ROMEL CHAKMA. PART-I: Is custodial killing heroic?

by rahnuma ahmed

Romel Chakma, 20 year-old HSC examinee and student leader of Pahari Chatra Parishad,
was picked up by army personnel on April 5, 2017. Allegedly tortured, he died in hospital two weeks later.

Romel Chakma ? Photographer not known.

How does one restore dignity to the memory of a youth who was picked up and tortured, who died of torture, whose body was not handed over to family members for cremation, but burnt after pouring petrol and kerosene? Continue reading “ROMEL CHAKMA. PART-I: Is custodial killing heroic?”

The story the CIA doesn't want to talk about

Ghost flights, black sites, and stories of appalling abuse.

Watch Amrit Singh of the Open Society Justice Initiative describe the grim realities of the CIA?s post-9/11 campaign of secret detention and torture.

She has compiled a first-of-its-kind report that tells the story of how the United States used its position to cajole, persuade, and strong-arm 54 other countries to take part in the CIA?s highly classified programs.
From Australia to Iran, Canada to Sweden, Hong Kong to Indonesia. The list is shocking.
Even though I?you?have heard many stories about what was done in the name of the war against terror, I found myself shocked again about what was done under the CIA?s secret programs after 9/11.
These are not the practices of an open society. Only with a full reckoning can the United States hope to close the door on this shameful chapter in its history.
Take a step toward puncturing the layers of secrecy. Watch?and share?this video.
Sincerely,
George Soros
Chairman and Founder

Tribunal against Torture

The session, organised on June 26, 2012 at the BRAC Centre Inn, Dhaka by Odhikar in collaboration with European Union includes statements by victims and legal expert?s analysis. Speakers include
? Abdul Matin Khasru, MP and Former Law Minister
? Haider Akbar Khan Rono, Presidium Member, Communist Party of Bangladesh
? Abu Sayed Khan, Managing Editor, The daily Shomokal
? Advocate Abdus Salam, Member, Central Coordination Committee, Gonosonghati Andolon
? Rajekuzzaman Ratan, Member, Central Committee, Socialist Party of Bangladesh
? Mizanur Rahman Khan, Associate Editor, Prothom Alo
? Kalpona Akhter, Executive Editor, Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity

There is a paper presented by Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary, Odhikar which Nurul Kabir, Editor, New Age presides over. Welcoming address given by Dr. C R Abrar, President, Odhikar
A set of posters of the exhibition on extra judicial killings “Crossfire” by Bangladeshi photojournalist Shahidul Alam of Drik is on display. Sets of the posters have been given to human rights activists to use at grassroots level. The show was recently shown at the Queen’s Museum of Art in New York. 

Marines Urinating on Dead Taliban: How Low Will We Go?

By 

Huffington Post Posted: 1/13/12 11:45 AM ET
I haven’t fully digested the disgusting news that U.S. Marines have been caught on video urinating on dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, so this post is not offered as a coherent think-piece. But what is there to think about, anyway? What is there to say, really, except that there’s absolutely no excuse? No excuse for the policy makers and officers, but neither is there one for the brutalized young perpetrators. Their lowly enlisted status doesn’t excuse them; we should offer them compassion, but not absolution, for the guilt they carry. The next time I’m in a U.S. airport and the passengers break out in applause when the gate agent or flight attendant congratulates “our men and women in uniform,” I’ll remember this incident.

In keeping with its maddening, self-regarding role as the American Pravda, a hand-wringing New York Times “analysis” worries that “the images could incite anti-American sentiment at a particularly delicate moment in the decade-old Afghan war.” Well, how could they not have that effect? And why shouldn’t they? Continue reading “Marines Urinating on Dead Taliban: How Low Will We Go?”

The secret interrogation policy that could never be made public

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Tony Blair evaded questions over his role in document, and ministers have refused to say if they were aware of details

This article was published on?guardian.co.uk at?18.46 BST on Thursday 4 August 2011. A version appeared on p10 of the?Main section section of?the Guardian on?Friday 5 August 2011. It was last modified at?00.06 BST on Friday 5 August 2011.

