AHRC & Odhikar – BANGLADESH: Torture survivors and relatives of custodial murders share their gruesome experiences in People’s Tribunal

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A Joint Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission and Odhikar

 

A survivor of torture, relatives of a survivor and of two victims of death, who were tortured to death in police custody, have shared their gruesome experiences in a People’s Tribunal today, June 26, 2013, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladeshi human rights groupOdhikar, in collaboration with the European Union, organised the People’s Tribunal. A group of prominent jurists and scholars heard the statements of the victims and observed that torture should be immediately criminalised in Bangladeshi legislation for ensuring justice to the victims.

The Asian Human Rights Commission and Odhikar wish to share the translated version of the statements of the torture survivors and the relatives of the murdered victims, who lost their lives due to torture in police custody, in their own accounts.

Statement of Ms. Moni Begum: A survivor of torture by Sitakunda police in Chittagong

On July 18, 2012 about 9:30 pm, some people knocked on my door. I went downstairs to the ground floor, where the police identified themselves and asked me to open the gate, which I did. They wanted to know who I was. After I identified myself, they asked for the mobile phone I was using and I complied. They asked me to accompany them to the police station. I asked for the reason. They said that a case was filed against me at the Sitakunda Police Station [Chittagong]. A policeman in plainclothes identified himself as Sub-Inspector (SI) Khaled Hossain. At the police station, I found out that Ibrahim Sumon, who was known to my late husband Shahid and I, had been murdered and was found in an area under the Sitakunda Police Station. Sumon’s wife filed a case against me accusing me of murder. The police arrested me based on her complaint. Around 3:00 am, SI Khaled arrived at the police station and said that based on my name on the call list, the police had found information about my involvement in the murder. He asked me to confess everything. Khaled left after some time passed.

 

Two days later, on July 20, 2012 about12:00 noon SI Khaled came again, tied my hands and intimidated me to admit my involvement in the murder. At one stage Khaled slapped my face and threatened to beat me while I was in remand. At 1:00 pm, police sought a seven-day remand at the Court of Farida Yasmin, Senior Judicial Magistrate. The Court granted two days remand and issued orders to transfer me to the Chittagong Central Jail. On July 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm SI Khaled brought me to the Sitakunda Police Station. Somewhere around 11:30 pm I was moved to a different room in handcuffs where I was kept in custody. There, 8 to10 policemen, led by SI Khaled Hossain tortured me (Some of them were in police uniform and the rest were in plainclothes). A female police officer was also present at the time. They pressed me to confess my involvement in the murder of Ibrahim Sumon. When I said that I did not know anything about it, they assaulted me again. They then applied electric shocks to my elbow while I was seated on a chair. I fell on the floor and was beaten again by the entire staff. They kicked my chest, back and abdomen. They picked me up from the floor and applied electric shock to my thighs. My hand and back were burned with a cigarette. They continued torturing me for about an hour. At one stage I lost consciousness.

 

The next day on July 30, 2012 at 8:00 am, I found myself at Sitakunda Hospital. I was very weak and could not move because of the pain. I saw that the doctor did not want to admit me but the police were insisting. In the afternoon I was referred to the Chittagong Medical College Hospital where I was eventually admitted to the casualty department at 1:00 pm.

 

On March 14, 2013 I was released on bail after eight months of detention in the Chittagong Central Jail. I want justice for myself.

Statement of Mr. Nazim Uddin: Brother of Mr. Rizvi Hassan, a torture survivor detained in Chittagong Central Jail

My name is Nazim Uddin. I have two siblings. Rizvi Hassan is the youngest. Upon discontinuing his studies, Rizvi started a business in 2009 with a shop in the Fatikchari Bazar [Chittagong]. In 2010 he married and started working for an insurance company, due to having incurred severe losses in his business. When I left the country, he began to look after the family property and resigned from his job. With a couple of friends he then became involved in a business called ‘Moushumi Wood’. He now has two children. In late December or early January, he became a middleman and managed to sell a microbus that belonged to his friend Jahangir. For doing so, Jahangir said that he would pay Rizvi Taka 5000/-. However, he never made the payment. Thus the two had regular quarrels and fights over this. Then, on the 26th March 2013 at 2:30 in the afternoon, Jahangir called Rezvi and said “We have fought enough my friend, please come to the Bibirhat Bazar and collect your money”. Later, at 4:00 pm Rizvi went to the Bibirhat Bazar and met his friend. Rezvi went with Jahangir to the second floor of the Bashundhara Hotel in the bazar to have a cup of tea. After tea, Rizvi wanted to leave but Jahangir tried his best to detain him bringing up random topics to chat about.  Now it was 5:00 pm and a group of policemen came up and surrounded Rizvi. They took Rizvi away forcefullly to the Hathajari Police Station where around 10:00 pm, many policemen including Sub-Inspector (SI) Sharif started hitting him with sticks. They wanted to know what Rizvi knew about Boli Monsur and many other local criminals. After Rizvi said that he knew no other criminals other than Boli Monsur, they started hitting him even harder. Somewhere around 12:00 midnight, they injected Rizvi with something after which he felt his head getting heavier, and became almost unconscious. They took him to Solailam’s house which was on a small hill in the north of Bhola-Chala in Fatikchhari. There they arrested Boli Monsur. Then, in order to plant false evidence, the policemen ordered subordinates to provide them with weapons all the while beating him. It was during Fajr prayer at dawn that they brought Rizvi to the police station and injected him again. Later when he regained consciousness he found himself in custody. He saw an accused person also in custody, at one corner of the cell, quietly talking on his mobile phone. Rizvi gave him my sister’s phone number to notify her where he was.

