; only a month ago, a Bangladesh Chhatra Maitree leader Rejanul Islam Chowdhury Sunny was killed in broad daylight by Chhatra League hooligans at the campus of Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute; months ago, the general secretary of Shibir unit of Rajshahi University, Sharifuzzaman Nomani was killed by Chhatra League cadres at the University. Chhatra League activists of Dhaka's Cantonment unit killed their leader AKM Faruk Hossain on 12 Feb 2010.  

No investigation committee was formed and no arrest was made after the death of Sunny and Nomani. Nor did those deaths make big newspaper headlines for consecutive days. In the last few decades about 135 Shibir leaders and activists were killed in different educational institutions of Bangladesh and many of them by Chhatra League. According to a report by a pro-Awami League English daily, the Daily Star (10 Feb 2010), since Awami League took office on 6 January 2009, at least five students have been killed and hundreds injured across the country, and all involving Chhatra League.  

No murder or violence committed by Chhatra League prompted any call for banning its politics, there was no mobilization of police forces, no police officer was suspended for negligence of duties, no ministers appeared on the media with a declaration of war on the criminals, no ministers called on the police to launch a crack-down on Chhatra League, no offices of Awami-Chhatra-Jubo League were attacked or burnt down, no senior police officer had to rush to the scene, so on and so forth. The list of such nonaction upon the ooliganism of Chhatra League goes on. This non-action is not only the fact with regard to Chhatra League; it is also very much true with regard to the regular murders of Bangladeshi citizens by BSF. We hear almost nothing from the Prime Minister and from other senior people of the government over the routine killings of Bangladeshis by Indian border security forces in the border region. While internally the blood of Awami-Chhatra- ubo League is more precious than that of the rest of the people of Bangladesh, externally the blood of Bangladeshis does not count much in the Awami imagination when it is shed by the ‘friendly’ neighbour. Whose interest is this government serving? Which country do Awami ministers belong to? Who voted them to power and who are now using them? 

Since the Awami regime came to power, hundreds of Shibir activists only of Dhaka University have been ousted from their dormitories and many of them cannot come to the campus. Many of them were attacked even in the exam halls of Dhaka University while the panicked Shibir students were sitting for exam, and that in the presence of helpless teachers. Torture of Shibir students by Chhatra League at the DU campus has become a regular taken-for-granted incident. Scared Shibir students do not want to open their mouths fearing that reporting such tortures would thwart their education, while a great number of Shibir students abandoned their education at Dhaka University. Only few weeks ago, the central president of Chhatra Dal was severely attacked by Chhatra League cadres at Dhaka University, in which the Proctor of the University was also seriously wounded and admitted to a hospital. Democracy for Shibir students in many places in Bangladesh is non-existent. All these undemocratic practices of hostile parties and all these tortures on Shibir boys make their conviction and loyalty to Shibir only stronger, which Awami League’s arrogance does not let its affiliates understand.  

If students involved in Shibir were murderous and violent, it would first be reflected within the fabric of the organization. But the opposite is true. Since the birth of Shibir, there has not been a single incident of factional clashes among Shibir men. In all the places where Shibir is dominant, there has not been a single incident of money extortion by Shibir people. A look at, and comparison with, other student organizations will tell much louder about the character of Shibir people. These facts are Shibir’s strength. Awami-Chhatra-Jubo League violence on Shibir and media disinformation on the organization will one day be exposed; but what Shibir stands for will remain and may triumph. 

Courtesy: Shimul Chaudhury, SonarBangladesh.com, Published: 2010-02-22.
   
   
 

XI: WAR CRIME TRIBUNAL IN BANGLADESH: A MOCKERY AND MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE  

Though Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) got its independence from Pakistan in 1971 following a bloody war, it seems that some issues of the past are still inflicting the nation. Today, the country is ready to try the ‘war criminals’  not of Pakistani forces but of its own people who opposed the idea of an independent Bangladesh and fought for a united Pakistan.  

