BANGLADESH: State agents allow army officer’s relatives to rob off the house of a human rights defender

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) informed you on 4 March 2011 regarding death threat to the family of F. M. A. Razzak, a human rights defender by the relatives of an officer the Bangladesh Army (For further details, please see our latest Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-013-2011). 

Now, the AHRC has received updated information that on 14 March early in the morning, a group of armed men led by Mr. Kazal Sarder, younger brother Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, broke the house of Mr. Razzak and robbed off all the valuables including laptop, camera, ornaments of Razzak’s wife and refrigerator while the whole family has been forced to go hiding due to inaction by the police and other governmental authorities of the country despite repeated requests from Razzak’s family and human rights groups. 

Please intervene into this diabolical situation immediately urging the authorities of Bangladesh to prove that the family of the Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul and their actions are not beyond the purview of laws of the land or beyond the control of the Government or its law-enforcement agencies. 

UPDATED INFORMATION:

Mr. F. M. A. Razzak has been forced to hide in secret shelters for about a month due to unabated attack on the members of his family and property by a family of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, an officer of the Bangladesh Army currently attached to the Bogra Cantonment, due to direct influence by the army officer over the police, Rapid Action Battalion and the local administration of Khulna district that have evidently exposed their inaction regarding the situation.

On 14 March 2011, early in the morning, a group of armed men led by Mr. Kazal Sarder, who is the younger brother to Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, broke the locks of the house, which has been empty for last couple of weeks while Razzak’s family has been hiding for their security. The intruders have taken away all the valuables, including Razzak’s laptop, digital camera, deeds of properties and large number of documents relating to his legal practice and books, and his wife’s ornaments, refrigerator from the house. The house-breakers closed the rooms and main gates of the house with new locks that they brought with themselves.

On the same day, when Razzak informed the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of the Paikgachha police station Mr. Enamul Haque about the latest situation and sought active initiatives from the police to protect the life of property of Razzak, the OC replied that he was “undone and helpless”. Mr. Enamul Haque revealed that the vehicle of the police came under attack from the group of people led by Kazal Sarder while the police attempted to patrol in the area.

Mr. Razzak has registered a General Diary (GD) with the Paikgachha police station on 15 March 2011 regarding the latest incident. The police recorded it as GD no. 617 with the Paikgachha police.

In the General Diary Razzak has mentioned that he had been baled by a High Court Division Bench on 9 March regarding a fabricated case (No. 41, dated 22 February 2011) registered with the Paikgachha police against him and his family. After having granted bail from the High Court Bench when Razzak arrived at the Godaipur Bazar along with his family on way return home he and his family came under attack by a group of people possessing various types of sharp and blunt weapons. In order to save life Razzak and his family took shelter to a house.

It has also been mentioned in the GD about the robbing off Razzak’s house after the midnight of 13 February when the house-breakers took away all the valuables and important documents from his house. However, the police have not done anything since the GD has been filed.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) requested the authorities of Bangladesh including the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Chief Justice, Attorney General, Chief of Army and the Inspector General of Police in two occasions in last two weeks. Sadly, the authorities have not taken any visible action in response to the requests so far. As a result, the relatives of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul have been allowed uncontrollable opportunity to violate laws one after another.

ADDITIONAL COMMENT: 

A job in the armed forces appears to be the source of all power in Bangladesh where the police officers from the headquarters to the field level in Paikgachha remain undone due to pressure from the office of the army officer concerned.

The military officers enjoy blatant impunity in the country where the culture of impunity well-cultivated throughout decades at the cost of a complete denial of redress to the victims of brutality and extreme forms of abuse of power.

All the institutions that are supposed to act lawfully for the sake of protecting the fundamental rights of the citizens of Bangladesh, including the police and civil administration have appeared to be pawn in an army officer’s grip.

The authorities could have found evidence of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul’s interference by collecting all the records of his telephone calls during last one month, including his two cell phones: +8801714083569 and +8801938324360. It has been learnt that Major Mustafizur randomly used his official and personal phones to contact the officials of the police, Rapid Action Battalion and the civil administration of Khulna region for pressurizing and intimidating them for any action taken to protect Razzak’s property or life.

