Thursday, June 25, 2009

URGENT APPEAL: BANGLADESH: Ensure the protection of human rights defender: Shahanur Islam Saikot.

25 June 2009 The Hague URGENT APPEAL: [UPDATE] BANGLADESH: Ensure the protection of human rights defender: Shahanur Islam Saikot. [UA-BA-2009-06-26] ------------------------------------------------------ ISSUES: Threats, death threats to human rights defenders; impunity ------------------------------------------------------ BANGLADESH: Ensure the protection of human rights defender: Shahanur Islam Saikot. Dear Friends, Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) has received updated information regarding the continuous serious threats to Shahanur Islam, a human rights defender and lawyer in Bangladesh. The latest incident of intimidation occurred on 15-16 June 2009. Mr. Islam received a threatening phone call thrice within an hour, on 15 June; and at 12:00am on 16 June respectively. The caller used foul language, which carried the message of sexual harassment towards Mr. Islam’s female members of his family. He also threatened Mr. Islam that he could ‘attack him at any time’. Despite Mr. Islam’s efforts, there has still been no action taken by the police authorities. Also, the concerned police stations are trying to discourage him to file charges. GHRD urges for an immediate intervention to ensure his safety and integrity of person. The continuous threats must be investigated credibly and the alleged perpetrators must be brought to justice in accordance with the law. Read previous appeals here: http://www.ghrd.org/pagina.asp?ID=3489 http://www.ghrd.org/Pagina.asp?ID=3420 BIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: Name of the Victim : Adv. Shahanur Islam Saikot (28), Secretary General and Executive Director of Bangladesh Centre for Human Rights and Development (BCHRD), Programme Manager of Legal and Human Rights Affairs at Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) and Bangladesh Rehabilitation Centre for Trauma Victims (BRCT), Member of Bangladesh Bar Council and Bar Association in Dhaka District. CASE DETAILS: In his daily work Shahanur Islam conducts fact-finding missions and investigations on human rights violations perpetrated by the armed forces in Bangladesh, also informs authorities and issues international appeals. As a result, he continuously receives intimidation from the local authorities, including threats to his life. The threats have escalated over the last few months in particular in relation to an investigation and filing of charges of torture and murder against 16 accused, including 7 member of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAP)-08 in Madaripur zone. Shahanur Islam fears the law enforcement agencies and fears the risk that he may become implicated in a false case, or even arrested and tortured. The concerned police stations are trying to discourage him to file charges. The latest incident of intimidation occurred on 15-16 June 2009. Mr. Islam received a phone call from number three times within an hour, at 11:57pm and 11:58pm on 15 June; and at 12:00am on 16 June respectively. The caller claimed himself as Mr. Babu from Kumar Para in Rajshahi district. The caller used foul language, and expressed the message of sexual harassment towards the femae members in Mr. Islam’s family. In addition, the caller intimidated Mr. Islam and that that the perpetrator would/could attack him at any time by saying, “be cautious to do your activity and do not try to involve every sector of society, otherwise you will suffer more and more.” And, “I have a total record of your daily activities as where are you go? What do you do, etc? So, it is so easy for me to locate and reach you any time any moment as my desire”. Date & Time of the Incident(s): 16 June, 2009 at 12.00am and 12.08 am, phone call residence, Dhaka 15 June, 2009 at 11.57 and 11.58 p.m phone call residence, Dhaka 25 May, 2009, around 11am outside CJMC Court, Shariyatpur 13 April, 2009, outside CMM Court, Dhaka 14 April, 2009, Phone call (mobile) 18 March, 2009 11.15am, phone call to BIHR desk, Dhaka 19 March, 2009, phone call 01 March, 2009 at 9.52am, phone call 28 February, 2009 at 11.28am, phone call to BIHR desk, Dhaka 29 August 2008 10.17pm, phone call to BIHR desk, Dhaka Alleged Perpetrators : - Mr Babu, Kumar Para, Rajashani - Mr. Anis, Member of the Rapid Action Battalion in Madaripur, and other unidentified group of around 7 members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). - Officials of Directorate General Forces of Intelligence (DGFI), Owali Ullah/ Owalur Rahman. BACK GROUND HISTORY: Shahanur Islam has received several threats on different occasions recently. In particular in relation to two major murder and torture cases filed against members of RAB, including a Major of Army. For more information regarding previous threats, please follow this link for the full detailed appeal: http://www.ghrd.org/pagina.asp?ID=3489 http://www.ghrd.org/Pagina.asp?ID=3420 SUGGESTED ACTION: GHRD is extremely concerned about the safety and integrity of Mr Islam, a renowned human rights defender. The threats against Mr Islam are not an isolated instance, and threats and intimidation against human rights defenders and journalists are common and widespread in Bangladesh. GHRD has received several recent cases of similar intimidations from our observers in the field. We therefore strongly urges the international authorities to remind the Government of Bangladesh of its international obligations to promote, prevent and respect the fulfillment of human rights, which include the obligation to investigate such cases, to bring the perpetrators to justice, to make serious efforts to address the high level of impunity for human rights violations committed