Rapid Action Battalion headquarters
The headquarters of the Rapid Action Battalion in Uttara, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph: Shahidul Alam for the Guardian

Government ministers were extraordinarily sensitive about the contents of the secret?MI5 and?MI6 interrogation policy document when the Guardian became aware of its existence two years ago.
Initially, its purpose was to permit the questioning of prisoners being held at Bagram air base, north of Kabul, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, despite it being clear that these men were being severely abused by members of the US military.
In time, the policy developed into one governing the conduct of British intelligence officers who were questioning terrorism suspects held by some of the world’s most notorious security agencies.
As a number of these men began to emerge from captivity, some bearing clear signs of having been tortured, the ministers became even more nervous. The disclosure of the contents of the document helps explain why.
Tony Blair evaded a series of questions over the role he played in authorising changes to the instructions in 2004, while the former home secretary David Blunkett maintained it was potentially libellous even to ask him questions about the matter.
As foreign secretary, David Miliband?told MPs the secret policy could never be made public as “nothing we publish must give succour to our enemies”.
Blair, Blunkett and the former foreign secretary Jack Straw also declined to say whether or not they were aware that the instructions had led to a number of people being tortured.
The head of MI5,?Jonathan Evans, said that, in the post 9/11 world, his officers would be derelict in their duty if they did not work with intelligence agencies in countries with poor human rights records, while his opposite number at MI6, Sir John Sawers,?spoke of the “real, constant, operational dilemmas” involved in such relationships.
Others, however, are questioning whether, in the?words of Ken Macdonald, a former director of public prosecutions, “Tony Blair’s government was guilty of developing something close to a criminal policy”.
The Intelligence and Security Committee, the group of parliamentarians appointed by the prime minister to assist with the oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies, is known to have examined the document while sitting in secret. However, it is unclear what ? if any ? suggestions or complaints it made.
Paul Murphy, the Labour MP and former minister who chaired the committee in 2006, declined to answer questions about the matter.
A number of men, mostly British Muslims, have complained that they were questioned by MI5 and MI6 officers after being tortured by overseas intelligence officials in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Guant?namo Bay. Some are known to have been detained at the suggestion of British intelligence officers.
Others say they were tortured in places such as Egypt, Dubai, Morocco and Syria, while being interrogated on the basis of information that could only have been supplied by the UK.
Some were subsequently?convicted of serious terrorism offences or subjected to control orders. Others were returned to the UK and, after treatment, resumed their lives.
One is a?businessman in Yorkshire, another a?software designer living in Berkshire, and a third is a?doctor practising on the south coast of England.
Some of the men have brought civil proceedings against the British government, and a number have received compensation in out-of-court settlements. Others remain too frightened to take action.
Scotland Yard has examined the possibility that one officer from MI5 and a second from MI6 committed criminal offences while extracting information from detainees overseas, and detectives are now conducting what is described as a “wider investigation into other potential criminal conduct”.
A new set of instructions was drafted after last year’s election,?published on the orders of David Cameron, on the grounds that the coalition was “determined to resolve the problems of the past” and wished to give “greater clarity about what is and what is not acceptable in the future”.
Human rights groups pointed to what they said were serious loopholes that could permit MI5 and MI6 officers to remain involved in the?tortureof prisoners overseas.
The issue of alleged torture in custody continues to haunt political, military and intelligence elites on both sides of the Atlantic. On Thursday a judge in America allowed a former military contractor who claims he was imprisoned and tortured by the US army in Iraq to sue the former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally for damages.
The man, an army veteran whose identity has been withheld, was working as a translator for the US marines in the volatile Anbar province when he was detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a US military facility near Baghdad airport dedicated to holding “high-value” detainees.
The US government says he was suspected of helping to pass classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces enter Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime, and he says he never broke the law.
Lawyers for the man, who is in his 50s, claim he was preparing to return to the US on annual leave when he was detained without justification and that his family were told nothing about his whereabouts or whether he was still alive.
Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused, then released without explanation in August 2006. Two years later, he filed a suit in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to the courts, in violation of his constitutional rights.