 

On the 27th March 2013 at 1:00 am, Boli Monsur and Rizvi were taken from their cells to the second floor of the police station. Policemen, led by SI Shariful Islam then started hitting them once they mentioned handing over some weapons. The beating lasted all night. The joints of the hands and legs were the main targets, along with severe injuries to the tips of the fingers. At dawn the same injection was given to both Rizvi and Boli Monsur which rendered them unconscious. Coming to in the evening of the 28th March 2013, a police constable gave him some food, although he could not remember what he was given. That night, the beatings began again. This time the police administered electric shocks between the fingers. On the 29th March 2013 after dinner, they forced Rizvi into a torture cell. SI Anis and SI Mithun were also present with SI Shariful on that day. After 3 – 4 minutes of hitting him, they tied a cloth around Rizvi’s head and started pouring hot spicy water on him. Whenever he would breathe, water would get into his nose and mouth and sting. Boli Monsur was taken from the station and never brought back. On the 30th March 2013, they gave Rizvi another injection which rendered him unconscious. In the late afternoon, they sprinkled water on his face, pulled him out by his beard and put him inside a vehicle. Sometime later he was again brought back to the station.  The torture went on in the same manner till the 2nd April 2013. On the 3rd April 2013 he was put in a vehicle again. In another car, Hathajari zone’s ASP Circle AFM Nizamuddin was seated. At around 2:30 am, the police started beating him in front of the Jhankar Cinema Hall in Nazirhat, Fatikchhari. From there, he was taken to an unknown residence in North Paindong Sakin area. There some locals were forced to sign some papers by the police. From there he was brought back to Hathajari Police Station, with a brief stop at the Fatikchhari Police Station. In the morning, inside the cell, he was forced to sign 4-5 papers, some blank and some written on. He had no clue what the writings contained. At 12:00 noon on the 4th April 2013, he was sent to Court. In the Court he was informed that the police had found destructive weapons on him, and filed cases against him for looting/robbery and illegal carriage of arms. In the two cases, the police requested the Court to grant remand of 20 days. However, the Court ordered remand for five days for one case and two days for the other. Then Rizvi was brought back to the Hathajari Police Station, where the torture went on. However, this time no injection was used. Rather he was kept inside the cell all day and tortured at night.

 

On the 9th April 2013 at 2:30 pm, he was taken to a small hill in the Kannchan Nagar area of Fatikchhari [in Chittagong]. There, in front of a half-built empty house, they stopped and called 3-4 people who were around to sign some blank papers. Then they took Rizvi back to the Hathajari Police Station. On the 12th April 2013, he was taken to the Court once again, where he learned that the police caught him with weapons on the 9th of April 2013. With regard to that case, the police requested 10 days remand. However this time, Rizvi spoke up in the Court mentioning how the police had been torturing him. The Court provided permission for three days remand. He was brought back to the Hathajari Police Station again and tortured in the same manner. He was kept in the cell for five days, despite the fact that the Court granted remand for only three days. On the 17th April 2013, they took Rizvi to the Court again and, referring to an old case of extortion filed in the Rangunia Police Station, the police asked for five more days of remand. The Court granted remand for one day. However, he was not tortured in the Rangunia Police Station. On his way back to the prison, Rizvi fell ill due to his long periods of torture. The authorities sent him to the hospital for treatment. At present Rizvi is in the Chittagong Central Jail. I want justice for the torture inflicted on my brother.

Statement of Amin Sarkar: Brother of Shamim Sarkar, tortured to death by Savar police in Dhaka

My name is Amin Sarkar. My father is Halim Sarkar. We are live on Boro Masjid Road in Hemayetpur in Savar. Mohammad Shamim Sarkar is my younger brother. On June 5, 2013 at around 4.00 pm Shamim, along with my nephew Saiful Islam went by car to a relative’s house in Shingair in the Manikgonj district. On their way back home, a white microbus stopped them at the Hemayetpur Molla Filling Station. Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Md. Akidul Islam, along with some policemen from the Savar Model Police Station forcefully dragged Shamim and Saiful into the microbus and took them to an unknown place. At around 10.00 pm, a medicine trader named Topu came to my house and informed me that ASI Akidul Islam of Savar Model Police Station had arrested Shamim and Saiful. I informed my younger brother Biplob and told him to see ASI Akidul Islam. Biplob called ASI Akidul up but no one answered the phone. Then I told Biplob to call Shamim. ASI Akidul received the phone call and told Biplob to come to meet him at the Molla CNG filling station at Hemayetpur. At around 12.00 noon, Biplob and his friend Mukul meet Akidul.

