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Rana Plaza Collapse | Legal Action »

May 16, 2013

Legal Action

High Court Directs Bangladesh Bank to Freeze Bank Accounts of Owners
15 May 2013 | Click Here

Writ Petion Filed | Rana Plaza Collapse
25 April 2013 | Click here

The High Court Will Make a Decision on 21 May 2013

The High Court (HC) on Monday directed the government to submit a list of victims who still remain missing following the collapse of Rana Plaza.

The government will have to prepare the list on the basis of identity cards, photos, appointment letters and other relevant documents

Tazreen Factory Fire Court Action

During the day’s hearing, the court also asked the government to submit a report on the investigation of fire incident at Tazreen Garment Ltd in Ashulia.

The fire on November 24 last year left more than 100 people dead.

Meanwhile, the court expressed dissatisfaction as the chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) submitted two separate lists containing the names of expert before it.

The court on November 26 last year had directed the organisations to submit a list of the expert within 10 days before this court, so that it can form an independent committee to investigate the Tazreen fire incident.

The court fixed May 29 for passing its order on Tazreen fire report.

Source : Daily Star


Rana Plaza Collapse | Search For Victims Over »

May 15, 2013

13 May 2013 | Search for Bodies of Saavar Victims Called off at Rana Plaza Site

Announcement by Saavar Administration at the Adhar Chandra High School  playground where families have been waiting for the bodies of the Missing. On 13 May 2013, the search for bodies was officially called off. 

  • 293 People Remain Missing. 
  • 1127 Bodies Found.
  • 62 People are being Treated in Enam Hospital


Part I

Part II

Advanced Questions From Participating Countries About Bangladesh »

April 26, 2013

Advance Questions which have been submitted to ask the Bangladesh Government on 29th April 2013
Information can be found on the UN Office of High Commissioner Website
100 Countries have signed up for question session
 
Below are the questions which have been submitted in advance, they have been grouped according to topics.
Extrajudicial Killings
  • Extrajudicial killings, torture and impunity. What is the Government doing to put an end to extrajudicial killings, torture and other forms of ill-treatment perpetrated by law enforcement agencies?   Netherlands
  •  We note that the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has transmitted to the government of Bangladesh allegations that enforced disappearances are frequently used by law enforcement agencies. What steps is the government of Bangladesh taking to eliminate this practice? UK
  • What methods are used to investigate and prosecute extrajudicial killings and claims of torture and whether Bangladesh plans to accept the request of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for a country? Montnegro
Rapid Action Battalion and Torture
  •  Will the Government of Bangladesh, in order to put an end to impunity, ensure that all human rights violations committed by members of law enforcement agencies, including the police, armed forces, and RAB, are thoroughly and impartially investigated and prosecuted? Netherlands
  • We note that the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has transmitted to the government of Bangladesh allegations that enforced disappearances are frequently used by law enforcement agencies. What steps is the government of Bangladesh taking to eliminate this practice? UK
  • Does the government of Bangladesh have any plans to sign or ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT)? UK
Disability Rights
  •  Has the Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (2012) been adopted? If not, when is it expected to be considered? Mexico 
Child Rights
  • What efforts are being conducted to address problems of child labor through the National Child Labor Elimination Policy? Montnegro
  • The National Report submitted by the Government of Bangladesh mentions that a provision has been made for the establishment of an Ombudsman for children (para.90). What is the time frame for the establishment of such a mandate? What would be its functions and resource allocation? Norway
Womens Rights

The Government of Bangladesh has taken commendable measures to promote the rights of women and increase their participation in society. In this regard we note with concern the increase in voices calling for changes in stark contrast to the Government’s policy on women’s rights. As for the Women Policy, we would appreciate more information on timelines and targets for its implementation, and how this will be monitored by the Government. Norway

 
Violence Against Women
  •  Violence against women. What effective measures does the government of Bangladesh intend to take in order to tackle violence against women and girls, e.g. by implementing existing laws? Netherlands
  • What steps is the government of Bangladesh taking to implement the recommendation of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to adopt a national action plan to criminalise violence against women and girls and prosecute perpetrators? UK
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) welcomed Bangladesh’swillingness to consider with drawing its reservations to articles 2 and 16.1(c) of the Convention. What is the current state of play in this regard? UK
Freedom of Expression

How successful are investigations of violent acts committed against journalists? Is the Government of Bangladesh succeeding in bringing perpetrators of these acts to justice? Czech Republic

Rohingya

Could the Government of Bangladesh provide information on measures undertaken to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of stateless Rohingya persons, to improve the situation of the Rohingya refugees and to finalize its refugee policy and take measures to reinstate the resettlement programme? Czech Republic

Indigenous People and Ethnic Minorities
What was the result of the consultation process to ratify ILO Convention no. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples 1989? Mexico
LGBT Rights
Does the government of Bangladesh have any plans to de-criminalize homosexuality by abolishing section 377 of the Penal Code? UK
Independence of NHRC

What further steps does the Government of Bangladesh undertake in order to provide the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh with full independence and to help the Commission to obtain A-status and to comply fully with the Paris Principles? Germany

Complying with International Standards, Treaties and Procedures
  • Ireland understands that Bangladesh has initated work in cooperation with UNDP to strengthen reporting capacity to the Treaty Bodies. Ireland would be grateful for information on when Bangladesh plans to submit reports to the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which were due some years ago? 
  • ·Does Bangladesh have any plans to issue a standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures? Ireland
  •  How does the Government of Bangladesh intend to meet its reporting obligations under international treaty law? In particular, when does Bangladesh intend to submit its long over due reports to the CERD, the CESCR, the Human Rights Committee, the CAT, the CRPD, and the CMW? Germany
  •  Are there any plans by the Government of Bangladesh to extend a standing invitation to United Nations special procedures? If not, what obstacles remain in the way of such an invitation? Germany
y
  • What steps is Bangladesh taking to ensure the highest rule of law and human rights standards are being met when trying individuals for crimes under international law? Lichenstein
  • What steps has Bangladesh taken to ratify the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute? Lichenstein
Health

How does the government intend to advance legal reforms that promote sexual and reproductive health and rights for all? Netherlands

International Crimes Tribunal
  • While commending the Bangladesh’s efforts to ensure accountability for grave crimes committed during its past, Liechtenstein is concerned about persistent reports of due process violations and allegations of partiality in the trials at the International Crimes Tribunal.
  •  What measures will be taken to ensure the fair trials to all defendants before the recently established Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal for crimes against humanity during the Liberation War of 1971?
Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord

We appreciate the importance expressed by the Government to the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord. What measures have been taken to amend the Land Commission Act and to speed up land reform? Which steps will the Government of Bangladesh take to investigate credible reports of increasing violence against women in the CHT, especially regarding sexual assaults? What is being done in order to put an end to such violent acts? Norway

Right To Information      
  • While we welcome the adoption of the Right to Information Act (RIA) and the establishment of the Information Commission (IC), we would like to know which steps the Government of Bangladesh is taking in order to make the Act known to its citizens. Further, as pointed out in para.17 of the National Report, the IC has a mandate to impose sanctions and to take measures to ensure that the RIA is complied with. Could you please elaborate on how this mandate has been followed up so far, including examples of sanctions applied?  Norway
 

 

Political Violence Statistics Since February 2013 »

April 1, 2013

Source : ASK Documentation Unit | Reported Figures in Newspapers

In the first three months of 2013, Jamaat-Shibir carried out large scale violence which has put the lives of the common people under threat. They carried out the violence in trying to disturb the trial of Crimes against Humanity of 1971 and demanding the release of their leaders. The violence of Jamaat-Shibir took a turn for the worst when the Tribunal declared judgment against Sayedee finding him guilty on 28 February 2013.

               230 incidents of violence have been reported.
               6449 people have been injured and 171 died in these incidents.
               Total 14 days Hartal (Strikes) has been observed through out the country.

    137 people have been killed in this wave of violence.

Among them, 9 police, 1 village police, 3 women, 6 Awami League activist, 4 BNP activist, 44 Jamat-Shibir activist and 70 are ordinary citizens.

Besides, recent attack on the Hindu community have particularly caught our attention.

Hindu families have been attacked in 41 districts.

About 420 temples, houses and business enterprises belonging to Hindus have been vandalised and set fire in this violence.

Among them 163 are business enterprises, 162 houses and 95 are temples.

Imposition of Section 144
To avoid political turmoil and maintain the law and order situation, section 144 has been imposed before different political activities in the first three months of 2013. In these three months, there has been 68 instances section 144 has been imposed in the 7 Division of the country.


Death by/in custody/in crossfire by Law Enforcemet Agnecies in 2013

January-March
Documentation Unit



      Law Enforcers


RAB


Police


RAB & Police


Police & BGB


Joint Force


Total


Type of

Death


Crossfire

(after arrest)


 


 


 


 


 


0


Crossfire

(without arrest)


4


5


 


 


 


9


Physical Torture

(without arrest)


 


4


 


 


 


4


Physical Torture

(after arrest)


 


2


 


 


 


2


**Shooting

(without arrest)


 


39


14


23


5


81


Total


4


50


14


23


5


96

 

*the word “crossfire” is used by the media

**those who died in demand of release of the accused of Crime against Humanity and in protest against the judgment of Sayedee have also been included here.

Annexture: one died from Police using Pepper Spray, one died in collision with tree after chased by police, one died while running away to escape tear gas and one died from panic of arrest.

Source: Prothom Alo, Songbad, Ittefaq, Jonokontho, Jugantor, Inquilab, Somokal, Noya Diganta, Amar Desh, Daily Star, Independent and New Age.

