By Dr. Richard L. Benkin
The government of Bangladesh-the Awami League even more so than the BNP-has a history of assaulting human rights workers who have done nothing other than investigate and report blatant human rights abuses and the brutalization of Bangladeshi citizens. Advocate Rabindra Ghosh has shouldered a great deal of the government’s anti-human rights activity. The most recent event took place on 29 January-only three days before the writing of this article.
Advocate Ghosh-who is a highly respected practicing attorney-notified Md. Moshiudowla Reza, Assistant Superintendent of Police (Hathazari Circle) in Chittagong, that he and his team would be visiting the area to investigate allegations that Hindu businessman and Managing Director of Super Stone Manufacturing, Sumon Kumar Dey, was the victim of torture and extortion. Advocate Ghosh and his Bangladesh Minority Watch have extensive evidence that Hindus are fair game in Bangladesh with no protection by the legal authorities.
Thus, it was in keeping with Bangladesh’s refusal to aid its Hindu citizens when Reza warned Ghosh not to investigate the incident or face physical violence-a threat Reza carried out with the participation of several other police officers when Ghosh came to the area.
Bangladesh’s Awami League government would have you believe that it does not tolerate such actions and that the offending police officers were rogues acting on their own. Yet, attacks on human rights activists have become common in Bangladesh, and the government has yet to prosecute the perpetrators.
According to Ghosh, “We immediately communicated with highest police officers S.P. DIG of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong Division, and Home Minister of Bangladesh over phone and kept them aware about the attack on human rights defenders by police officers and constables, but the administration took no action against perpetrators and bad police officers till writing of the report. This is the third alternate physical attack on Advocate Rabindra Ghosh and his team during his fact-finding within 15 days within Bangladesh.” Ghosh also noted that the video his team took of the attack was destroyed and the activist who took it, Titu Shil, was detained by police.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League government have made a very nice living convincing the West that they are the “good” party in Bangladesh; and I have had more than one Washington insider, operative, or NGO admit that the Awami League was terrible but “better than the alternative, by which they meant the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Perhaps they need to reassess that opinion and look at the facts.
Dr. Richard Benkin is an American Jewish human rights activist who is currently working on a mission to stop atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh.