URGENT APPEAL:Bangladesh: Ensure Protection and Compensation to Tortured Student Leader, Mr. Mahfuzul Haydar Chowdhury Rotan [UA-BA-13.08.2008]
Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) has received a fact-finding report from Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) regarding the arbitrary arrest, lengthy detention and brutal torture of Mr. Mahfuzul Haydar Chowdhury Rotan, general secretary of Bangladesh student league (BCL). Mr. Rotan has been kept in detention without specific allegations made against him for a period of more then one and a half years. Rotan, who was released recently from Mymensing Central jail, has testified of undergoing brutal torture and is receiving threats of re-arrest, or death by cross fire. GHRD is extremely concerned about the torture and circumstances of the arrest, the lack of due process and the future physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Rotan and his family. GHRD demands adequate compensation for the victim and his family, including the accurate punishment of those persons who were directly and indirectly involved with these severe human rights violations. The cause of detention must be disclosed by the authorities after an impartial investigation, and the report must be published immediately. Please read the fact finding report from BIHR and forward this appeal to the relevant authorities listed below
Name of the Victim: Mahfuzul Haydar Chowdhury RotanAddress of the victim: Available upon request. Educational Involvement: Student of Post Graduate Diploma in Health Economics (PGDHE) of the Session of 2004-2005;
Political Position: General Secretary, Bangladesh Student League Central Committee.
First Date of Arrest: 16 January 2007 at midnight
Cause of Arrest:
Violating section 3(1)(Power to make detaining or removing certain person) of Special Power Act-1974 Showing Involvement: i)Ramana Thana Case No.44 of 06 Date:11.06.06ii) Palton Thana No.31(11) of 06Section : 147 (punishment for rioting) 149(Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) 332 (Voluntary causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) 333(Voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant from his duty) 325(Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt) 327(Voluntary causing hurt to extort property, or to constrain to an-illegal act) 307(Attempt to death) 143 (Punishment of unlawful assembly) of Penal Code.
Date of Detention: 1st time: 17 January 2007 for one month
2nd time: 15 February 2007 extended for 03 months
3rd time: 07 November 2007 extended for 03 months
4th time 24 January 2008 extended for 03 months
5th time: 11 may 2008 for one month
6th time: 09 June 2008 extended for three months
Still he is under detention at Mymensing Central Jail.
Writ on Behalf of Rotan: Criminal Miscellaneous case No. 330 of 2007Under Section: 491(Power to issue directions off the nature of Habeas corpus) of the Code of Criminal Procedure
Hearing Date : 19 March 2008
Judgment Date: 02 April 2008
Judgment: The detention of the detenue Mahfuzul Haider Rotan in Custody is declared illegal and improper.
Release from the Custody : 04 May 2008Arrest again : 04 May 2008 around at 4.15 pm – immediately after he was released from Mymensing Central jail.Arrest again: Release from Custody:
BIHR met with Mr. Rotan, on 10 August. He then told them about the first arrest and torture in 2007:
THE ARREST AND TORTURE OF ROTAN 16 JANUARY 2007:
On 16 January 2007, Rotan was arrested by member of joint forces from Dhaka university central playground area along with his other five political companions He was then taken to the army camp in the gymnasium on Dhaka University’s campus. (This camp was withdrawn after strong protest by students of Dhaka university in August 2007) He was thrown in and dunked in the cold water of the gymnasium swimming pool. Civil dressed army personnel tied his hands and legs with a rope and covered his head with a black cloth. He was brutally tortured by baton on his whole body for a long period of time. They hung from the ceiling and beat him severely. He was put on the floor and his chest, knees, fingernails and toes were punched and kicked with their boots. His penis and testicles were squeezed. They used derogatory language and threatened to kill him in a cross fire.Then the joint forces team took him to the Shahbag police station. Thereafter, he was arrested under section 16(2) of EPR and sent to the Central Jail.