Statistics Gathered From Newspapers in this period

(Click to View ASK Documentation Unit Figures)

Sources : ASK Documentation Unit

New Study | ''State of Children in Bangladesh 2012'' | Manusher Jonno Foundation »

March 25, 2013

Source: Daily Star

Survey Conducted by Manusher Jonno

Murders of children have seen a significant rise in the last one year from 334 murders reported in newspapers in 2011 to 414 murders reported in 2012, said speakers at a meeting yesterday.

They said causes for the murders were diverse and ranged from family enmity to failure to pay ransom fees and terrorist activities.

The meeting titled “State of Children in Bangladesh 2012: Taken from Newspapers” was organised by Manusher Jonno Foundation at Jatiya Press Club in the capital.

The foundation released its findings on positive and negative news about children, published in six national dailies from January to December 2012, to portray their situation in Bangladesh last year.

“Apart from deliberate murders, 363 children died in road accidents while 558 children died of other reasons according to newspaper reports,” said Abdulla Al Mamun, programme manager for Manusher Jonno Foundation.

He further mentioned that around 265 children were kidnapped in 2012, a significant rise from the 103 children being reported to have been kidnapped in 2011.

According to newspaper reports, 155 children were raped in the country last year, which is a decline from 181 children reported to have been raped in 2011.

The NGO also found out that 12,000 children in the country did not receive quality education, according to 270 newspaper reports published in this regard.

A total of 190 newspaper reports were made on the  participation of children in events such as film festivals, book fairs and science fairs, said Mamun.
The six newspapers are: Prothom Alo, Samakal, New Age, Jugantor, The Daily Star and Ittefaq.

Click Link to see Situation of Child Rights in Bangladesh Report which is being shared at the Universal Periodic Review

Violence against women: Time to renew the old thoughts »

March 17, 2013

Law Analysis | Anup Kumar Biswas | The writer is an Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Premier University, Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Humanity haunts human beings when humane humbleness is lost. Likewise, woman’s right haunts woman when female entity is shattered. In compliance with other countries of the world, ‘The International Women’s Day’ has been observed routinely in our country with firm pledge and commitment to uphold the rights of women. But even after 42 years from independence, can we unequivocally raise our voice claiming and ensuring equal right and dignified status of women in our society? Perhaps not, rather violence and inhuman treatment against women has become a serious threat to overall development and enlightenment of the country. Like other South-Asian countries, violence against women has become a very common phenomenon in our country even from the women’s perspective. Where the standard of living is booming, the price of daily commodities is hiking, the occurrence of terrorism and crime is on the rise, nepotism and corruption is increasing; does it sound alarming if aggression against women normally grows high? We, the people of Bangladesh, do feel the necessity of establishing women’s rightful status and in consequence of this contemplation, several campaigns and initiatives concentrating on rights of women are launched from time to time by both government and non-government organizations including human rights groups and women activist groups. But it cannot be said that the condition of women has been improved to a great extent comparing to our heart-felt initiatives and expectations. Where lies the problem underneath? I think, time has come to have a look at the issue from different dimensions. As for instance, in many cases of violence it was previously believed that framing a strong and harsh legislation would be a prolific solution whereas, it has already been proved that raising massive awareness against such crime or violence is more effective while combating it. “Reducing is far easier than eradicating”- should be our most probable approach.

In Bangladesh, women become susceptible to different forms of violence like sexual harassment, sexual assault including rape, murder and grievous hurt, domestic violence, dowry related violence, acid throwing, trafficking, kidnapping and abduction, illegal fatwa and illegal arbitration, minority violence, wage discrimination and social discrimination, health and nutritional deficiency etc. According to a report of ‘Odhikar’ (A Human Rights Organization), last year (i.e. in 2012), about 760 women including children were raped of which 188 were gang raped while 69 were killed after rape. A total of 479 girls and women were victims of sexual harassment among which 18 committed suicide, three were stabbed to death, 24 were injured, 15 were assaulted, 69 were victims of attempted rape and 350 were sexually harassed in various ways. 822 females were subjected to dowry related violence of which four were minor brides, 273 were killed because of dowry, 535 were ill-treated in various other ways and 14 committed suicide over dowry demands. 78 women became victims of acid violence of which 20 were young girls. About nine women were subjected to violence by whipping, social isolation etc. in the name of illegal fatwa.

Some women rights organizations like Bangladesh Mohila Parishad, Karmojibi Nari, Bangladesh Adivasi Nari Network, Bangladesh Nari Pragati Sangha etc. express their deep concerns on the fact that the number of unfortunate and unwanted deaths of women is increasing day by day.

According to a press briefing in the Dhaka Reporter’s Unity, on an average, five national minority women suffer several types of violence per month. Police data shows that 1,09,621 complaints of various forms of violence against women were lodged during the 2010-2012 (up to August) period. Of these, 18,484 complaints were taken into cognizance, but only 6,875 cases were deemed ‘genuine’ and ‘fit’ for further proceedings. According to Health Ministry sources: 70% of women suffer from nutritional deficiency, 67% of pregnant women do not receive antenatal care and 14% of pregnant women’s death are associated with injury and violence.

But the commitment of the Bangladesh State does not march with the above promises. ‘Equality before the Law’ and ‘No discrimination to women’ is constitutionally guaranteed. Women are well represented politically. There is an increase amount of economic opportunities for women that shows a trend towards women empowerment.

A number of steps have already been taken to improve the situation of women. Apart from ‘The Penal Code, 1860′, we have many other Laws that have been enacted to provide punishment to the offenders and protect women from violent acts. We have ‘The Prevention of Repression against Women and Children (Amendment) Act, 2003′, ‘The National Human Rights Commission Act, 2009′, ‘The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act, 2010′, ‘The Guidelines of the High Court Division passed in 2009′ (The High Court Bench directed the government to make a law on the basis of its guidelines; until that happened, its guidelines would enjoy the status of Law), ‘The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980′, ‘The Domestic Violence (Prevention & Protection) Act, 2010′, ‘The Pornography Control Act, 2011′, ‘Human Trafficking Deterrence and Suppression Act, 2012′. Besides, Bangladesh is also a signatory to many International Conventions designed to protect women and their rights. Despite all these, women’s rights fail to come out from the circle of failure and violence against women is running at a pace.

Reconsiderable factors: issues that need to take into consideration on priority basis regarding violence against women in Bangladesh

  • Women who belong to impoverished sections of society, often undergo violent occurrences more.
  • The ratio of violence is higher in case of intimate partner violence than violence by strangers. Women are often tortured and physically assaulted by husbands, members of in-laws family or by other kith and kin within their family relationship. 
  • The risk and possibility of injury and violence is no less even when there is a relationship between the violator and the violated.
  • In most cases of rape and harassment, victims are regarded as active contributors to such violence ignoring or minimizing the severeness of the aggressors.
  • In some cases of minor violence, women adopt the theory – ‘Better not to protest and be free from further social humiliation.’ 
  • No exemplary punishment towards the violator naturally indulges other miscreants to commit heinous crimes without hesitation. 
  • Traditional crime is increasing or getting new dimension with the assistance of advanced cyber technology like mobile phone, internet etc.
  • Jealousy or revenge turns a mere crime to more severe form. Sometimes, the intent is not to kill the victim (in case of acid attacks or disabling organs); instead, it is to cause her pain and make her a living dead.
  • Despite having several harsh Laws to protect women from violence, yet the number of crimes against women continues to rise.
  • Psychological torture goes unreported which is the biggest cause of female’s suicidal death in the country.
  • For lack of eye witnesses and evidence, the accused offenders are easily acquitted and cases are recorded as false.
  • There remains continuous pressure on victims and her family members in order to discourage legal complaints.
  • Women undergo discrimination regarding matrimonial rights and inheritance through religious injunctions or directives.
  • Instead of adjudication by the Court, some reported cases of serious violence are placed before the so-called village elite for mediation in the name of ‘salish’ where the victim is labelled unchaste and the miscreant is sometimes freed in exchange of a minimum amount of pecuniary compensation. 
  • Reluctance of the police to handle domestic violence issues and other minor family disputes. ? Intervention of the political parties and leaders on behalf of the culprits and offenders. 
  • Even the womenfolk themselves are ignorant of their rights and are not conscious about the Laws for their own protection. 

The members of the Parliament and framers of legislation should put utmost emphasis on the above issues for the purpose of initiating any endeavour in the process of protecting womenfolk from any violence and thus ensuring their rightful status. Positive change of the outlook of men towards women and showing profound respect to them can bear significant improvement in this respect. For the accomplishment of this objective, massive protest by both print and electronic media campaign should be ensured in order to create awareness among mass people. Judicial activism should be exercised more and legal aid activities must be enhanced so that destitute victims can easily have access to justice. Otherwise, amendment of legislation, three-tier strategies, all government and non-government policies will carry zero outcome. As a result, this gender based violence will make fun of our judicial system. It is desirable that the organs of the government, the human rights organizations, other benevolent organizations and the civil society must be true and sincere to their commitment required for curbing the incumbent violence. Finally, we need to determine what should be the stand of us common people towards violators and miscreants? “Zero tolerance towards violence against women.”

The writer is an Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Premier University, Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Ensure access to the justice system for the workers »

March 17, 2013

Farjana Yesmin, Daily Star
The writer is Lecturer, Department of Law, BGC Trust University, Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, one of the developing countries in the world, is struggling to get into the list of developed countries and the soldiers of this struggle are the hardworking workers. To reach the end it is incumbent to provide all types of services to the workers of all sectors. At the same time, they should have easy access to judicial remedy when their rights are despoiled.

Our Constitution pledges to its preamble that : “it shall be a fundamental aim of the State to realize through the democratic process to socialist society, free from exploitation-a society in which the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedom, equality and justice, political, economic and social, will be secured for all citizens.” Again, Article 14 of the Constitution states that, “It shall be a fundamental responsibility of the State to emancipate the toiling masses the peasants and workers and backward sections of the people from all forms and exploitation.”