Though the government of Bangladesh is quite adamant in prosecuting the war criminals through a recently-established special tribunal, doubts and skepticisms regarding a free and fair trial are mounting from home and abroad. Recently, the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), a coalition of major national Islamic organizations, held a news conference on 22 March 2010 in the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to call for ending, among other things, ‘suppression of political oppositions and wrongful accusation and persecution of Islamic leaders for so-called "war crime".’ A petition signed by AMT Chair Dr. Agha Saeed was also sent to the Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. International Bar Association (IBA) also found about a dozen loopholes in The Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973, by which the accused would be tried (bdnews24.com, Dhaka, 14 March 2010). Therefore, despite the government’s commitment to assuring a fair and free trial, the whole move remains largely contested.

The AMT, along with other keen observers, think that the government is deliberately targeting a particular political party, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (BJI), the largest mainstream liberal Islamic party of the country that formed coalition government with Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) during 2001-2006. They claim that Bangladesh Awami League (BAL), the party in power, came up with a plan to try the “war criminals” of 1971 and accordingly have created a discourse in which they have selectively targeted only the leaders of the BJI. The current regime’s abhorrent human rights records and prosecution of opposition have been presented and criticized by, among others, Amnesty International (http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/bangladesh) and the US State Department in its 2008 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh(http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/sca/119132.htm).  

It is evident in history, however, that war crimes, alongside grievous oppression of civilians were committed in the 1971 war by the Pakistani forces and some of their local allies. Following the independence of Bangladesh, 195 Pakistani army officers were identified as war criminals in the preliminary investigation by the then Bangladesh government. Following the Simla Agreementsigned on 2nd July 1972 between Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, President of Pakistan, a number of agreements were signed between India and Pakistan regarding repatriation of the POWs. On 9th April 1974, an Agreement was signed between Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan in New Delhi in which, among other issues, the question of trial of the 195 POWs was raised and finally it was decided that they would be repatriated to Pakistan along with the other prisoners without trial (The Daily Tribune, Wisconsin, 10 April 1974). For better understanding, paragraph 15 of the 1974 Agreement is quoted below: 
“In the light of the foregoing and, in particular, having regard to the appeal of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to the people of Bangladesh to forgive and forget the mistakes of the past, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh stated that the Government of Bangladesh had decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency. It was agreed that the 195 prisoners of war may be repatriated to Pakistan along with the other prisoners of war now in process of repatriation under the Delhi Agreement.”   

It is, however, noteworthy that the identified war criminals did not include anybody from BJI. On 24 January 1972, the government of Bangladesh enacted another law to try those who did not side with the liberation war or politically opposed the call of liberation war or willingly cooperated with the Pakistan Army or committed criminal acts. It was called the Collaborators Act, 1972. More than a hundred thousand persons were arrested under that Act. Of them, 37,471 persons were charged. Another 30,623 could not be prosecuted for lack of evidence. A total of 2,848 were brought to trial. Of them, 752 were found guilty. The remaining 2,096 accused persons were found not guilty and freed. Taking into account the overall situation (of discontent) obtaining in the country, in November 1973 the Government of Bangladesh under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared a general amnesty. By virtue of the general amnesty, those accused or convicted for minor crimes under the Act were all set free. But those accused of rape, murder, arson or plunder were not pardoned. In other words, the general amnesty kept the scope of prosecution and trial of those accused of such serious crimes under the Act. On December 31, 1975, the Collaborators Act was repealed by a Presidential Order. After the amnesty, the Act remained in force for a little over two years. In that period, no case was filed for the said four serious offences. Perhaps that was the logic behind repeal of the law in 1975 by the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the country.  

Though BJI politically supported a united Pakistan, none of their leaders was ever convicted of war crimes. BJI claims that the government is conducting a “hate campaign against some individuals before any charge has been brought against them, let alone be proved in the court of law”, and they, along with other observers, apprehend that the tribunal will thus simply be a kangaroo court. BJI also claims that “while the issue of war crimes was resolved internationally (through Simla Agreement) and nationally (through Collaboration Act), bringing it up again shows that it is highly politically motivated. Moreover, Bangladesh judiciary is now being subjugated by the current regime and therefore a fair judgment is absolutely unexpected from this politically motivated trial” (Daily Amar Desh, 16 February 2010).