This case also exposes how vulnerable is the condition of the human rights defenders and their families in Bangladesh and how much effective and active the criminal justice and law and order maintaining forces are! The people without having public official capacity or, due and undue, influence over the public institutions are literally entrapped in a helpless and hopeless situation while the State machineries remain completely dysfunctional. In terms of the ordinary people’s accessibility to the protection mechanism can only be imagined as a phantom limb, which never exists in reality.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: 

Mr. F. M. A. Razzak, Editor of the Gonomichhil (a fortnightly newspaper) and President of Human Rights Development Centre (HRDC) based in Paikgachha upazilla (sub-district) under Khulna district, has helped a large number of victims of custodial torture to get medical treatment and fight their cases. These cases mostly involve the law-enforcing agents who fabricated charges against the victims after torturing them while in arbitrary detention. He has been doing this work for the last 20 years. The continuous and uncompromising stand against torture and injustice has made Razzak a target of the local police, their source, and beneficiaries of the arbitrary abuse of power by the influential segment of the locality.

In the same neighbourhood of Razzak’s village home a family having a son employed in the Bangladesh Army had previously misguided the officials of the law-enforcement agencies, security forces and paramilitary forces to harass and torture Razzak and his family on several occasions by providing untrue information and accusationd that have later been proven false by many investigators from the governmental intelligence agencies and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) previously documented several cases involving threats, harassments, illegal arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr. F M A Razzak. It also issued several Urgent Appeals on his case and published several articles in its publications (For further details, please see: UA-035-2007; UP-034-2007; AHRC-UAU-065-2008; AHRC-UAU-067-2008; AHRC-UAU-069-2008; AHRC-UAU-013-2011 and Article2, Vol. 8, No. 1 and Ethics in Action Vol.2 No.6).

SUGGESTED ACTION: 
Please intervene immediately into the matter and urge the authorities of Bangladesh to prevent Major Mustafizur Rahman of the Bangladesh Army from unlawful interference on the police and civil administration endangering the security of Mr. Razzak’s family. Ask the authorities of Bangladesh Army to terminate Major Mustafizur Rahman from his service for his lawless involvement in the civilian disputes. The lives and properties of Razzak, his relatives and well-wishers must be protected from any further attack by any group or person with immediate effect.

Please note that the AHRC has already written separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights Defenders calling for her immediate intervention into this matter.

