BANGLADESH: An Open Letter to the Chairperson of the NHRC, Prof Mizanur Rahman requesting that he visit FMA Razzak in hospital and take appropriate action to ensure justice 

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to Prof. Mizanur Rahman, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh

Prof. Mizanur Rahman
National Human Rights Commission
10th Floor, Gulfeshan Plaza
8, Journalist Selina Parvin Road
Mogbazar, Dhaka

Fax: +88 02 8333219

Dear Professor Rahman,

BANGLADESH: An Open Letter to the Chairperson of the NHRC, Prof Mizanur Rahman requesting that he visit FMA Razzak in hospital and take appropriate action to ensure justice

Today several representatives of the Asian Human Rights Commission met the Consul General of Bangladesh in Hong Kong, His Excellency Mr. Ashud Ahmed, at his offices in the Bangladesh Consulate. During the discussion with the Consul General the AHRC representatives said that they were visiting the Consulate on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindanath Tagore and under normal circumstances that would have been for the purpose of congratulating Bangladesh on the achievements of this great man who is admired by all. However, the representatives stated that the purpose for which they had come was to talk about something which Tagore himself would have cried aloud over and felt shame for his country. This was the attempt to gouge out the eyes of a human rights activist and journalist who had been doing nothing worse than trying to help the poor people of the country to make complaints to the authorities about the problems they face.

The representatives explained to the Consul General the circumstances of the attack on Mr. FMA Razzak and his brother. The Consul after reading the letter that was handed to him stated that now in Bangladesh the government is taking complaints regarding human rights very seriously and that therefore, he expected that this problem would be looked into in all seriousness. He went on to say that there was now a very learned and respected professor who has been appointed as the chairperson of Human Rights Commission, Prof. Mizanur Rahman. He was, in fact, referring to you. He thought that you would certainly take very serious action on this matter.

Sir, the Asian Human Rights Commission has brought to your notice the problem with regard to FMA Razzak in several communications. We have also brought to your notice the long series of harassments Mr. Razzak has faced, particularly during the last three months by Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul and his family. We are hoping, that as the Consul General stated, you will look into this matter in all seriousness. For your ease of reference we are attaching some of our earlier correspondence.

What is as shocking as the meanness and the brutality of this attack is the active cooperation that this Major and his family received from the police officers of the Paikgachha Police Station. Had it not been for their active support of this military officer this incident could not have taken place.

We are copying here a letter written to the SP of Khulna relating to the culpability of the police with regard to this incident.

We are shocked by the brutal attack on him, where there was an attempt to gouge out his eyes and also an attempt to assassinate him. You would agree that in any country this kind of an attack would be considered an exceptionally cruel act that would require prompt action on the part of the police, who have the obligation to investigate into such a crime on behalf of the State. Unfortunately, the officers of the Paikgachha police station have not shown any kind of energy and enthusiasm to act promptly and quickly and with impartiality and competence in dealing with this case.

This is not a surprise, as the Officer in Charge (OC) of the police station and also some other police officers are hostile to FMA Razzak because he has been an independent journalist and a committed human rights activist who has in the past pointed out some of the deficiencies of the police in dealing with several matters. Quite clearly during the last three months (since late February) after the first attack was carried out against FMA Razzak and his family, the officers of this police station have quite clearly failed in their duties to carry out a proper investigation into that incident. This may be because, among other things, the attackers are an Army Major and his family. As you may know by now, the Army Major’s name is Mustafizur Rahman Bokul. Had the police conducted a proper investigation into that first incident, which took place on February 18th, the latest incident could easily have been averted. Police inaction, relating to the investigative actions that they are bound to take by law, into the incident in February created the background for the brutal attack which took place on the 29th of April.

The failure to investigate into the incident in February was due to the assignment of the Sup-Inspector (SI) Idris Ali, a man has just promoted to the rank of Sub Inspector from an Assistant Sub Inspector without any skill of investigation, to investigate into the matter. This assignment of SI Idris Ali to investigate was made by the OC Enamul Haque, who was fully aware of the inefficiency of SI Idris Ali.

The result of all this was the continuous harassment of Mr. Razzak and his family in March and April. The police were informed by Mr. Razzak and his families that they have been chased out of their house and that all their belongings have been destroyed and part of their possessions had been taken away by the attackers from the house of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul. Among the valuable possessions removed from Mr. Razzak’s house are deeds relating to the properties of the Razzak family, the jewelry belonging to the women of the Razzak family, and many other documents, including the passport of Mr. Razzak.

Razzak and his family have been prevented from entering their own house and premises for over two and a half months and the police have been informed of this.

On one occasion, some members of Razzak’s family were attacked by Kazal Sarder, the brother of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul. This happened in the presence of your subordinate, the ASP of the Dakope Circle, who had invited Razzak’s family as well as some other villagers to come to Razzak’s village to participate in the investigation.
Despite of such knowledge of continuous harassment on the Razzak family, the police in fact took the side of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul’s family and did nothing to restore Razzak’s family back to their home, from which they were compelled out by force.

It is on the strength of the support that the Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul’s family had on the police that the attack on April 29th was carried out so openly without a crowd of over 40 persons mobilized by Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul to launch an attack on Mr. Razzak and his brother, who were unarmed and merely trying to find a vehicle for a trip the next day. From what transpired, Mr. Razzak and his family are firmly of the view that some of the officers of the Paikgachha police station were aware of the attack that was going to take place. It is their view that this attack was carried out with the knowledge of some of the police officers. In fact, the Second Officer SI Tarok Chandra Biswas, SI Idris Ali, SI Nur Islam, SI Delwar Hossain and some other officers came to the place of the incident, that is, to the house of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, where Razzak had been carried by Kazal Sarder and others. SI Idris Ali and another police constable assaulted Razzak’s brother Bodiuzzaman Bodiar.

Even after Razzak had faced this serious attack on his eyes and he was completely motionless, the police did nothing to assist him or to get him medical assistance. The police in fact assumed that Razzak was dead and treated him as a dead body. They did not even take the body. Instead, they got Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul’s family to take Razzak in a van, thus leaving him to the mercy of his attackers. When he was brought to Paikgachha hospital, he was left on the floor as a dead body and the police did not intervene to ensure that he would be looked after by medical officers, even at that stage. The police also did not try to assist him to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.

At the hospital premises, the group of persons who attacked Razzak were the surrounding the hospital. The police, instead of arresting the attackers, in fact were providing them security. At the end, when other people gathered against them, the police protected the attackers and escorted them back to their home, that of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul.

Shortly after the crime had taken place on April 29th, police arrived and all the attackers, including Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul’s brother Kazal Sarder, were present at the scene. These police officers saw the attackers and in fact negotiated with the attackers. But they failed to arrest these attackers. When a cognizable offence takes place in front of the police officers, it is their duty to arrest them there and then. However, days have gone by and these attackers are roaming free.

Under these circumstances, it is quite reasonable for Razzak and his family and also all others, including his associates, not to expect an impartial inquiry into this crime by the present OC and other officers of the Paikgachha police station. It is therefore reasonable to request an appointment of an impartial and competent investigator into this serious crime.
Kindly note that despite the police having accompanying the perpetrators to the hospital and being aware of this incident, no one has yet recorded a statement from Mr. Razzak or his brother. However, Mr. Razzak, as soon as he was able, made a recorded statement on the 30th of April and I herewith attach a transcript and a copy of a CD of this statement.

Please be kind enough to take this inquiry under your charge and to ensure that competent and impartial officers will inquire into this incident in all thoroughness, including also an inquiry into the police complicity in this crime.

We hope that all the perpetrators will be arrested and be charged as early as possible.

Sir, we are hoping that you will take urgent action to:

a. To secure the arrest of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, his family members and other persons in the gang that were actively involved in this brutal attack.
b. That you will visit FMA Razzak at the hospital and inquire into his medical condition and that you will take all measures to ensure that he will receive the necessary medical assistance.
c. That you will do your utmost to ensure the security of FMA Razzak and his family which includes two children who are living in hiding out of fear of the attackers.
d. That you will do all within your mandate to ensure justice against the perpetrators and also the provision of compensation for this attack, although it is simply impossible to compensate one for a crime such as this.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Basil Fernando
Director Policy & Programmes

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-OLT-005-2011
Countries : Bangladesh,
Issues : Administration of justice, Human rights defenders, Land rights, Rule of law, Torture,