5 students arrested; feared ‘disappeared’ while in police custody

5 students arrested are feared to have 'disappeared' in police custody

Five young students have ‘disappeared’ while in police custody after they were taken from their beds in the Moakhali area of Dhaka, and arrested at around 2.30am on 20 January, 2015. They have not been brought to court within 24 hours as required by law, and it is feared that they may be killed as there has been a spate of extrajudicial killings after police, RAB and other government agencies have abducted or arrested persons in recent weeks.

Government forces have come under immense pressure from ruling party leadership; senior politicians have been quoted by national media, openly calling for the opposition to be “eliminated'”, “exiled”, “banned”, “shot”, and “killed”. Such Inflammatory statements have been made by the Minister for Food, Kamrul Islam, the Minister for Social Welfare, Mohsin Ali, a prominent ruling Awami League MP, Shamim Osman and a member of  the ruling  20 party alliance, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal Executive President Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal. The heads of the police and RAB have come under immense criticism for “declaring war” on the opposition and making heavily politicised statements in support of the ruling party. 

The disappeared students have been named as Mustafizur Rahman, Joynul Abedin, Arifur Rahman Arif, Khlaed Saifullah and Atiur Rahman. The families, who have not been able to make any contact with the arrestees, are pleading for urgent action by human rights organisations and legal authorities, to avert a possible tragedy. On the morning of 20 January, the students were paraded in front of media, and photographs were taken of the group of five, with cocktail bombs displayed in front of them. There are several policeman visible in the photographs, which have now been widely circulated in the media. Human rights activists have urged investigators to identify the photographed police personnel who may be able to help ascertain the whereabouts of the ‘disappeared’ young students. In addition, locals have identified the following police personnel from Banani Thana police Station Dhaka DMP, as being involved in making the arrests. These are; Bhuiyan Mahbub Hasan ( Officer Incharge Banani), Muhammad Yasin Ghazi (SI), Shipon Ali Sheikh (SI), Muhammad Enamul Haq (15248). Deputy commissioner (Media) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Masudur Rahman spoke to media agency ,UNB about the case and may also be able to help locate the five young men.

National newspapers are beginning to report on the unchecked activities of joint forces in various localities, where dozens of homes have been razed to the ground, whole families and neighbourhoods forced to leave home, and where beatings and mass arrests of people suspected to be supporters of opposition parties are common occurrences. A few of these reports have been translated: Govt. Crackdown in Chapai-Nawabganj; Allegations of Vandalism, Arson by Combined Forces; Security crackdown at Mithapukur; Allegations of Vandalism, Abductions by Security Forces. The minority Hidu community have also come under increasing attack by ruling Awami League local party leaders. The BBC reports that a Government Minister has stated that over 7000 opposition activists have been arrested since the beginning of January.

Amnesty International’s statement, Bangladesh must investigate deaths and release prisoners held in opposition crackdown was published on 8th January after two unarmed BNP activists were killed by police gunfire. The list of extrajudicial killings and disappearances of opposition members over the last one week include: