BANGLADESH: Whereabouts of a man remain unrevealed after being arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion in Barisal


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-201-2008
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Enforced disappearances and abductions,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that thewhereabouts of Md. Shafik Ullah Monayem, a politician, has not been known for 9 months following an arrest by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Barisal. His relatives have appealed to top officials, including the head of the government, since his disappearance but no investigation has been conducted.


Mr. Md. Shafik Ullah Monayem, aged 38, was aformer cultural affairs secretary of the Barisaldistrict unit of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (student wing of the Bangladesh Awami League). He was an inhabitant of Kuniya area of Barisalcity, a southern city of Bangladesh, around 250 kilometers from the capital Dhaka. He is a father of a 4-year-old daughter from his divorced first wife, and he re-married in the last week ofNovember 2007.

According to the information received, on 1 December 2007 at 8:15pm, Monayem was indiscussion with his friend Mr. Md. Muzibur Rahman on the street in front of Amdia House at Kaunya Main Road in Barisal. Two plain clothed persons arrived, walked towards Monayem and asked whether his name was Monayem. Inresponse, Monayem asked the counter question that who they were they. The two persons replied that they were from the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Monayem did not believe that and asked whether they could prove their identity. Both persons then showed their official Identity Card of the RAB and insisted Monayem accompany them. He denied doing so bysaying that he was on bail for all of the cases he had against him up until that day.

During this conversation two of Monayem’s friends, namely Mr. Mamun and Mr. Monir, had approached the scene where Monayem was seen arguing with two persons. Three more plain clothed persons came to the scene, allies or colleagues of the two so-called RAB persons and resisted them from proceeding further. One of two persons, who asked Monayem’s name first, called somebody from his mobile phone and asked to proceed further. Monayem attempted to call someone from his mobile phone, which was snatched away abruptly by the person. They also snatched Muzibur’s mobile phone away. Suddenly another plain clothed man came to the scene by a chocolate coloured motorbike. One ofthe two persons who came to scene first said, “Let’s go to the RAB Camp then tell us whatever you have to say”, when Monayem told them that he was on bail against all thecases against him. The person forced Monayem to sit in the middle of the bike, between the driver and him and left the place. The motorbike moved toward the western part of thecity (where the office of the RAB-8 was situated); the rest of the plain clothed persons also followed them on foot.

Monayem’s friend Muzibur rushed to Monayem’s immediate elder brother, Mr. Ahsan Ullah Mainul’s medicine shop in the city and informed him about the incident immediately after the arrest of Monayem. Mainul, accompanying some of his relatives and Monayem’s friends who eye-witnessed the incident, went to the office of the RAB-8 where two on-duty sentries did not allow them to cross the gate and denied knowledge of any such incident. Then they went to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Office where a staff member also expressed his ignorance. At last they went to the Kotowali Police Station ofBarisal to learn about Monayem’s whereabouts. The on-duty police officers who also did not know of any issue asked Mainul to wait, saying they could confirm it only after their patrol teams had returned to the office. The police officer also said that as far as the RAB was involved in the arrest of a person the police had nothing to do with the case. Mainul and his companions waited at the police station until midnight; however, the police were unable to confirm the arrest or whereabouts of Monayem.

On 2 December 2007, Mainul along with Muzibur and a few relatives went to the Kotowali Police Station to record a General Diary (GD), in connection with the arrest of Monayem bythe plain clothed members of RAB, and his subsequent disappearance. Sub Inspector Mr. Moazzem, referring to the accusation against RAB, refused to record the GD saying that the police had nothing to do with an allegation against members of RAB. He also suggested Mainul lodge a ‘regular case’ regarding the incident.

Mainul went to Mr. Yunus Talukdar, a senior lawyer of the Barisal District Bar Association, who heard the story from him and was of the opinion that lodging a case against any member of the RAB may lead to further deterioration of Monayem’s condition while in their custody; the RAB may kill the man secretly. He suggested pursuing the officials, requesting security and information of the victim. As Mr. Yunus became reluctant to file a complaint against members of the RAB regarding Monayem’s disappearance, Mainul went to another senior lawyer. Mr. Enayet Peer Khan, who is a political leader, also discouraged Mainul to lodge a complaint, expressing almost the same opinion as Mr. Yunus.

Mainul and his relatives continued visiting the senior officials of the district, including thePolice Commissioner of the Barisal Metropolitan Police (BMP), the local office of theDirectorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and Deputy Director of RAB-8, requesting their urgent intervention into the matter. The family also submitted written applications to the all relevant offices of the city with the same request.