Alleged victims

Binyam Mohamed, 33, returned to Britain in 2009 after his release from Guantan?mo Bay. An MI5 officer was alleged to have been involved in an interview with Mohamed in Pakistan and to have seen him three times while he was being held in Morocco.
Faisal Mostafa, 47, a chemist from Stockport, was repatriated from Bangladesh last summer after being detained in Dhaka in 2009. He is said to have been hooded, strapped to a chair and questioned about the UK while a drill was driven into his shoulder and hip.
Alam Ghafoor, 40, from Huddersfield, said he was held on a business trip in the United Arab Emirates after the London 7/7 bombings. The Foreign Office insisted he had not been detained at the request of the UK. Released after signing a false confession.
Zeeshan Siddiqui, a British citizen detained by the Pakistani security services and tortured while they accused him of being a member of al-Qaida. He returned to the UK and was placed under a control order. He absconded and is still missing.
——
Previous articles on RAB
Death Squad
Bangladesh Torture Centre

Attack on "Solidarity for Limon" rally


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The regular weekly “Solidarity for Limon” rally had been steadily attracting bigger crowds, despite the monsoon rains. The gathering this Friday the 24th June 2011 was especially large. The street plays were popular and since this was not an event aligned to either of the main political parties, it attracted ordinary people who came to express solidarity, or merely to enjoy the performance.
This week’s performance, a drama called Khekshial (Jackal), performed by Aranyak Natyadal in front of the National Museum at around 4:30pm, was however disrupted when two men burst through the surrounding crowd and began wrecking the props.

Screengrab from video: 9 mins 0 secs?

Screengrab from video: 9 mins 06 secs


Attack visible from 8 mins 58 secs onwards.
The audience, intially slow to react, as they thought it was part of the play, soon went after the men, but they disappeared into the crowd. Later a young man called Al-Amin was caught by the crowd and accused of being one of the attackers. The man was taken away by Shahbag police, who arrived sometime after the event. The police are reported to have released Al-Amin as he was an innocent by-stander.
The organisers have pledged to continue their protests until the government withdraw the false cases against Limon Hossein and provide adequate compensation for the loss of his leg.
`Attack on demo for Limon,’ bdnews24
Fri, Jun 24th, 2011 8:23 pm BdST
http://www.bdnews24.com/details.php?id=199289&cid=2
and, `Goons attack demo for Limon,’ New Age, 25/06/2011 00:42:00
http://newagebd.com/newspaper1/frontpage/23806.html

UK linked to notorious Bangladesh torture centre

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Exclusive : British authorities pressed for information while men were held at secret interrogation centre where inmates are known to have died under torture, Guardian investigation reveals

Ian Cobain, and Fariha Karim in Dhaka/Guardian UK

January 17, 2011

The headquarters of the Rapid Action Battalion in Uttara. ???Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World/Guardian

