Here are key facts behind the issues affecting human rights in Bangladesh. Be it press freedom, police brutality or the controversial ‘International’ Crimes Tribunal, it is proving to be a divisive year for human rights in Bangladesh.
International War Crimes Tribunal [ICT]
- Condemned by multiple international bodies for lack of fair trial safeguards, falling short of international standards and breaching international law. Critics include The UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty.
- All accused exclusively from opposition, including all top leadership of Jamaat-i-Islami and its 90 year old retired leader. The opposition parties condemn the ICT as politically motivated.
- Defence harassment: armed police raids on their offices, arbitrary limits on witnesses
- Abduction of defence witness, Shukho Ranjan Bali, by police at court gates, Nov 2011. Not been seen since and feared dead. No investigations conducted by state or court.
- Expose of leaked material by The Economist revealed collusion between state, prosecution and presiding judge.
- Bangladesh was ranked 144th in the Press Freedom Index of 2013
- As of Dec 2012, under 4 years of this regime, 12 journalists killed, 502 injured and 238 threatened (odhikar.org)
- Opposition media face harassment and police raids. Following Shahbag protest, Amar Desh, Naya Diganta and Sangram, faced vandalism and arson. 48 journalists assaulted by police fire and ruling party youth in the past month (Feb-March 2013). 25 journalists wounded mostly by police fire and baton charges on Feb 22nd alone.
- In 2010 Mahmudur Rahman, Editor of Amar Desh, arrested and tortured, his newspaper temporarily closed for publishing material critical of Prime Minister Hasina’s son.
- Mahmudur Rahman now under threat of arrest following publication of leaked material first exposed by The Economist and recent critique of the state and Shahbag protests. There are fears for his life.
Freedom of Speech & Police Brutality
- Opposition protests face heavy police crackdown nationwide: 143 activists dead (at least), thousands injured in past weeks (Feb-March). At least 66 killed on Feb 28 2013 alone. Thousands injured. (Collated from various news reports)
- Police raid on opposition BNP party offices on March 11 2013, following BNP led protests. 185 opposition members arrested including BNP Acting Secretary General.
- Regular arrest of opposition members of Jamaat/Shibir. All senior leadership arrested under ICT (determined arbitrary arrests by the UN). Regional leaders arrested, including leaders of Dhaka, Pabna, Comilla and several other cities.
- Women politically targeted: 19 female students and one elderly lady of the opposition were arrested without charge from their offices on December 2012. Among them was a 5 month pregnant young lady who was not permitted bail. They were forcibly unveiled and subjected to violence in remand. Later, 13 women were arrested from a women’s rights press conference organized in response to the students’ arrest. Four BNP lady MPs were arrested and detained for eight hours during protests on March 7 2013.
- • Torture, known as “remand”, practiced as routine. Detainees often maimed for life.
- As of Dec 12, under 4 years of this regime, 75 forced disappearances, 775 killed and 58,251 injured in political violence (Odhikar.org)
- According to Home Minister, in four years: 16,000 murders, 3,000 abductions/forced disappearances, 50,000 cases of repression against women. Forced disappearance includes garments factory union leader.
- Opposition (Jamaat/Shibir) figures as of Nov 13th, under four years of this regime:
—>Almost 20,000 activists arrested
—>Almost 200000 detained in prison
—>1,600 alleged cases of torture in police custody
—>80 female activists detained and 10 taken into remand
—>More than 100 offices burned and/or looted
—> 10 murdered and a couple of ICS leaders ‘disappeared’
Shahbag Protest 2013
- Demands hanging of Abdul Quader Molla and all those accused under the ICT
- Demands banning of opposition party Jamaat-i-Islami (in one report also Bangladesh Nationalist Party).
- Demands banning of opposition associated institutions including hospitals, banks and media, provoking attacks, vandalism and arson
- Full state backing and police protection, have faced no police violence