The skepticism and doubts about a free and fair trial remain largely intact because of some fundamental reasons: First, the tribunal will not try the actual war criminals, the 195 Pakistani army officers who were identified as war criminals but got released after a tri-party agreement between Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Second, it will not try the Awami League cadres or freedom fighters that brutally killed many innocent people particularly Bihari Muslims in 1971. Third, it intends to try only some“collaborators” belonging to an opposition political party who supported a united Pakistan but do not have any proven record of war crimes, such as killing, rape, burning etc. Fourth, as International Bar Association (IBA) thinks, the act does not guarantee any free and fair justice and protection for the convicted ones. Finally, the current regime itself has a long record of injustice (such as 154 extra-judicial killings in 2009) as well as the manipulation of the legal apparatus and therefore expectation of a fare and free trial is a mere dream from this regime.  

The whole move of the government is therefore interpreted by the international communities as nothing but an extreme political vendetta and is intended to subdue the opposition party/parties. The regime has already started a nation-and-worldwide campaign for this trial and against BJI and obstructed the free movement and overseas travel of the BJI leaders. If this highly disputed trial goes, Bangladesh will certainly enter into another dark chapter of political chaos, uncertainties, and most likely a new civil war. If the trial is to go, the government must ensure a free and fair trial beyond any doubt. The best way is to form an international tribunal under the auspices of the United Nations. It will not only provide a credibility of the current regime, but also remains as a reference for trying other war crimes committed elsewhere.    

Courtesy: Holiday International, April 02, 2010.  
   
   
 

XII: WAR CRIME TRIBUNAL: WHY IS IT A KANGAROO COURT? 
The skepticism and doubts about a free and fair trial remain largely intact. The law under which those people (the opposition political leaders) are set to be tried is called The International Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973. The tribunal will simply be a “Kangaroo Court” because of the following reasons:

  1. The Evidence Act [1872 (I of 1872)] and the Criminal Procedure Code [1898 (V of 1898)] application have been excluded by section 23 of the International Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973. Therefore, newspaper reports and hearsay evidence will be accepted.
  2. International Bar Association (IBA) has found out at least 17 loopholes in International Crimes (Tribunal) Act, 1973. The act does not guarantee any free and fair justice and protection for the convicted ones.
  3. Most of the judges and prosecutors are former party men of ruling coalition and hardcore supporters of the current regime, according to various authentic reports.
  4. The tribunal will try ‘crime against humanity’ rather than ‘war crime’. Crimes against humanity described in section 3(2)(a) are very easy to prove through producing false witness-evidences in a domestic perspective and international community may be deceived.  On the other hand, section 3(2)(d) describes ‘war crimes’ which will be very difficult to prove, as all players including India, Pakistan, Mukti-bahini all will come under the purview of the established (and clear) international standard of law. 'War', ‘insurgency’, 'civil war' and other related terms will play a huge legal role in case of ‘war crime’. It is easy to manipulate a witness for 'crime against humanity' than for ‘war crime’.
  5. The Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee as well as Fact Findings Committee have, according to various sources, already produced ‘concocted evidences’ through inducement and threat. All these false but professionally prepared evidences will be accepted in this tribunal.
  6. Media trial of some people has been completed by constant propaganda. A list of ‘war criminals’ has already been prepared before any investigation begins. The list ironically includes some people who were even 4-8 years of old in 1971!
  7. The tribunal will not try the actual war criminals, the 195 Pakistani army officers who were identified as war criminals but got released after a tri-party agreement between Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.
  8. It will not try the Awami League cadres or freedom fighters, who also committed war crimes, including brutally killing many innocent people particularly Bihari Muslims in 1971.
  9. It intends to try only some collaborators targeting an opposition political party who supported a united Pakistan; but belong to neither the cohort of 195 identified war criminals nor of 752 guilty ones identified under the Collaborators Act, 1972.
  10. Finally, the current regime itself has a long record of ‘crime against humanity’ (such as 154 extra-judicial killings in 2009) as well as the manipulation of the legal apparatus and therefore expectation of a fare and free trial is a mere dream from this regime.
  11. The government is dictating the tribunal and it literally has power to determine which offence allegation it will take into consideration depending on investigation. It will certainly be a sham trial to prosecute the political opponents! Fair trial is not possible except under UN and under neutral judges of the democratic countries.

