Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights is deeply concerned about the recent incident of physical assault and threats of Mr. Shahanur Islam, BIHR’s Executive Director and lawyer in Bangladesh.
During an investigation on the 9th of January, 2011 Mr. Shahanur Islam and his two fact-finding officers were physically attacked, threatened and looted all their valuable belongings in Thakurgaon district.This incident is unfortunately one of many that has taken place over the past few years, where Mr. Islam has been exposed to threats and assault as a result of his work to protect minorities in the country. Human rights defenders are frequently subjected to harassment from authorities in Bangladesh. The incident must be investigated and appropriate sanctions be meted to the police authority in question. BIHR urges for the immediate intervention to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and lawyers in their daily work in Bangladesh.
Name of the Victim : i) Mr. Shahanur Islam, General Secretary and Executive Director, Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), member of the Bangladesh Bar Council (Membership # 12766) and Bar Association in Dhaka District (Membership # 11177).
During the time of his duties, he moved many cases against the perpetrators as a lawyer and some of them have been punished. He also conducted many investigations and fact-finding missions on human rights violations as well as issued local and international urgent appeals requesting attention to concerned authorities.
ii) Md. Shohel Ahmed, Fact Finding Officer, BIHR
iii) Md. Uzzal Hossain, Social Worker, BIHR
Name of the Perpetrators : Unidentified 10/12 peoples
Date of Incident : January 9, 2011, around at 1.30 pm
Place of Incident : Bania/Jhargaon near about Gorea under police Station and district of Thakurgaon
On the 9th of January, 2011 a fact-finding team composing of Mr. Shahanur Islam, Executive Director of Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) and two fact-finding officers, BIHR went to Bania/Jhargaon area in Thakurgaon district to investigate the incident of the ill-treatment of a minority woman.
After reaching the spot, the fact-finding team interviewed the witnesses and the local people. In the mean time, 10-12 unidentified people came to the spot and questioned the fact-finding team about their reason of presence. One of the perpetrators identified himself as being the chairman of the local union Parishad, another perpetrator indentified himself as a member of Parishad. After the members of the fact-finding team identified themselves, the perpetrators accused them of being involved in the murder of a young boy, trading with a stolen motorbike and taking part in fraudulent dollar transactions. Then, one of the perpetrators physically attacked Mr. Islam and took away his mobile phone, while he was trying to call the local police station for help.
Meanwhile, the perpetrators also attacked the two fact-finding officers and took away their mobiles as well.
The perpetrators – threatening the members of the fact-finding team with a pistol - looted the video camera, laptop, secret pen video camera, still camera, documents, money bag and all other valuable belongings of the fact finding team, amounting approximately to BDT 3,50,000.
When Mr. Islam tried to shout for help, he was physically attacked. Then the attackers forced the victims - by threatening them with pistol - to pose with dollars while the perpetrators took pictures of them. After taking the pictures, the perpetrators warned the fact-finding team not to inform the police about this incident, otherwise they will get these photos published in the newspapers and kill the victims. Finally the perpetrators fled away on some unregistered motorbikes.
Then the fact finding team went to Thakurgaon Police Station and informed the police about the incident. The police - along with the fact-finding team - visited the spot on same day, but no perpetrators were identified by the fact-finding team. On the next day, an FIR was registered at the Thakurgaon Sadar Police Station under no. 06/2011 dated 10.01.2011. The investigation officer has not visited the spot and no perpetrators have been arrested yet.
BACK GRAUND HISTORY:
Mr. Shahanur Islam has been victimized in different occasions previously due to his activities to protect and promote human rights in Bangladesh.