 

Biplob wanted to know the whereabouts of Shamim and Saiful. Then ASI Akidul opened the door of the microbus. Biplob saw Shamim, Saiful and SI Emdadul of Ashulia Police Station sitting inside. ASI Akidul and SI Emdadul demanded BDT 5 lac [One Lac means One Hundred Thousand] to release Shamim and Saiful. Then Biplob told them that they could not afford such a big amount. Then SI Emdadul and ASI Akidul demanded BDT 2 lac and told them not to disclose the matter to anyone. They threatened Biplob that if they did, they will lose both Shamim and Saiful. They also said that, they will tag Shamim and Saiful to pending cases. At that time Biplob agreed to give them ten thousand taka and begged for some time to pay the rest. Hearing this, SI Emdadul and ASI Akidul scolded him. Back home, Biplob informed me of the matter. Then I met with my uncle Abdur Rahman. He told me that there was no need to give money to the police, and that he would see to the matter in the morning. On June 6, 2013, at around 7.30 am Biplob and I went to Savar Model Police Station and enquired about Shamim and Saiful from the duty officer. He informed us that, Shamim and Saiful were not at the Savar Model Police Station. Then I started to look for Shamim and Saiful. At around 12.00 noon, I found out that some policemen had brought the dead body of Shamim to the Mitford Hospital and left.  I asked my younger brother Bablu and cousin Awlad to go to Mitford hospital. They identified the body of Shamim. After taking the body home, I saw signs of beating on Shamim’s body. SI Emdadul of Ashulia Police Station, ASI Akidul Islam of Savar Model Police Station and police officials, including Md. Moazzem Hossen, Md. Ramjan Ali and Md. Yusuf killed my brother. I want justice for the torture and death of my brother.”

Statement of Iqbal Hossain: Brother of Mr. Shamim Reza, tortured to death by Sonargaon police in Narayanganj

“My name is Iqbal Hossain. I am the elder brother of Shamim Reza, who died due to police torture. We are residents of Protaper Chor in the Pirojpur Union of Sonargaon Upazila under the Narayanganj district. My father is Haji Alauddin. Shamim is the third of four children. Shamim passed the SSC exam in 2002 and HSC in 2004 from Shilpanagari High School and Sonargaon Degree College respectively. Then he completed his Bachelors in Business Administration, majoring in Management from Doniya University College in 2008. In 2010 Shamim Reza married Tasin and has a year and a half old son. For the last 3 years, Shamim was working in the family business of dredging and trading in stone and sand.

 

On the 14th May 2013 at 6:00 am, policemen led by Arup Torofdar Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Investigation at the Sonargaon Police Station took Shamim with them saying that they required some information on a murder case. Right after Shamim was taken, I ran to the police station. The police did not let me see Shamim in person. Three days later the OC said to me, “Today (the 16th May 2013) you can see Shamim in the evening.” After I reached the station he told me to return at night. On the fourth day at around 8:00 pm, I got to finally see Shamim in the station. Shamim broke into tears upon seeing me and stated that the police were beating him to death. He said that he did not have the strength to continue living anymore and asked me to pray for him. I saw wounds all over his body. He was hardly able to move his hands and feet. He was not able to stand and said that his urine was bloody. I was shocked and on the verge of a mental break myself. Shamim told me that in order to get him out, the police required a bribe. I went to talk to the OC Arup Torofdar. At first he demanded BDT 10 lac; however after bargaining, he agreed on BDT 5 lac. The OC said that BDT 5 lac would guarantee that Shamim would not be beaten anymore. However, he also said that if evidence is found of Shamim’s involvement in the murder; full payment of BDT 10 lac was to be made. On the 19th May 2013 at around 11:00 at night, I offered BDT 2.5 lac to the OC and asked him to release Shamim. However he said that until full payment was made, he would not do so.

 

I was not able to manage the rest of the money. On the 20th May 2013, Shamim was taken to the Court. The OC, did not disclose that Shamim was sent to Court, called and demanded money. I was informed of the matter and when I questioned the OC he replied that Shamin had not been taken yet, but would be sent to the court if no payment was made. On the 2nd May 2013 at 5:00 pm, Shamim was taken to Victoria Hospital. At 8:00 pm, my relatives and I went to the hospital. At 9:00 pm, two policemen of Narayanganj Court had taken Shamim to Dhaka Medical College Hospital in an ambulance. Due to a traffic jam, I reached the hospital at 2:00 am and found Shamim in ward no. 218. At around 8:25 am on the 22nd May 2013, Shamim died in the hospital. Magistrate Raziya Khatun prepared the inquest report. I was present. After completion of the report, I signed it. After the completion of the post- mortem examination, I received Shamim’s body in a coffin at 5:00 pm. At 8:00 pm I reached Pirojpur. At 9:00 pm, the Namaz-e-Janaza was arranged.

 

I organised a rally with neighbours, carrying Shamim’s coffin and demanding the arrest of those who tortured and killed Shamim. The rally became so big that the highway was blocked in front of the Meghna Toll plaza. At around 10:00 pm, Shamim’s body was buried in the nearby Jhoutola graveyard.”

Source: Asian Human Rights Commission