Courtesy:
 Professor Abu Rawsab (PhD), based in Canada, can be reached at: aburawsab@gmail.com 
   
   
 

XIII: REPORT from U.S. Department of state: SOME EXCERPTS:  

  1. Although levels of violence declined significantly and the caretaker government oversaw successful elections, the government's human rights record remained a matter of serious concern, in part due to the state of emergency that remained in place for most of the year and the failure to fully investigate extrajudicial killings… they committed serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings, custodial deaths, arbitrary arrest and detention, and harassment of journalists. Some members of security forces acted with impunity and committed acts of physical and psychological torture. Violence against women and children remained a serious problem, as did trafficking in persons.
  2. Security forces committed numerous extrajudicial killings. The police, Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), the military, and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) sometimes used unwarranted lethal force…the government and military did not take any public measures to investigate these cases.
  3. The number of killings by the police and combined security forces also increased. According to local human rights organizations, no case resulted in criminal punishment, and, in the few instances in which the government levied charges, those found guilty generally received administrative punishment.
  4. According to reports published by the media, local human rights organizations, and the government, the RAB–-a paramilitary unit composed primarily of seconded personnel from different law enforcement agencies--killed 68 persons during the year.
  5. According to reports in the media, from local human rights organizations, and from the government, law enforcement officials were responsible for 149 deaths, 136 of which were attributed to crossfire. ..The RAB accounted for 65 "crossfire" killings; members of the police were responsible for 50; combined security units comprising RAB and police were responsible for 15; and the coast guard, Bangladesh Rifles, and Joint Forces committed a combined six crossfire killings. Since 2004 when the Minister for Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs stated that crossfire deaths under RAB or police custody could not be considered custodial death, the government has not disclosed publicly any prosecution of a RAB officer in a killing.
  6. [T]here were 116 deaths in custody during the year, including 66 deaths in prison. For example, on June 18, according to Odhikar and eyewitness accounts, officers from the RAB 12 shot and killed Abdur Rashid Malitha and Nasima Akhtar Rikta in Baradi, Kushtia. According to family members and the RAB, Malitha was a founder of the Purbo Bangla Communist Party-Marxist Leninist (PBCP-ML) Janajuddha. Several RAB officers conducted the raid after investigating a number of muggings in the area that had been linked to Malitha. According to Malitha's brother, Golam Hossain Akash, who was present during the raid, RAB officers shot both victims at point blank range. Akash died eight days later in the custody of RAB 12, although he was not wanted on any charges. The physician who conducted Malitha and Rikta’s post-mortems stated that there were six bullet wounds to Malitha's chest and ribs, that Rikta's skull was blown away, and that there was a bullet wound on Rikta's leg. RAB officers claimed they returned fire when they entered a home and Malitha and Rikta were killed during the exchange. A RAB officer confirmed Rikta was not wanted on any charges. The government did not investigate the case.
  7. On June 28, according to investigations by local human rights organizations, police officers from Mirpur Police Station killed Anwar Hossain in a brick field in Housepur. On June 26, two police officers and eight to 10 men in civilian clothing arrested Hossain. The Mirpur police stated he was killed in a shootout between police and "extremists" and refused to comment on his arrest. The doctor who performed the autopsy would not comment on the circumstances of the death, but a morgue assistant reportedly noted that there was one bullet wound on the left side of Hossain's head and two in his chest, as well as signs that the victim had been blindfolded. The government did not investigate the case.
  8. The wife of Khabirul Islam, whom a naval contingent abused and killed in February 2007, filed a complaint against the naval personnel and challenged the post-mortem finding that her husband had committed suicide. According to human rights organizations, she abandoned the case due to intimidation from unknown parties and lack of funds.
  9. The government did not take any further action to investigate the March 2007 killing of Choilesh Ritchil by army personnel in Madhupur or the May 2007 killing of Mohammad Kamran Islam Mojnu by members of RAB 5 battalion.