And according to Article 32 “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.”
Therefore, The Government of Bangladesh is in obligation under the Constitution to guarantee the right to access to justice for the workers so as to create an equal society. The Labour Code, 2006 comes into force with the aim of specifying the rights of the Labourers as well as for providing mechanism for safeguarding these rights. But the Labour Courts which were established to provide support to the labourers has itself become an obstrucle in protecting the rights in various ways. There are several factors which are disturbing the right to access to justice of the labourers.

The Labour Code, 2006 empowers the Government to establish Labour Courts in Bangladesh. From then, The Government established only 7 Labour Courts in Bangladesh of which three are in Dhaka, two in Chittagong, one each in Rajshahi and Khulna .This is simply inadequate in proportion to the needs of workers. The three Dhaka courts deal with the cases from Dhaka Division; the two Chittagong courts deal with the cases from Chittagong and also from Sylhet Division; the Rajshahi court deals with the cases from Rajshahi Division, and the Khulna court deals with the cases from Khulna Division and also from Barisal Division. Many cases are pending before these Courts. In such situation, it’s impossible for the Courts to ensure justice for the vulnerable workers. As the Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees the right to access to justice for each citizen of Bangladesh. So, it’s an obligation of the Government to ensure justice for each of them. To fulfill this obligation, there should at least one Labour Court in every district, most importantly in the industrialised area. A District Judge or the Additional District Judge should be empowered solely for the purpose of disposing disputes relating to labour matters.

Due to economic conditions, the labourers can’t hire experienced lawyers who’s fees are high. On the other hand, the employers hire and employ these lawyers to moderate the claim of the workers. They can easily vitiate the trial proceedings and in this process the workers can’t get justice. As a result, the workers drop their confidence from the regular trial system and it tends to bear the tyrannize of the employers silently. Which seriously injure the right to access to justice. To shelter the right of the workers, the Government should arrange a list of lawyers to deal with the labour matters specially and trained them to make up to date with the labour rights. Special remuneration and reward should be offered to them.

There are lots of pending cases before the Labour Courts and the Labour Appellate Tribunal, though the Labour Code, 2006 requires the cases to be finished within 60 days. This is because; there is no provision in the law about the consequences of failure of disposing a case within the fix time. As a result, the employers or the owners of the factory get the chance of delaying the trial procedure which frustrates the right of the justice-seekers. In most of the cases, they become bound to compromise with the employers outside the Court in which they don’t get adequate compensation.

Moreover, these Labour Courts are not conveniencly situated for the workers. Since, there is no court in Sylhet and Barisal, the victims of those divisions have to come to Chittagong and Khulna respectively to get their remedy. It costs money and time both. Moreover, in most of the cases, the trial procedure in the Labour Court remains adjourned because of the non-appearance of the other party. It becomes impossible for a worker to continue a case due to their poverty. As a result, they become totally distressed to the judicial system. So, the Court should be located in a place where it will be easy for the workers to appear and ask for their remedy.
It can be said that, some amendments in our exiting legal mechanism should be brought so as to facilitate the legal proceedings brought before the Labour Court by the workers and the employers. Since, the labourers are the vital factors for our economy, special consideration to their right should be paid and they deserve it.
Finally, if we yearn for promoting Bangladesh as a democratic country, we must establish a sound judicial structure, where everyone has the right to access to justice. There should not be any discrimination in receiving fair trial and a sound environment should exist so that no one hesitates to appear before the court to seek remedy.

CIA rendition programme: UN expert in human rights and counter-terrorism expert asks for truth and accountability »

March 6, 2013

CIA rendition programme: UN expert in human rights and counter-terrorism expert asks for truth and accountability

GENEVA (6 March 2013) – United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, urged the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom to release the findings of confidential inquiries into the George W. Bush administration’s secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) detention and interrogation practices.

In a detailed report* presented to the to the UN Human Rights Council, Mr. Emmerson called on the US authorities “to publish without delay, and to the fullest extent possible, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report into the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation programme.” He also called upon the British Government to make public the interim report of the Gibson Inquiry, and establish a timetable for the proposed judge-led inquiry, stating its mandate and powers.  

Based on the principle of accountability for grave or systematic human rights violations while countering terrorism, the independent expert highlighted “the failure to date of the international community to secure full responsibility for the acts of certain sections of the CIA during the Presidency of George W. Bush in implementing a programme of torture, rendition and secret detention of terrorist suspects.”

The Special Rapporteur also drew attention to the lack of accountability for “the acts of public officials in other States who colluded in that programme,” and proposed a series of framework principles recommendations to States for securing the right to truth and the principle of accountability for gross or systematic human rights violations committed by public officials while countering terrorism.

“Those individuals found to have participated in secretly detaining persons and in any unlawful acts perpetrated during such detention, including their superiors if they have ordered, encouraged or consented to secret detentions, should be prosecuted without delay and, where found guilty, given sentences commensurate with the gravity of the acts perpetrated,” he stressed, recalling the 2010 recommendation by the UN Joint study on global practices in relation to secret detention in the context of countering terrorism.

Mr. Emmerson urged world Governments, particularly those which allegedly enabled the use of their airspace and landing facilities for CIA rendition flights, to review their domestic law and practice, including a review of the investigations, if any, that have so far been conducted by their national authorities, in order to bring them into conformity with the principles proposed in his report.

In his recommendations, the Special Rapporteur also called on the Governments of Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania and Thailand to launch or re-open “effective independent judicial or quasi-judicial inquiries into credible allegations that secret CIA ‘black sites’ were established on their territories; to identify any public officials who may have authorised or collaborated in the establishment or operation of these facilities; to publish the findings of such inquiries; and to hold the relevant officials publicly accountable for their actions.”

(*) Check the full report: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A-HRC-22-52_en.pdf

ENDS

Ben Emmerson (United Kingdom) is the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. On 1 August 2011, he took up his functions on the mandate that was created in 2005 by the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights and renewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three year period in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur he is independent from any Government and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Terrorism/Pages/SRTerrorismIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Claudia Gross (+41 22 917 9184 / cgross@ohchr.org), Helle Iversen (+41 22 917 9421 / hiversen@ohchr.org) or write to srct@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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Check the Universal Human Rights Index: http://uhri.ohchr.org/en

ASK Press Statement - On Recent Jamaat Terror Assault »

March 3, 2013

http://alalodulaldotorg.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/jamaatburning.jpgSince February 28, when the International Crimes Tribunal 1 (ICT 1) found Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee  guilty of crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War and sentenced him to death. There has been an onslaught of violence that has resulted in the killing of forty people and  attack on the minority people, transport and people ‘’caught in the fire.'’

As the verdict was declared, the activists of Jamaat-Shibir (Shibir: the student wing of Jamaat) started a campaign of fear, violence and disorder,   creating disturbances on the streets, blocking roads, vandalising vehicles and also damaging railway tracks.

Jammat Targets Transport

Police offers have been targeted using violent tactics, which we saw earlier this year. A police outpost was attacked in Gaibandha, killing three policemen on the spot and police constable was stabbed to death in Chittagong.  On the wave of this violence, police have started to open fire.

Four Police Outposts Attacked

Over forty people died including Jamaat-shibir activists, police, Chatraa league (Student wing of Ruling party) activists and worst of all, innocent civillians. There was an incident where an architect was thrown from the roof of a building in Chaphainawabganj he was trying to escape for his life, shopkeepers have been attacked and beaten and killed. The attackers also set fire to the temple and houses of the Hindu community in different places around the country.

Hindu Temples Set Ablaze

ASK strongly condemn and protest these type of atrocities.

ASK also express condemnation on the intention of these planned incidents of damaging communal harmony of the country.

We urge to the law enforcers to be alert and active to prevent this kind of violence and also to ensure the security of the minority people. We also demand neutral investigation of these incidents and to bring the perpetrators into justice.


Basic Facts About the Universal Periodic Review »

February 28, 2013

Universal Periodic review (UPR): Bangladesh

Basic facts about the UPR

What is the Universal Periodic Review?

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. The UPR is a significant innovation of the Human Rights Council which is based on equal treatment for all countries. It provides an opportunity for all States to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to overcome challenges to the enjoyment of human rights. The UPR also includes a sharing of best human rights practices around the globe. Currently, no other mechanism of this kind exists.

How was the UPR established?

The UPR was established when the Human Rights Council was created on 15 March 2006 by the UN General Assembly in resolution 60/251. This mandated the Council to "undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfilment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States”. On 18 June 2007, one year after its first meeting, members of the new Council agreed to its institution-building package (A/HRC/RES/5/1) providing a road map guiding the future work of the Council. One of the key elements of this package was the new Universal Periodic Review. The mechanism was further refined during the review process through resolution 16/21 and decision 17/119. These two documents provided the necessary modifications of modalities for the review in the second and subsequent cycles.

What is the goal of the UPR?

The ultimate goal of UPR is the improvement of the human rights situation in every country with significant consequences for people around the globe. The UPR is designed to prompt, support, and expand the promotion and protection of human rights on the ground. To achieve this, the UPR involves assessing States’ human rights records and addressing human rights violations wherever they occur. The UPR also aims to provide technical assistance to States and enhance their capacity to deal effectively with human rights challenges and to share best practices in the field of human rights among States and other stakeholders.

When will States have their human rights records reviewed by the UPR?

During the first cycle, all UN Member States have been reviewed, – with 48 States reviewed each year. The second cycle, which officially started in May 2012 with the 13th session of the UPR Working Group, will see 42 States reviewed each year. The reviews take place during the sessions of the UPR Working Group (see below) which meets three times a year. The order of review remains the same as in the first cycle and the number of States reviewed at each session is now 14 instead of 16.

Who conducts the review?