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

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ___________, BANGLADESH: State agents allow army officer's relatives to rob off the house of a human rights defender  Names of victims:  1. Mr. F M Abdur Razzak, aged 44, Editor of the Gonomichhil (a fortnightly newspaper) and President of Human Rights Development Centre (HRDC) of Paikgachha, son of Mr. Nur Ali Fakir 2. Mr. Nur Ali Fakir, aged 78, a farmer by profession 3. Mr. Sazzad Hossain, aged 38, son of Mr. Nur Ali Fakir, a farmer by profession 4. Mr. Bodiuzzaman, aged 24, son of Mr. Nur Ali Fakir, a businessman by profession 5. Mrs. Rahima Razzak, aged 37, wife of Mr. F M A Razzak, a housewife 6. Mrs. Shefali Khatun, aged, wife of Sazzad Hossain All are inhabitants of Godaipur village under the jurisdiction of the Paikgachha police station in the Khulna district, Bangladesh Alleged perpetrators:  1. Mr. Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, a Major of Bangladesh Army, attached to the Bogra Cantonment at the moment, son of Mr. Abdur Rouf Sarder, hailed from Godaipur village under the Paikgachha police station in the Khulna district 2. Mr. Abdur Rouf Sarder, a teacher of a local madrasa (Muslim religious school), son of late Mr. Gafur Ali Sarder 3. Mr. Abul Kashem Sarder, president of Godaipur Purbopara Baitus Salam Mosque Management Committee, son of late Mr. Nesar Ali Sarder 4. Mr. Kazal Sarder, son of Mr. Abdur Rouf Sarder All are living in Godaipur village under the Paikgachha police station in the Khulna district 5. Mr. Enamul Haque, Inspector of Police and Officer-in-Charge (OC), attached to the Paikgachha police station of Khulna district 6. Mr. Idris Ali, Sub Inspector of Police, attached to the Paikgachha police station of Khulna district 7. Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)-6 based in Khulna district Date of latest incident of robbing house: 14 March 2011 Place of incident: Godaipur village under the jurisdiction of Paikgachha police station, Khulna district I am writing to express my grave concern regarding robbery in the house of a human rights defender by the relatives of an army officer while the state agents have allowed the latter's family to continue lawless violent actions forcing the former to go in hiding for security for about a month. The authorities have appeared to be powerless and useless in this case while the local police have not done anything to protect the family and property of the human rights defender despite repeated requests. According to the latest information, Mr. F. M. A. Razzak has been forced to hide in secret shelters for about a month due to unabated attack on the members of his family and property by a family of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, an officer of the Bangladesh Army currently attached to the Bogra Cantonment, due to direct influence by the army officer over the police, Rapid Action Battalion and the local administration of Khulna district that have evidently exposed their inaction regarding the situation. I have been informed that on 14 March 2011, early in the morning, a group of armed men led by Mr. Kazal Sarder, who is the younger brother to Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, broke the locks of the house, which has been empty for last couple of weeks while Razzak's family has been hiding for their security. The intruders have taken away all the valuables, including Razzak's laptop, digital camera, deeds of properties and large number of documents relating to his legal practice and books, and his wife's ornaments, refrigerator from the house. The house-breakers closed the rooms and main gates of the house with new locks that they brought with themselves. On the same day, when Razzak informed the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of the Paikgachha police station Mr. Enamul Haque about the latest situation and sought active initiatives from the police to protect the life of property of Razzak, the OC replied that he was "undone and helpless". Mr. Enamul Haque revealed that the vehicle of the police came under attack from the group of people led by Kazal Sarder while the police attempted to patrol in the area. I am aware that Mr. Razzak has registered a General Diary (GD) with the Paikgachha police station on 15 March 2011 regarding the latest incident. The police recorded it as GD no. 617 with the Paikgachha police. In the General Diary Razzak has mentioned that he had been baled by a High Court Division Bench on 9 March regarding a fabricated case (No. 41, dated 22 February 2011) registered with the Paikgachha police against him and his family. After having granted bail from the High Court Bench when Razzak arrived at the Godaipur Bazar along with his family on way return home he and his family came under attack by a group of people possessing various types of sharp and blunt weapons. In order to save life Razzak and his family took shelter to a house. It has also been mentioned in the GD about the robbing off Razzak's house after the midnight of 13 February when the house-breakers took away all the valuables and important documents from his house. However, the police have not done anything since the GD has been filed. I am also aware that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) requested the authorities of Bangladesh including the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Chief Justice, Attorney General, Chief of Army and the Inspector General of Police in two occasions in last two weeks. Sadly, the authorities have not taken any visible action in response to the requests so far. As a result, the relatives of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul have been allowed uncontrollable opportunity to violate laws one after