At least 95 people fell victim to extrajudicial killings in the first five months of the year, says rights group Odhikar.
Eighteen of them were killed only in the month of May.
Some 20 Bangladeshi nationals were killed by members of India’s Border Security Force (BSF) since the beginning of the year, according to Adhikar’s report released on Tuesday.
BSF men also injured 29 more Bangladeshis and kidnapped another 16 people along the border during the period.
The country’s law enforcement agencies shot (at leg) as many as 30 people in the five months. And 30 more people were victims of enforced disappearance in the year.
On top of these, 137 people were killed and 3783 injured in political violence since January.
Fifty seven people died of mob beating during the period, the report added.
Odhikar demanded an end to the culture of extrajudicial killing and bringing to book the members of the law enforcement agencies responsible for the incidents.
For the sake of peaceful political process, the rights organisation also demanded holding of general elections immediately under a neutral government or under the supervision of the United Nations.
Referring to killing by BSF, Odhikar said steps should be taken to claim compensation from the Indian government and ensure safe living of the people along the border.
The year 2015 saw incidents of rape numbering at 233 and 75 of the incidents were recorded in May. The number of sexual harassment was 62.
As many as 73 people fell victim to violence over dowry claims and another 24 were injured when acid was thrown on them.
During the period, 46 journalists were injured and 15 threatened. Three more were assaulted and another journalist met with repression. Five journalists were arrested during the period, the report also said.
Source: Prothom Alo
The much-talked-about Teesta water sharing agreement will not be inked during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh taking place on June 6 and 7, Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj has said.
Swaraj made the disclosure while replying to a question at a press conference on Sunday on the completion of one year of Indian diplomacy under the Modi government, reports UNI (United News of India).
There was no consensus so far on Teesta, as this agreement was not just a bilateral affair with Bangladesh but it involved West Bengal too, said Swaraj.
She said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was accompanying the Prime Minister to Dhaka not for Teesta but in connection with the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA).
Source: Dhaka Tribune
Police in Bangladesh claim to have arrested 7 people, including 6 female members of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami from a ‘clandestine’ meeting in Dhaka on the 30th of December. Police claim that at this time they retrieved 15 ‘Jihadi’ books, Jamaat members forms and several copies of monthly planning reports.
The arrested include-Shamima Akhter, Nur Jahan, Sharifa Khatun, Selina Akhter, Najmun Nahar, Sadia Tahmina and Jashim Uddin.
Shah Alam, the Inspector (Operations) of Uttara West informed news outlet Banglamail that late night on Monday, police arrested 6 female members of Jamaat-e-Islami from a house in Uttara sector 10, Road 11. Later, police arrested another person named Jashim Uddin from Azampur based on interrogation of the arrested women.
Police claim that they had been arrested because they were hatching conspiracies while attending a secret meeting. Police further said that the house was that of the ex-Vice President of Islami Bank Tofazzal Hossain. They claimed that he was a member of Jamaat-e-Islami and that he was in hiding from several police cases against him.
Different human rights organisations on Saturday said 59 persons had been `forcibly disappeared’ allegedly by the `law-enforcement agencies’ from January to November, in Bangladesh this year. The government ‘has obligations’ to answer to the citizens and to the international community on the alleged cases of disappearances, they said.
A joint statement by Asian Human Rights Commission and Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances also said the families of victims appealed to the government and judicial authorities to locate their dear ones repeatedly, but they did not get any information on the whereabouts of the disappeared persons. The organisations called for the return of all disappeared persons and the government of Bangladesh to explain the enforced disappearances. They cited that eight activists of opposition political party had been missing for two years. The victims include the general secretary of the Tejgaon Thana unit of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Sajedul Islam Sumon, Zahidul Karim Tanveer, Majharul Islam, Abdul Kader Bhuiyan, Asaduzzaman, Al-Amin, Md. Kausar and Adnan Chowdhury. The members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) picked up the eight people on the night of December 4, 2013 from Bashundhara area under Bhatara police station of Dhaka city. Since then their whereabouts are unknown, said the statement.
Disappeared families received official denials, neglect, and further intimidation. Several press conferences, protest rallies and human chains demanding the return of the disappeared victims have been dealt with by repeated threats to the relatives and subsequent surveillance by `state agents’.
