By Jahangir Alam Akash:
Human rights are a golden deer in Bangladesh. Most of the human rights are violated by torture. Torture has been a familiar and widespread problem in Bangladesh. Torture is a common feature in Bangladesh. Now torture has become institutionalized. In Bangladesh, crimes against humanity have become widespread. Peace, good governance, rule of law, and democracy are nonexistent as in practice in Bangladesh. Almost every day, perpetrators have getting impunity from the state. As a result, there is a constant increase in all kinds of inhumanity. At the same time, sectarianism has increased very rapidly. And our religious minorities are suffering. After ended of two years unnatural emergency we have gotten an elected government. But, the human rights situation hasn’t changed.
It has been around 38 years since Bangladesh saw independence. During our fight for freedom, thirty million people died. And two million women lost their dignity through wartime rape. After a nine-month-long war, Bangladesh was born into the world, led by the great national leader, and “father of the nation”, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. After Bangabandhu’s murder, the army took power. All the war criminals were freed from jail and absolved of their crimes. From 1975 to 1990, Bangladesh was ruled by the military. Thereafter, Islamization began. General Ziaur Rahman and General H.M. Ershad together subverted the 1972 constitution for their own gains. Both of the military rulers put Islam into constitution. And the peoples of Bangladesh have under in unnatural emergency in 2007 to 2008.
In Bangladesh, the brutal persecution of the minority and indigenous ethnic minorities is going ahead full steam. Until now, the persecution that both communities faced never saw the light of justice. A culture of the denial of justice in Bangladesh is the root of all the persecution against the ethnic and religious minorities, which isn’t only affecting a part of the country, but is plaguing the entire criminal justice system in Bangladesh. The attack on the religious minority brings with it the idea of “Islam in the constitution”.
I want to draw a simple picture about some sensational minority repression in the present regime. Hindu minority Akhil Chandra Saha (Charghat, Rajshahi), Ashish Sarker (Mirzapur, Tangail), Sumon Goala (Jamalpur), Goutam Sarker (Dhaka) has murdered and Radha Rani Halder has raped by a gang (Shoriotpur), Christian minority Sawpan Mondal has killed and Maching Khai Marma (Chittagong Hill Tracks) has raped then murdered in this year. The chairman of the Rajshahi board of education, Dipakendranath Das has threatened by the Mayor and an influential ruling party leader A.H.H Khairuzzaman Liton.
The constitution does not give proper identity to the indigenous peoples. This is Bangladesh! Alfred Soren, Choles Richil, Principle G.K. Muhury, Journalist Manik Saha, Goutam Das, Diponkar Chakkkraborty murders are sensational minority killings incidents. But yet hasn’t punished real culprits and masterminds of these killings. We demand that any kinds of persecutions stop right now and that the government give all rights due to the minority groups and bring the perpetrators to justice. We want an equal society without torture and human rights violations.
The people of Bangladesh are still crying out for a trial of the war criminals. So, in order to combat Islamic militancy, it is essential to finish the trials of war criminals – both individuals and the party itself – who were involved with the mass killings, rapes, lootings and destruction during the freedom fighting in 1971. The war criminals killed our intellectuals, journalists, writers, filmmakers, doctors, women and children, and anyone who collaborated with the Pakistani army. Not only that, but they are also responsible for the rape, destruction and lootings that took place during the war for independence. Thus, the trial of those war criminals is essential.
War criminals, the Jamaat party and militant Islamists in Bangladesh are similar to one another. These three groups are very dangerous for secularism, yet they are still quite active in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has waited 34 years for a verdict in the murder case of Bangabondhu, the father of the nation. But finally, on last November 19th our disgrace has ended. We want see the execution. Though, as a human rights defender we opposed all death penalties. Now we are waiting eagerly for the execution of war criminals, killers of the four national leaders. We also want to see the current government reestablish the constitution of 1972, stop mixing politics with religion and extra judicial killings.
Extra judicial killings:
The term “extrajudicial killing” means execution without justice. This is a grave human rights violation. It’s both a violation of Bangladesh’s constitution and of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But these types of killings still occur frequently in Bangladesh. At least 138 peoples were killed in extra judicially from 7th January to 7th December, 2009 (this is the present Awami League government regime). And around 1,600 peoples have been killed in extra judicially by RAB, police and other forces. On the other hand minority oppression has been going on. The High Court of Bangladesh, asked the government to explain why killing people without a trial, in the form of extrajudicial killings, is not being declared as illegal, and why measures are not being taken against the perpetrators. After this ruling, we still haven’t seen anything happen.
The government of Bangladesh has been violating the constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights day after day since 2004. In 2004, the BNP-Jamaat government made a decision about extrajudicial killings and formed the RAB. Around 1,600 people have been killed from 2004 to 2009, without justice. Even the Home Minister, state minister for Home and the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken the side of extra judicial killings openly.
Islamic militancy and problems of Bangladesh:
Militant Islamism is a great threat to global peace. Most Asian countries are fertile ground for such militants. People’s happiness has been sabotaged by militant Islamists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The militant Islamist groups are also still very active and organized in Bangladesh. They have been running arms and explosives training camps. Militant Islamists attacked the Twin Towers in the United States, and, more recently, Al-Qaida has been threatening Germany as well. So, militant Islamism is now a global threat and problem.
