By-elections to the Bhola-3 constituency were marked by violence, irregularities, attacks on political opponents and intimidation of voters. Incidents of attack and intimidation of voters have been observed outside the polling stations, despite the measures taken by law enforcers.
The Election Commission Dr. ATM Shamsul Huda suspended the polling process in nine centres, due to allegations of various irregularities and violence.
The election monitoring organisation, Democracywatch wrote in their report, the Election Commission, RAB, police and local officials abetted the ruling Awami League to stage a farce election. While JANIPOP said, “more than hundred activists of the BNP were allegedly attacked and injured during the violence.”
Post-election violence commenced soon after the by-election to the Bhola-3 constituency. The activists and supporters of the opposition were beaten by the pro-government activists.
It has been leant that incidents of forced eviction have allegedly taken place at Char Zahiruddin under Tajumoddin Upazila. Mohibullah Nagor, Convener, Upazila BNP unit, claimed that more than 50 BNP activists were beaten and forcefully dispossessed from Char Zahiruddin by the ruling party cadres.
Moreover, the incidents of election violence had also sparked in different places in Lalmohan Upazila. According to Odhikar documentation, a total of 218 people were reported injured during Bhola-3 election violence. Among them 109 were injured in pre-election violence, 46 on Election Day and 63 in post-election violence.
The verdict on the BDR mutiny trails at Panchagar, Tahkurgaon, Feni and Satkhira have been delivered. Local human rights defenders of Odhikar have monitored the proceedings of the trial process.
The special BDR Court in Panchagar issued the first verdict on the BDR mutiny trial on April 7, 2010. 29 accused members of the 25th Rifles Battalion have been sentenced to different terms of imprisonment. Of them the maximum penalty, of 7 years imprisonment with 1 hundred Taka fine, has been given to 13 BDR jawans.
The second judgement of the BDR mutiny case has been delivered in Thakurgaon on April 12, 2010. 50 out of 51 BDR jawans of the 20th Rifles Battalion were sentenced to different terms of imprisonment. Of these convicted the maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment was given to two persons. Among others, five got 6 years of imprisonment each, two jawans got 5 years and 6 months, five jawans got 5 years, two jawans got 3 years, four jawans got 2 years, three got 1 year and 1 month, fifteen got 6 months and twelve jawans were sentenced to 4 months imprisonment each.
The third verdict of the BDR mutiny case has been delivered in Feni on April 18, 2010. The Special Court-3 in Feni sentenced 57 out of 62 BDR jawans of the 19 Rifles Battalion to different terms of imprisonment for the offence of committing mutiny.
The fourth judgment has been pronounced in Satkhira on April 19, 2010 in connection with the BRD mutiny. The BDR Special Court-1 sentenced 56 out of 60 BDR jawans of the 7th Rifles Battalion to different terms of imprisonment. Among the convicted, 24 jawans were given the maximum penalty of 7 years rigorous imprisonment while four jawans were sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.
The trial of the BDR mutiny started again at Dhaka on April 12, 2010. As per the Court order, 293 BDR jawans from jail and 330 jawans from different units of the Rifles Battalion were produced before the Special Court. The prosecutor demanded exemplary punishment and delivered a brief allegation against the accused in connection with the Pilkhana killing. The Court heard the statement of the prosecutor and 623 BDR members standing in the witness-box were given more than 27 days for self-defense under the BDR Ordinance, 1972. The Court fixed May 19, 2010 as the next date for hearing.
256 alleged mutineers of the BDR hospital unit were taken before the Special Court-6 set up at the BDR Headquarters at Pilkhana. On April 29, 2010, the three-member Court, set the date for framing of charges on November 22, 2010 after prosecutor had read out the charges against the accused BDR members. It ordered the arrest of 166 of the alleged mutineers as they were still in service.
The trial of the BDR mutiny case began at Balipara, Bandorban on April 22, 2010. Human rights defenders of Odhikar from Bandorban have informed that acting Subedar Major of the battalion, submitted allegations before the ‘Special Court-4’ against 35 accused BDR members out of 110 arrestees belonging to the 10 Rifles Battalion. It was learnt that the Court has fixed October 10, 2010 as the date for the next hearing.
A private television channel, “Channel 1” was shut down by the government on April 27, 2010. The Post and Telecommunications Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju said, Channel 1 had mortgaged its broadcasting equipment although the telecommunications law prohibited the transfer of frequency ownership and broadcasting equipment.
Meanwhile the Channel 1 authority claimed that the bank auctioned its equipment and a company won the bid, although the auction winner had not yet made the payment.
Focus Multimedia Company Limited (CSB News) had been shut down for allegedly filing forged documents to obtain frequency allocation by the military-backed ‘Caretaker’ government in August 2007.
Senior journalist and regional correspondent of the Shaptahik 2000 in Sylhet Foteh Osmani, stabbed by a group of criminals on April 18, succumbed to his injuries at the Apollo Hospital in Dhaka on 28 April 2010.
The supporters of the Awami League-backed Chattra League attacked two journalists in the Dhaka University campus on April 4, 2010. Fayez Ahmed, reporter of the weekly Budhbar and Anis Raihan, reporter of Shaptahik had been admitted to Dhaka Medical College hospital with severe injuries. Both the journalists alleged that they were attacked due to a report on extortion and tender biding of Awami League-backed Chattra League, which was recently published in the weekly magazines.
