Torture


Daily Star Report Blaming Hawa Bhaban

About ten months into the current Awami League government’s tenure, Daily Star produced this sensational investigative report. In blaring headlines, it pinned the blame for the August 21 assassination attempt on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tarique Rahman (referred to as Hawa Bhaban bigwig in report), and some other BNP leaders. The assassination attempt was billed as a joint venture between BNP and an Islamic fundamentalist organization.

The timing of this report was extremely significant. Two years ago, it was quite common to hear predictions about BNP breaking apart or an end to the Zia-brand of politics. Rovian dreams of Awami League’s permanent majority was quite du jour. BNP was scheduled to have its annual party council at the end of 2009. A feasible connection between Tarique Rahman and a murder charge would not only put BNP’s leadership transition into question, it would have given the government a huge bargaining chip against the largest opposition party.

Julfikar Ali Manik claimed that a “highly privileged document” from “a top accused of the grenade carnage” was the source of this information. This document finally went public on April 7 2011, when Mufti Hannan was brought in front of a magistrate to give a confessional statement that mirrored exactly what the 2009 Daily Star report had claimed. Important to note, Hannan had already confessed to his own involvement in this crime back in 2007. This additional information was only to pave the way for Tarique Rahman and other BNP leaders to be also indicted for the same crime.

Fast forward to September 27, less than a week ago. Having involved everyone the government wanted to involve, the case starts. Mufti Hanna submits a document stating that his supposed confessions were extracted by torture. How does Daily Star cover the story?

Daily Star Report on Retraction

It buries the retraction deep into the story. Which is funny, because the news that the government allegedly extracted a confession from a prisoner in its custody, only so that it can frame opposition politicians, ought to be big news. Amar Desh has reproduced the entire petition, including description of the torture. Eyebrows have been raised for less.

Daily Star Report on BNP

The next day, BNP, quiet understandably, held a press conference claiming vindication and pressing for the name of its leaders to be dropped from the charge-sheet. Again, in the headline, Daily Star made no reference to the alleged retraction. A casual reader glancing at the headline, as I did, would have probably thought it referred to some garden-variety claim made in some rally somewhere, and missed this entire back story.

In an incredible counterattack, to make sure the retraction of the confession was downplayed, Daily Star printed a competing news article claiming that Hannan’s legal petition had no standing. The next day, it got eminent jurist State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam to say the same thing.

Daily Star Report on Retraction of Confession

Let us look at the legal claims that a confession given under Section 164 cannot be retracted. Section 164 (3) of Bangladesh’s Criminal Procedure Code states:

(3) A Magistrate shall, before recording any such confession, explain
to the person making it that he is not bound to make confession and that if he does
so it may be used as evidence against him and no magistrate shall record any such
confession unless, upon questioning the person making it, he has reason to believe
that it was made voluntarily; and, when he records any confession, he shall make a
memorandum at the foot of such record to the following effect :-
“I have explained to (name) that he is not bound to make a confession and that, if he
does so any confession he may this confession was voluntarily made. I was taken in
my presence and hearing, an was read over to the person making it and admitted by
him to be correct, and it contains a full and true account of the statement made by
him.
(Signed) A. B.,
Magistrate.”

This makes abundantly clear that voluntariness is at the heart of any confession obtained through Section 164. The fact that confessions extracted through torture are illegal are no surprise; the courts of Bangladesh have been very exact in this regard. Our Supreme Court has explicitly held, in State Vs. Abul Hashem, 3 MLR (HCD) 30, that a magistrate cannot record a confession that is extracted through torture. And then, just to make sure, the magistrate has to affix his own signature at the end, verifying that the statement was not produced through torture.

What factors should a court look at to see whether there were any indication of torture or general police coercion? One very important factor is whether the confession is extracted after being in police custody, or whether there is any possibility that the witness may be taken back to remand right after his interaction with the magistrate. In State Vs. Farid Karim, 8 BLT(AD) 87, the fact that the accused was in police custody for unexplained two days before the police produced him for making confessional statement, was one of the important factors in the confessional statement being found involuntary.