The reviews are conducted by the UPR Working Group which consists of the 47 members of the Council; however any UN Member State can take part in the discussion/dialogue with the reviewed States. Each State review is assisted by groups of three States, known as “troikas”, who serve as rapporteurs. The selection of the troikas for each State is done through a drawing of lots following elections for the Council membership in the General Assembly.

What are the reviews based on?
The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) information provided by the State under review, which can take the form of a “national report”; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information from other stakeholders including national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.

How are the reviews conducted?

Reviews take place through an interactive discussion between the State under review and other UN Member States. This takes place during a meeting of the UPR Working Group. During this discussion any UN Member State can pose questions, comments and/or make recommendations to the States under review. The troikas may group issues or questions to be shared with the State under review to ensure that the interactive dialogue takes place in a smooth and orderly manner. The duration of the review was three hours for each country in the Working Group during the first cycle. From the second cycle onwards the time has been extended to three hours and thirty minutes.

Can non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participate in the UPR process?

Yes. NGOs can submit information which can be added to the “other stakeholders” report which is considered during the review. Information they provide can be referred to by any of the States taking part in the interactive discussion during the review at the Working Group meeting. NGOs can attend the UPR Working Group sessions and can make statements at the regular session of the Human Rights Council when the outcome of the State reviews are considered. OHCHR has released "Technical guidelines for the submission of stakeholders”

What human rights obligations are addressed?

The UPR will assess the extent to which States respect their human rights obligations set out in: (1) the UN Charter; (2) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; (3) human rights instruments to which the State is party (human rights treaties ratified by the State concerned); (4) voluntary pledges and commitments made by the State (e.g. national human rights policies and/or programmes implemented); and, (5) applicable international humanitarian law.

What is the outcome of the review?

Following the review by the Working Group, a report is prepared by the troika with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. This report, referred to as the “outcome report”, provides a summary of the actual discussion. It therefore consists of the questions, comments and recommendations made by States to the country under review, as well as the responses by the reviewed State.

How is the review adopted?

During the Working Group session half an hour is allocated to adopt each of the “outcome reports” for the States reviewed that session. These take place no sooner than 48 hours after the country review. The reviewed State has the opportunity to make preliminary comments on the recommendations choosing to either accept or note them. Both accepted and noted recommendations are included in the report. After the report has been adopted, editorial modifications can be made to the report by States on their own statements within the following two weeks. The report then has to be adopted at a plenary session of the Human Rights Council. During the plenary session, the State under review can reply to questions and issues that were not sufficiently addressed during the Working Group and respond to recommendations that were raised by States during the review. Time is also allotted to member and observer States who may wish to express their opinion on the outcome of the review and for NHRIs, NGOs and other stakeholders to make general comments.

What steps are taken as follow up to the review?

The State has the primary responsibility to implement the recommendations contained in the final outcome. The UPR ensures that all countries are accountable for progress or failure in implementing these recommendations. During the second review the State is expected to provide information on what they have been doing to implement the recommendations made during the first review as well as on any developments in the field of human rights. The international community will assist in implementing the recommendations and conclusions regarding capacity-building and technical assistance, in consultation with the country concerned. If necessary, the Council will address cases where States are not co-operating.

What happens if a State is not cooperating with the UPR?

The Human Rights Council will decide on the measures it would need to take in case of persistent non-co-operation by a State with the UPR.

What is the Universal Periodic Review? »

February 28, 2013

Universal Periodic Review Process in Bangladesh (Click)

Basic Facts about Universal Periodic Review

Explaining the UPR Process

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a new and unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC) aiming at improving the human rights situation on the ground of each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States.

Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every 4,5 years. 42 States are reviewed each year during three Working Group sessions dedicated to 14 States each. These three sessions are usually held in January/February, May/June and October/November.

The result of each review is reflected in an “outcome report” listing the recommendations the State under review (SuR) will have to implement before the next review.

The UPR is a full-circle process comprising 3 key stages:

1) Review of the human rights situation of the SuR;

2) Implementation between two reviews (4,5 years) by the SuR of the recommendations received and the voluntary pledges made;

3) Reporting at the next review on the implementation of those recommendations and pledges and on the human rights situation in the country since the previous review.

ISSUE ANALYSIS

The Issue Analysis (IA) is a document detailing how a particular issue is raised at the UPR. By analysing both advance questions and recommendations, this document looks into the different sub issues (concrete cases, convention, treaty body, special procedure) and lists the most active States on the issue.

- Asylum seekers / Refugees

- Civil society at the national level

- Civil society participation in the UPR

- Counter-terrorism and human rights

- Death penalty

- Enforced disappearances

- Extrajudicial executions

- Freedom of opinion and expression

- Freedom of religion and belief

- Freedom of the press

- Human rights defenders

- Indigenous peoples

- LGBT rights

- Migrants

- Racial discrimination

- Right to Education

- Rights of the Child

- Torture

- Women’s rights
- See more at: http://www.upr-info.org/-Issues-.html#sthash.KKxlh93X.dpuf

Issues

The Issue Analysis (IA) is a document detailing how a particular issue is raised at the UPR. By analysing both advance questions and recommendations, this document looks into the different sub issues (concrete cases, convention, treaty body, special procedure) and lists the most active States on the issue.

- Asylum seekers / Refugees

- Civil society at the national level

- Civil society participation in the UPR

- Counter-terrorism and human rights

- Death penalty

- Enforced disappearances

- Extrajudicial executions

- Freedom of opinion and expression

- Freedom of religion and belief

- Freedom of the press

- Human rights defenders

- Indigenous peoples

- LGBT rights

- Migrants

- Racial discrimination

- Right to Education

- Rights of the Child

- Torture

- Women’s rights

- See more at: http://www.upr-info.org/-Issues-.html#sthash.KKxlh93X.dpuf

The Issue Analysis (IA) is a document detailing how a particular issue is raised at the UPR. By analysing both advance questions and recommendations, this document looks into the different sub issues (concrete cases, convention, treaty body, special procedure) and lists the most active States on the issue.

- Asylum seekers / Refugees

- Civil society at the national level

- Civil society participation in the UPR

- Counter-terrorism and human rights

- Death penalty

- Enforced disappearances

- Extrajudicial executions

- Freedom of opinion and expression

- Freedom of religion and belief

- Freedom of the press

- Human rights defenders

- Indigenous peoples

- LGBT rights

- Migrants

- Racial discrimination

- Right to Education

- Rights of the Child

- Torture

- Women’s rights

- See more at: http://www.upr-info.org/-Issues-.html#sthash.KKxlh93X.dpuf

The Issue Analysis (IA) is a document detailing how a particular issue is raised at the UPR. By analysing both advance questions and recommendations, this document looks into the different sub issues (concrete cases, convention, treaty body, special procedure) and lists the most active States on the issue.

- Asylum seekers / Refugees

- Civil society at the national level

- Civil society participation in the UPR

- Counter-terrorism and human rights

- Death penalty

- Enforced disappearances

- Extrajudicial executions

- Freedom of opinion and expression

- Freedom of religion and belief

- Freedom of the press

- Human rights defenders

- Indigenous peoples

- LGBT rights

- Migrants

- Racial discrimination

- Right to Education

- Rights of the Child

- Torture

- Women’s rights

- See more at: http://www.upr-info.org/-Issues-.html#sthash.KKxlh93X.dpuf

Issues

The Issue Analysis (IA) is a document detailing how a particular issue is raised at the UPR. By analysing both advance questions and recommendations, this document looks into the different sub issues (concrete cases, convention, treaty body, special procedure) and lists the most active States on the issue.

- Asylum seekers / Refugees

- Civil society at the national level

- Civil society participation in the UPR

- Counter-terrorism and human rights

- Death penalty

- Enforced disappearances

- Extrajudicial executions

- Freedom of opinion and expression

- Freedom of religion and belief

- Freedom of the press

- Human rights defenders

- Indigenous peoples

- LGBT rights

- Migrants

- Racial discrimination

- Right to Education

- Rights of the Child

- Torture

- Women’s rights

- See more at: http://www.upr-info.org/-Issues-.html#sthash.KKxlh93X.dpuf

Issues

The Issue Analysis (IA) is a document detailing how a particular issue is raised at the UPR. By analysing both advance questions and recommendations, this document looks into the different sub issues (concrete cases, convention, treaty body, special procedure) and lists the most active States on the issue.

- Asylum seekers / Refugees

- Civil society at the national level

- Civil society participation in the UPR

- Counter-terrorism and human rights

- Death penalty

- Enforced disappearances

- Extrajudicial executions

- Freedom of opinion and expression

- Freedom of religion and belief

- Freedom of the press

- Human rights defenders

- Indigenous peoples

- LGBT rights

- Migrants

- Racial discrimination

- Right to Education

- Rights of the Child

- Torture

- Women’s rights

- See more at: http://www.upr-info.org/-Issues-.html#sthash.KKxlh93X.dpuf

The Issue Analysis (IA) is a document detailing how a particular issue is raised at the UPR. By analysing both advance questions and recommendations, this document looks into the different sub issues (concrete cases, convention, treaty body, special procedure) and lists the most active States on the issue.

- Asylum seekers / Refugees

- Civil society at the national level

- Civil society participation in the UPR

- Counter-terrorism and human rights

- Death penalty

- Enforced disappearances

- Extrajudicial executions

- Freedom of opinion and expression

- Freedom of religion and belief

- Freedom of the press

- Human rights defenders

- Indigenous peoples

- LGBT rights

- Migrants

- Racial discrimination

- Right to Education

- Rights of the Child

- Torture

- Women’s rights

- See more at: http://www.upr-info.org/-Issues-.html#sthash.KKxlh93X.dpuf

ASK Staff Member Abducted | 6 February 2013 »

February 10, 2013

Abducted Female Human rights activist rescued after 34 hours

 Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police has rescued a female member of Ain o Salish Kendra after 34 hours of abduction. She was rescued from ground floor of a house in Shegun bagicha on Thursday, 7 February.