i) On 23 December 2009, around at 3.30 Mr. Shahanur Islam is coming from the Hotel Sheraton after attending meeting with an individual human rights expert by bus (8 Number bus) to his office Bijoynagar. while is bus is come at Kakrail Mosque Square a police whose name is Tafizul stopped the bus with out reason and more than one hour he kept it there. Coming out from the bus while Mr. Islam asked to Mr. Tafizul the police official about the reason of stopping the bus, Mr. Tafizul became angry with Mr. Islam and grabbed his collar and locked up him in to the Kakrail Mosque Square a Police Box. While Mr. Islam acquainted himself as a lawyer and human rights defender Mr. Tafizul along with other two police members shouted him with filthy language. They also tried to physically assault. There after they compelled him to sit there more than one hour. Then, they called their senior officer and one police van with 7/8 police members came and started shouting him with slang language again. During the incident, Mr. Atahar, one police officer who came after their calling snatched Mr. Islam’s Mobile phone. Then they tried to lift him in to their police van. In the mean time, the stuff of BIHR reached the spot and started argued with the policemen. At last after more than 3 hours of detaining Mr. Islam has been released around at 6.00 pm. Then while he was coming to the office, a phone call from 01717349340 came to Mr. Islam’s cell phone 01720308080 around at 6.02 pm. While Mr. Islam received the call a person acquainted himself as a member of “Bongabundhu Memorial Trust” and also a Private Secretary of a Barrister started to threaten Mr. Islam stating why Mr Islam did misbehaviour with Sub Inspector Saiful Islam? He also alerted that Mr. Islam will face more suffering immediately.
ii) On August 16, 2009 early in the day around at 12.21 am, while Mr. Shahanur Islam was sleeping at his resident 27/11/2, Topkhana Road Segun Bagicha, Dhaka arouse by the ring tone of a phone call from 01675029018. Receiving the call when Mr. Islam asked the caller about his identity, the unknown caller asked Mr. Islam to inform his location at that moment without disclosing his identity. Denying disclosing Mr. Islam’s staying location due to his personal security when Mr. Islam again asked the identity of the caller, the unknown callr identified himself as Sagor from Mohakhali and started to threaten him by stating, “You the son of pork, be cautious, yet you have the time to live, but you will not get time in future”. He again said, “You are a business man of ganja (one kind of illegal drug) and you will be arrested with ganja soon as well as die in the jail custody”. When Mr. Islam asked him about his location, he informed that he is from Mohakhali, Dhaka and also asked Mr. Islam to go there otherwise Mr. Islam will be implicated with Drug cases. When Mr. Islam dinned to go there, the caller started to use foul language to Mr. Islam and his family members. Following the incident to secure his life Mr. Islam registered a General Diary (GD) with the Shahabag Police Station on same date that No. 1141 of 2009, dated August 16, 2009.
Mr. Islam is so frighten about receiving continuously this kind of phone call for last few months/years. He is apprehending, due to his activities against violation of human rights especially tortured and organized violence perpetrated by law enforcing agencies as well as Islamic militant, he may implicated with false and concocted cases, arrest and torture brutally. Even, they can kill him by the name of cross fire or encounter or kill him or kidnap him by third party.
iii) On 15 June 2009, around at 11.57 P.M, when Mr. Shahanur Islam was waiting to sleep at his resident 27/11/2, Topkhana Road Segun Bagicha, he received a phone call from 01713702555 and asked the caller to inform about his identity. The caller acquainted with him as Babu from Kumar Para under Rajshahi district and threatened him by stating “why are you trying to do more, it will compel you to pay more” and cut off the call. Then at around11.58 P.M, he again called by the same cell phone and threatened him by stating “I am coming soon to punish you properly as you can not run more”and cut off the cell. Later, on 16 June early in the morning at around 12.00 am he again call Mr. Islam by the same cell phone and threatened by sating “when the time will come on favor of him he will show to me how much paddy how much rice” and again cut off the cell without giving no chance to ask him anything.