UK authorities passed information about British nationals to notorious Bangladeshi intelligence agencies and police units, then pressed for information while the men were being held at a secret interrogation centre where inmates are known to have died under torture.
A Guardian investigation into counter-terrorism co-operation between the UK and Bangladesh has revealed a detailed picture of the last Labour government’s reliance on overseas intelligence agencies that were known to use torture.
Meetings and exchanges of information took place between British and Bangladeshi officials in an effort to protect the UK from attacks that might be fomented in Bangladesh, according to sources in both countries.
The likelihood that a number of suspects would be tortured as a result of the meetings went unmentioned, according to the sources. Subsequently, more than a dozen men of dual British-Bangladeshi nationality were placed under investigation, and at least some suffered horrific abuse from the Bangladeshi authorities.
At one point Jacqui Smith, then home secretary, flew to Dhaka for face-to-face meetings with senior officials from one agency, the Directorate-General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), whose use of torture had been the subject of a detailed report by Human Rights Watch, the New York-based NGO, less than eight weeks earlier. Seven months before the visit, a report prepared by Smith’s own department had documented the widespread concern about the routine use of torture in Bangladesh. Smith spoke publicly during the visit about the dangers that could be posed by dual nationals; privately, according to a senior DGFI counter-terrorism officer, she urged that the agency investigate a number of individuals about whom the British were suspicious.
In September it emerged that in recent years MI5 and MI6 have always asked the home secretary or foreign secretary for permission before conducting any information exchange where there was a risk of an individual being tortured. Smith, her successor Alan Johnson and David Miliband, the foreign secretary during the period of the joint UK-Bangladeshi counter-terrorism campaign, have declined to answer questions about the matter.
A number of the British suspects were taken to the secret interrogation centre, known as the Task Force for Interrogation cell (TFI). The location of the TFI and the methods employed by those who work there became clear during the Guardian investigation, with both former inmates and intelligence officials speaking out about its operations.
Faisal Mostafa, from Manchester, was taken to the TFI after Smith’s visit to Dhaka and is alleged to have been forced to stand upright for the first six days of his incarceration, with his wrists shackled to bars above his head. He is then alleged to have then been beaten and subjected to electric shocks while being questioned about Bangladeshi associates. At the point at which he was to be questioned about his associates and activities in the UK, he is said to have been blindfolded and strapped to a chair while a drill was slowly driven into his right shoulder and hip.
This abuse during questioning about the UK is said to have been repeated on a number of occasions. The Guardian has seen evidence that supports the allegation that he was tortured in this manner. The report prepared by Smith’s own department povides warning that the paramilitary police unit that seized this man used precisely this method of torture.
Matiur Rahman, deputy chief of operations at the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the police unit that detained the man, said: “The British were interested in him for some time. There was an assumption he was part of an international network. They gave information to us, and we gave information to them.”
After being tortured for several weeks the man spent almost a year in jail before being freed on bail and allowed to return to the UK.
A second man, Gulam Mustafa, from Birmingham, was being held in Bangladesh during Smith’s visit, and was released before being held a second time last April. He says he was tortured on both occasions while being questioned about associates in the UK, with his interrogators beating him, subjecting him to electric shocks and crushing his knees. He was eventually transferred to a prison hospital, where he was treated for injuries suffered he suffered during interrogation.Bangladeshi police officers who arrested him the second time say his first arrest had been at the request of MI6. “When we received the file from his first arrest from RAB, it was marked ‘MI6 File’,” said one senior detective. He added that when this man was arrested for the second time, officials from the British high commission in Dhaka contacted police and asked to be debriefed on the results of his interrogation. “They wanted maximum information.” he said.
A third man, Jamil Rahman, from Swansea, is suing the Home Office, alleging that MI5 was complicit in his torture after he was arrested in 2005 and allegedly tortured in between interrogation by two British intelligence officers.
Smith said she would not answer questions “about the timings of any specific authorisations she may or may not have given the security service”. She declined to say whether she accepted that individuals would be at risk of torture when she asked the Bangladeshi authorities to investigate them. Johnson refused to answer any questions about the matter.
Miliband failed to answer a series of questions about dual nationals investigated in Bangladesh, and about any role he played in granting permission for MI6 to be involved in their cases. A spokeswoman issued a statement on his behalf which said that there were no Foreign Office papers showing that ministers were asked to sanction the arrest of Faisal Mostafa or Gulam Mustafa. She added: “David would never ever sanction torture and it is completely wrong to suggest, imply, or leave a shadow of a doubt otherwise. The UK has detailed procedures that uphold the moral and legal conduct of the intelligence agencies and those responsible for them. When David was Foreign Secretary he followed them scrupulously.”
The Foreign Office said both Mostafa and Mustafa had been offered consular assistance, and reiterated the government’s position on torture. “The government have made absolutely clear in the Coalition’s Programme for Government that we will never condone the use of torture,” a spokesman said. “We take all allegations of torture and mistreatment very seriously, and – where we have permission to do so from the individual concerned – raise them with the relevant authorities. Our security cooperation with other countries is consistent with our laws and values.”