another. This case expose that a job in the armed forces appears to be the source of all power in Bangladesh where the police officers from the headquarters to the field level in Paikgachha remain undone due to pressure from the office of the army officer concerned. As there have numerous documentations been available on the trend of human rights abuses in Bangladesh, I believe that the military officers enjoy blatant impunity in the country where the culture of impunity well-cultivated throughout decades at the cost of complete denial of redress to the victims of brutality and extreme forms of abuse of power. In this case all the institutions that are supposed to act lawfully for the sake of protecting the fundamental rights of the citizens, including the police and civil administration have appeared to be pawn in an army officer's grip. I have learned that Major Mustafizur randomly used his official and personal phones to contact the officials of the police, Rapid Action Battalion and the civil administration of Khulna region for pressurizing and intimidating them for any action taken to protect Razzak's property or life. The authorities still can find evidence of Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul's unlawful interference by collecting all the records of his telephone calls during last one month, including his two cell phones: +8801714083569 and +8801938324360. From now on, the executive, judicial and law-enforcement authorities of Bangladesh are liable to ensure the following issues through their actions: 1. Whether Major Mustafizur Rahman Bokul or his family exists beyond the purview of the laws of the land or not? 2. Whether any other high ranking officials of the Bangladesh Army have also been involved in the process of influencing the Police and the Rapid Action Battalion of Khulna or not? 3. Whether the constitutional provision of equal rights of every citizen is applicable in the country or not? 4. Whether all the governmental institutions particularly the police are restricted from preventing lawless actions by any person or groups as the groups led by Kazal Sarder have been continuously violating to Razzak and his family or not? 5. Whether the State has any commitment to accomplish its obligations under the country's constitution and international human rights instruments to protect the lives and properties of the citizens when they are vulnerable due to the State's agents unlawful actions and inactions or not? 6. Whether the State's institutions and protection mechanisms are phantom limb or they exist in reality? I strongly request that: a. The allegations against Major Mr. Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, be immediately be investigated by competent investigators and he shall be removed from his service without further delay; b. All the perpetrators identified above should be prosecuted followed by credible investigations conducted by competent officials; c. All the looted valuables and damaged properties and assets of Mr. Razzak's family must be returned and adequately compensated; d. Provide adequate protection to Razzak and the members of his family without any further delay. I look forward that you will take urgent steps into this matter. Yours sincerely, ---------------------------- PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:  1. Mrs. Sheikh Hasina Prime Minister Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh Office of the Prime Minister Tejgaon, Dhaka BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 811 3244 / 3243 / 1015 / 1490 Tel: +880 2 882 816 079 / 988 8677 E-mail: pm@pmo.gov.bd or ps1topm@pmo.gov.bd or psecy@pmo.gov.bd 2. Mr. A. B. M. Khairul Haque Chief Justice Supreme Court of Bangladesh Supreme Court Building Ramna, Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 956 5058 /+880 2 7161344 Tel: +880 2 956 2792 E-mail: chief@bdcom.com or supremec@bdcom.com 3. Barrister Shafique Ahmed Minister Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs Bangladesh Secretariat Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Tel: +880 2 7160627 (O) Fax: +880 2 7168557 (O) Email: info@minlaw.gov.bd 4. Ms. Sahara Khatun MP Minister Ministry of Home Affairs Bangladesh Secretariat Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Tel: +880 2 7169069 (O) Fax: +880 2 7160405, 880 2 7164788 (O) E-mail: minister@mha.gov.bd 5. Mr. Mahbubey Alam Attorney General of Bangladesh Office of the Attorney General Supreme Court Annex Building Ramna, Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 956 1568 Tel: +880 2 956 2868 6. Prof. Mizanur Rahman Chairman National Human Rights Commission 10th Floor, Gulfeshan Plaza 8, Journalist Selina Parvin Road Mogbazar, Dhaka BANGLADESH Tel: +88 02 8331492 Fax: +88 02 8333219 E-mail: nhrc.bd@gmail.com 7. Mr. Md. Abdul Mubeen General and Chief of Army Staff Bangladesh Army Army Headquarters Dhaka Cantonment Dhaka BANGLADESH Tel: +880 2 9870011 Fax: +880 2 8754455 8. Mr. Hassan Mahmud Khandker Inspector General of Police (IGP) Bangladesh Police Police Headquarters' Fulbaria, Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH Fax: +880 2 956 3362 / 956 3363 Tel: +880 2 956 2054 / +880 2 717 6451 / +880 2 717 6677 E-mail: ig@police.gov.bd 9. Mr. Md. Mokhlesur Rahman Director General Rapid Action Battalion RAB Headquarter Uttara, Dhaka BANGLADESH Tel: + 880 2 8919078/ 880 2 8961101 Mobile: +8801199886600 / 8801713014050/ 8801713374469 Fax: + 880 2 896 2884 Email: dg_rab@rab.gov.bd 10. Mr. Sheikh Hemayet Uddin Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Khulna Range Office of the DIG of Khulna Range Khulna BANGLADESH Tel: +880 41 761823 (O) Cell: +8801713 374091 Fax: +880 41 761300 (O) E-mail: digkhulna@police.gov.bd Thank you. Urgent Appeals Programme Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)