Police also ceased the car (Prado) used in abduction.

A female field officer of Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a human rights organization, was kidnapped on last Wednesday, 6 February at around 4 PM, informed DB source. ASK filed a case of kidnapping in Tejgaon Police Station and sought help from DB police. DB police, led by Additional Deputy Commissioner (west) Moshiur Rahman, started rescue operation. The victim was first confined in a building in Shegunbagicha. Next day she was taken in Gojaria of Munshiganj by a car. Later she was taken in Debidar and Chandina of Comilla. On Thursday midnight she was brought to Dhaka. DB trapped the kidnappers and rescued her. But the kidnappers managed to escape.

Additional Deputy Commissioner of DB Moshiur Rahman informed Prothom Alo that, the man behind the kidnapping, Noor Mohammad Chowdhury is engaged in the manpower business and stays in Shegun bagicha. His car was used to take the abducted ASK staff member in different places and he himself drove the car.

After the rescue, police identified the marks of torture in the body of the abducted staff member, he informed. She informed the police that, Noor Mohammad Chowdhury and his staff Jubaid and Raju had beaten her.

On Friday, the unnamed staff member made a deposition with the Court. Noor Mohammad, along with other kidnappers are in abscondance and police are trying to arrest them.

Background

ASK sources informed that, Noor Mohammad Chowdhury’s wife came to ASK office on Monday and complained about inhumane torture by her husband. She  sought safe shelter. On that day ASK staff took her to Victim Support Centre of Tejgaon Police Station.

On Wednesday, she went to ASK office from the Support Centre to discuss about her case. At around 4 pm of that day, she was again sent to the Support Centre though the ASK staff. The member of staff was abducted on her way back to ASK office. The next day, at around 1.30 pm, a letter was presented to the security staff of ASK office.

The letter stated that the rights activist will be seriously harmed if the complainant is not send back from Victim Support Centre to her husband. After a while, her husband, Noor Mohammad called the cell phone of a Director of ASK and threatened. He also mentioned that the right activist will be released if his wife is sent back to him.

ASK filed a case on the incident.

Mohammad Nur Khan, Director of ASK, told Prothom Alo yesterday that, this is the first incident of kidnapping a rights activist in Bangladesh in such a way.

 He demanded immediate arrest and trial of the perpetrators.

Feature | Why "Ghum" Cases Remain Unresolved »

February 4, 2013

Feature on Enforced Disappearances | Ananta Yusuf | New Age

The last time Aminul Islam’s wife talked to him was on phone on October 31, last year, moments before he disappeared. Aminul Islam and his friend Anisur Rahman came for a business trip in Dhaka from Jessore on October 29, last year. They rented a room at Hotel New York in Topkahna road and two days later they were reported missing. 
Aminul’s brother Shagor Shekh left for Dhaka soon after Aminul became incommunicado. ‘My brother’s sudden disappearance was a shock for us. No one could find any allegation or case against him and we carry a good reputation in Jessore.’ His disappearance is still a mystery for the family.
On the night of disappearance Aminul talked with his wife and informed her about his health and business deal. Shagor says, ‘Bhabi talked to him once around 9:30pm but when she phoned him again at 11:30pm he could not be reached.’ Since then his phone remained switch off. 
Shagor checked every corner of the city including the hotel but he did not find his brother. The hotel authority said, they saw Aminul with his friend last on October 31 at around 11:00pm and after that they didn’t came back to the hotel. Aminul’s car was parked in the garage but he was missing. 
A New York Hotel staff confirms Xtra that he saw Aminul along with his friend on the night of disappearance. Aminul gave him the key and said he will return within one hour but he did not return. 
After searching every possible corner, Shagor filed a general diary and later on, a case at Shahbag police station. Sub Inspector (SI) Muhammed Humayun, investigating officer with the help of the victim’s family, checked the IMEI number and the call list of Aminul. 
During the investigation, Humayun found that after the abduction Aminul’s friend Anisur Rahman’s mobile phone was switched on for a while with a different SIM card at around 1:45am. A message also entered the phone on that number. 
Police started investigating the case by tracking the number. Humayun confirms Xtra that they tried tracing the user through Anisur Rahman’s mobile phone IMEI and interestingly found that the mobile phone had become alive at different times in November. 
Police found that the two numbers frequently dialed from the phone belonged to the user’s previous wife Jahnara Khan Tonni and a female friend Tahsin Fatima. 
Fatima informed police that the user’s name is Ashraf and he is a member of Bangladesh Army, but police was not sure about his designation. Police plotted a trap using Fatima to find the user of the phone.
Ashraf came to see Fatima in front of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence. It turned out that Ashraf was a member of the RAB intelligence. Once he realised that he was trapped, he ran into the DGFI office and since then he too remained untraceable.
‘We tried our best but were not able to make headway,’ says SI Humayun. The case meanwhile has moved to the Criminal Investigation Department. 
Shagor alleged that when police found the accused worked for the RAB intelligence, they started drifting from the case and later handed it over to the Detective Branch.
When the DB also could not make any progress with the investigation, ‘We went to Ain o Salish Kendra for help. From them we come to know about Ashraf in detail, and after getting his marriage registration and national ID card we became certain that he is an armed force soldier and was working for RAB intelligence.’
‘We were shocked,’ says Shagor adding, relatives advised them to stop looking for Aminul, ‘but still we are trying to get him back dead or alive.’
SI Akther of CID denied divulging any information until they came to any conclusion with the investigation. 
Initially family members thought that they disappeared because of business related clashes, so they filed police case. The police also were sincerely investigating until they unearthed clues that implicate a law enforcement agency with Aminul’s disappearance. The investigators started cutting slack on their investigation.
Shagor tells Xtra that the police cut short its speed once they identified links to a RAB intelligence personnel in the disappearance of Aminul. ‘The police told us they were closing in on one of the perpetrators, but when they found that the accused was working for RAB intelligence, their progression with the investigation slowed down.’    
Nur Khan, director (investigation) of Ain o Salish Kendra, says that when Shagor came to them for help, it was not a very easy task to ascertain whether RAB was really linked with the disappearance or not. He says, ‘We carefully went through the police reports and findings and from their report we received clues like different phone numbers of family members and friends. After interviewing the family members and from phone records and IMEI number, we became certain that the user works for RAB intelligence at DGFI head quarter.’
Nur believes if Ashraf was brought to book and questioned then the whole picture of this disappearance case will unfold. 

According to ASK, only this year, 41 people were reportedly killed and 44 disappeared in the country. In most cases, the family alleged that the law enforcement agency abducted them and later killed. 
The present government promised in its election manifesto that they will bring down the number of extrajudicial killings. According to Odhikar, a human rights organisation, extra judicial killing was at 184 in 2007, 149 in 2008, 154 in 2009, 127 in 2010 and 84 in 2011. Although the number of killing has sharply decreased but enforced disappearance is still at large.  
Five youths from Aminbazar went missing between October 5 and 23.  Families of the missing youths alleged that they were picked up by some men from Gabtali. Just a few months earlier on June 13, Mohammad Nazrul Islam from Kamarkhand upazila of Sirajganj went missing at around 5:30 pm. According to an eyewitness, he was allegedly arrested and then disappeared by RAB-12 members.

Five youths went missing from Aminbazar and Gabtali in October, New Age reported on November 8. The general diary filed at the Darussalam police station on October 29 mentioned Mohammad Salim, Saiful Islam, Monir Hossain, Abdus Sattar, and Saiful Islam were missing.
The family alleged they were abducted by the men in plainclothes. 
On October 5, Saiful Islam was picked up by a group of plainclothesmen from Begunbari. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested Saiful Islam along with 14 other locals in connection with the killing of six students in Aminbazar on April 18, 2011.
Saiful’s wife Ruma Begum informs Xtra that her husband was released on bail after he passed three months in jail as the law enforcement agencies was not sure he was the right Saiful Islam. 
Saiful’s friend, Abdul Rashid from Begunbari tells Xtra that he was with him just before Saiful disappeared. He tells Xtra, ‘His wife called me and asked about him. I looked everywhere for him but could not find him. A tea stall owner told me he was moved in a white microbus.’
The commanding officer of RAB-1, Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Ibn Zaid told New Age that they received complaints from the families and were looking into the matter.

Fact finding report of Odhikar states that members of Rab-12 arrested one Mohammad Nazrul Islam on June 13 from Kamarkhand upazila of Shirajganj. The family members never learned his whereabouts since he was picked up.
According to an eyewitness, on that day when RAB arrested him, Nazrul Islam was at the rail-crossing near his house. Then took him to the RAB-12 office in a motorcycle and confined him there.  Since then he has been missing.
The plainclothesmen got into an altercation with Nazrul and when locals appeared, two of the men identified themselves as members of RAB and showed their badges. The witness remembers reading one of the names, SI Kamruzzaman.
Nazrul Islam’s mother Zohura Begum says that Nazrul was taken to the office of RAB-12 situated inside Sirajganj Quowmi Jute Mill. A shop owner near the mill saw Nazrul in front of the RAB office and informed the family members. She sent one of their relatives Abul Kashem to the RAB-12 office to look for Nazrul. RAB members denied of having Nazrul.
Captain Mehedi told Odhikar that their investigation was going on since Nazrul was missing. He said that the allegation made by Nazrul’s family about his arrest by RAB was false. Moreover, there was no one called SI Kamruzzaman in RAB-12 office, he said. 
After repeated attempts to reach RAB for an explanation its spokesperson Captain M Sohail was not in the position to comment.  

Anjuman Mufidul Islam, an organisation taking responsibility for unclaimed dead body and burial service says that in the last five years, they have buried 8,000 unclaimed dead bodies only in Dhaka. Most of the bodies were unidentified since they were decomposed and mutilated.

