Bangladesh
06.05.02
Urgent Interventions

Bangladesh: arbitrary arrest, torture and death of Mr. Jamal Uddin Fakir

Case BGD 060502
Arbitrary detention/Torture/Death

The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Bangladesh.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), a member of the OMCT network, that Jamal Uddin Fakir was subjected to torture while in police detention at the Kapasia Police Station in Gazipur District, and of his subsequent death after he allegedly escaped from custody and drowned in the river Sitalakhaya.

According to the information received, Mr. Jamal Uddin Fakir, a member of the Kapasia unit of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), a student front belonging to the Awami League, was arbitrarily arrested on April 17th, 2002 at around 1 a.m. by Gazi Moinuddin, an officer in charge at the Kapasia Police Station. Mr. Uddin Fakir was reportedly detained under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in connection with a case of Dacoity - gang theft - (case No. 8) that was carried out on April 4th, 2002.

According to the information received, Mr. Uddin Fakir was kept in custody at Thana Hajat for over 24 hours, in violation of his procedural rights. Even though Mr. Uddin Fakir was arrested on April 17th, 2002, he was only registered at the police station on the morning of April 18th, 2002. It is believed that during that gap of about 10 hours and 45 minutes, Mr. Uddin Fakir was tortured at an unknown location outside of the police station. Farid and Shahin, two young men also in custody at the Kapasia police station, testified to a Fact-finding Team organised by BIHR that Mr. Uddin Fakir had been tortured.

The police report states that Mr. Uddin Fakir escaped on April 19th, 2002, when Ratan, a sweeper, opened the gate of the Thana Hajat detention facilities in order to clean the area. Constable Altaf Hossain and Ratan ran after him, but Mr. Fakir reportedly jumped into Sitalakhaya, a nearby river. The Fact-finding report produced by BIHR revealed that his dead body was found on April 20th, 2002, some 28 hours after he had allegedly drowned.

According to the information received, photographs of Mr. Uddin Fakir’s body show various marks of injuries, and the post-mortem report carried out at the Gazipur Sadar Hospital identified at least ten such marks, although it failed to mention the cause of his death. Members of Mr. Uddin Fakir family stated that before his arrest he only had one bruise on his elbow. Mr. Uddin was reportedly a good swimmer and therefore there was little chance of him drowning under normal circumstances.

According to the information received, Ms. Ramiza Begum, the mother of Mr. Uddin Fakir, filed a case against the officer in charge at Gazipur, Gazi Mainuddin, assistant sub-inspector Ab Bakar Siddique and constable Altaf Hossain, at the Kapasia First Class Magistrate’s Court on May 2nd, 2002. Ms. Ramiza Begum claimed that after her son’s death she had tried several times to file a case of murder but it was repeatedly rejected by the police. Magistrate M. Abdul Kader formed a one-member judicial probe committee to look at the case. The Kapasia Police Station filed an Unnatural Death case (No. 12), but denied charges of torture under custody. Following these events, Asi Ab Siddique, constable Altaf Hossain and later Gazi Mainuddin, were reportedly suspended in connection with this case because of negligence of duty at the station. The Ministry of Home Affairs has reportedly established a commission to investigate the case.

According to the report, the police failed to show any record or evidence of Mr. Uddin Fakir’s involvement in theft or dacoity. His arrest was reportedly based on evidence supplied by Shaheen, another man accused in connection with this case. According to the Fact-finding report produced by BIHR, it is thought that Mr. Uddin Fakir’s arrest was politically motivated, and that after being tortured to death while in police custody, his body was thrown into the river during the night.

According to the information received, on April 20th, 2002, there was a demonstration in protest of Mr. Uddin Fakir’s death, held by supporters of the BCL. The peaceful march was reportedly attacked from the rear by the supporters of Chattradal, a student affiliate of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). As a consequence, the demonstrators were forced into taking shelter in a nearby building, and the supporters of Chattradal reportedly broke the windows of the room where they had taken refuge. The police finally arrived and took the demonstrators to the Kapasia police station, reportedly for safety reasons, but they were then accused of having broken the windows of the afore-mentioned shelter, and were sent to Gazipur court. Journalists who went to the station to cover the news were reportedly threatened by the Chattaradal supporters in order to dissuade them from reporting on the incident.

The Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned that Mr. Uddin Fakir was allegedly subjected to torture while in police custody and subsequently died under highly suspicious circumstances. While OMCT welcomes the fact that the police officers in question have been suspended from duty, it is also concerned that the perpetrators of these human rights violations will not be brought to justice and that Mr. Uddin Fakir’s family may not receive adequate reparation. Furthermore, OMCT is concerned at the Bangladeshi authorities’ use of arrests, torture and violations of procedural rights as a means of repressing political opposition.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Bangladesh urging them to:

i. ensure a thorough and impartial investigation into the reports of the alleged torture to which Mr. Uddin Fakir has been subjected and his subsequent death, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
ii. guarantee adequate reparation to the family of Mr. Uddin Fakir;
iii. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

· Honourable Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Prime Minister’s Office, Old Parliament House, Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fax: 0088 / 02 8113244, 811015, 8113243, e-mail : ps1@pmo.bdonline.com
· Mr. Morshed Khan, Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Segun Bagicha, Dhaka, Fax: 0088 / 02 / 8617448, 0088 / 02 / 9562163, e-mail : pspmo@bangla.net
· Mr Alhaj Altaf Hossain Chowdury, Minister of Home Affairs, Government of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh. Fax: 0088 / 02 / 8619667

Please also write to the embassies of Bangladesh in your respective country.

Geneva, May 6th, 2002

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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