Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Bangladesh

Lack of investigation into the assassination of two members of Christian Life Bangladesh1

As of the end of 2006, the investigation into the assassination of Mr. Liplal Marandi and Mr. Tapan Kumar Roy, two employees of the international NGO Christian Life Bangladesh, was still under way and the police had not submitted any charge sheet.

On July 29, 2005, Mr. Liplal Marandi and Mr. Tapan Kumar Roy were murdered in the village of Dopapara, Boalmari Upazila, Faridpur district.

End of acts of harassment against PRIP Trust2

In 2006, the funds granted by the European Union's "SMILING" project to the Private Rural Initiatives Project TRUST (PRIP Trust), an NGO working on humanitarian and social issues and for minority rights in Bangladesh, were finally released. The funds had been held up by authorities since 2002.

On March 29, 2005, the government had announced that it gave permission to the NGO to take part in the "SMILING" project. Furthermore, on April 25, 2005, the English-speaking daily New Age had announced that "the government decided to release eight million euros to PRIP Trust, whose funds have been held up".

Since April 2002, the NGO had been deprived of this important source of funding and was surviving on technical capacity building assistance from NGOs, thanks to the support of certain donors.

Ongoing acts of harassment against HRCBM members3

In 2006, the members of the Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) continued to be the victims of ongoing acts of harassment.

On March 16, 2006, Mr. Rabindra Gosh, president of HRCBM in Dhaka and a member of Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD), Mr. Kamal Dey and Mr. Mohammad Sohel, also GHRD members, were arbitrarily detained for four hours at Narayanganj police station. A police officer confiscated Mr. Dey's camera because he was filming an interview with the police superintendent at the station and pushed him down the stairs, causing a leg injury. Mr. Rabindra Gosh, Mr. Kamal Dey and Mr. Mohammad Sohel had come to the police station to denounce abuses against Fatullah minorities. In response, the police superintendent asked them why they were not defending Muslims or human rights in other countries, and threatened to arrest them for recording the interview. Mr. Rabindra Gosh had also come to file a complaint against two police officers who had allegedly tried to bribe him in order to obtain his silence on March 11, 2006 while he was carrying out an investigation into an attack against a young Hindu by members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The camera was given back to them after four hours in detention and a visit by the Narayanganj Prosecutor, but the film had been erased.

Lastly, on November 23, 2006, Mr. Gosh called the deputy police superintendent in Jatrabri, Dhaka, to enquire on the progress of the investigation into the murder of a young Hindu. He was told that "[he] would have to deal with the consequences if [he] continued to interfere in the murder".

New repression campaign against Proshika4

In 2006, the government launched a new repression campaign against Proshika, a development NGO working on women's rights and voter education, notably by offering micro-credits. Proshika has been targeted by the authorities since the BNP's electoral victory in October 2001. In particular, the authorities accused it of participating in political activities, without being able to provide evidence to support these accusations.

In September 2006, the government prohibited protests or assemblies around the Prime Minister's office in Dhaka for 24 hours, where a coalition of 14 opposition parties had planned a sit-in on September 12, 2006 to call for the reform of the electoral commission, free elections and the end of the caretaker government. A large protest was also organised for September 18, 2006. Proshika had planned to send a large delegation to both events.

From September 8, 2006 onwards, several hundred Proshika members were arrested, including the deputy director, Mr. Rajshahi Sirajul Islam, who was arrested without a warrant. Most of the members were accused of "theft", "subversion" or "sedition".

Moreover, on September 11, 2006, 200 sections of the organisation were allegedly closed by police officers and members of government agencies. Some offices were ransacked and many documents were destroyed.

On September 11 and 12, 2006, 17 of its leaders were allegedly arrested, notably in Rajshahi, Manikganj, Kishoreganj and Raipur in the Luxmipur district, including six executives of the Chittagong section of Proshika, Mr. Quamruzzaman, Mr. Md Hasan, Mr. Md Tayab, Mr. Mohiuddin, Mr. Noor Mohammad and Mr. Niladri Barua. The deputy director of the Kishoreganj section was also arrested.

Following this wave of arrests, many Proshika leaders decided to go into hiding.

By the end of 2006, no further information had been made available about the situation of the people who had been arrested.

1. See Annual Report 2005.

2. Idem.

3. Idem.

4. Idem.


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