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Nearly 150 Bangladeshis Victims of Forced Disappearances at the Hands of Police since 2016

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Bangladeshis Victims
Police escort government critic Farhad Mazhar (center) who was found about 18 hours after he was reported missing, July 4, 2017. Benar News
  • At least 90 people were victims of secret detentions in 2016 and another 48 were reported in the first five months of 2017, according to Human Rights Watch
  • Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal refuted the report’s findings
  • The report calls for the government to investigate allegations of deaths in “so-called crossfire or gunfights after they were already in security force custody”

Dhaka, July 9, 2017: Nearly 150 Bangladeshis were victims of forced disappearances at the hands of police since the start of 2016, Human Rights Watch alleged in a new report published on Thursday, adding that some were tortured or mistreated while in secret custody.

The New York-based rights watchdog said it had documented at least 320 such cases in Bangladesh since 2009 when the Awami League took power amid a promise of adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward human rights violations.

“The disappearances are well-documented and reported, yet the government persists in this abhorrent practice with no regard for the rule of law,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) Asia Director Brad Adams said in a news release accompanying the 82-page report, titled “‘We Don’t Have Him’: Secret Detentions and Enforced Disappearances in Bangladesh.”

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At least 90 people were victims of secret detentions in 2016 and another 48 were reported in the first five months of 2017, according to Human Rights Watch.

“Bangladesh security forces appear to have a free hand in detaining people, deciding on their guilt or innocence, and determining their punishment, including whether they have the right to be alive,” Adams said.

Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal refuted the report’s findings.

“The HRW operated a negative campaign (against us) during the trials of war criminals. This new report is a part of that campaign,” he told reporters on Thursday.

HRW released its reports a few days after a prominent government critic, who was said to be missing following reports that he had been abducted, was found alive hours later. Police said they located Farhad Mazhar about 200 km (120 miles) from his home in Dhaka, about 18 hours after he was reported missing.

‘Police don’t violate the law’

In documenting cases of forced disappearance, HRW said it based its report on interviews with more than 100 people, including victims’ relatives and witnesses. The watchdog blamed the Bangladeshi police’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and detective branch (DB) for many of the abductions.

Police officials who spoke to BenarNews challenged the complaints against RAB and DB.

“Sometimes criminals use our name for kidnapping people. If someone identifies himself as law enforcement agency personnel, it should be challenged and the victim should contact us immediately,” said Mufti Mahmud Khan, the director of RAB’s legal and media wing.

“As a law enforcement agency, police don’t violate the law,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Masdur Rahman said.

Not all abductees have been freed, according to the report. Many are still in custody while others have died in secret detention, with as many as 50 being killed over the years, HRW said.

“[T]here is an alarming trend of deaths occurring in secret detention of state authorities. In one such case, on June 13, 2016, Shahid Al Mahmud, a student activist of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was ‘dragged outside [his house] and taken into a black microbus,’ his father, Rajab Ali, told Human Rights Watch. Rajab Ali said that police officers were present during the arrest, although they later denied they were holding his son,” HRW said.

“Two weeks later, on July 1, police said they found Shahid’s body after a gunfight with criminals. Shahid’s father told Human Rights Watch that the police are lying: ‘The police abducted my son and staged a gunfight drama to justify the killing.’”

A senior lawyer at Supreme told BenarNews that he had not read the report but was familiar with its allegations.

“The volume of missing, disappearances, murders and kidnappings we are hearing about is alarming. In order to bring the confidence back to the law enforcement agencies, each of these cases should be investigated, because the law enforcement agencies are directly being accused for these crimes,” Shahdeen Malik said.

Recommendations

A key recommendation from the report is to invite the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and other relevant organizations, to visit Bangladesh to “investigate and make appropriate recommendations to ensure justice and accountability.”

The report calls for the government to investigate allegations of deaths in “so-called crossfire or gunfights after they were already in security force custody,” and to comply with the law that all detained people must appear in court within 24 hours.

HRW also recommends that the government promptly investigate existing allegations of enforced disappearances, locate and release those held by security forces and prosecute the perpetrators.

Home Minister Khan said police have always presented suspects before a judge within 24 hours of their arrests. “There are examples of taking law enforcement agency personnel to justice if found involved in crime,” he said, responding to HRW’s recommendations.

But a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission said each complaint should be investigated.

“Ensuring citizens’ security is the main responsibility of the state,” Mizanur Rahman told BenarNews. “Citizens lose their confidence in law enforcement agencies if they don’t get any information about a missing person after filing a case.” (Benar News)

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Melbourne Sikhs join protests in Australia against Rohingya Muslims massacre

The Melbourne Sikh Community protested against ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims by security forces of Myanmar

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A group of Rohingyas
A group of Rohingya Refugees. voa
  • The Melbourne Sikh Community and the local Rohingya community got together and requested the Australian government to pressurize Myanmar government to stop Rohingya Muslims massacre
  • Sikh participants said that they will join another protest to support the Rohingya Muslims
  • Australian government should intercede in Myanmar’s unfortunate situation-Rohingya Muslims are being forced to flee

Jalandhar, Punjab, September 8, 2017: The Melbourne Sikh Community joined the Muslim protesters- the local Rohingya community on 7th September against Rohingya Genocide by the security forces of Myanmar. Both communities got together and requested the Australian government to pressurize the government of Myanmar to stop the tragic massacre of Rohingya Muslims.

The Sikh participants said that they will join another protest to support the Rohingya Muslims which would happen on 9th September, the scheduled place for which is the front of Melbourne’s state library. They were joined by other protesters when they handed over a memorandum to the Australian Foreign Affairs ministry office.