Update on Mishu's health

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Dear friends,
Hello, I’m sorry for not having sent my regular updates for the last two days, caused by writing deadlines.
Moshrefa Mishu’s health has worsened. Her back pain from a spinal injury has increased. She has constant fever, her heart palpitation has increased and medicine, her youngest sister tells me, is not alleviating her condition.
Police who keep her under close watch have begun behaving very badly with her family members and her organisation’s colleagues. Since Friday afternoon, 24 December 2010, they have begun shouting and using abusive language. Only one attendant is permitted to sit beside her, no one else, not even her sisters are allowed to approach her bed, or to speak with her, whether in person, or over the mobile phone.
We are deeply alarmed, both at her worsened health while in hospital, while receiving medical care and attention, and at the changed behaviour of the police on duty, overtly aggressive and abusive, that too, towards a person who has been hospitalised, that too, in a woman’s ward in a government hospital where there are other patients, most of them severely ill, since hospital authorities generally discharge a patient as s/he improves due to scarce resources and pressure for beds, medical attention and treatment.
Left political alliances held protest rallies on Friday, December 24, 2010 in front of the National Press Club, Dhaka, demanding the immediate release of Moshrefa Mishu, and Bahrane Sultan Bahar, president, Jago Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Federation. Speakers said, arresting labour leaders would not contain labour unrest, acceding to living wages and trade union rights would.
Letters of solidarity have been pouring in from both organisations and groups committed to workers rights, and individuals, both at home and abroad who are aghast and angry at the government’s repression of workers and their leaders, who are struggling hard for a bare minimum.
Please keep passing the message around, and also, pls fwd the online petition as widely as you can.
http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41542.html#fbbox
ONLINE PETITION Free Moshrefa Mishu and all detained workers immediately!
In solidarity/rahnuma

WikiLeaks cables: Bangladeshi 'death squad' trained by UK government

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Rapid Action Battalion, accused of hundreds of extra-judicial killings, received training from UK officers, cables reveal

By Fariha Karim and Ian Cobain
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 21 December 2010 21.30 GMT

The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a “government death squad”, leaked US embassy cables have revealed.

Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have received training in 'investigative interviewing techniques'. Photograph: Abir Abdullah/EPA

Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in “investigative interviewing techniques” and “rules of engagement”.
Details of the training were revealed in a number of cables, released by WikiLeaks, which address the counter-terrorism objectives of the US and UK governments in Bangladesh. One cable makes clear that the US would not offer any assistance other than human rights training to the RAB ? and that it would be illegal under US law to do so ? because its members commit gross human rights violations with impunity.
Since the RAB was established six years ago, it is estimated by some human rights activists to have been responsible for more than 1,000 extra-judicial killings, described euphemistically as “crossfire” deaths. In September last year the director general of the RAB said his men had killed 577 people in “crossfire”. In March this year he updated the figure, saying they had killed 622 people.
The RAB’s use of torture has also been exhaustively documented by human rights organisations. In addition, officers from the paramilitary force are alleged to have been involved in kidnap and extortion, and are frequently accused of taking large bribes in return for carrying out crossfire killings.
However, the cables reveal that both the British and the Americans, in their determination to strengthen counter-terrorism operations in Bangladesh, are in favour of bolstering the force, arguing that the “RAB enjoys a great deal of respect and admiration from a population scarred by decreasing law and order over the last decade”. In one cable, the US ambassador to Dhaka, James Moriarty, expresses the view that the RAB is the “enforcement organisation best positioned to one day become a Bangladeshi version of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation”.
In another cable, Moriarty quotes British officials as saying they have been “training RAB for 18 months in areas such as investigative interviewing techniques and rules of engagement”. Asked about the training assistance for the RAB, the Foreign Office said the UK government “provides a range of human rights assistance” in the country. However, the RAB’s head of training, Mejbah Uddin, told the Guardian that he was unaware of any human rights training since he was appointed last summer.
The cables make clear that British training for RAB officers began three years ago under the last Labour government.
However, RAB officials confirmed independently of the cables that they had taken part in a series of courses and workshops as recently as October, five months after the formation of the coalition government. Asked whether ministers had approved the training programme, the Foreign Office said only that William Hague, the foreign secretary, and other ministers, had been briefed on counter-terrorism spending.
Continue reading “WikiLeaks cables: Bangladeshi 'death squad' trained by UK government”

