April 1-30, 2013
Political violence continues Meetings and assemblies barred Imposition of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure
Allegations of enforced disappearance after making arrests by law enforcement agencies Many workers and others die due to building collapse in Savar Extrajudicial killings continue Torture in custody Arrest and torture of the Acting Editor of the daily Amar Desh; government shuts down the newspaperFreedom of the media Human Rights situation of the religious minority communities Human rights violations along the border by BSF Violence against women Public lynching continues Government bars fund clearance of Odhikar’s ‘Human Rights Research and Advocacy’ programme
Odhikar believes that ‘democracy’ is a form of the State and not merely a process of electing a ruler. Democracy is the product of the peoples’ struggle for inalienable rights, which become the fundamental premise to constitute the State and to define collective aspirations and responsibilities. Therefore, the individual freedoms and democratic aspirations of the citizens – and consequently, peoples’ collective rights and responsibilities – must be the foundational principles of the State. The States failure to recognise this at the founding moment is a continuing curse that people are forced to carry. A State cannot be ‘democratic’ if the people do not realise and participate as ‘citizens’ in all sectors of the functioning of the state. The democratic legitimacy of the State is directly related to its commitment and capacity to ensure human rights, such as rights to life and livelihood, rights to environment and health; and the dignity and integrity of citizens. If all this is not ensured by the State, it cannot be called a ‘democratic’ state. These civil and political rights, as the foundational principles of the State, must remain inviolable; and accordingly, the Parliament, Judiciary and Executive cannot and should not have any power to abrogate them through any legislation, judicial verdict or executive order. The people’s inviolable rights are the foundational principles of the State.
Odhikar, being an organisation of human rights defenders in Bangladesh, has been struggling to ensure these civil and political rights. Odhikar stands against all forms of human rights violations and accordingly participates and remains directly involved in the human rights movement in Bangladesh. Odhikar brings to the movement the strategic perspective that in its demand for civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, the human rights movement not only endeavours to protect the victims, but also, in countries like Bangladesh, is constitutive of a democratic state.
The movement to establish the rights and dignity of every individual is part of the struggle to constitute Bangladesh as a democratic, political community.
As part of its mission, Odhikar monitors the human rights situation of Bangladesh to report violations and defend the victims. In line with this campaign, an account of the human rights situation of Bangladesh, in April 2013, is presented here.
Political violence continues
1. According to information gathered by Odhikar, in April 2013, 25 persons were killed and 1450 injured in political violence. 28 incidents of internal violence in the Awami League and six in the BNP were recorded during this period. In
addition to this, five persons were killed and 240 were injured in internal conflicts of the Awami League while one person was killed and 38 were injured in BNP internal conflicts. Some instances are as follows:
2. Two wings of the ruling party Awami League, namely Chhatra League and Jubo League , have been involved in regular clashes ever since the government came to power. The clashes mostly take place over economic or financial interests. Moreover, death rates were significantly raised in clashes with Jamat-e-Islami and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir as well. Considering the present political situation, Hefazate Islam’s long march towards Dhaka has also led to violence at some places with supporters of the ruling party which resulted in a number of deaths.
3. On April 8, 2013 two factions of Jubo League got into a fight over submissions of tender bids in Nagerbazar under Bagerhat district; where a Jubo League activist named Kalu Sheikh (32) was shot dead. A child named Shaikat was also wounded due to the shooting
4. On April 6, 2013, leaders and activists of Hefazate Islam were marching towards Dhaka from Nagar Kanda upazila under Faridpur district when Awami League supporters threw bricks at them when they reached the Bhanga municipal area; and both groups got into a clash on the Khulna-Dhaka Highway. Awami League leader Nousher Ali was killed and about 50 people, including 7 policemen and the district correspondent of private TV channel, GTV, Monir Hossain were injured.4
5. On April 5, 2013 Awami League activists clashed with Hefazate Islam and police at Kamrangirchor in Dhaka where an Awami League activist named Shahidul Islam (35) was killed and at least 10 others were injured.
6. On April 2, 2013 a clash took place between two factions of Chhatra League led by the district Chhatra League President Sheikh Rejaul Islam and its VicePresident Ruhul Amin on the Khulna-Dhaka Highway near the BRAC office at
Parnanduwali of Magura District. The reasons behind the clash were collection of extortion money and the establishment of supremacy in the area. Azad Sheikh, a Chhatra League activist was shot dead while at least 10 were
7. In the month of April 2013, according to Odhikar’s information, a total of 36 hartals were called. Among them 34 were called by BNP and their alliance Jamat-e-Islami, one was called by Hefazate Islam and one was called by the Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee along with 25 other civil society organisations. Of them, nine were observed as nationwide hartals and 27 were observed in specific areas.
8. Police and the activists in support of the hartal got into violent altercations during the hartals in various places across the country. Buses and other vehicles were vandalised and set on fire the day before and during hartal hours. Both the ruling party and the Opposition blamed each other for these acts of violence.
9. In the hartal called by Islami Chatra Shibir on April 11, 2013, a public transport driver named Monsur Ali Gazi (40) was shot dead in police firing while JamatShibir activists were involved in ‘picketing’ in the Chedhuriya village of Dumuria Upazila under Khulna district.7
10.On April 9, 2013 a truck driver named Shahidul Islam Khokon (42) was killed in an attack by the hartal supporters in the Dhaka-Rangpur highway in Bogra during the 36-hour hartal called by the BNP-led 18-party alliance.8
11.Odhikar believes that state repression and political violence have taken an alarming turn. If it is not controlled immediately, the country’s unrest will amplify and the administration will collapse. Ruling party-backed Chhatro League and Jubo League activists have been attacking opposition activists during hartal hours along with the police since 2012. An innocent Hindu youth, Bishwajit, has been killed in such an incident. In many districts, the local administration has lapsed into inefficiency and society is divided. In order to
overcome this division, the media and civil society have to come out of their bias and be united immediately to protect human rights. The State should not instigate or encourage confrontational politics or the use of violence by its law enforcers. Rather the State should take effective measures to ensure human rights and democratic practice. Odhikar is also anxious about the absence of an environment for dialogue among the political parties to resolve the political crisis.