Has Mufti Hanna been taken in custody, also called remand, often? According to a very desultory Google search, he has been remanded for 7 days on September 6, 2009, 5 days on September 12, 2009, 3 days on September 23, 2009, for 7 days on December 3, 2009, for 3 days on July 18, 2010, 2 days on August 22, 2010, and 5 days on December 27, 2010 . After making the statement, he was remanded for 1 day on April 26, 2011. That makes for 32 days of remand, and potential police torture, before and  1 day after making this confession statement. During the remand hearing held on August 22, 2010, Hannan tallied the number of days for which he had been in remand at 369 days over the past five years, and begged the magistrate not to grant any more remand. Remand, though, was granted.

Hanna was in police remand for half of September 2009. Presumably, it was this during this period that the document which became Julfikar Manik’s investigative piece was produced.

Even if this confession was made through torture, should we care if such confession statements cannot be retracted? Yes. There exists a plethora of judicial opinion, specifically State Vs. Lalu Miah and another, 39 DLR(AD) 11, which holds that any allegation of torture which forced the confessional statement, is to be treated the same as a petition for the withdrawal of the statement. Now that Hannan has claimed torture in police custody, the judge must decide whether his earlier confessional statement is credible. So the claim that there is no legal basis for withdrawing his confessional statement is without merit.

So why is this about the Daily Star’s coverage of this whole issue, rather than the much serious issue of torture of a prisoner in government custody, in a conspiracy to subvert the opposition political forces. There are two main reasons. The first is that we hear about these human rights violations through newspapers, and especially the Daily Star. If not for the Daily Star, Limon would be rotting in a jail cell or dead by now. So, when the newspaper itself decided to obfuscate the story and shift the focus to legal technicalities like getting permission from jail authorities instead of the much bigger and more serious allegation of torture in government custody, it renders hollow its supposed commitment to human rights and reinforces the suspicion that the news printed in Daily Star is slanted to serve a particular agenda.

Secondly, torture does not occur in a vacuum. No torture can flourish in a society unless it decides, as a whole, that certain individuals or classes of individuals are exempt from the protection of law. It very much seems like Daily Star has made such a finding for Mufti Hannan, which makes the paper, in general, and the relevant individuals, in particular, accomplices to torture. And the insidious thing is that the class of people who can be tortured tends to grow and metastasize at unbelievable speed. You may think that it only includes people with beards, and then suddenly, it also includes young university students out at night. 

This saga is by no means over. While there is an aspect to it that has a purely partisan aspect, this incident also serves as a reflection of the values that we hold as a society. And those values are fraying fast.

Former Deputy Attorney General M U Ahmed died today under police custody in a city hospital. On August 11, 2011, at the order of high court judges Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Gobinda Thakur, he was arrested and tortured by police until he suffered from a massive myocardial Infarction.

It is evident that everybody living in side Bangladesh is afraid of calling a spade a spade. An environment of fear, extreme fear has been created by these two thuggish judges in Bangladesh. Last in their list of atrocities in the murder of ex Deputy Attorney General Advocate M U Ahmed. This is plain simple muder commited at the beheast of two blindly partisan judges by a brutal murderous police force of Awami League government.

If you are one of the few people who haven’t seen the pictures, see them here.

First we heard that Faruq was bad-mouthing the police.

Then we heard that he was assaulting the police.

A Member of Parliament is brutalized in front of the Parliament building, and yet the Speaker won’t let opposition MPs speak on this issue.

And today, our honorable Prime Minister told us he was vandalizing vehicles.

Lies, lies, and lies. How can there be normal politics in a country when one side is led by a habitual liar?

We all understand and expect political spin. But not lies.