  10. There were no updates available concerning the March 2006 killing of Iman Ali by RAB members in Dhaka, nor the September 2006 killings of Abdul Hawladar and Mohammad Shamin in Khulna by RAB members.
  11. There were fewer politically motivated killings than in previous years, largely due to the state of emergency that suspended most political activities. According to Odhikar, 50 deaths were suspected of being politically motivated.
  12. On July 15, officers from RAB 8 in Dhaka arbitrarily arrested and killed Moshiul Alam Sentu, an activist in the BNP's student wing, the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD). The RAB claimed Sentu was accused in several murder cases and had an illegal cache of weapons. Sentu's family contended the charges were politically motivated and he had been acquitted in all of the cases. Sentu's family stated they had been warned in advance that he would be killed "in a crossfire" and had paid a bribe of 300,000 taka ($4,500) to Major AKM Mamunur Rashid Mamun to prevent his death. Shortly thereafter, Mamun reportedly assured her that her son would not be mistreated. Early the following day, however, eyewitnesses observed RAB officers dumping Sentu's body in a paddy field in Barisal city, south of Dhaka. The body had two bullet wounds in the chest and another in the leg. Sentu's neck was severely bruised and possibly broken, as was his left hand, indicating possible torture. RAB 8 later stated it had taken Sentu to Barisal to recover a cache of hidden arms and he was killed in "crossfire" when the RAB team encountered fire from Sentu's associates. HRW issued a statement urging the government to prosecute the officials responsible for killing Sentu and others "to the full extent of the law." The government did not conduct any further investigations.
  13. On July 27, according to HRW and Odhikar, police in Naogaon killed Dr. Mizanur Rahman Tutu (also known as Tutul), a physician and leader of the PBCP-ML. Authorities claimed there were many cases against him, including involvement in several killings of police officers and political figures, though the local police superintendent stated there were no charges filed. The autopsy indicated that Tutu had been shot three times, that he had been tied up, and that there were signs of excessive blood loss, suggesting abuse prior to death. Odhikar condemned Tutu's killing, stating the police had conflated his identity with a criminal named Tutul who had died several years earlier and had targeted Tutul because of his political affiliation. There were no updates in the investigation of the 2007 killing of Azibor Rahman or the 2006 killing of Aftab Ahmad.  
  14. Media reported that Home Affairs Adviser Gen. M.A. Matin ordered police to reinvestigate the 2005 death of Awami League parliamentarian and former Finance Minister Shah AMS Kibria. In March 2007 the Caretaker Government stated that it would open a new investigation, but that effort stalled due to alleged lack of personnel. Matin rejected that argument and ordered the reinvestigation, which was ongoing at year's end.
  15. Disappearances and kidnappings remained problems during the year. According to Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR), 504 persons were kidnapped during the year. An indeterminate number of these kidnappings were politically motivated. According to press reports, on September 26, pirates kidnapped more than 40 fishermen from the Kachikhali coast of Pathorghata. The victims were taken to an undisclosed location in the Sundarbans mangrove forest in southwest Bangladesh and held for a ransom of 1,000,000 taka ($14,700). The coast guard made several attempts to rescue the kidnapping victims but was unsuccessful.
  16. According to press reports and the individual's relatives, on November 26, RAB officers arrested and allegedly disappeared Jubo League leader Liakat Hossain. Hossain had been arrested in 2003 after being labeled as one of the country’s "23 top criminals," but received bail from the High Court on September 4. On December 2, the High Court instructed the government to notify it within 72 hours of his whereabouts. The government did not take further action.
  17. The government did not take steps to investigate the February 2007 kidnapping of Abdul Aziz, the June 2007 kidnapping of two Danish Aid Agency employees, or the May 2006 disappearance of Tera Mia.
  18. Although the constitution prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment, security forces, including the RAB, military, and police, frequently employed severe physical and psychological abuse during arrests and interrogations. According to human rights organizations, the use of such techniques increased in 2007 after the interim government declared the state of emergency, but the number of incidents declined by 60 percent during the year. Abuse consisted of threats, beatings, and the use of electric shock. According to human rights organizations, security forces tortured 12 people to death. The government rarely charged, convicted, or punished those responsible, and a climate of impunity allowed such abuses by the RAB, police, and military to continue.
