Bangladesh: Killing of Mr. Aminul Islam

17/04/2012
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources, including Odhikar, of the killing of Mr. Aminul Islam, a 41 year-old leader of the Garments and Industrial Workers’ Federation and a staff member of the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity (BCWS).

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bangladesh.

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, on April 4, 2012, Mr. Aminul Islam closed the BCWS office (located in Baipal, near Dhaka) earlier, at around 6.30 p.m., after seeing what he believed was a police van parked outside of the premises.

On the evening of April 4, three of his colleagues and his wife tried to call Mr. Islam but his phone had been switched off. Therefore, nobody was able to get information on his whereabouts. They eventually decided to call Ashulia police station to find out whether Mr. Islam had been arrested, but could not get any information either.

On April 5, 2012, a member of BCWS and Mr. Islam’s wife went to the Ashulia police station to file a General Diary[1]. However, as Mr. Islam had been missing for less than 24 hours, they were not able to file it until around 10:30 am on April 6, when the General Diary was finally accepted and registered as GD number-357.

On April 8, 2012, Mr. Islam’s wife discovered a picture of her spouse’s corpse in a local newspaper, revealing that the body had been found close to the Ghatail police station in Tangail district, 100 kilometres away from Mr. Islam’s supposed place of abduction. His wife and some family members decided to go there to ascertain that was Mr. Islam’s body. They were joined by Mr. Islam’s BCWS colleagues. Unfortunately, as nobody had reclaimed the corpse before, the corpse had already been buried on April 7. If Mr. Islam’s relatives were therefore prevented from accessing the body in spite of their request to dig up the corpse, they were able to identify him on a picture showed by the police.

The picture reportedly establishes that Mr. Islam was direly tortured before he was killed: his right leg had drilled under his knee, toes had been smashed, both knees were marked with coagulated blood and many other beaten spots were noticed over his body. These elements were, moreover, confirmed by an “inquest report” prepared by the police.

The Observatory deeply condemns Mr. Aminul Islam’s extrajudicial killing, as it seems to be a mere reprisal for his peaceful human rights activities as a trade-unionist, and calls on the Bangladeshi authorities to carry out a fair, prompt, independent and transparent investigation on his assassination to identify and sanction all those responsible for his death.

In the past, Mr. Islam had already been pressured by official representatives for being a leader of the garments’ workers movement. He was therefore believed to be one of the main investigators of the so-called “political disturbances”.

For instance, Mr. Aminul Islam had already been tortured in 2010 and arbitrarily detained several times by law enforcement agents[2]. Recently, on March 12, 2012, he was interrogated all day long as he was suspected to rally 10,000 workers to a mass protest organised by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on the same day to put pressure upon the present government for them to accept a neutral caretaker government to hold the next parliamentary election.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Bangladeshi authorities urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Bangladesh;

ii. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the assassination of Mr. Aminul Islam, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Provide adequate reparation to Mr. Islam’s family;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Bangladesh, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;

v. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- its Article 9.1, which states that “in the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights”,

- Article 12.1, which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”,

- and its Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Bangladesh.

Addresses:

· Ms. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, Gona Bhaban, Old Sangsad Bhaban, Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Fax: +880 2 8113243, Email: info@pmo.gov.bd

· Ms. Sahara Khatun, Minister for Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat Building 4, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: mediacell@homemin-bd.org

· Barrister Qamrul Islam, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: info@minlaw.gov.bd

· Mr.Hasan Mahmud Khandaker, Inspector General of Police, Police Headquarters, Phoenix Road, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh, Email : ig@police.gov.bd

· Ambassador Mr. Abdul Hannan, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations in Geneva, 65 rue de Lausanne, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 738 46 16, E-mail: mission.bangladesh@ties.itu.int

· Mr. Ismat Jahan, Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Brussels, 29-31 rue J. Jordaens, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 646 59 98; Email: bdootbrussels@freegates.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Bangladesh in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, April 17, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / 01 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29


[1] A General Diary is used to record every major incident (e.g. theft, murder, traffic accidents) happening within the jurisdiction of the police station on a daily basis.

[2] See Observatory Annual Report 2011.

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