The Hong Kong and Philippines based human rights organisations also cited that the same pattern of disappearances were being systematically used by the State as a tool to silence and weaken the political opponents. Failure to hold the accused agencies and the executive authorities will only increase public distrust on the justice institutions, they said.
The situation in Bangladesh has become extremely repressive, they said, as the government ‘does not allow opposition parties and dissenting voices to speak out against its undemocratic and anti-human rights actions’. The rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are being curtailed by applying draconian laws, the rights groups observed.
Link: New Age
An Italian priest has been wounded by gunmen in Bangladesh, the latest in a wave of attacks on foreigners there. Only weeks before, an Italian citizen working with a development organisation was shot in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone – one of the most heavily guarded places in the country. A few days later, a Japanese citizen was murdered in northern Bangladesh in a similar style.
The motives for these murders are not yet clear, but political leaders have rushed to suggest who could be behind these killings without presenting any credible and concrete evidence. Another spin-off of these events is to create an atmosphere of panic, which has been greatly heightened by Islamic State (IS) apparently claiming responsibilityfor these incidents – including the bombing of a Shia procession on 24 October 2015.
Initially, the government of Bangladesh denied it was aware of any such threats, but it soon transpired that some foreign consulates did actually inform the government about credible risk against Western citizens in the country.
Broadly speaking, security is a major issue in Bangladesh, with several murders reported in the national newspapers every day. Many of these murders are taking place because of political rivalries, extortion, and everyday quarrels – and alarmingly, a great many of them never see anyone brought to justice.
In 2012, a journalist couple were murdered in their bedroom, and the murder of an innocent man by the student wing of the ruling party was captured on live television. In 2013, a young student was said to have been murdered by the relatives of influential members of the ruling party.
Then 2014 saw the sensational “seven murder” case. Members of the country’s special elite forces were apparently involved, allegedly taking a bribe from the mastermind of the incident. Some of the violence has been religious, too: in the last two years, a number of secularist bloggers have been killed by Islamist extremists.
And in the meantime, no-one has yet been brought to justice for the 2013 disaster at Rana Plaza in which over 1250 workers died.
Don’t go there
As is all too common in Bangladesh, the investigations into most of these cases are still dragging on after an agonisingly long time. The failure to secure justice for these incidents and thousands more like them creates a sense of lawlessness, where local gangs, muggers, and terrorist groups feel that with strong political patronage and power it is possible to get away with serious crimes, including murder.
This has all hardly flattered Bangladesh’s image, and the consequences have already been humiliating in many ways. In autumn 2015, Cricket Australia (CA) cancelled a scheduled tour in Bangladesh citing credible threats by militant groups against Westerners. The CA raised the security concern and delayed the team’s departure while working on a “revised security plan” with the Bangladesh Cricket Board and top level Bangladeshi security forces.
The uptick in attacks on foreigners only made the situation worse, and the tour was finally cancelled despite Bangladesh offering VVIP security (given to the visiting Presidents of other countries) to each player. The Chief Executive of the CA said that in the end, it was simply not possible to proceed with the tour, because:
The safety of our players and officials is our highest priority. We had hoped the security concerns would fade, but unfortunately the advice we have received from government, our own security experts and independent security advisors has clearly indicated that there are now high risks to our people should they make the trip.
Soon after, the South African Women’s cricket team cancelled their Bangladesh tour too, and a number of foreign textile buyers and research teams have also written off their planned visits. Most of the Western embassies have warned their citizens to be careful.
Paradoxically, this is nothing less than blowback from years of cynical propaganda on the part of Bangladesh’s leaders, who deliberately maintain this culture of impunity and denial. They have also used brazen fearmongering to score political support from the rest of the world.
Let’s not forget that the present government’s mandate is questionable in the eyes of many; at the last election more than half of its MPs were elected unopposed, and only a reported 5% of voters turned out. And yet its senior figures maintain that their government has to remain in power to stop ill-defined “militants” overrunning the country.
The unresolved murders of foreign citizens have simply given them more fodder for this self-serving rhetoric, even though what they most clearly demonstrate is the impotence of Bangladesh’s law enforcement agencies.
And on October 24, amid the heightened tension and ramped-up security, a Shiite procession was bombed, with two people killed and over a hundred injured – even after national newspapers published stories saying the government had in fact predicted just such an event.
There are, of course, a range of groups in Bangladesh espousing violent fundamentalist ideologies, and over the years, scores of people have been arrested for militant activities – including suspected members of ISand al-Qaeda. But the state has never been able to prove that a genuine offshoot of IS or al-Qaeda is actually operating in Bangladesh.
