Witness Testimony: Extreme State Repression at Mithapukur, Rangpur

bd police

Witness testimony given to Progress Bangladesh has highlighted severe levels of state repression being experienced in Mithapukur subdistrict of Rangpur district. Mithapukur was subject to heavy security crackdown and raids in January this year, provoking condemnation. Pressure from authorities on the region, which holds a significant opposition following, has continued although infrequently reported.

mithapukur map

Here an individual from Mithapukur offers this testimony of her family and expresses their experiences of living under siege. She particularly speaks of her brother, a young opposition activist who has witnessed police brutality and violence upon his companions. Her testimony includes quoting her brother’s words.

Names and identities have been protected. Editorial notes have been included in square brackets and footnotes.

My brother is involved with the [opposition] organisation at Mithapukur. I talked with him today over the telephone. The whole time he cried while talking, he said “Sister, they subjected brother Lavlu to ‘crossfire’ too.”

Two years ago after Allama Delwar Hossain Saydee’s verdict of death sentence, seven people were martyred at Mithapukur [February 28 2013]. He was at the front row of the procession with his colleagues, when police began showering bullets on them like burning raindrops. He saw his companion fall to the ground, their bodies riddled with bullets. Later when they were rescued and brought to our house, two out of them were martyred in front of his eyes. He had an exam to sit the very next day.

That happened then, now he said to me, “Sister, our Mithapukur situation is deeply devastating. A total of 108 [opposition] leaders and activists are in jail, Mithapukur Jamaat [opposition party] doesn’t have any money to contribute to their Prison Canteen [PC] allowance*, and the money that comes from the party central office is so insignificant that it amounts to less than 100 taka per person for their PC needs. The people at the jail are already in a devastating condition and their families are in dire straits too. Moreover most of the people are on the run, their conditions are also desperate. We are trying to help however we can, which is still very meagre to actual demand.”

I know the whole country’s condition is distressing, but as a local of Mithapukur I am trying to give a picture of their sufferings.”

*Food provision in Bangladesh jails include three daily prison provided meals. Additional food is obtained from the prison canteen where inmates must pay via credit (money paid externally, for example by family, that takes the form of prison credit that can be spent). Due to corruption within prisons, the three daily meals are usually inadequate as prison staff often withhold food and instead sell them for profit at the canteen.