Thereafter, around at 12.08 A.M, Mr. Babu further called Mr. Islam by another cell Phone number 01715122888 and again acquainted with him as Babu from Kumar Para under Rajshahi district and starting to use filthy language by stating “mother fucker, i will fuck you along with your mother and sister”. When Mr. Islam asked him about the reason of this kind of misbehavior, he threatened him to put bamboo in to his anus stating “son of bitch, I will put bamboo in to your anus.” He again said, “You have been keeping me psychological pressure for last three months”. When Mr. Islam asked how he has been keeping him psychological pressure where he did not know him? He said, “I know you better and when i will come to you to teach properly, then you will know how you have been keeping me psychologically pressure for last three months, otherwise it is not possible to understand you.” He further said, “be cautious to do your activity and do not try to involve every sector of society, otherwise you will suffer more and more.” He also threatened him by stating, “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”. Being afraid, Mr. Islam tried to file a general diary to the concern police station but unfortunately the concerned police stations denied to register it and also tried to discourage him to file general diary. You are requested to visit the following links to know more about case previous fact finding report: http://bihr-bihr.blogspot.com/2009/06/fact-finding-reporthuman-rights.html, http://www.ghrd.org/Pagina.asp?ID=3565
iv) On 24 May 2009 at evening Mr. Shahanur Islam went to Shariyatpur district to file a case against 16 accuseds including 7 members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)-08, Madaripur Zone, charging on murder by torturing during the time of emergency under section 302, 109, 34 and 506 of Penal Code with the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Shariyapur district by one Ret’d Army men Mr. Abdur Rahman Khan, father of the dead person (victim) Mr. Afjal Hossin with the help of Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), under its legal and humanitarian activities to promote and protect human rights with the vision of making a torture and extra judicial execution free Bangladesh. One of the accused Mr. Quayser Ahmed is an acting Assistant Superintend of Police (ASP) level official of RAB. When Mr. was staying at Shariyatpur town, some of the law enforcing agencies men clothing civil dress was following him continuously.
On 25 May 2009, around at 11.00 am, submitting the complaint with the court, when Mr. Islam was waiting to meet with pressmen as well as allegation accepting hearing against the RAB, one of the accused RAB member Mr. Anis clothing civil dress came before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court ground, Shariyatpur and tried to influence Mr. Islam to withdraw the complaint and also intimidated and pressurized him.
After completing the hearing the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Shariyatpur took the case as cognizance and ordered the Officer in Charge (OC) of Palong Police station to file the allegation as First Information report (FIR) you are requested to visit the links to know about the case: http://www.prothom-alo.com/mcat.news.details.php?nid=MTU3MzY0&mid=NQ==, http://jugantor.com/enews/issue/2009/05/26/news0339.php, http://www.jaijaidin.com/details.php?nid=132603 )
[It is the historical event in Bangladesh because it is the first case in Bangladesh that has been filed against the RAB by a civil person on charging murdered by torture and ordered to the OC of Concerned police station to file the allegation against RAB as FIR (EJAHAR) is also first in Bangladesh], around at 1.30 pm on the day when Mr. Islam came out from the court building, Mr. Anis, member of RAB tried to create obstacle on the way of Islam and again intimidated him. He gave threats to Mr. Islam to withdraw the case otherwise he should pay more for it and no one can safe him from facing more suffering if Mr. Islam tried to go ahead regarding this case. Then Mr. Anis went back.
Around at 6.00 pm Mr. Anis along with other 7 to 8 RAB personnel from RAB-8, Matheripur, clothing civil dress by a pickup van came to the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court ground and looked for Mr. Islam. They asked some of the local people about the staying location of Mr. Islam. They also went to the Reporters Unity office of Shariyatpur district and looked for Mr. Islam and also asked some of the journalist about Mr. Islam. On May 26, 2009, around at 11. A.m. the RAB team led by Mr. Anis again went the Court ground and Reporters Unity Office look for Mr. Islam as well as asked the local people and journalist to inform about him. They also tried to influence the local people and journalist to inform about Mr. Islam.