Nonetheless, the government’s fearmongering seems to be serving it well, and its complacency has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. This sense of lawlessness, coupled with a tense political environment in which governing and dissenting parties both resort to violence, means that Bangladesh is becoming a highly conducive environment for radical terrorism.
Superficially reinforced security and policing is all very well, but if the law and order situation does not improve and exploitation of a culture of fear continues, Bangladesh might become a story of the boy who cried wolf.
Link: The Conversation
Speakers at a briefing in United States on human rights in Bangladesh said rights situation here have alarmingly deteriorated and people’s political rights are now crushed.
The briefing on the shrinking space for civil society titled ‘Human Rights in Bangladesh’ was held at Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on Tuesday.
Rafida Bonya Ahmed, wife of slain writer-blogger Avijit Roy, Sahar Chaudhry, Senior Policy Analyst, US Commission for International Religious Freedom, Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director, Free Expression Programs, PEN American Center, Bharath Gopalaswamy, Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council took part in the briefing.
Congressman James P McGovern, Co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission delivered the opening remark at the briefing moderated by Michael De Dora, Director, Office of Public Policy, Center for Inquiry.
James P McGovern said the government of Bangladesh has shrunk the space for opposition political parties.
“Opposition rallies have been restricted or broken up by state security forces, leading to mass arrests as well as deaths, while human rights defenders that document abuses have been threatened or detained and often assaulted themselves,” he said.
McGovern further said there have been reports of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.
McGovern said in the power struggle between the major political parties—the Awami League and the Bangladesh National Party—civil society often gets caught in the crossfire.
He said additional concerns have been raised by the government’s response to protests and dissent.
“With the news that transnational terror networks— including Al Qaeda and ISIS—are present in Bangladesh, the challenges to stability and democracy are likely to intensify.”
Referring to executions of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, he said, “Two opposition leaders were executed by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) for war crimes. But credible observers—including the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International—have criticized the trials as lacking fair trial and due process standards.”
He went on to say, “As Co-Chairs of the Commission, Congressman Pitts and I joined many others, including former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp, in calling on Bangladesh to halt the executions because of the due process issues. Unfortunately, our calls were not heeded.”
Michael De Dora said over the past two years the human rights situation in Bangladesh has worsened.
“This deterioration has been marked by the five gruesome murders of secular writers and publishers this year alone,” he said, adding, “civil and political rights are undermined in Bangladesh. Protests against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League party have been shut down, critical views censored, and their authors arrested or sometimes disappeared.”
De Dora further said that “if the human rights situation in Bangladesh worsens — if terror groups such as Ansarullah Bangla Team and al Qaeda and ISIS are allowed to roam more freely in, and take more control over the country — the global community will soon have a much bigger problem on our hands than a series of gruesome attacks in Bangladesh.”
Link: Naya Diganta
The news of the appeal for clemency by Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mujahid is false and fabricated, stated his wife Tamanna-e-Jahan.
She informed Naya Diganta that the news, which was being rumoured to be from a source at Central Jail, and which was circulating on various mass media of the application for clemency by Mujahid towards the President was totally fabricated.
She informed that her husband had not taken any decision outside the advice of his lawyers and would never do so. The government had not even allowed his lawyers to meet up with him for the past two days. That was why he had not taken any step regarding what was to be done after that.
However, a quarter with vested interests had spread a misleading news to the contrary on mass and communication media. She advised all to not heed to such false news.
Source: Daily Naya Diganta
The news of appeal for clemency by Ali Ahsan Mujahid and Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, as being stated by sources from the Home ministry and jail sources is false and fabricated, claimed the families of the two accused political leaders.
Although a source from the Home Ministry informed the BBC that Mr. Chowdhury and Mr. Mujahid had filed appeals for clemency, Ali Ahmad Mabrur, the son of Ali Ahsan Mujahid, informed the BBC that the news surrounding the appeals for clemency were false.
He informed that Mujahid had informed his family during their last visit that he would not consider filing any appeal for clemency.
On the other hand, Farhat Quader Chowdhury, the wife of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, also informed the news was false. She informed that the family had been trying to meet Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury for two days through the efforts of the lawyers, but had been unsuccessful in this regard. She informed that all controversy surrounding the appeal would become clear once his family would be able to meet him.