by the armed and law enforcement agencies in the country. Please write letters to the relevant authorities to ensure the security of Mr. Islam as well as demand investigations into this alleged incident, and insist that it is ensured that there is to be a credible investigation as well as punishment of the alleged perpetrators in accordance with the law. Considering this is not an isolated event, but rather the safety of human rights defenders in Bangladesh is of major concern, GHRD strongly urges the government to use its powers to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and journalists, to respect the rule of law, end impunity and the arbitrary arrests, torture and killings that constituted the repressive policy of the military caretaker government under two years of emergency rule. GHRD has already submitted this case to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. SAMPLE LETTER BANGLADESH: Ensure the protection of human rights defender: Shahanur Islam Saikot. Dear -------------------, I am told that Adv. Islam is a human rights defender and has been active in documenting and investigating cases of human rights violations. He also widely disseminates those cases through urgent appeals nationally and internationally. In his daily work Shahanur Islam conducts fact finding missions and investigations on human rights violations perpetrated by the armed forces in Bangladesh, as well as informs authorities and issues international appeals. As a result of his investigations, he continuously receives intimidation, including threats to his life. The threats have escalated over the last few months in particular in relation to an investigation and filing of charges of torture and murder against 16 accused, including 7 member of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAP)-08 in Madaripur zone. Shahanur Islam fears the enforcing agencies and the risk that he may become implicated in a false case, or even arrest and torture. The concerned police stations are trying to discourage him to file charges. The latest incident of intimidation occurred on 15-16 June, 2009. Mr. Islam received a phone call from number 01713702555 and 01715122888 thrice within an hour, at 11:57pm and 11:58pm on 15 June; and at 12:00am on 16 June respectively. The caller claimed himself Mr. Babu from Kumar Para in Rajshahi district. The caller used foul language which carried the message of sexual harassment towards Mr. Islam’s female members of his family. In addition, the caller intimidated Mr. Islam that he could attack him at any time by saying, “be cautious to do your activity and do not try to involve every sector of society, otherwise you will suffer more and more.” And, “I have total record of your daily activities as where are you go? What do you do, etc? So, it is so easy for me to locate and reach you any time any moment as my desire”. Shahanur Islam has received several threats on different occasions recently. In particular in relation to two major murder and torture cases filed against members of RAB, including a Major of Army. For more information regarding previous threats, please follow this link for the full detailed appeal: http://www.ghrd.org/Pagina.asp?ID=3420 I worry that the death threats he received may relate to his endeavor in exposing the human rights violations in Bangladesh. I sincerely urge the police to take immediate measures to ensure the personal security of Shahanur as well as for other human rights activists. Particularly, in order to deter further harassment to Adv. Islam, the police should probe the owner(s) of the cell phone numbers and conduct effective investigation over the case. The perpetrator(s) must be punished in accordance to law. In addition, the police should offer protection to the victim to ensure his personal security before the case is resolved. For further details in this case please contact GHRD or BIHR directly at; urgentappeals@ghrd.org or bihr@bangla.net Thank you for your attention and we look forward to your favorable response to this issue. Yours faithfully, ----------------------- PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO: 1. Sheikh Hasina Chief Adviser Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh Office of the Prime Minister Tejgaon, Dhaka BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 811 3244 / 3243 / 1015 / 1490 Tel: +880 2 882 816 079 / 988 8677 E-mail: pm@pmo.gov.bd or psecy@pmo.gov.bd 2. Mr. Mohammad Ruhul Amin Chief Justice Supreme Court of Bangladesh Supreme Court Building Ramna, Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 956 5058 Tel: +880 2 956 2792 3. Ms. Shahara Khatun Minister Ministry of Home Affairs Bangladesh Secretariat Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Fax: +88-02-7160405, 88-02-7164788 (O) Tel:+88-02-7169069 (O) 4. Mr. Mahbube Alam Attorney General of Bangladesh Office of the Attorney General Supreme Court Building Ramna, Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 956 1568 Tel: +880 2 956 2868 5. General Moeen U Ahmed Chief of Army Staff Bangladesh Army Army Headquarters Dhaka Cantonment DhakaBANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 875 4455 Tel: +880 2 987 0011 E-mail: itdte@army.mil.bd 6. Mr. Nur Mohammad Inspector General of Police (IGP) Bangladesh Police Police Headquarters' Fulbaria, Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 956 3362 / 956 3363 Tel: +880 2 956 2054 / 717 6451 / 717 6677 E-mail: ig@police.gov.bd 7. Mr. Hassan Mahmud Khandokar Director General (DG) Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) RAB Headquarter Uttara, Dhaka BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 896 2884 (O) Tel: +880 2 896 1105 (O) E-mail: dg_rab@rab.gov.bd
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