Mr. Shahanur Islam is apprehending that any time the RAB Men can arrest him and implicated with false and concocted allegation as well as torture him brutally. He also apprehending that they can kidnap him by themselves or third party. Here specially mentioned that one of the accused person Quaiyum Ahmed (Accused number -01), is now discharging his duty at Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) as an Assistance Police commissioner. You are requested to visit the following links to know more about case previous fact finding report: http://bihr-bihr.blogspot.com/2009/05/fachuman-rights-defender-lawyer-mr.html
v) On April 13, 2009 Mr. Shahanur Islam was intimidated by a filed officer of (Sub Inspector Level Official) of Directorate General Forces of Intelligence (DGFI), named Owali Ullah, while he was waiting for speaking with Media men after filing a petition case on charging attempt to murder by torturing with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court (CMM) Dhaka against three men including a Major of Army named Sarwar of 17, East Bengle Regiment, Dhaka by the prominent manpower businessman Md. Samsuddin Ahmed with the help of Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) and the case was moved before the court by Adv. Shahanur Islam, Programme Manager-Legal & Human Rights of BIHR
After filing the case when Mr. Shahanur Islam came out from the CMM court, an officer of law enforcing agencies with plain cloth followed him until Mr. Islam was reached in front the office room of Court Reporters Unity, Judge Court, Dhaka, where the plain clothing unknown person asked him about the case that was filed against the Army Major. When Mr. Islam asked him to disclose his identity, he introduced himself as Mr. Owalur Rahman, a Field Officer (Sub Inspector Level Official) of Directorate General Forces of Intelligence (DGFI). Then DGFI officer interrogated him regarding the case. During interrogation, he asked Mr. Islam “why he moved the case on behalf the complainant? How he was connected with the case? What is the relation between the complainant and Mr. Islam? What is the interested of Mr. Islam in this case? How was he being confirmed about the identity of alleged Army Officer? Whether Mr.Islam has legal authority to file the case against the Army Officer? How long he was connected with the organization? Who is the chief of the organization etc? Mr. Islam replied every query in simply language with cordially. But the DGFI personnel alarmed him that he would intervene the matter, if he found the incident is false, he would take step against both of the complainant and Mr. Islam. He also collected a copy of complaint and intimidated Mr. Islam not to give any statement to the media or others regarding the case due to case was filed against the Army Major.
The news of filing case against three men including an Army Major by the businessman in Dhaka was covered with significant by most of the electronic and print media in Bangladesh including BBC world, Channel-I, Digonto TV, the Daily Star, New Nation, New Age, Independent, Jugantor, Jono Kontho, Korotoa with the statement of Mr. Islam on April 13 and 14 of 2009.Please visit the following links to know about the case:
http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=84105, http://www.karatoa.net/detailsnews.php?headlineID=6997&pageTitle=HeadlineDetails&editionID=287&ref=index.php, http://www.amadershomoy.com/content/2009/04/14/news0352.htm, http://www.theindependent-bd.com/details.php?nid=122265, http://www.bdnews24.com/details.php?id=81372&cid=2&aoth=1
On April 14, 2009, an unknown phone call has come to Mr. Islam’s cell phone Number 01720308080 from Cell Phone Number 01814653119. Receiving the call while Mr. Islam asked his identity, the caller introduced him as Mr. Owali Ullah, Field officer of DGFI and also told that he was met with Mr. Islam following day. Then he told with shouting to Mr. Islam that why he did not follow his prohibition regarding to give statement to the media? He again told with angry that he did not reach Major Sarwar at 17, East Bengle Regiment and ordered Mr. Islam to find out the alleged Major Sarwar, otherwise he would face more suffering. He also used rough language at that time Please visit the following links to know more about the case:
vi) On March 18, 2009 around at 11.15 a.m. when Mr. Shahanur Islam was working at Bangladesh Institution Human Rights at 27, Bijoy Nagar, Dhaka-1000, he received a call from a person; the cell phone number was displayed as 01937690054. Mr. Islam asked the caller to identify himself. The caller did so only as Billu and starting to verbally abuse him. In response Mr. Islam inquired as to the reason of the call and the purpose of the vulgar language. Billu replied by threatening to kill Mr. Islam
On March 19, 2009 Mr. Islam again received call from the same phone Number. Once again the caller identified himself as Billu and begun to verbally abuse him and threatened him to kill immediately. He also warned him to take mental preparation about his death.