On 14 February 2008, Mainul prepared a draft of General Dairy removing the word “RAB” and finally recorded it with the Kotowalit Police Station (GD Number 821). In the GD Mainul alleged that his brother Monayem had disappeared since 8:15pm on 1 December 2007, after he was picked up by a group of plain clothed officers of an intelligence agency; from the Kaunya Main Raod’s Amdia House, in the presence of Mr. Muzibur Rahman, an inhabitant of the same area. Sub Inspector Mr. Ershad Ali was assigned as theInvestigating Officer for the GD. However, no investigation was conducted and no updated information was available about Monayem.

Monayem’s brother Mr. Mainul told the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) that following continuous denial, refusal and reluctance by the local law-enforcing agencies about Monayem’s whereabouts, his 96-year-old father Mr. Mohammad Harun-ur-Rashid wrote a letter to the Chief Adviser of the Government, Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, seeking information and security of his son on 17 February 2008. On March 2, Monayem’s wife Mrs. Fatema Beagum sent a separate appeal to the chief of Bangladesh Army, General Moeen U Ahmed. On March 11, Mr. Harun wrote another letter to Adviser of the Ministry ofHome Affairs, and on April 1 to the Director General of RAB, and a Dhaka-based human rights organization – Bangladesh Society for Enforcement of Human Rights – seeking their intervention to ensure the return of his son.

Following the application sent to the Chief Adviser, the police conducted an enquiry on April 17 headed by Assistant Commissioner (AC) of Police of the BMP, Mr. A K M Makfarul Islam. The police submitted a one page enquiry report on April 17 with the information they received from the local sources, including from three friends of Monayem. It also reported on a personal and political dispute with a Commissioner of the local Ward of the BarisalCity Corporation, Mr. A K M Mortuza Abedin. The AC Makfarul suspected that Mr. Mortuzamight have influenced the RAB members or used his private force to pick up Monayem, as Monayem is seen as a rival in the upcoming city election. However, the police officers did not mention the whereabouts of Monayem or any information about his current condition inthe report.

Sub Inspector Mr. Nuruzzaman of the Detective Branch (DB) of the BMP conducted another investigation on May 26; however, nothing has been revealed about the findings ofthis investigation, or any news about Monayem.

The role of the Barisal-based RAB-8 has been confusing and scary for the family ofMonayem. Mainul and his sister Ms. Hosney Ara met Major A K M Mamunur Rashid Mamun of RAB-8 in person and made phone calls seeking information about Monayem since his disappearance. Major Mamun delayed the process by expressing the forces business with other matters; rather than the issue of Monayem’s disappearance following arrest by a group of so-called RAB officers who showed their identity cards. Whenever Monayem’s family called the Major they were told to call back later. After the city corporation election held on 4 August 2008, Major Mamun was offensive with Hosney Araover the telephone and warned her not to call him any more on this issue.

Monayem’s family had been worrying about the security of Mainul when a press conference was arranged even though they wrote and called the high officials of the law-enforcement agencies, armed forces and civil administration of the country.

Monayem’s wife, Mrs. Fatema Begum, married just 8 days before her husband’s disappearance, has been in a state of shock over such a prolonged period of absence, waiting for his return. Monayem’s father Mr. Harun-ur-Rashid has been seriously sick following the disappearance of his son, and has lost any faith in the country’s judicial and law-enforcement system after completely failing to bring his son back home.


As a political activist Monayem contested in the Barisal City Corporation election held in2003 as a Ward Commissioner. Monayem lost to Mr. A K M Mortuza Abedin, a leader ofthe Jatiya Sramik Party (a labour wing of the Jatiya Party led by fallen autocrat Gen. H M Ershad), by 165 votes following alleged manipulation by Mortuza and his allies of the ruling political party.

It is reported that Mortuza has friends and relatives in the armed forces who used their power in order to favour him. It is also reported that one of his childhood friends Mr. Ahsanul Haque Shamim, a Lieutenant Colonel of the Bangladesh Army in the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in Rangamati Hill District, allegedly influenced colleagues deployed in other forces, like the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) to assist Mortuza.

Earlier, Monayem was arrested by the RAB, especially by RAB-2 from Elephant Road inDhaka on the evening of 8 November 2005. He was detained in the RAB’s custody until 5am on November 11 and allegedly physically tortured.  His injuries were such that Monayem was taken to a hospital where doctors provided first aid and pain killers. With amedical certificate of minor injury the RAB finally handed over Monayem to the BarisalKotowali police at 5am on 11 November. At that time Monayem had bruises on his face, both of his upper arms, thighs and soles as a result of beating with sticks while in RAB custody in Dhaka and Barisal. Until Monayem was handed over to the police his whereabouts were unknown to any of his relatives.