Human rights activists and organisations claim, since 2004 after Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was formed, extrajudicial killing and enforced disappearance escalated immensely. Despite repeated notifications by the governmental and non-governmental organisations, none of the governments made efforts at investigating into the incidents or prosecuting the perpetrators.
Nur believes the problem lies in the system. Since the military regime of ’70s and ’80s, law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh have been allegedly involved in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killing. After democracy was restored in the ’90s, the trend reportedly reduced until it was revived once again with the inception of RAB, says Nur. 
Not only that enforced disappearance has become the new terror in the country, the reluctance at investigating the incidents by law enforcement agencies have become a barrier to dig up the truth.

Limon Hossain | Arms Case Charge Hearing Has been Deferred Again »

February 2, 2013

Limon Hossain | Arms Case Charge Hearing  Deferred Again Until 9th March 2013

On 24 April 2011 police filed the charge sheet in arms case against Limon and 7 others.

The trial court issued arrest warrant against the accused.

Limon got interim bail from the High Court Division on 5 May 2011.

He is regularly appearing before the court but the other accused are still at large.

Generally, the charge cannot be framed against an accused in his absence. But if the accused are absconding and police fail to arrest then, on the application of prosecution, the court can move for trial in absentia.

In this case, police has failed to arrest the 7 other accused, known as local criminals, for  21 months.

The prosecution has not applied for a trial in absentia and the next date for hearing is 9 March 2013.


Obstruction Hearing Postponed until February 2013 and Limon’s Mother Given Ultimatum
Arms Hearing Postponed until January 2013
Henoura Begum, Limon’s mother files petition and background

ASK INFO ANALYSIS | Gaps in Implementation of the National Building Code »

January 2, 2013

 [11] Legislative measure for such control has been taken in the Building Construction Act of 1952 and other acts, ordinances and regulations, and are supplemented by local and development authority rules.Gaps in Implementation of the National Building Code

Architect - Planner Salma A. Shafi[1]

In 1993 the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) was made to regulate the technical details of building construction and to maintain the standard of building construction with two main objectives;

      To provide safe and healthy habitat by regulating all activities related to
buildings such as planning, design and construction.

      To provide guidance for a uniform start of practice in planning, design,
construction   aspects   as   well   as   service   facilities   such   as   electrical,
mechanical, sanitary and other services.

The Code has been notified by gazette of the Government of Bangladesh and is a comprehensive document that can be used for legally binding codes of development in urban areas of Bangladesh. It covers planning administration and enforcement, general building controls and regulations, requirements for different uses, fire protection, building materials, design and services. Importantly, it also considers building use (occupancy classes), density and building height. BNBC was first drafted in 1993 but not formally reviewed and updated. In 2006 the Building Construction Act was amended to include a new section 18 A, empowering the government to promulgate the building code as a legally binding document. Further in December 2009 the House Building Research Institute (HBRI) involved leading experts from BRTC, BUET and outside to update the code and act within a year and make it available to all.

The present paper gives a brief account of the consequence of unplanned urbanization in Bangladesh and the need to follow a building code. Analysis of relevant Acts and Codes essential in formulation and implementation of the BNBC is also discussed.

 Bangladesh & Urbanization

Bangladesh is still a relatively low urbanized country compared to other Asian countries but the country experienced a remarkable rate of urban growth both in terms of urban population after its independence in 1971. Level of urbanization and Urban centers in Bangladesh grew at a sluggish rate up to the 60s and flourished in the post liberation period.

Despite a rapid pace of urbanization in Bangladesh in recent years only a little over a quarter of the population live in urban areas. The dynamics of this rapid urbanization in Bangladesh should be attributed to its demographic, Economic and social fabric. The over populated rural areas, burdened with natural calamities, landlessness and poverty will push more people towards the cities. The consequent swelling of urban areas without planning of the cities is now a major problem of urbanization in Bangladesh.

The 2001 census placed the population of the country at 123.1 million while the current population is estimated at over 136.40 million. The total urban population according to the census of 2001 was 28.81 million. After the independence of Bangladesh, urban population growth received a momentum from 6.27 million in

 1974 to 28.61 million in 2001[2]. A revised of the national population growth and urban population between 1951 to 2008 is shown in table below;

 
Table 1: Growth of national and urban population (Million) in Bangladesh, 1961-2001

Census

Total

Annual

Total

Urban    pop"

Decadal

Annual

Year

National

growth

urban

as % of total

increase

(exponential

 

Pop"

Rate of

Pop"

Pop" (level

of urban

growth   rate

 

 

national

 

of

Pop" (%)

of urban

 

 

Pop"

 

urbanization)

 

Pop") (%)

1951


44.17


.50

1.82


4.33


18.38


1.69


1961


55.52


2.26


2.64

5.19


45.11


3.72


1974


76.37


2.48


6.00

8.87


137.57


6.62


1981


89.91


2.32


13.56


15.54


110.68


10.03


1991


111.45


2.17


22.45


20.14


69.75

5.43


2001


123.10


1.47


28.61


23.10


37.05


3.15


2008[3]


136.40


1.47


35.47


26.00


-

3.50

Source: Bangladesh Population Census 1981, Report on Urban Areas, 1987 and preliminary Report, Population Census 1991 and BBS, 2005. For 2008, estimated by CDS, 2008.

Although the national population growth rate has declined considerably over the last few decades, it still stands at around 1.4% per year. Urban population growth rate was extremely high in the 1980s and 1990s at over 7 percent annually. It has however fallen since then but still remains at about 4 percent per year[4]. Even at a somewhat declining rate, urban population is likely to be 39 million by 2011, about 50 million by 2021 and may exceed 60 million by 2031.

Table 2:        Urban population projection in Bangladesh 2000-2015

Census Year

Total National Pop"


Total urban Pop"

Urban pop" as % of total Pop"           (level           of urbanization)

Annual Urban Growth (%)

2000


141.1


37.3


26.4

4.8

2005


155.8


46.4

29.8

4.4

2010


170.5


56.8


33.3

4.0

2015


184.6


67.9

36.8

3.6

Source: World Bank, Bangladesh Economic and Social Development Prospects (Report No. 5407), April 1985 p 126, Table 9.8

 Analysis of Recent Acts & Policies Including BNBC

A brief review of the various laws, Acts, specifications which are relevant and related to urban development and to BNBC are briefly discussed here;
a.   The Building Construction Act, 1952[5]
b.   The Town Improvement (Tl) Act 1953

c. Building Construction Rules 2008[6]

d. Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) 2006
e. Land Development Rules for Private Housing 2004

a. Building Construction Act 1952

The Act provided regulations regarding setbacks, building heights etc. in urban areas. The act also provided for prevention of haphazard construction of buildings and excavation of tanks which are likely to interfere with the planning of certain areas in Bangladesh and enables government through Section 16 to make any substantial rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act.

b. The Town Improvement Act (Tl), 1953

It is the first statute which recognized the need for planning approach and created a special agency[7] for development such as preparation of master plans, improvement schemes, and their implementation. The objective of the Tl act, 1953 is to;

             Develop, improve and expand city of Dhaka by opening up congested areas

             Laying out of altering streets
             Providing open spaces for the purpose of ventilation or recreation
             Demolition or construction buildings
             Acquiring land for the said purpose and for

•           Re-housing of persons displaced by the exclusion of improvement schemes.

c. Building Construction Rules 2008[8]

These rules superseded the previous Building Construction (BC) rules of 1984. These rules seek to control development plot-by-plot and case-by-case. It controls development by imposing conditions on setbacks, site coverage, construction of garages, access to plot, provision of lift, land use of that particular plot and height of building. Restricting the height of a building in BC Rules 1996 helps to control the density of an area and manage the growth of the city in some way[9].
The Dhaka Metropolitan Building Construction Rules 2008[10] superseded the earlier set of rules issued in 1996 for the Dhaka Metropolitan Area and provided more authority to RAJUK in the following way;
             Clear-cut responsibility to monitor development of the city,
             Spread out responsibilities to various actors,

             Spell out responsibilities of building designers, structural engineers, site
supervisors and their penalties etc.

One of the most significant improvements is introduction of Floor Area Ratio (FAR). To manage the growth of the city it provides rules of building coverage area, allowable floor space and relation among building height - road width and plot size.

Effectiveness of the new BCR rules will depend on how successfully implementation of these rules can be effected by RAJUK in a transparent way and keeping themselves away from corruption.

d. Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC)[11]

In order to ensure optimum return of substantial portion of national resource invested in building construction, in both public and private sectors and to achieve satisfactory performance of any building, construction needs to be controlled and regulated.

These instruments needed updating, rationalization and unification. It was therefore felt that a comprehensive building code would serve the purpose of a uniform national standard. The work to develop the Code began in 1992 and was completed by the end of 1993.

Purpose of the Code

The purpose of the Code is to establish minimum standards for design, construction, quality of materials, use and occupancy, location and maintenance of buildings within Bangladesh in order to safeguard, within achievable limits, life, limb, health, property and public welfare.

Scope

The provisions of this code shall apply to the design, construction or occupancy, alteration, moving, demolition, repair of any building or structure and to any appurtenances installed therein or connected or attached thereto, except such matters as are otherwise provided in other ordinances and statues controlling and regulating buildings. It is stated that the provisions of the code are applicable to all persons of Bangladesh.

Existing Buildings

Buildings which are in existence on the date of promulgation of this Code may have their use or occupancy continued without undergoing any alteration, abandonment or removal unless in the opinion of the authority such continued use is hazardous to life and property and provided such use or occupancy was legal on the promulgation of this Code. 

Preliminary Review of BNBC 1993

Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) of 1993 came into effect with a gazette notification issued on November 15, 2006. It has been made mandatory to comply with in any building construction under the Building Construction Act of 1952 to ensure accountability in the management of overall building construction and safety of the buildings.