The phone call deeply disturbed and frightened Mr. Islam who in response immediately filed a General Diary at the Peltan Police Station of DMP (Paltan Police Station G. D. No-1409; Dated: 19.03.2009). In it he made a statement about the two threats he received over the phone. You are requested to visit the following links to know more about case previous fact finding report: http://bihr-bihr.blogspot.com/2009/03/fact-finding-report-prominent-human.html
vii) On February 28th, 2009 at 11.28 a.m, while Mr. Shahanur Islam was working at his desk at the Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights, (BIHR) he received a phone call. Mr. Islam asked the caller to identify himself. The caller did so only as Pintu and starting to verbally abuse him. In response Mr. Islam inquired as to the reason of the call and the purpose of the vulgar language. Pintu replied by threatening to murder Mr. Islam by way of a gun shot to the head. Mr. Islam received a second phone call at 11.32 a.m. Once again the caller identified himself at Pintu and begun to verbally abuse him. This time, the caller stated that not only does he intend to murder him, but that he intends to do so that same day. The phone conversation ended with Pintu advising Mr. Islam to mentally prepare for his impending death.
The phone call deeply disturbed and frightened Mr. Islam who in response immediately filed a General Diary at the Paltan Police Station of DMP (No-2281). In it he made a statement about the two threats he received over the phone.
On March 01st, 2009 at 9.52 a.m., Pintu called Mr. Islam again and restated his threat to murder, this time claiming he would do so immediately. You are requested to visit the following links to know more about case previous fact finding report: http://bihr-bihr.blogspot.com/2009/03/fact-finding-reporta-prominent-human_7556.html
viii) On August 29th, 2008 at 10.17 p.m. he was working at his desk at the Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights office, when an unidentified person called him. The caller demanded to know Mr. Islam’s identity and location. For personal security reasons Mr. Islam declined answering the caller’s inquiries and instead demanded the same information from the caller. This angered the caller who replied by stating that he could not disclose his identity at the moment. He did, however, state that he is a higher authority of law enforcing agencies. The caller further said that he would disclose his identity and punish Mr. Islam at the earliest possible time. Following these statements, the caller continued on by stating that he knows who Mr. Islam is but does not know his residential address. He further threatened Mr. Islam by claiming that he would come to his home and subject him to punishment. The caller ended the conversation by stating that Mr. Islam would be facing more suffering soon. Following the incident Mr. Islam filed General Diary at the Paltan Police Station in DMP (No-2014). Please visit the following links to know more about the case:
ix) On 06 February 2008, while he was working at his desk at the Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights office. An unidentified person called him and When Mr. Islam demanded to disclose his identity, he identified him as a higher official of a medicine company and ordered him to come at Nayatola, Dhaka to meet with him. But when Mr. Islam refused to do that the caller demeaned to know his present location. But due to his personal security when Mr. Islam refused to disclosed his location, the caller threatened to kill him using foul language. He said that where Mr. Islam will live; he will find out him and finished him from the world asap. When Mr. Islam asked him about this type of behavior he replied that Mr. Islam had caught some adultery medicine with him and handed over him to the concerned police station. Now he released from the jail and wanted to punish Mr. Islam. He also said that he would file case against Mr. Islam to sentence him jail and if he can not do that he will finished him from the world by kill him. Following the incident Mr. Islam filed General Diary at the Paltan Police Station in DMP that No-493. You are requested to visit the following links to know more about case previous fact finding report: http://bihr-bihr.blogspot.com/2009/07/fact-finding-reporthuman-rights.html
This is not any isolated instance of such kind of attacked or human rights defenders in Bangladesh. It is a very common phenomenon for the professionals like human rights defenders of Bangladesh facing attacked, harassment, ill treatment, death threats from the terrorist, law-enforcing agencies and security forces. It is well-known that Bangladesh has cultivated one of the best cultures of impunity to alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses despite the nation’s presence in the UN Human Rights Council since May 2006. Instead of improving the country’s human rights records the government of Bangladesh has paved the ways to degrade the rights of the citizens through various means of violations.
i) Take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Shahanur Islam and others two victims;
ii) Order a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned incident ill treatment, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;
iii) Put an end to all acts of harassment against Mr. Islam as well as against all human rights defenders in Bangladesh;
iv) Accomply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
v) Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Bangladesh.
We trust that you will take immediate action regarding this serious matter. We look forward to your favorable response.
Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR)
27, Bijoy Nagar, B-17, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Cell: 01720308080, Skype:saikot.bihr