  19. For example, on March 7, according to Odhikar, police arrested and tortured Abul Hossain Dahli in Botiyaghata Police Station. Odhikar reported that a few hours after Dahli's arrest, police declared he had committed suicide. Relatives who claimed the body questioned apparent bruises, burn marks, the lack of markings on the neck consistent with hanging, and the layout of the cell, which would have made hanging difficult. Relatives also claimed the family had been offered 15,000 taka ($220) not to file a case. On March 20, Dahli's family filed a case and the head of the government committee investigating the incident agreed that police negligence was undeniable. At year's end, however, the government had not investigated the case further.
  20. On March 18, according to Odhikar and witness accounts, officers from RAB 8 arrested and tortured Md. Afzal Khan in Sharlatpur District. According to witness accounts, RAB officers arrested Khan at the Mahmudpur Bazaar, where they interrogated him about an alleged illegal arms cache and beat him with sticks, rifles, stones, and hammers. That night, police admitted Khan to Shariatpur Sadar Hospital, where he died the following day. According to Afzal's father, Afzal had a broken neck, wounds on his face and skull, an inflated stomach allegedly due to trampling, and cut veins in his legs.
  21. On April 13, according to Odhikar, police arrested Fakir Chan in Maulvibazar on charges of mugging. Chan's wife claimed that she did not have access to her husband while he was in custody and that a police officer told her that her husband would be released if she paid a 50,000 taka ($735) bribe. On April 19, police alleged that Chan fell ill and died while in custody. According to a doctor at the Narayanganj Hospital, several plainclothes policemen dropped off Chan's body at the emergency division of the hospital and refused to answer questions about his identity. The doctor conducting the autopsy stated that he saw marks on Chan's wrists and other marks on the body suggesting Chan had been hanged by his wrists and beaten. Authorities removed Superintendent Saiful Islam, Assistant Superintendent of Police Jannatul Hasan, Mamunur Rashid, and Babul Akhtar from their duty stations. No additional legal action had been taken at year's end.
  22. According to human rights organizations, there were at least five recorded incidents of rape and sexual abuse by law enforcement personnel. For example, on July 2, according to Odhikar, RAB member Abdul Gaffur raped a 14-year-old girl in Sonargaon, Narayanganj. Local police arrested Gaffur, who was awaiting trial at year's end. On July 30, Police Sub-Inspector Rezaul Karim allegedly raped a young girl who had been collecting trash at a railway station in Kamlapur, Dhaka. The government did not investigate the case.
  23. Authorities did not investigate the January 2007 torture of Shahidul Islam, director of the NGO Uttaran, or the June 2007 torture cases of Mohammad Jamal Uddin and Mohammad Kajol. There were no developments concerning the May 2007 rape case against Sub-Inspector Nuruzzaman of Karimgonj, nor the August 2007 rape case against Sub-Inspector Abdul Mannan of Mirpur.
  24. The prison system remained abysmal due to overcrowding, inadequate facilities, and the lack of proper sanitation. Local human rights observers considered these conditions to be contributing factors to custodial deaths. According to international and local human rights organizations and eyewitness accounts, after the declaration of a state of emergency, security forces including the military held detainees in sub-standard ad hoc Joint Forces and military camps of the military intelligence agency, the Directorate General-Forces Intelligence (DGFI).
  25. According to Odhikar, 66 persons died in prison and 50 persons died in the custody of police and other security forces during the year. Of the total number who died, three died due to lack of proper care and 46 died of unnatural causes.
  26. According to the government, the existing prison population as of December 31 was 75,480, or more than 278 percent of its official capacity of 27,146. Of the entire prison population, approximately one-third of the detainees had been convicted; the rest were either awaiting trial or detained for investigation. Due to the severe backlog of cases, individuals awaiting trial had often spent more time in jail than if they had been convicted and served a maximum sentence. In most cases, prisoners slept in shifts because of the overcrowding and did not have adequate bathroom facilities.
Source: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, February 25, 2009, Available at: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/sca/119132.htm 
   
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