As per section 2.1 of chapter 2 of part 1 of the BNBC 1993 the Government is under obligation to establish a new or designate an existing agency responsible for the enforcement of this Code with a given area of jurisdiction. However, the Government is yet to set up any Code Enforcement Authority.

Thus, absence of regulatory authority to care for all safety aspects of building as per BNBC is a major concern.

The BNBC 1993 has dealt only with construction, structure, material, geo-technical, seismic aspects, etc. of development. The BNBC has left out the planning aspects of development as is evident from section (f). All these planning and development factors need to be incorporated in the BNBC, if it is to produce a safe and livable environment at all.

Apparently existing BNBC, 1993 provides insignificant consideration on environmental influences on planning, design, construction and selection of construction material for buildings.

In exercise of power under Section 18A of the Building Construction Act, 1952, the Government of Bangladesh made the Bangladesh National Building Code in 1993, which came into effect with a gazette notification issued on November 15, 2006.

Section 2.6 of Part 2 of the BNBC only provides that violation of the Code will be an offence and the authority shall take legal action. However, it prescribes no procedure for institution of legal proceedings, which need to be addressed. In view of the above, the provisions of the Building Construction Act, 1952 along with the Code need to be updated considering the present socio-economic situation of the country.

e. Land Development Rules for Private Housing 2004

This is a legal instrument for controlling land development in private sector housing. It provides procedures and guidelines for land development protecting the environment. It also spells out the percentages of land that must be kept for community facilities, amount of land to be sold out, school sites, road hierarchy and importantly planning standards, for example, allocation of land per 1000 population.

Conclusion

BUET is currently conducting the task of updating BNBC 1993,   as well as review and update the building construction act 1952 and the administrative and implementing provisions of it. A team of 33 experts from BUET and others are involved for this work. The preliminary comments of the team of BRTC, BUET related to the topic highlighted the following;

Development Control and Enforcement Land use and Zoning The zoning basis for development control is over rigid. The present system is based on the assumption that all land development proposal will be subject to detailed assessment and approval procedures.

There is wide spread disregard for development control rules and RAJUK centralized control structure compounds the problem. In addition the author has comments on RAJUK guidelines which are;
Standards and affordability
The list of problems indentified in this area is;

-          RAJUK codes and space standards are not in conformity with income groups, locations and use type.

-          Compliance of such codes and standards is missing

-          RAJUK has not declared any plan of action to deal with informal/unplanned land use.

-          How to involve development partners to implement the DAP. These partners are DCC, NHA, HBRI, PWD, UDD, and LGED to start with. RAJUK’s governances structure, institutional strengthening decentralization of activities etc. needs to be reviewed.

Development control

Development control is largely hampered by some of the following reasons;

• Existing planning rules are not exercised properly

Due to many short comings of RAJUK some of which are;

·         Lack of regular supervision of concerned officials
·         Insufficient number of building inspectors
·         Absence of database management system and new technology in regular practice

The following steps are suggested to the government;

-      Establish a mechanism for implementation of plans, rules and codes at the regional, metropolitan and local levels

-      Organize community level guardianship of plans and laws i.e., development plans, area plans, zoning plans and laws such as environmental laws, wetland laws etc.

-      Establish a mechanism for communities to participate in plan formulation and implementation

-      Emphasis and practice on redevelopment plans and new development ideas

-      Strict compliance for FAR, open space, setbacks etc.


Communities should equally participate by;

-      Performing the task of watchdogs to stop any deviation of plan, land use or code in their areas

-      Maintain good leadership and representation in development functions of the government

-      Approach the local government with improvement plans and secure monitoring role of these works when implemented

-      Elect the local ward commissioner judiciously

The Building Code needs the support of professionals the most. They should;

-      Practice ethics

-      Plan for equitable distribution of resources land, open space and buildings
among citizens

-      Follow city planning codes and study new and innovative ideas for
implementation

-      Work for their own local area and their cities voluntarily

Reference

Town Planning and the political culture of planning in Bangladesh,
Professor Golam Rahman Ph. D, 2008

Legal Aspects of planning and development, Dr Mohsin Uddin

Ahmed, 2007
Inception   Report,   February   2010,   Updating   of   Bangladesh
National Building Code 1993, BRTC, BUET
Draft Summary Report, 13 July 2009, City Cluster Economic
Development Case Study: Dhaka Capital Region, Bangladesh,
Centre for Urban Studies, Dhaka and SPMS, Australia
Management of Growth and Planned Development of Dhaka City:
The Necessity of Proper Enforcement of Planning Standards, Akter
Mahmud.



[1] Honorary Treasurer, Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), Dhaka and Managing Director, Sheltech Consultants (Pvt.) Ltd.

[2] BBS, 2005

[3] Estimated
[4] UN 2004

[5] EB Act II of 1953. After independence of Pakistan in 1947 the cities were growing rapidly. The 1932 Bengal Municipal Act, 1932 was the only regulation for building control. To address the situation the government promulgated the EBBC ordinance, 1951 which was later re-enacted as the EBCC Act, 1952.

[6] Amended in 1952, 1984, 1996, 2006, 2007

[7] Created an efficient, autonomous agency which was Dhaka Improvement Trust (DIT) in 1956 and became RAJUK through an amendment in 1987.

[8] Amended in 1952, 1984, 1996, 2006, and 2007.

[9] RAJUK, 1996

[10] Amended in 2006, 2007.

 

OPINION | Blasphemy, Genocide and Violence Against Women: The Case of Bangladesh »

January 2, 2013

Gita Sahgal is a founder of the Centre for Secular Space. She is a writer and journalist on issues of feminism, fundamentalism, and racism, a director of prize-winning documentary films, and a women’s rights and human rights activist.

When Malala Yousafzai and her companions were shot by the Taliban, the whole of Pakistan expressed outrage. The attack on a young girl fighting for her right to education was shocking to many Pakistanis.  What was unusual about this event was, unfortunately, not the targeting of girls, but the fact that there was a national outcry.

No such outrage was expressed when   Asia Bibi, a poor Christian woman was charged with blasphemy.   Asia Bibi  is facing the death penalty and there are fears for her safety even if she were acquitted and released, as  people charged with blasphemy are often killed or may  ‘die’ in custody. They are not only being persecuted by the State but are at grave risk, even while they are in the custody of the state[1]. No-one has yet been brought to justice for the death   of the former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, although she herself, had named suspects in the Taliban and clearly predicted that her death would be the result not only of ‘non-state’ fundamentalist forces, but of those in the Pakistani establishment who wanted to get rid of her[2].

What is the link between the complete impunity for the deliberate targeting of women at all levels of Pakistani society, and the trials of alleged war criminals going on today in Bangladesh?  The link is the forgotten genocide committed in Bangladesh in 1971.  Appeals to violence in the name of religion were a central feature of this conflict as was the systematic targeting and mass rape of women. A military strategy to counter an armed uprising involved the mass murder, impregnation and forced pregnancies of unarmed civilians. But intertwined with it, was a fundamentalist strategy which involved not only fighting for Pakistan but turning it into an Islamist state, while attacking religious minorities and all who were not ‘good’ Muslims. Women, were attacked as professionals, as activists and simply for being women – particularly if they were from religious minorities.

Unlike Bangladesh, which is attempting to make good on an election promise to hold war crimes trials, Pakistan reneged on its promise to try its own military for war crimes, even though a Commission of Inquiry recommended that officers should be tried[3]. Instead of containing them, military and civilian leaders have made deals with fundamentalists, and sometimes with the support or acquiescence of Western powers, enormously increased their power.

In openDemocracy recently, I argued that Bangladesh was the forgotten template for 20th century war. Long before the killings and mass rape that took place in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Bangladesh showed what happens when militias allied to the army are involved in a conflict[4].  Although contemporary witnesses, including a number of US diplomats[5]  were convinced that they were witnessing genocide[6] – that is the deliberate destruction of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group; by the twenty first century, the conflict in Bangladesh had largely disappeared from international concern.   A BBC website defining genocide, for instance, failed to include Bangladesh even among a list of possible genocidal campaigns. Since 1972, not a single human rights organisation has done any investigation of the conflict, although they have been harsh in their comments about the establishment of an international crimes tribunal to try alleged war criminals.

The Pakistan military, one of the chief perpetrators of the conflict, is out of reach of the Bangladeshi authorities.    Nine men have been charged and numerous others, including at least two men resident in Western countries, are being investigated. All those charged are Bengalis. They are opposition leaders mostly of the Jamaat e Islami, a transnational fundamentalist political party, allied to the Muslim Brotherhood and often seen by Western governments as ‘moderate Islamists’. In Pakistan, in Britain and in the US, those accused of grave crimes enjoy almost complete impunity[7]. It is only in Bangladesh that there is an attempt at holding them accountable.  A mass movement, conducted almost entirely by survivors of the genocide, and energised by a new generation of younger activists, made the trial of alleged war criminals a major issue in the last elections.

As Sara Hossain and Bina D’Costa have explained, in their thoughtful discussion of redress for crimes of sexual violence[8], women such as Jahanara Imam[9] were the leading figures in the people’s movement for accountability.  Jahanara was a ‘mother’ of the liberation war, like Sufia Kamal[10] whose long career as a writer stretched back to the great Hindu and Muslim writers of Bengali literature  – Rabindranath Tagore,  Kazi Nazrul Islam and the science fiction writer Roqiaya Sakhawat Hossain.   Bengali nationalism grew out of a cultural movement for language and secular identity, in which women were prominent actors.