Manveer Singh Khalsa addressed the gathering, he said that the Australian government should definitely intercede in Myanmar’s unfortunate situation where the Rohingya Muslims are being forced to flee.

Also Read: Stop Lecturing And Demonizing India over its Plan to Deport 40,000 Stateless Rohingya Muslims: Minister

Ravi Inder Singh is the member of the Miri Piri Gurdwara managing committee in Australia, he said that the community members would also join Rohingya Muslims in protests happening in future. According to Times of India report, Singh said: “We condemn discrimination against any community and will continue raising voice against ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya community by security forces of Myanmar.”


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Protesters coming to rescue of militants is becoming a dangerous trend in Kashmir

Kashmir Valley is facing a serious challenge in their anti-terror operations with a new trend of stone-throwing protesters coming out to rescue militants from shootout sites.

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Kashmir
Protesters vs Security forces, (representational Image) Wikimedia

-By Rohit Srivastava

New Delhi, Feb 17, 2017: Security forces in the Kashmir Valley are facing a serious challenge in their anti-terror operations with a new trend, which has almost become a phenomenon now, of stone-throwing protesters coming out to rescue militants from shootout sites.

Military officials and security experts admit it is a dangerous trend with Army Chief General Bipin Rawat even warning locals against supporting militants.

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Earlier, Kashmir police had issued advisories, asking people not to come close to shootout sites between militants and security forces. The district administration prohibits the gathering of four or more persons around the areas where gun battles are on.

Despite that people came out throwing stones at security forces during at least three gun battles in the valley.

The trend began in South Kashmir last year when dozens of people came shouting slogans and throwing stones at security forces in a village near Pampore town. The trend has now spread to other parts of the valley.

On Sunday morning, stone-pelting protesters came close to a gunfight site to help militants escape when security forces were fighting them in South Kashmir’s Kulgam.

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Two days later, when forces cordoned off a village in North Kashmir, a mob marched towards the militant hideout throwing stones at police and the army.

A similar incident was reported in North Kashmir’s Handwara where people took to streets to help militants escape.

Army officials told IANS that these were diversionary tactics by overground workers to help the besieged militants get out, giving a nightmare to security forces in their efforts to minimize collateral damage in their nearly three-decade of unending counter-insurgency operations in the valley.

The officials, however, clarified that the army chief’s warning wasn’t directed generally at the people of the Kashmir but definitely against those who were supporting militant activities and trying to protect terrorists.

“We are with the citizens of the valley and the chief’s statement was for the people who support terrorist. The army’s role is only to create a situation for a civilian government to function,” a senior army official told IANS, requesting anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

A former commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt. Gen. Ata Hasnain told IANS that the army’s “inability to engage with youth (in the valley) beyond the peripheral contacts makes it the key problem”.

“The absence of grassroot political activity is the other. The last is the nuanced information operations launched by Pakistan and the separatists using social media and networks besides the local mosques,” said Hasnain, who has served as the top army commander in Kashmir heading the corps that is the nerve center of all counter-terror operations in the valley.

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Brig (retd) Gurmeet Kanwal shared the view. “As a nation, we have failed to integrate Jammu and Kashmir with the national mainstream even after 70 years of independence. Deep sense of alienation exists in the valley.”

Speaking on the army chief’s statement on engaging the overground workers who obstruct army’s operations against militants, Kanwal said: “The army will only target who are interfering in the operations and firing at the army. They will use utmost restraint.” (IANS)

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Boko Haram Refugees Raped by Nigerian Troops and Police, says Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Many women reported being coerced into sex with false promises of material assistance or marriage.

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A woman and a girl are seen outside makeshift accommodations at camp for internally displaced people in Maiduguri, Nigeria, March 8, 2016. VOA

November 1, 2016 :Human rights monitors are accusing Nigerian officials, soldiers and police of rape and other acts of sexual exploitation against women and girls who have escaped Boko Haram captivity for what they falsely believed to be the safety of government encampments.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) leveled the accusations in a report released Monday under the headline “Nigeria: Officials Abusing Displaced Women, Girls.”

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The 12-page document cites the cases of 43 females who were housed at seven government camps in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the 2009 birthplace of the Boko Haram extremist movement. The conflict has led to more than 10,000 civilian deaths and the abductions of more than 2,000 people — mostly women and girls in the country’s restive northeast.

FILE - A woman stands outside a makeshift house at an internally displaced persons camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria, March 24, 2016.
A woman stands outside a makeshift house at an internally displaced person’s camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria, March 24, 2016. VOA

Four women interviewed by HRW said they were drugged and raped by camp leaders or military advisers, while 37 others reported being coerced into sex with false promises of material assistance or marriage.

The report also said many of the victims were abandoned if they became pregnant by their would-be caretakers, and said mothers and offspring alike later faced abuse and discrimination from other camp residents.

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President Muhammadu Buhari ordered police Monday to immediately commence investigations into the issue. He said the allegations are “not being taken lightly.”

The report says aid workers began warning early this year that displaced women in some camps have been forced to exchange sex with authorities for basic necessities.

In August, United Nations special envoy Chaloka Beyani visited the country and later said the government had “a tendency to downplay the problem of sexual violence and abuse” of internally displaced people.

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HRW also said Nigeria’s Minister for Women’s Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan, agreed to meet with HRW officials on September 5 to review the rape allegations and then respond to them.

HRW said it was still awaiting Alhassan’s response as it drafted Monday’s report. (VOA)