On April 8, 2010, Jasim Reza and Solaiman Salman, Jagannath University representatives of the Daily Kaler Kantho and the Daily Manabzamin, were attacked by the activists of the Jagannath University unit Awami League-backed Chattra League at Kawran Bazaar in the city.
In the month of April, 01 journalist was killed, 01 injured, 08 assaulted, 05 threatened and 03 were attacked.
On April 20, 2010, Professor Mohiuddin Ahmed, Chief Coordinator of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir, was arrested after six months under house arrest. He had been taken into remand for 3-days following his arrest. He has been shown as arrested under a case which was filed at the Uttara Police Station on February 24, 2010 under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009. He had no lawyer to represent him during an appeal for remand in the Court. Meanwhile, the Joint Coordinator, and second in command of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Kazi Morshedul Huq was arrested on April 21, 2010 under ‘suspicion of anti-state activities’. A case under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2009 was also filed against him.
On October 22, 2009, Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned by the government under a press note signed by Dr. Md. Kamal Uddin, Joint Secretary (Political) of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The press note stated that the government has declared Hizb ut-Tahrir, Bangladesh as outlawed on October 10, 2009, considering it as a threat to public security. The Chief Coordinator of Hizb ut-Tahrir and a Professor of the Institute of Business Administration, Dhaka University, Dr. Mohiuddin Ahmed was given forced leave from the University and his residence had also been surrounded by law enforcement agencies since October 22, 2009 without any specific allegations.
On April 26, 2010, following a cabinet meeting, the government approved the proposed amendments to the Anti-Corruption Commission Act of 2004, making it directly controlled by the government. As per amendments, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) will be accountable to the President; it has to seek the government’s permission before filing a case against any government official; senior government officers can not be asked questions by junior officers; five years imprisonment with fine will be given if anyone makes false allegations. Furthermore, the Secretary of the Commission will be appointed by the government and he will also perform as the Chief Officer.
Extra-judicial killings continue
Incidents of extra-judicial killings continue despite the government’s repeated assurance that they will be stopped. The law enforcement agencies have been killing suspected ‘criminals’ without following the due process of law.
During the month of April 2010, 09 people have reportedly been killed extra-judicially. It has been further alleged that of these people, 05 were killed by RAB and 04 by the Police. Of these casualties, 04 died while they were in custody of the law enforcement agencies.
On April 27, 2010, Mizanur Rahman Shumon, a businessman, was arrested by RAB members in plain clothes from Mohimganj of Gaibandha district and brought to Dhaka. He has disappeared since his arrest. Shumon had been vocal about the criminal activities at the Kafrul area in Dhaka.
Death in jail custody
It has been found that 05 people reportedly died while in jail custody due to illness during the month of April 2010.
As per information gathered by Odhikar, during the month of April 2010, there have been several incidents of human rights violations at the border areas by the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF). During this time, 03 Bangladeshi civilians were reportedly shot dead, 07 were tortured and 02 were abducted by the BSF.
On April 10, 2010, a clash took place between the workers and factory owners over unpaid wages at the Opex Knitwear Limited, a sister concern of the Sinha Group at Kanchpur of Sonargaon in Narayanganj. One person named Ziaur Rahman Khan was killed and at least 15 were injured.
On April 12, 2010, men supporting the factory owner attacked a procession brought out by workers of Navana Textile Ltd. at Kolma in Savar. The workers brought out this procession over their 15-ponit demand, including unpaid wages. At least 50 people, including the Officer-in-Charge of Savar Police Station, were injured.
In the month of April, 2010, 01 worker had died and 239 have been injured while protesting in demand of their overdue wages and increase of their wages at the ready-made garments factories.
In the month of April 2010, there have been reported incidents of female students committing suicide due to harassment by depraved youth. On April 3, 2010, Umme Kulshum Ilora (14), a student of class eight, committed suicide at Nandipara in Khilgaon, Dhaka due to eve-teasing. It was learnt that Ilora had been verbally harassed by one Rezaul for a long time. Furthermore, Rezaul had threatened Ilora and her mother a few days before her death.
An adolescent girl named Moriam Pinki (16) of Konabhawal village in Tarail Upazila was allegedly burnt to death by a youth named Tobarak on April 5, 2010 when she refused his proposal to have an affair.
In the month of April 2010, it has been reported that 63 women and girls were raped of which 24 were adults and 39 were children30. Of the 24 female adults raped, 08 were killed after being raped and 12 were gang raped. Of the 39 girls who were raped, 02 were killed after being killed and 10 were subjected to gang rape. Among them a housewife was raped by an Assistant Sub Inspector Obaydul Haq at Jhenaidah.
In the month of April 2010, 36 women were subjected to dowry related violence. It has been alleged that of these women, 20 were killed due to dowry related issues and 11 were tortured in various ways. During this span of time, 05 women allegedly committed suicide after failing to cope with dowry related torture.
In the month of April 2010, 06 persons were victims of acid violence. Of these, 05 were women and 01 was a man.
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