And, we need to make a law that no members of political parties or student political organizations, whether JCD, BCL, ICS, or others, can join BCS, police, army, or any other government service. They cannot work as government teachers, doctors, or lawyers.

We need to start looking for solutions to the underlying structural problems. Outrage and indignation can only take us so far.

… everyone will be happy.  The government will be happy because they won’t have to prove anything, hold any trial, meet any international standard, answer to annoying human rights activisists foreigners.  The war crimes trial movement will be happy — they will celebrate the death of a hated enemy.  His rivals in Chittagong BNP will be happy.  BNP leadership will be happy — he has a large following, and a massive funeral will be quite a showdown. 

Rumi is a doctor.  He can tell us the odds of a 63 years old with three previous heart attacks and has several cardiac stents suffering a fatal attack under these conditions

What did you say?  Fair trial?  That’s so passe man, Shahrier Kabir told the Economist: We should set our own standards.

Death in custody is our standard.  What’s so unfair about that? 

Peace will reign in deezeetaal Bangladesh when he is dead.

Long time member of Bangladesh parliament Mr Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury has recently been arrested. Although government minister’s were promising his arrest for his alleged involvement in committing atrocities against Bangladeshi freedom fighters during 1971 war of Independence, he was arrested on an accusation of arson in Dhaka during the day of General strike last month. Interestingly,  Mr Chowdhury was not even in Dhaka when the  alleged arson took place in Dhaka. In a breach of routine legal practice, after arrest Mr Chowdhury was not produced before the court. He was taken to an undisclosed location ( Many suspected it to be a police station inside the Military Garrison in Dhaka)  and 12 hours later when he was produced before court, Mr Chowdhury reportedly was bleeding, limping. In court he accused of inhumane torture on hm. After the court approved five days to grill him and when he returned to the court, the court even did not allow to let the accused Mr Chowdhury come before the court. So totally disconnected from family, lawyers, political colleague– there is no was to know how much more  torture Mr Chowdhury endured.  His daughter and wife called a press conference and pointedly asked the government, where the blood, those were seen on Mr Chowdhury’s ears and face, came from.

 

Almost every body ( if not absolutely everybody) remained silent on this torture accusation as the victim of this torture was a bad guy. He is a political leader accused of crimes against humanity against our side during our war of independence.  So as he committed very grave crimes like war crimes, no one should speak out against torture on him. If one does, she/ he is also a rajakar ( Collaborator) if not war criminal. We are against torture. But this guy is an exception.

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Few years ago, this comment was made on this blog post

[ On inquiry, I came to know that the commenter was Fabia Mim Mamoon, teenage daughter of Gias Uuddin Al Mamun]

 

“out of sight out of mind” – this is so true.
the last post was made on june 20 2007. Ever wonder where the man is now? and in what condition?

All the politicians sent to custody after 1/11 are out. Well most of them. Whatever he is he cannot be the most corrupted person in Bangladesh. There are rapists murderers who are living peacefully in our society among us.

Even for a second if i assume that he was, the way he was tortured ..no one else was ..
he was actually arrested on 30th Jan, 2007 but was shown arrested from 26th March. During this time  he was hidden. No one knew where he was, his family of four passed the most brutal time. He has a wife, two daughters who were 3 and 15 then and a son aged 9. They knew he died. The family was interrogated again and again. The integrators would jump into the premises from all sides of the house at midnight and would wake everyone up and ask the same questions repeatedly. Once it was also seen that one of the interrogators with a gun in his hand had moved the youngest child’s hair from her face when she was asleep. On 26th March night, the family had gone to sleep. There was a knock on the master bedroom door around 3am, one of the house staff said “they are here”. Slowly everyone started coming out of their rooms, the voices of many men had awakened them. Everyone was dumped in to Mamoon’s elder daughter’s room and they began searching the house, all of a sudden a man walked into the room, the man was unknown but when he called out Mamoon’s daughter’s name everyone turned around and looked at him. The face was unknown but the voice was known. He then bursted into tears and his elder daughter ran and hugged him tight while his wife fainted and the other two children could not believe what they were looking at. After sometime Mamoon and his wife were called into their room where the law men have opened the stitches of a couch and put in the gun inside te couch in front of everyone’s eyes and then took it out as an illegal gun was discovered. A case was placed against him.

