Front Line Defenders: Reported torture in detention of human rights defender Mahmudur Rahman

frontline defenders

April 23, 2013

On 18 April 2013, on his second day in custody at Kashimpur Central Jail, human rights defender Mr Mahmudur Rahman was moved from judicial custody to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University due to severe torture which reportedly included the hammering of nails into his flesh and bone as well as electric shock treatment.

Mahmudur Rahman is an editor of the newspaper Daily Amardesh, which was closed and sealed by police without a court order on 11 April 2013, the same day the human rights defender was arrested. As an editor of the Daily Amardesh, Mahmudur Rahman has published articles exposing corruption scandals involving high profile ruling party politicians including the Prime Minister and her family members. He also denounced the killing of 172 civilians by police during government clashes with the opposition last February.

Despite the closure of the Daily Amardesh, the Interim Chairperson, Mrs Mahmuda Begum, made arrangements to print at an alternative press, however this was forbidden by the District Magistrate and 19 people were arrested at the press on 14 April 2013.

The torture reportedly took place whilst Mahmudur Rahman was in custody at the Detective Branch of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. The human rights defender was arrested on 11 April 2013 on grounds of sedition, destroying vehicles on the road and the publication of an ‘unverified’ letter in the Daily Amardesh. He was detained under police remand for six days before being handed over to judicial remand on 17 April 2013. The human rights defender had been on hunger strike in custody to protest his illegal detention, torture, and the arrest of his colleagues following the closure of the Daily Amardesh.

A petition was filed to the High Court Division Bench on 18 April 2013 challenging the decision to send Mahmudur Rahman to police remand. The human rights defender’s lawyers argued that placing him in police remand without adequate measures in place to ensure his physical health violates the High Court’s directives concerning pre-trial detention. Mahmudur Rahman suffers from a heart condition which can be fatal if untreated. When the human rights defender was escorted into court to hear the petition, eye witnesses said that he had fresh wounds on his legs, blood stains on his clothes and that he found it difficult to sit down.

Front Line Defenders believes that the arrest and reported torture in detention of Mahmudur Rahman are related to his work in defence of human rights and denouncing government corruption in Bangladesh. It is also consistent with fears for his safety on which Front Line Defenders issued an appeal on 10 November 2010.

Source: Front Line Defenders