Friday, August 21, 2009

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

18 August 2009 The Hague URGENT APPEAL: [UPDATE] BANGLADESH:UPDATE Ensure the protection of human rights defender: Shahanur Islam Saikot.[UA-BA-2009-08-18] ------------------------------
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) would like to update you on the recent developments in the case of Shahanur Islam, a human rights defender and lawyer in Bangladesh. We are pleased to inform you that a police investigation has been initiated into the threats made against Mr Islam. However, there has also been a new recent incident of intimidation on August 16, 2009. Mr. Islam received another intimidating phone call, this time threatening him with imprisonment and with the false implication in a criminal case. CASE DETAILS: On 16 august, 2009 at 12.21 am, while Shahanur Islam was sleeping at his residence in Dhaka, he received a phone call from someone who identified himself as ‘Sagor from Mohakhali’ and asked Mr. Islam to disclose his location. Then he started to verbally insult him and his family. He finally threatened Mr Islam that he will ‘soon be arrested with drugs and then die in jail custody.’ Mr. Islam registered a General Diary (GD) with the Shahabag Police Station on same the date No. 1141 of 2009, dated August 16, 2009. In his daily work Shahanur Islam conducts fact finding missions and investigations on human rights violations perpetrated by the armed forces in Bangladesh. As a result he continuously receives intimidation, including threats to his life and of imprisonment. It is unfortunately common in Bangladesh that human rights defenders and journalists receives threats and are met with ‘counter charges’ as a way to intimidate them into silence. GHRD are therefore pleased to learn that the Dhaka Police started an investigation into the previous threats on August 04, 2009. We anticipate that the recent threats will also be accurately investigated, and at the same time we encourage that necessary action will be taken in order to ensure the safety and integrity of Shahanur Islam. Read previous appeals on the case of Shahanur Islam here: http://www.ghrd.org/pagina.asp?ID=3565 http://www.ghrd.org/pagina.asp?ID=3489 http://www.ghrd.org/Pagina.asp?ID=3420 GHRD shall continue to monitor and report on the case. 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. BACKGROUND 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 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 arrested and tortured. For more information regarding previous threats, please follow this link for the full detailed appeal: http://www.ghrd.org/pagina.asp?ID=3565 http://www.ghrd.org/pagina.asp?ID=3489 http://www.ghrd.org/Pagina.asp?ID=3420 Date & Time of the Incident(s): 16 August, 2009 12.21 am phone call residence, Dhaka 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 : - Sagor from Mohakhali - 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. SUGGESTED ACTION: GHRD is concerned about the safety and integrity of Mr Islam, a renowned human rights defender and collaborator with GHRD. The threats against Mr Islam are not an isolated instance, but rather 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 and partners in the field. It is unfortunately common in Bangladesh that human rights defenders and journalists receives threats and are met with ‘counter charges’ as a way to intimidate them into silence. Please write letters to the relevant authorities to ensure the security of Mr. Islam as well as encourage the investigations into this alleged incident, and insist that it is pursued in accordance with the law. GHRD has already submitted this case to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders. Thank you. 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 who conducts fact finding missions and investigations on human rights violations perpetrated by the armed forces in Bangladesh. I have also learned that 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. 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 The recent incident took place on 16 august, 2009 early at 12.21 am, while Shahanur Islam was sleeping at his residence in Dhaka. He received a phone call from someone who identified himself as ‘Sagor from Mohakhali’ who asked Mr. Islam to disclose his location. Then he started to verbally insult him and his family. He finally threatened Mr Islam that he will ‘soon be arrested with drugs and then die in jail custody.’ Mr. Islam registered a General Diary (GD) with the Shahabag Police Station on same the date that No. 1141 of 2009, dated August 16, 2009. It is unfortunately common in Bangladesh that human rights defenders and journalists receives threats and are met with ‘counter charges’ as a way to intimidate them into silence. 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. I am pleased to learn that Inspector general of Police of Bangladesh, Mr. Aminul Islam, Inspector of Police, Special Branch (SCO), Dhaka started an investigation into the previous threats on august 04, 2009. I am optimistic that the recent threat also will be accurately investigated, that necessary action will be taken in order to ensure the safety and integrity of Shahanur Islam. Human rights organizations, such as the BIHR and GHRD, shall continue to monitor and report on the case. 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. 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 I 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. Justice (Rtd) Amirul Kabir Chowdhury Chairman Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission House # 6/3, Block # D, Lalmatia, Dhaka BANGLADESH Tel: +88 02 9137724 4. 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) 5. 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 6.General Md Abdul Mubeen Chief of Army Staff Bangladesh Army Army Headquarters Dhaka Cantonment, Dhaka BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 875 4455, Tel: +880 2 987 0011 E-mail: itdte@army.mil.bd 7. 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 8. 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 *GHRD is an International, non-governmental organisation which strives for the protection of basic human rights throughout the world, as well as encouraging international awareness towards disregarded human rights violations. Global Human Rights Defence Laan van Meerdervoort 70 2517 AN The Hague The Netherlands Phone: +31 70 345 69 75 Phone: +31 70 345 34 11 Fax: +31 70 392 65 75 Postal Address: P.O Box 193 2501 CD The Hague url: www.ghrd.org e-mail : urgentappeal@ghrd.org
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