Slowly the truth started coming out and he started telling his family how he was tortured :-
1. on the very 1st night all his nails were taken with a plus.
2. he was given electric shocks at every part of his body.
3. he was put into mock cross fire.
4. he was tied and pushed into a lake and taken out when they knew he wouldn’t be able to take it anymore.
5. he was placed in a small box were there is hardly any space to move and a high voltage bulb was placed on top.
6. knowing that he had brain hemorrhage in the pat, he was brutally kicked until lather came out of his mouth.
7. they even made him sign on random blank papers.

Maybe he did have “ill gotten money” but always remember television n papers love to spice up things and they add lots of “zeros”.
– The house in gazipur that is said to be his is actually on 5 katha land and really doesn’t belong to him. His wife inherited that from her grandfather.
– He owes huge amount of loans to different banks, he had taken those to set up his factories. There are a total of 5000 workers working in the factories now, all the factories prohibit child labour and each of the workers family consists of 4 members on an average, that makes it 5000*4 = 20 000.
– all of the property values that have been shown are CURRENT values. value of property, fdrs were not shown as they were at the time of purchasing.

His middle child (son) is mentally disturbed. He is not being able to cope up at school ever since …. His academics .. personal behavior ..everything is going down ..

His younger daughter misses her dad so much she regularly draws pictures of him and her together. It’s so sad that she couldn’t even understand the term “dad” properly ..before that he was taken away ..

There are lot more that can be said ..
People please do not believe in whatever people say. Try to look up. there are lot of things we are not aware of. If this is the story of 1 man, imagine how many men and families were harassed.

 

Almost every body ( if not absolutely everybody) remained silent on this torture accusation as the victim of this torture was a bad guy. He is a corrupt man accused of massive corruption.  So as he committed very grave crimes like grand scale theft, no one should speak out against torture on him. If anyone does, she/he is also a corrupt criminal. We are against torture. But this guy is an exception.

 

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Then before that there was the Freak Show of Torture. on the son the a former President, decorated General of our war of Independence and whose mother is three times PM and one of the two major political leaders of the country.  That torture was totally endorsed by our leading Dailies who tried their best to undermine the fractured back caused by the torture as ailment of pinched nerve.

 

Almost every body ( if not absolutely everybody) remained silent on this torture accusation as the victim of this torture was a bad guy. Many folks applauded this torture. He is a corrupt man accused of massive corruption and very ruthless bad governance.  So as he committed very grave crimes no one should speak out against torture on him. If anyone does, she/he is also a corrupt criminal. We are against torture. But this guy is an exception.

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Recently a newspaper editor dared to become outspoken against the atrocities of the government and published some corruption allegation. Hell broke loose on him. His crime— he dared speak against the government and tried to desecrate the halo around our Prime Minister and the crown prince, her son.

 

Almost every body ( if not absolutely everybody) remained silent on this torture accusation as the victim of this torture was a bad guy. Many folks applauded this torture. He is a bad man accused of inflicting bad things on our beloved prime minister and her son.  So as he committed very grave crimes no one should speak out against torture on him. If anyone does, she/he is also a very bad guy. We are against torture. But this guy is an exception.

 

 

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Very recently the President of the Garments Workers Unity Forum Moshrefa Mishu was arrested and tortured in police remand in all possible way sort of physical beating. As a result, on her way to a second remand, he fell severely ill, and had to be hospitalized immediately.

 

Almost every body ( with rare exception of two people) remained silent on this torture accusation as the victim of this torture was a bad person. She was conspiring to ruin our Garments industry which is the backbone of our economy.  So as she committed very grave crimes no one should speak out against torture on her. If anyone does, she/he is also part of the conspiracy to destroy our economy. We are against torture. But this person is an exception.