Breaking News: Moshrefa Mishu taken on remand

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Please add your name in support of this statement

against the unlawful arrest of garment workers leader Moshrefa Mishu, and all garment workers, who have either been arrested or are being?intimidated and persecuted, for protesting against non-implementation of promised wage increases.
If you are supporting it as an individual, press `reply’ and write (a) your name (b)?profession or affiliation, etc.
For groups, please write (c) name of the group.

Please do this right now,?we will collect all signatures by BST noon tomorrow and send out the press release by tomorrow afternoon (15 December 2010).

in solidarity/rahnuma

___________________________________________

We strongly protest the unlawful arrest of garment workers leader Moshrefa Mishu, demand that she be immediately released, and that the fabricated charges against her be dropped.

Moshrefa Mishu, general secretary of the Ganatantrik Biplobi Party and the president of the Garment Workers Unity Forum, was picked up from her home in Kala Bagan at 1.15 am on 14.12.2010 by a force of 12 persons or so claiming to be from the Detective Branch of Police, and was compelled to accompany them to an undisclosed destination. The force did not have an arrest warrant, and when her sister persisted in asking them to show a warrant, they threatened to arrest her. Mishu was only allowed to change her clothes but not allowed to take her medication with her, for asthma, and for a severe spinal injury caused by an attack on her life several years ago.
Moshrefa Mishu was produced in CMM court after noon today and remanded for two days. We protest against her illegal arrest, and demand her immediate release.
We also protest, and condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the government’s response to the garment workers demands for the implementation of a new minimum wage that should have come into effect last month. More than 3 million people, mostly women, work in this sector which accounts for 80% of annual export earnings and make clothes for major Western brands including Wal-mart, Marks & Spencer and Carrefour. Three persons were killed in clashes with the police in the Chittagong EPZ yesterday, hundreds injured, 33 arrested, and 3 separate cases lodged against about 30,000 unknown people.
Instead of taking `tough action’ to ensure that factory owners implement what is, by all accounts a low increase, prime minister Sheikh Hasina has in effect ordered that action be taken against the workers who, even with the increases remain the least-paid in the world, and largely unable to arrange shelter and buy food in a situation where food-prices are spiralling upwards uncontrollably. Safety conditions in many factories are below standard, as can be gauged from the deaths of 24 people, and injuries suffered by scores more, when a fire broke out at a garment factory in Ashulia, Savar today.
We condemn the government’s anti-people actions (killing, baton charges, firing tear gas, filing cases), we demand that Moshrefa Mishu and all others arrested be released immediately, and that the government take immediate and transparent action to identify those who were behind the acts of vandalism, who, according to the Home Minister herself, are `outsiders.’
=========================================================

BREAKING NEWS: Moshrefa Mishu was produced before the Chief Metropolitan?Magistrate (CMM) Court after midday today.* *The court granted 2 days remand.

We would like to remind everyone that she was arrested unlawfully, i.e.,?without any warrant; from what we have learnt since from her sister?Jebunnessa Jebu, despite repeatedly being asked the reason for their?presence, or whether they had a warrant, members of the force responded by?threatening to arrest Moshrefa Mishu if she persisted in asking to see a?warrant.
She was only allowed to change her nightclothes and to put on a sari but was?not allowed to take her medication for asthma and severe spinal pains,?caused by an attempt on her life several years ago.
Moshrefa Mishu has been receiving threatening calls over telephone warning?her to stop fighting for the rights of workers in the garments sector.
(Torture under police remand in Bangladesh : a culture of impunity for gross violations of human rights)