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Reasons for collective actions to shield Mahmudur Rahman from Awami regime's cruel exercise of power

Edit Date:7/21/2010 12:00:00 AM


Shimul Chaudhury
19 June 2010

It appears that Sheikh Hasina's government has a sinister plan to continue torturing editor Mahmudur Rahman in the name of legal proceedings. What is most worrying is that the Supreme Court (including the High Courst and Appellate divisions) is on holiday till 3 July 2010. If the repressive regime takes this long vacation as an opportunity to persecute this  patriotic man in police custody, freedom loving people in Bangladesh and beyond have a very good reason to feel disturbed. 

On a personal note, let me make it very clear that I am not a member of any political groups in Bangladesh. But I have deep respect for Mr Rahman, as I know that he has been honest and brave in exposing the wrongdoings of the people in power. When many columnists remained largely silent and exercised self-censorship during the last army-backed government, he was the one to write relentlessly against human rights violations during those two years. He was the man to challenge them! After Awami League came to power, he continued writing for the betterment of his country and against India's political and economic hegemony in the region and against the Bangladesh government's subservient policies. 

Recently I contacted a lawyer who has been partly involved in handling Mr Rahman's case. This is what he said to me: 

"He [Mahmudur Rahman] was taken to an unknown place, eyes were folded, he was undressed, tortured,,,,was not allowed to sign a letter of authority for  'appointment of lawyer' (it was later allowed), he was kept in police custody without food and drink for long hours, he was not allowed to see his lawyers / family members for over 24 hours. He was arrested on 1 June, by now he has lost his weight @ 7 Kgs, he was taken on police custody for interrogation in criminal cases which were filed after he had been arrested!!!.....his life is endangered. Please see the reports (Naya Diganta, Amar Desh, others 3 June - 15 June). His very arrest was unlawful. He said to his lawyers/family members and even to the Court that he had been brutally tortured: physically and mentally....starvation, inhuman and degrading treatments in violation of all norms of human rights, constitutional safeguards....all have taken place by now...."
Upon court appearance, Mr Rahman told the judge that he was not supposed to be alive after what he had gone through in police custody and asked the judge to save his life. 

Historically, Awami League, the political party currently in power in Bangladesh has always been against freedom of the press. On June 16, 1975, the then Awami League government had closed all newspapers except four under government control and banned all other political groups. Since this regime came to power in early 2009, it has kept torturing people of opposition political groups, threatening journalists and shut down television channels like Channel 1and Jamuna TV, and the second most widely-circulated newspaper Amar Desh.

What I have gathered after reading different news stories on Mr Mahmudur Rahman's arrest and tortures on him is that: He was severely tortured by unidentified five people in one early morning in the name of remand; he was blindfolded, stripped naked. When those men started torturing him, he fainted and remained senseless for many hours. He was questioned not about the issues relating to his cases; but about other extra-judicial matters. 

People in Bangladesh believe that Mr Rahman has been the target mainly for his writings where he talked about the regime's complicity in the killings of about 60 army officers in February 2009 and about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's son Joy's involvement in financial corruptions. 

I most humbly request all to do whatever they can to put pressure on the Bangladesh government to rescue this uncompromising writer

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