In Bangladesh, most of the political parties are using religion for political purposes. Almost the whole system in Bangladesh has fallen victim to the burning problems of criminalization, Islamization, corruption, a lack of accountability and responsibility, and a disabled democracy. And Bangladesh has other major problems, such as widespread poverty, natural disasters, climate change, a bad education system, no good planning, and no rule of law. You can find dishonesty, immorality, irresponsibility and corruption everywhere in Bangladesh.
We can see that state institutions such as the judiciary, the rule of law, regulations, the constitution and the national assembly have been disabled.
Journalist’s killings and torturing:
The community of journalists in Bangladesh is waiting for justice for their killed and tortured colleagues. Actually the situation is not good for journalist, writer and human rights activist in Bangladesh. Especially those who are working impartially for the peoples and those peoples have no voice; they have been suffering from the government side as well as RAB-Army. In this year on October another journalist F.M.Masum has tortured brutally by RAB. And the present government regime three journalists were killed by the terrorist including a community young journalist. Some lawmakers of ruling party Awami League and their cadres were torturing and threatening to the journalists in Maymensingh, Patuakhali, Chuadanga, Rajshahi. In last 16 years 28 journalists and a writer were murdered. Out of 29 three have killed in this year. But yet real investigation and trial has not end. It is necessary to punish those who perpetrate human rights violations and that the Bangladesh government should stop giving them impunity, for the greater interest of democracy and peace.
Women and child rights:
Women and children are also victimized with inhumanity, discrimination. Every year many women and children have been trafficking from Bangladesh to other country. Human trafficking is a great crime, which means crime against humanity. According to the UNICEF study report, 400 women and children in Bangladesh are victims of trafficking every month. According other various study report, one million women and children have been trafficked out of the country in the last three decades. Around 300,000 children and women between the ages of 12 and 30 have been trafficked from Bangladesh to India in last one decade. In the case of internal trafficking, women and children are often taken away from their homes on false promises of a better life with good employment by the traffickers who sell them to brothels. Mainly in the neighbor country border area that means north and southern part of Bangladesh has many points for women and children trafficking. Child labour has prohibited black and white, but in practice we see everywhere child labour in Bangladesh. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in 2002-2003 there are 4.9 million working children, 14.2 percent of the total 35.06 million children in the age group of 5-14 years. The total working child population between 5 and 17 years old is estimated at 7.9 million. Women rights situation has also most vulnerable. Women murder, torture, rape, acid thrown is happening very often in Bangladesh.
What will come for me?
I have made an investigative report on extra judicial killings, minority repression, corruption and Islamic militancy. So, that I have targeted by government, RAB, political corrupted and Islamic militant group. Still I have been facing threats. I was implicated a series of false and political motivated cases which has running in the court. What happened in my life?
On 24th October of 2007 early in the morning (at 01.30am) I was arrested by RAB from my rental house. When the armed RAB peoples were arresting me then they have tortured, blindfolded me with a towel and a black mask in front of my wife and little son and my house owner. RAB was taken me to their torture camp. They were hung me with the ceiling and were given me an electric shock. They were torturing me for 15 hours. In that time I was senseless several times. And after was taking my finger print and picture they were sent me to the local police station with the charge of emergency power rule (with non bail able section). And in the evening police took me in the court, but that time there was no magistrate. Later they put me to the central jail in Rajshahi. After torture I wasn’t able to walk. So, that in jail hospital I was spent 10 days. I was freed from jail after 28 days on bail by an order of court. Actually, RAB wanted to kill me in the name of so-called crossfire. That is why again I was targeted by RAB. Then I was flown from my home and work place. In January of 2008 I was death threatened by Islamic militant organization JMB. Only for my professional activity my father in law has lost his political carrier.
For my uncompromising professional activities I have been suffering with the brutality of RAB-Army. Before my persecution I was threatening by the army, Islamic militant group, government and other political influential’s those who were affected by my work.
As a persecuted journalist-writer now I am enjoying a scholarship in Deutschland for one year with my wife and son. Hamburg Foundation has giving me this opportunity. But, next May it will be expiring. Then what I will do or where I will go I don’t know? If I will go back my country then again I would be suffered by RAB and Islamic militant group. Just before coming in Deutschland I was threatened by the banned Islamic militant organization JMB which has link with Al-Qaida.
As a politically persecuted journalist-writer and human rights defender I have been giving high price for press freedom and human rights with my whole family. After my persecution I have been paralyzed socially, economically, mentally and physically. Not only that, I have lost my job, and professional and social dignity, reputation. How I will recover my all loses? How and where I will get justice? In spite of my horrible persecution I didn’t stop my writing and professional work. I want to continue my writing and work. My next book in English name is ‘Struggle for Peace’ will be published in next February, 2010.
I think, for the security and safety (physically, socially and economically) of human rights defender, writer and journalists should need the more and more solidarity from international community. Especially those organizations have been working for human rights like Global Human Rights defence, Amnesty International, AHRC, RSF, CPJ, IFJ, Hamburg Foundation and IPI from them and other international media and HR organizations. 09.12.2009
Jahangir Alam Akash
Exiled Journalist, writer and human rights defender
Editor, the Human Rights Today
Executive Director, Justice Foundation, Bangladesh
Human rights defenders and the situation of human rights in Bangladesh
December 9, 2009 by Euro Bangla for Peace and Human Rights edited by Jahangir Alam Akash