The Kotowali police who were detaining Monayem produced him before a Magistrate’s Court. While in detention the jail authority found Monayem to be seriously sick and sent him to the Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barisal for treatment. After about aweek he was taken back to the Barisal Central Jail and was detained for 14 months.

After being released from prison Monayem went straight to Dhaka and stayed there for his security and to escape further harassment.

Monayem has been reportedly active in politics and public relations, aiming to contest thecity election of 2008 against Mortuza. An increasing response from the public seemed to be threatening Mortuza‘s political position in that jurisdiction. Relatives and friends ofMonayem suspect that Mortuza, as an influential person, might have pressured members of the RAB-8 using money and the assistance of friends to coordinate the disappearance of Monayem prior to the city election, held on 4 August 2008.


This incident is a clear violation of Article 32 of the Constitution of Bangladesh and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which thegovernment of Bangladesh is a party.

The incident of Monayem’s disappearance is not a surprise, and not an isolated incident inBangladesh where due process – showing valid documents prior to arrest and detention ofany person – is hardly followed by the law-enforcing agencies. The enjoyment of arbitrary authority to do whatever the law-enforcers want to do and the State’s complete failure to hold those officials accountable has plunged the country into such problems. In other words, the law-enforcement agencies have exercised excessive and arbitrary power with blatant impunity from superior authorities and policy-makers for decades. If there is any credible investigation held, numerous similar cases will be discovered.

Abuse of power by the law-enforcement agencies has plunged the country into lawlessness where even senior lawyers have lost a minimum of faith in the judicial system, as well as the rule of law institutions, suggesting to clients to pursue the issue instead oflodging a complaint with a court of law. When a country’s senior lawyers possess such feelings the barometer of common people’s attitudes towards its criminal justice mechanism is easy to understand.

Please write letters asking the relevant authorities to investigate into this alleged incident and insist that it is ensured to be a credible investigation, as well as punishment of thealleged perpetrators of this disappearance in accordance with the law.

The AHRC has also written separate letters to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance calling for intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear __________,

BANGLADESH: Enforced disappearance of a man by the Rapid Action Battalion inBarisal

Name of victim: Mr. Md. Shafik Ullah Monayem, aged 38, son of Mr. Moulovi Mohammad Harun-ur-Rashid, living at Kauniya in Barisal district; a political activist, position of cultural affairs secretary of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (student wing of the Bangladesh Awami League), Barisal District Unit 
Name of alleged perpetrators: 
1. Lt. Col. Mr. Irshad, Commanding Officer of Rapid Action Battalion-8, deployed in Barisal
2. Major Mr. AKM Mamunur Rashid Mamun, attached to RAB-8 in Barisal
3. The members of the RAB-8 deployed in Barisal
Place of incident: In front of Ambia House in Kaunya Main Road, Barisal city
Date of incident: At about 8:15pm on 1 December 2007

I am writing to express my serious concern regarding the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Md. Shafik Ullah Monayem by a group of so-called members of the Rapid Action Battalion-RAB on 1 December 2007 and his subsequent disappearance following the incident. I am shocked to learn that there has been no information about the victim, following a refusal to record thecomplaint or begin an investigation aimed at rescuing the person.

According to the information I have received, while Mr. Monayem was talking with a friend named Mr. Md. Muzibur Rahman in front of Ambia House, on Kaunya Main Road at about 8:15pm on 1 December 2007, two plain clothed persons came to the scene and asked Mr. Monayem about his name. On Monayem’s questions regarding the reason of asking for his name, both persons showed their Identity Cards and said that they were from the RAB. They insisted Monayem accompany them despite his repeated refusal to do so. As soon as Mr. Mamun and Monir, two friends of Monayem, approached to the scene three more plain clothed persons followed Mamun and Monir and prevented them from going near to Monayem. One of the former groups of two plan clothed persons called someone from his mobile phone to precede further and snatched Monayem’s mobile phone as soon as he attempted to make a phone call. Suddenly, another plain clothed man came to the scene on a chocolate coloured motorbike. When Monayem argued with the persons, saying that he was on bail from the courts on the cases against him, the plain clothed person told him: “Let’s go to the RAB Camp and tell whatever you have to say”. The person, who asked Monayem’s name at first, pushed Monayem on the back seat of the motorbike and he sat himself behind Monayem. The motorbike left heading towards the western part of theBarisal city; the remaining persons also followed on foot.

I am informed that Monayem’s elder brother Mr. Md. Ahasn Ullah Mainul learnt about theincident, he went to the office of RAB-8 along with his relatives and eye-witnesses of theincident. Two sentries were on duty at the gate but denied the incident as not committed byany of their officers and refused to allow Mainul’s into the office. The Kotowalli police ofBarisal also failed to provide any information about Monayem’s whereabouts until midnight.