Earlier, Mrs Chowdhury, on being asked about the matter in a press briefing, stated that the issue for clemency was a personal choice for Mr., chowdhury. He would take any decision on this after consulting with his lawyers.
Source: BBC Bangla
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed two petitions filed by Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury seeking review of its verdicts upholding their death sentences, thereby clearing the way for the government to execute the two senior opposition politicians convicted of crimes against humanity during the country’s independence war in 1971.
Both Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Hasan Mohammed Mujahid had requested the court to overturn its earlier decisions upholding the death penalty originally imposed by the International Crimes Tribunal.
The tribunal established in 2010 has so far convicted 24 people of crimes against humanity and genocide during the nine-month war with Pakistan in 1971 that resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people. Bangladesh’s government says as many as three million were killed.
Two of its leaders have so far received the death penalty before Mujahid.
Chowdhury was the first leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party to receive the death penalty following a conviction for international crimes.
The four member-bench headed by the Chief Justice SK Sinha passed the orders around 11:32am saying ‘the review petitions are dismissed’, and paving the way for their executions for war crimes. After dismissing the review petitions, the Chief Justice told attorney general Mahbubey Alam that the court would send a brief order to the jail authorities over the decision. In the morning, the court started hearing the review petition of Bangladesh Nationalist Party standing committee member Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and decided to pass its order at 11:30am.
Earlier on Tuesday, the same bench posted today for passing its order over the review petition filed by Jamaat’s secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed against his death sentence. In a press briefing, the attorney general said the jail authorities will now ask Salauddin and Mujahid if they will seek presidential mercy. If they wish, their applications would be referred to the president, he said, adding that there is no specific timeframe for seeking clemency.
In case of their denial to seek the presidential mercy, there will no bar for their executions, Mahbubey Alam said. Khandker Mahbub Hossain, however, said the government now can voluntarily pardon them or they can seek presidential mercy as per the constitution. It depends upon them whether they will seek mercy or not, he said.
Ali Ahmed Mabrur, son of Ali Ahsan Mujahid, said his family was disappointed that his father had been deprived of justice. He thanked the countrymen for being beside his family in their quest for justice and truth and asked them to stay on that path. He said that he expected that true justice would be served on the Day of Judgment.
The International Crimes Tribunal-1 on October 1 issued the warrants for the execution of death penalties of Mujahid and Salauddin. On June 16, the apex court pronounced a brief verdict upholding Mujahid’s death sentence. The then International Crimes Tribunal-2 on July 17, 2013, had sentenced Mojaheed to death finding him guilty of five war crimes charges including his complicity in killing intellectuals towards the fag end of the Liberation War.
Earlier on July 29, the Appellate Division had upheld the death sentence of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury awarded by the International Crimes Tribunal-1 on October 1, 2013. During the hearing in Salauddin’s petition on Wednesday, his lawyer Khandker Mahbub Hossain submitted to the court for the first time Salauddin’s educational certificate issued by the registrar of the Punjab University on March 22, 2012. According to the certificate, Salauddin obtained second class in Bachelor of Arts examinations held in August 1971.
The court ‘observed’ that the certificate was forged as the font of the last two digits of ‘1971’ was smaller than the font of the first two digits. In this regard, it mentionable that the court did not heed the appeal of several prominent Pakistani citizens, whose evidence could have exonerated Salahuddin from the charges against him. The Pakistani citizens include Mohammed Mian Soomro, who in 2007 held the position of prime minister, Ishaq Khan Khakwani, a former national assembly and cabinet minister, and Amber Haroon Saigol, who is the chairperson of Dawn media group. The other two are businessmen.
They all claim that Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was living in Karachi in April 1971 when the four offences, for which he was sentenced to death, took place.
Adapted from Source: New Age
There are no arrests of politicians in the country and neither are they being harassed in any manner. Only those who are terrorists, criminals and those who have cases against them are being arrested by police.
This was said in a speech by Police Inspector General (IGP) AKM Shahidul Haque at a program on Thursday afternoon at Bahubul, Habiganj, in answer to a question by media journalists at a program to open a police information centre at Potijori union.
Indicating that no innocent or helpless people were being arrested or harassed by police at the present mass arrest drives, the IGP said, “Those are talking about harassment are talking while sitting in their homes. Police are not the ones who are going to their homes (to arrest or harass them). If police had harassed them, then their mouths would become shut.”