In March 1971, the  military in West Pakistan decided on a military crackdown to avoid accepting the results of the  elections which would have made the Bengali leader of the Awami League, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Prime Minister of both East Pakistan ( as Bangladesh was known) and West Pakistan. During the course of the conflict, they were politically and militarily supported by the Jamaat e Islami, whose leader Golam Azam is alleged to have incited violence and whose student wing are alleged to have formed the basis for paramilitary death squads. Both the military and their fundamentalist allies carried out actions which could be construed as genocidal in intent. There was a convergence of aims but they were carried out for somewhat different reasons. The Pakistan army, targeted Hindus and other minorities for killing, with large numbers of women raped and forcibly impregnated. Hindus were seen as outside the nation of Pakistan. They were depicted as part of the enemy nation, India, and therefore a legitimate target. West Pakistani soldiers also displayed racialised attitudes to Bengalis, similar to the intra- Muslim conflict seen more recently in Darfur.

But there is another aspect to the atrocities and that is the attempt to depict Bengali Muslims as not proper Muslims. General Yahya Khan was said to have said of Bengalis, ‘Make them Muslims’- when he landed in Dhaka. This is interpreted by some as one of the bases for sexual slavery, mass rape and forcible pregnancy. His project would have been given ideological ballast by fundamentalists who hated the common practices of Bengali Islam because it rejoiced in a traditional syncretic culture, fusing the antinomian traditions of Sufi- Bhakti – the devotional aspects of Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist traditions. For fundamentalists, this traditional form of religion, is itself blasphemous and may be tantamount to apostasy. The modern culture of Bengal was also considered un-Islamic.

 At a filmed meeting of the Centre for Secular Space[11] in London, Asif Munier, son of the playwright, Munier Chowdhury[12], described his father, who had protested against the banning of Tagore, being picked up by masked men, just two nights before the surrender of the Pakistani army. Knowing they were going to lose the war, Islamist death squads travelled around Dhaka  picking up journalists, academics, writers, doctors and others, in an incident known as the ‘killing of the intellectuals’. Among those killed was Selina Parvin, a single mother and journalist, whose mutilated body was found in the killing fields of Rayer Bazzar[13]. A survivor of one of the torture centres, described hearing men being tortured for their love of Tagore. Although,  US  Ambassador Rapp, has argued that only the killings of Hindus might amount to genocide,( as others might fall under the category of political killings), I believe that this view, does not do justice, to the comprehensive assault that was mounted on  all Bengalis as a national, ethnic and religious group. It does not take into account the specific ways in which religion was used to shape the targeting of individuals who are born Muslim but refuse to live by fundamentalist tenets.

In the case of Malala in Pakistan, the Taliban justified itself by stating, that it was “not just allowed … but obligatory in Islam” to kill such a person involved “in leading a campaign against Shariah and (who) tries to involve a whole community in such campaigns, and that personality becomes a symbol of anti-Shariah campaign.[14]

Note the language of obligation that is used by the Taliban, creating a ‘duty’ to kill. The intellectuals and many thousands of less well known Bengalis were killed simply because by standing for an independent Bangladesh, they were a symbol of an ‘anti-Shariah campaign’.  At the time of the conflict, in Bangladesh, it was not simply military orders but fatwas and incitement through the media, which were the means by which killing was justified.  Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, a Muslim reformer, who was formerly in the Pakistani student wing of the Jamaat e Islami, told the Centre for Secular Space meeting that he had been trained both to mobilise and disrupt. He agreed that the designation of someone as ‘kuffr’ an infidel or as an apostate, could result in targeting them. Though he has now moved to supporting secular values, he was closely involved in advocating for the fatwa on Rushdie and worked with Choudhury Muenuddin[15], a prominent British Muslim.  David Bergman and I investigated  him in a film called ‘The War Crimes File’[16], for his  involvement with death squads.

Whether operating through the law – by making blasphemy a crime punishable by death ( as has happened in Pakistan)[17] or by extra-judicial executions, and illegal fatwas, the blasphemy threat against writers,  artists, avowed apostates and the poor and marginalised alike, is key to understanding grave crimes such as genocide as well as violence against women ( particularly activists). A determination of genocide does not rest simply on the acts of violence committed but on the intent behind the acts. Intent to destroy a community may be determined by military orders, but fatwas and other religiously backed declarations which treat infidels and apostates as legitimate targets are also relevant.  They need much more examination in genocide studies.

In the context of severe threat, it is remarkable that Bangladeshi women, some of whom were themselves survivors of violence, have spoken out about their experiences and helped to develop the international legal concept of sexual slavery. Firdausi Priyabhashini, who participated in the Tokyo Tribunal on the case of the comfort women, said, “I saw that the history of Muktijuddho ( liberation war)  was being altered and the torture of women were being forgotten, and then I saw rural women coming from the villages to be witnesses at the public court “( a people’s tribunal which was attacked by the then government). I decided from the civil society I will speak up.” “if I speak of my experiences, a space will open up, women will learn how to fight.[18]

 

Article also published on Women Living Under Muslim Laws Website


[1] Two powerful men who supported Asia Bibi: Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab; and Shahbazz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities and the only Christian in the Cabinet; were both assassinated because they raised concerns about her case and Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Salman Taseer’s killer, his own bodyguard, became a national hero and lawyers lined up for the honour of defending him.

[5] Cable from U.S. Consul General, Dacca, East Pakistan, to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Apr. 6, 1971),

which argued that ‘‘genocide was applicable’’ (quoted in Lawrence Lifshultz, Bangladesh, the Unfinished

Revolution (1979). The cable, known as the Blood telegram after the brave US diplomat Archer Blood was signed by twenty U.S. diplomats in Pakistan and nine South Asia hands in the State Department. It represented dissent from the US position of support for Pakistan.

[6] The genocide convention defines genocide as “ acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such":

[7] As a result of investigations conducted by the Tribunal, the US government has started an investigation into a suspect in Bangladesh http://www.secularvoiceofbangladesh.org/Killar%20Ashrafuzzaman%20Khan.htm

[8] Bina D’Costa and Sara Hossain, REDRESS FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMES TRIBUNAL IN BANGLADESH: LESSONS FROM HISTORY,AND HOPES FOR THE FUTURE, Criminal Law Forum (2010) 21:331–359 _ Springer 2010

[12] http://www.bpedia.org/C_0250.php

[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selina_Parvin

[14] http://dawn.com/2012/10/10/taliban-use-islamic-shariah-to-defend-malala-attack/

[15]http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217367/NHS-boss-faces-death-penalty-charges-torture-18-murders.html

[16] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A1Ev17ZTAY

[17] http://www.pewforum.org/Government/Laws-Penalizing-Blasphemy,-Apostasy-and-Defamation-of-Religion-are-Widespread.aspx

[18] Rubaiyat Hossain, ‘Trauma of the Women, Trauma of the Nation: a feminist discourse on Izzat, Liberation War Museum, Dhaka

 

 


Human Rights Awareness Unit | Senior Theatre Activist Talks about his Latest Play »

December 11, 2012

ASK STAFF | Focus on the Work of Amir Zaman


Senior Theatre Activist from the  Human Rights Awareness Unit in ASK, Amir Zaman, writes a short description of his play which was one of the showcased plays at the National Human Rights Theatre Activist Conference which was in Siragonj in October 2012.


Amir Zaman played the role of corrupt black uniformed officer


4th Stage Play Production of Manbadhikar Nattya Parishad, Sirajganj

Anandanagar
(The Land of Joy)

Playwright, Design & Direction by Amir Zaman

Short brief of the play:

A black dressed armed force indiscriminately kills all the inhabitants of Anandanagar City. Afflicted by sorrow the king killed himself in a mentally deranged condition. But the king’s councilor flew away with “Ananda”, a new born baby of state courtesan “Mrinmoyee”. Afterwards the city was turned into a outpost of stranger businessman named “Capital”, his local accomplice “war” and their black-masked armed force. They were always active to feed their system of capitalism to protect their vested interest of power manipulation by misusing religion, science, history of civilization and legendary epic. But they were also worried about the probable return and revenge of “Ananda”. After a long time incidentally “Ananda” came back to the city without knowing the horrific history of Anandanagar. When he got down from the train at Anandanagar railway station, the abandon roads of the city made him astonished. The bewildering attitude of the lonely tea stall keeper also puzzled him. Furthermore the mysterious movements of a restless girl and her going behind to Ananda like his shadow made him more confused. At one stage Ananda started to follow her and reached to the abode of “War” and “Capital” and captured by them. There they tortured him to unfold his real identity. But Ananda’s statements made them suspicious. At that time the girl came there and told Ananda about the way to defeat the opposition of humanity. Ananda flew away but the girl caught red-handed. “War” raped her as punishment. At last Ananda stirred the people such as farmers, weavers, fishermen etc against the oppression and returned to the city. The wave of the people’s revolution vexed Anandanagar for desired freedom.

                                                                            


                                                                            

Director’s Comments/speech:

Once the ruthless speech by Jan Paul Sartre “Hell is the other people” agonized me severely. Staying in the present situation of the world civilization it feels to me that few people are creating hell in the world. The world is becoming unfit for living for the next generation. Here human beings are triggering rifle on other  human beings. The brutal history of power practitioner people who are empowered with desperate arms and with the corruptive capitalist intelligence, have reached a horrific stage and getting more cruel to the helpless, common people. Such an aggressive history is resulting deep existence crisis for the thousand million of the people across the world and these crisis outburst into the society through increasing number of brutal violation cases of human rights. Some capitalist with their accomplice musclemen have used religion, science, history, heritage and legendary epic for their own interest and ruined humanity. As a theatre activist these observations strike our conscience frequently and inspired Manabadhikar Nattya Parishad of Sirajgonj to produce the play “Anandanagar (The Land of Joy)”. The play symbolically has depicted a struggle for freedom against the arms power practitioner and capitalist’s aggression. Actually this is a global picture but this play dealt with the contemporary Bangladesh as its background.

 The talented theatre group bow at the end

                                                                 

    Amir receives an award for this play on the night from cultural activist and actress, Lucky Anam

                                                                 

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