Photo, courtesy of the Daily Star.

National leader of Bangladesh, late Presiedent Ziaur rahman lived in this house from 1972 till his death in 1981. This was a house he was allotted as the deputy chief of staff of Bangladesh Army.

After his death, the then elected government’s cabinet decided to give the property to the widow of the slain president in a 99 year lease. That widow is now our leader of opposition.

Coming back to power for the second time, PM Sheikh Hasina seemed hellbent in evicting the opposition leader from that house and then demolishing this residence of late President Ziaur rahman.

A legal battle is underway in the court in this regard. A hearing is scheduled to take place in the Supreme court on Nov 29th.

However government looks like too impatient to wait till final resolution of the legal process.

So far from the sketchy news coming out of Dhaka cantonment where Mrs Zia leaves, the followng incidences have been confirmed.

1. Military PR wing issued a press release that opposition leader is leaving the house on her own. However the opposition leader, through her press secretery has denied any such claim by the military.

2. All the staff of the opposition leader residence have been rounded up and taken to police station.

3. Police and military trucks have taken position in front of opposition leader’s house.

4. Telephone line has been disconnected from the residence of opoosition leader.

5. Cantonment officials went to opposition leader’s house to take over the property.

6. Police and paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion forces has entered opoosition leader’s house and they were seen at the roof.

7. Opposition leader is being debied to meet her lawyers and political collegaue.

8. Opposition chief whip and other colleague of the opposition leader were barred from entering cantonment.

9. Law enforcement agency members were reported to be using hand mikes instructing the opposition leader to evacuate the home and promising stern action otherwise.

10. Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s General Secretary, in a press briefing, informed that the opposition leader is under house arrest at this time.

11. Sporadic clashed with opposition activists and law men are being reported from different parts of the country.

12. An attempted rally from opposition main office was dispersed by the police.

13. Lawyers of Mrs Zia, the opposition leader, went to meet the Chief justice in his residence begging for a legal remedy.

[ UPDATE 12 NOON BDT]

14. Apparently there is a media blackout about the events regarding the residence of the opposition leader.
15. The main opposition party called a down to dusk general strike for tomorrow.

[ UPDATE]

In the evening, after daylong siege, Law enforcement men breaks open Opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s home, breaks open into her bedroom, indiscriminately beats her staff and family members, dragging her out of her bedroom and escorts her out of her home for 40 years.

Later in the evening in a press conference, Mrs Zia talked to the nation of her ordeal.

Yes, this is our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Bangladesh.  And this is the video footage …

I did not want to post this gruesome video in this blog. This video shows how an elected representative of people, a local government leader, Upazilla Chairman ( representing the people of one of total 460 Upazilla in Bangladesh), Mr Sanaullah Noor ( Nickname Babu), was chopped to death.

The event developed in this way. A mid-level opposition leader was supposed to visit the specific upazilla and this Upazilla Chairman, belonging to the opposition party, brought out a welcome procession with 15-20 of his supporters in the main thoroughfare of the Upazilla. Suddenly, in broad daylight, in front of thousands of onlookers and dozens of jurnalists, few dozens of activists of ruling party, armed with hatchets, axes, sticks, knives attacked the  procession led by Mr Noor. As the procession dispersed under attack the attackers converged on the leader, Mr. Noor. As shown in this video, the attackers kept on beating Mr Noor, even when he was down in the street, bleeding profusely and begging for life. Some of teh attackers took knives to cut the arteries at both arms and the tendons of both legs.

The group was led by Mr Zakir Hossain ( fade jeans, light shirt with a stick at hand), a leader of Awami League local chapter. At some point he is seen chasing a journalist attempting to take photos of the killing. nearly a dozen of journalists were brutally beaten during this event and some are still in hospital with grievous injuries.

 

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