BACKGROUND DETAILS: THE DETENTION :
An order of Home Ministry date 17 January 2007 was issued. In the order, Mr. Rotan was given a 30 days preventive detention under section 3(1) (Power to make detaining or removing certain person) of Special Power Act- 1974, for “prejudicial acts” mentioned in section 2(f) of same Act. The order was signed by a Deputy Secretary (Security Cell) of Home Ministry and Mr. Rotan’s detention case number is:05/2007. On 24 January 2007, Mr. Rotan received a paper from the Home Ministry signed by a Deputy Secretary (Security Cell-3) containing reasons for his detention under section 8 (Communication of grounds of order) of Special power Act-1974. Allegedly, Mr. Rotan was arrested under emergency powers for his involvement with ‘harmful activities against Bangladesh’ based on the observation and recommendation by the officer in charge of Shahbag police station and the Special Superintendent of Special Branch police of Dhaka City. Mr. Rotan was accused of ‘influencing and mobilizing’ the ‘slum people’ against the rule of law and order. He was also falsely accused of involvement in terrorist activities, ‘destructive action’, and bombing and shootings at Dhaka University on 19 November 2007. On 15 February 2007, another detention for three months was imposed on Mr. Rotan based on the extension order signed by Mr. Md. Afzalur Rahman, the Senior Assistant Secretary of the Home ministry’s Security Cell-3, under section 3(1)(Power to make detaining or removing certain person) of the Special power Act-1974. The High Court of Supreme Court of Bangladesh declared the detention of Mr. Rotan as illegal and improper on 19 March 2007. But the order issued by the High Court was revoked by an order issued by the Appellate Division soon after. Due to his severe illness that had escalated during his jail custody he was admitted to Dhaka Medical College hospital (DMCH) on 29 October 2007. He was released from hospital, uncured, on 26 November 2007. The advisory board of High Court released the five other leaders who had been arrested with Rotan but prolonged Rotan’s detention by three months on 07 November 2007. On 25 November 2007, the father of Mr. Rotan appealed to the Secretary of Home Ministry for the release and humane treatment of his son. The same board extended his detention for an additional three months on 24 January 2008. With no outcome, the father organized a press conference demanding the release of his son on 17 February 2008. Mr. Rotan was released from the Mymensing Central Jail on 04 May 2008. He was re-arrested the very same day. He was then taken to the Kotwali police station and later admitted to the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) of Mymensing Medical College Hospital (MMCH) complaining of severe chest pain. An order submitted by the District Magistrate Office on 11 May 2008 again accused Mr. Rotan for involvement in terrorist activities and made further irrelevant statements, such as ‘people are aggrieved with Rotan and hate him’. The order also mentioned that the crimes Mr. Rotan is suspected for violate Section 3(2) 20 of the Special Power Act-1974 and that information regarding this is undisclosed for the sake of ‘public interest’. On 04 June 2008, he had to appear at the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Mymensing District (1 No. Cognizance Court, Mymensing) for Kotwali Police station General Diary No. 219 dated 04 May 2008 under section 16(2) of Emergency Power Ordinance-2007. As a result, on 09 June 2008, his detention was extended for another three months, still, without any specific allegations made against him. Mr Rotan was finally released again on bail on 07 August 2008 from Mymensing Central Jail after a meeting occurred between the Chief advisor, Dr. Fakruddin Ahmed, and the Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University. The students of Dhaka University had demanded the release of Mr. Rotan through demonstrations outside the office of the Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University for a few days.
Mr. Mahfuzul Haider Chowdhury Rotan remained in detention for more than one and half a years due to being a leader and organizer of the Bangladesh Student League which is violation of his fundamental rights, as described in Article 32 (Protection of Right to Life and Personal Liberty), and 33 (Safeguards as to arrest and detention); Areas (i) (ii) of the Bangladeshi constitution; Article 8 & 9 of United Nation Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and article 9 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This is not the only incident committed by the present army-backed, caretaker government; and unfortunately, victims cannot receive justice for the grievances even though it is a clear violation of their fundamental and human rights. The judicial system of Bangladesh has failed to ensure their rights.Rotan was ill treated during interrogation by the jail authorities throughout the lengthy detention in Dhaka Central Jail. One personnel asked him about the future of student politics and the direction of Sheikh Hasina, President of Bangladesh Awami League, and activity against the government. Filthy language was always used. Failing to receive information from him, he was transferred to Mymensing Central Jail as punishment. In spite of clear recommendations for regular check ups by the doctor, he was denied proper treatment. His health deteriorated and he suffers from severe pain in his chest, knee, lower back, waist and eyes. The central hospital authority completed his ECG and X-Ray and a doctor has prescribed total rest for a period of three months. There is an urgent possibility and high risk that Mr. Rotan will be re-arrested or possibly killed in cross fire. Immediate action is required in order to protect the life and well being of Mr Rotan and his family.
Please write letters to the relevant authorities:
To form an independent commission headed by a Supreme Court Judge to inquire into the matter of the detention of Mr. Rotan, as well as publish the report at the earliest;
To ensure exemplary punishment of the persons who were directly and indirectly involved in the violation of human rights;
To provide adequate financial compensation to the victim and victim’s family, as well as guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of victim and victim’s family;
To abolish the Special Power Act-1974, as well as other existing black laws that are used as tool for human right’s violations;
To ensure the respect of human rights and fundamental freedom throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards;
To provide human rights education and training to the Police Inspectors and policemen who run the stations;
To remove reservations of Art.14 of the Convention Against Torture, as well as ratify Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Inhuman, Cruel or Degrading Punishment or Treatment-OPCAT. PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed Chief Advisor Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh Office of the Chief Advisor Tejgaon, Dhaka BANGLADESH Tel: +880 2 8828160-79, 9888677 Fax: +880 2 8113244 or 3243 or 1015 or 1490
2. Mr. Mohammad Ruhul Amin Chief Justice Supreme Court of Bangladesh Supreme Court Building Ramna, Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Tel: +880 2 9562792 Fax: +880 2 9565058
3. Mr. Nur Mohammad Inspector General of Police Bangladesh Police Police Headquarters' Fulbaria, Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Tel: +880 2 9562054 or 7176451 or 7176677 Fax: +880 2 9563362 or 9563363
4. Mr. A F Hassan Arif Adviser Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs Bangladesh Secretariat Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Tel: +88-02-7160627 (O) Fax: +88-02-7168557 (O)
5. Major General (Rtd.) M. A. Matin Adviser Ministry of Home Affairs Bangladesh Secretariat Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Tel: +88-02-7169069 (O) Fax: +88-02-7160405, 88-02-7164788 (O)
6. Brig. General Zakir HossainInspector General –Prison (IG-Prison)Central JailDhaka
For more information relating to the case of Rotan contact BIHR directly at email@example.com