I am shocked to learn that Kotowali police refused to record a General Dairy when Monayem’s brother Mr. Mainul went there, with a draft mentioning the alleged involvement of RAB as responsible for the incident. While refusing to record the complaint police Sub Inspector Mr. Moazzem told Mr. Mainul that the police had nothing to do with any complaint against the members of RAB.

The Kotowali police only recorded a General Dairy (number: 821) on 14 February 2007, about 2 and a half months after the incident, when Mainul removed the names of the RAB from his application. The dysfunctional law-enforcement system has been transmitting distrust among the citizens of the country in such a way that two senior lawyers of theBarisal Bar Association, namely Mr. Yunus Talukdar and Mr. Enayet Peer Khan, declined to lodge any complaint or any case regarding this incident fearing further harm to Monayem, and his death in the pretext of ‘crossfire’. The level of insecurity in personal life, threat to liberty and distrust towards the existing law-enforcement and judicial system has been reflected through the views of these two senior lawyers.

There was no investigation conducted for 137 days after the alleged disappearance until Monayem’s father, Mr. Harun-ur-Rashid, applied to the Chief Adviser of the government ofBangladesh. However, the investigation conducted by Assistant Police Commissioner ofthe Barisal Metropolitan Police (BMP), Mr. A K M Makfarul Islam, failed to expose thewhereabouts of Monayem. On the other hand, an investigation conducted by Sub Inspector Mr. Nuruzzaman of the Detective Branch of BMP has yet to yield any findings.

I have been informed that the officers of the RAB-8 have continuously denied their alleged responsibility for picking up Monayem despite the fact that two plain clothed persons showed their Identity Cards to Monayem and his friend Muzibur. They were absolutely reluctant to conduct any credible investigation regarding this case and its officers deserve to be accused of falling to perform their duties.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, which is authorized to look into matters relating to complaints against the law-enforcing agencies, has received an appeal from the victim’s father; however, it has not yet taken any action on this regard. As a result of the practice ofinaction followed by a culture of impunity to alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses, lawlessness has grasped the country resulting in serious distrust by the people towards therule of law institutions of Bangladesh.

Such deprivation of a persons’ liberty is a clear violation of Article 32 of the Bangladesh Constitution and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bangladesh is a state party and also a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

I therefore urge you to launch an impartial investigation immediately to reveal the facts behind the whereabouts of Mr. Monayem, and prosecute the alleged perpetrators of theRAB, if found guilty in the investigation. The family must be adequately compensated for the loss they have been forced to sustain. The eye-witnesses and family members, who produced factual information to the rights groups, must be protected from any kind offurther harassment by any of the law-enforcing agencies as is very common inBangladesh.

I trust that you will take necessary actions promptly regarding this matter.

Yours sincerely,


1. Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed
Chief Adviser 
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Office of the Chief Advisor
Tejgaon, Dhaka 
Fax: +880 2 811 3244 / 3243 / 1015 / 1490
Tel: +880 2 882 816 079 / 988 8677
E-mail: or

2. Mr. Mohammad Ruhul Amin
Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Bangladesh
Supreme Court Building
Ramna, Dhaka-1000
Fax: +880 2 956 5058
Tel: +880 2 956 2792

3. Mr. A F Hassan Arif
Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs
Bangladesh Secretariat
Fax: +880 2 7168557 (O) 
Tel: +880 2 7160627 (O)

4. Major General (Rtd.) M. A. Matin
Ministry of Home Affairs
Bangladesh Secretariat
Fax: +88-02-7160405, 88-02-7164788 (O)
Tel: +88-02-7169069 (O)

5. Mr. Salahuddin Ahmed
Attorney General of Bangladesh
Office of the Attorney General
Supreme Court Building
Ramna, Dhaka-1000
Fax: +880 2 956 1568
Tel: +880 2 956 2868

6. General Moeen U Ahmed
Chief of Army Staff
Bangladesh Army
Army Headquarters
Dhaka Cantonment
Fax: +880 2 875 4455 
Tel: +880 2 987 0011

7. Mr. Nur Mohammad
Inspector General of Police (IGP) 
Bangladesh Police
Police Headquarters’
Fulbaria, Dhaka-1000
Fax: +880 2 956 3362 / 956 3363
Tel: +880 2 956 2054 / 717 6451 / 717 6677

8. Mr. Hassan Mahmud Khandokar
Director General (DG)
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)
RAB Headquarter
Uttara, Dhaka
Fax: +880 2 896 2884 (O)
Tel: +880 2 896 1105 (O) 

Thank you.

Urgent Appeal Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission ( 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-201-2008
Countries : Bangladesh,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Enforced disappearances and abductions,