Bangladesh
21.03.02
Urgent Interventions

Bangladesh: arbitrary arrested and torture of Mr. Bahauddin Nasim

Case BGD 210302
Arbitrary detention/Torture/Fair trial

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 Mr. Bahauddin Nasim, was arbitrarily arrested on February 28th, 2002, and was subjected to torture for a period of six days from March 1st to 6th, 2002 at the Dhaka Cantonment, in Bangladesh.

According to the information received, Mr. Bahauddin Nasim, the special assistant to the Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, who is the leader of the opposition in parliament, was arrested on February 28th, 2002 at the Dhaka International airport. He was waiting to take a flight for the United States in order to receive treatment for a heart condition. He was charged with two separate offences in: airport police station case no. 21, date: 28-02-02, under section 25(B) of the Special Power Act of 1974; and Madaripur police station case no. 36, date: 20-06-01, under section 143/341/307/506(2)/34 of the Penal Code. The first case claims that when he was arrested at the airport, Mr. Nasim reportedly had in his possession books and CD’s that contained images of torture against minorities in Bangladesh, and the authorities therefore claim that he was attempting to tarnish Bangladesh’s image abroad. The second case reportedly states that Mr. Nasim was involved in “terrorist attacks,” apparently involving a shooting at the Prime Minister’s motorcade in 1996. It is believed, however, that Mr. Nasim’s arrest was purely politically motivated. On March 1st, 2002, the Magistrate extended Mr. Bahauddin Nasim’s detention for an additional 10 days (5 days for each case) prior to him being produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court, reportedly without valid evidence against Mr. Nasim, and the record does not state the reason for this decision.

According to the report, on March 1st, 2002, Mr. Nasim was blinfolded and transferred to the Dhaka Cantonment, in reportedly inhuman conditions, where he was interrogated by the Bangladesh Army Defense Force Intelligence’s (DGFI) Joint Interrogation Team. The DGFI was reportedly attempting to force Mr. Nasim to give evidence which would implicate ex-Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina bomb incident. Mr. Nasim was reportedly blinfolded for the six days of his stay at the Dhaka Cantonment. He was detained in very poor conditions, in a dirty cell with no bed, and was allegedly hanged by a rope tied to his wrists from a rotating ceiling fan and beaten on the knees with an iron hammer during this time. He was also subjected to electric shocks, cold water was poured through his nostrils, and he was severely beaten. He was reportedly not allowed to eat or sleep during this time. Mr. Nasim was due to be transferred to the Dhaka Central Jail on March 6th, 2002, but because of the seriousness of his condition he was not transferred until March 7th, 2002.

According to the information received, Mr. Nasim’s wife, Dr. Sultana Shamina Chowdhury filed a writ petition (no. 1268 of 2002, 13-03-02) on March 10th, 2002. Following this petition, a Bench of the High Court Division of the Bangladesh Supreme Court ordered the authorities to arrange for medical treatment to be provided to Mr. Nasim from the medical college hospital in Dhaka, and that a medical board should immediately be formed for this purpose. The court also ruled that his two close relatives (Mr. Nasim’s wife and brother) and two lawyers should be allowed to meet with the detainee. Despite the court’s decision, Dr. Sultana Shamina Chowdhury and Nasim’s brother Yemen, were reportedly denied the right to visit Nasim on March 10th, and 11th, 2002. When she was finally allowed to see him at the Dhaka Central Jail on March 13th, 2002, it was not in privacy, as requested, but under the surveillance of several officials. During her visit, Dr. Shamina Chowdhury noticed that Mr. Nasim had bruises on his face and wrists, and could hardly walk or stand, or even sit down. Mr. Nasim reportedly confirmed that he had been beaten, but he was not able to speak freely or show his wife the injuries sustained to his genitals. Mr. Nasim still has not received the medical treatment that was called for by the court, which is considered as being imperative given his serious condition.

The Secretariat of OMCT is gravely concerned for Bahauddin Nasim’s physical and psychological integrity and requests that the court ruling be put into action and that Mr. Bahauddin Nasim be provided with appropriate medical care as a matter of urgency. OMCT condemns the arbitrary detention of Mr. Bahauddin Nasim, which appears to have been conducted primarily for political reasons. OMCT is also concerned that the perpetrators of these violations of his rights will not be brought to justice and that Bahauddin Nasim 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. take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Bahauddin Nasim;
ii. order Mr. Bahauddin Nasim’s immediate release in the absence of valid legal charges or, if such charges exist, bring him before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee his procedural rights at all times;
iii. order a thorough and impartial investigation into the reports of the alleged ill-treatment and torture to which Bahauddin Nasim has been subjected, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
iv. guarantee adequate reparation to Bahauddin Nasim;
v. 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, March 21st, 2002

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