Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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( Interview ) Bangladesh (Md Ashrafuzzaman interview)

How is torture practiced in Bangladesh? What kinds of people are tortured?

In Bangladesh, torture is endemic problem; it’s because of the way of policing and a way of law enforcement, and their activities. I can say every police station as an industry of torture. Everyday, whoever they arrest, they beat the people and many of the detainees are systematically tortured for example not only beating, but electrocution using chili powder ,hot water, cold water whatever. It depends on the season. In summer, they use hot water. In winter they use very cold water and force them to be in the water.

Do they torture only political prisoners or other ordinary people?

Whoever is in the police custody, even in the street, the habit of the law enforcement agencies is to introduce themselves as police officer of Para military forces and begin beating people and use very abusive languages .It’s concerning and insulting Bangladeshi people. They use torture regardless of the political activist or ordinary citizens, it does not matter.

Why do they use torture?

Everybody in police custody , the arms forces beat the person as a police of the office wish to beat .The first thing is that there is no accountability of the police within the policing system or within police department and before the court. So nobody is held accountable for committing torture. On the other hand the police department is top to bottom corrupt. So just to extract money, they beat people. More beating brings more money. It becomes easier for police officer to extract money from the detainee. Third thing is that political administrative influence, if the ruling party politician or he or she political rivals to be given lessons then they just use the police officers.
Those people whom they consider as a group of mob the mob commander are beating and it’s always acceptable according to the local psychology. Not only the people but also the civil society also accept this kind of things .The ordinary people become the victim when a crime is committed in a particular jurisdiction and the law enforcement agencies failed to identify the original criminals who committed that crime because of the lack of efficiency and other problems within the department the way they do their works so they just ignore what they are suppose to do and just pick up ordinary people, deliverance as a suspicious criminal and beat them up, force them to confess that he or she committed the crime that occurs in particular jurisdiction and particular times. The ordinary people become victim in that way. That’s very common in Bangladesh.

What Human Rights Organization in your country emphasize as an activity?

HR NGO is doing activities in a sense in the local newspaper. For example, they are criticizing a particular incident or torture or extra- judicial execution and time to time, in every month they release report which is based on the newspaper clippings. They maintain the newspaper clippings and at the end of the month they just calculate reported incident in a month But what I believe that there are thousands of cases that are unreported by the country. In addition, human rights organization and human rights defenders in most cases they don’t have the capacity to expose the unreported incidents of unreported torture and ill treatment in the country. If you go to the micro level, you will see that at least 20 t0 100 people are arrested in a day in one police station. In a less busy police station 3 to 5 people are arrested. How many police stations does the country have? It’s more than 600 .If we see the report of the Human Rights organization we see the 5 people in a month, or 10 people have been tortured. But if you go into the reality, you will see more deeply .

every day in one police station one man is beaten in a police station then 630 people or more have been tortured. All of this is unreported. HR organist ions are only groups where people talked about the rights of the people and promote the issue relating Human Rights, the protection from torture and extra judicial killings. But we the human rights defender have responsibility to do what more and what we have been doing for last few decades.

Does Bangladeshi think that torture is a crime?

I think it is not properly understood so far because I have seen many human rights defender to debate that if a woman is beaten by husband ,it is torture or not. I think even human rights defenders don’t understand properly that is torture. I hope misunderstanding problem will not remain for long .They will very soon realize the difference between violence against woman and torture. The thing is torture must be a crime. But it is not a crime in the country according to the legislation that the county has at the moment. It is not also understood in that way .As far as there is no sensation. The people who don’t know about the law who have nothing to do with the law basically they are busy with their ordinary livelihood then they will not understand. So the responsibility for the civil society, NGOs workers, Human Rights defenders, lawyers, media and judges and the prosecutor they should understand that torture is a crime.

In anti-torture day, we were doing creating opinion among the people`. We published materials like posters demanding legislation of the pending bill with a title “Torture custodial threats prohibition bill 2009 “which has been in the parliament of September 2009.The parliament is still considerate. We want that there will be huge organization in human rights organization, civil society, and people demanding the legislation of this bill. The Asian Human Rights organization thinks to publish stickers for the similar demand with objectives of creating public opinions in favor of the bill for criminalization of torture. We are going to publish post card addressing to the prime minister of country who previously expressed commitment in public in many times that she wants the perpetrator of human rights abuses to bring before the justice.

What are the challenges of the people who work in the inside Bangladesh?

In Bangladesh, the society itself does not accept freedom of expression, in the family and in the society. The State itself does not allow freedom of expression. They do not allow the media to criticize the government .But they don’t go to the deeper part of the criticism, if the media is more critical the government can just cancel of the particular media and control the registration of the particular media.

Apart from my questions, what do you want to say regarding torture?

Torture is a very serious issue for the people. We are very late at this moment how big is the problem of torture in the country and everyone to start work positively. I don’t mean to criticize the government but not only criticism also to know first what is the problem and how and what is require to change this system. We have to think independently ,we have to do something we have limited capacity .If each of us do it collectively then that would be the real work which maylead the necessary reform that the nation needs right at this moment.


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