Human Rights Watch asks Bangladesh to end arbitrary and secret arrests

New York [United States], Oct. 13 : Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Bangladesh should immediately release three children of opposition leaders convicted of war crimes who have been illegally detained since August this year.

The organisation stated that donors and counter terror partners of Bangladesh should speak out against frequent abuses committed by the Bangladesh government against political opponents and critics in the name of fighting terrorism.

The three men, Humam Quader Chowdhury, Mir Ahmad Bin Quasem, and Amaan Azmi, were arrested without judicial warrants or formal charges and also have not been produced before a magistrate as required by law.

They have even not been allowed access to their family or lawyers. However, the government has denied the allegations of having them in their custody despite credible statements from witnesses that all were arrested by law enforcement authorities.

The Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Brad Adams stated that "Bangladesh law enforcement authorities have a long history of politically motivated arrests and disappearances, including detaining people and then denying that the person is in custody." "In many cases detainees are tortured or even killed.

The government should immediately charge or release these men and put an end to disappearances and illegal detentions," he added.

The three arrests have come in the aftermath of a string of horrific murders of bloggers, atheists, foreigners, and LGBT activists, culminating with the July 1 attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, in which 20 people and two police officers had been killed.

Since the bakery attack, the security forces have conducted raids, arrested many people and have killed many alleged militants in what they claim were armed exchanges, and arresting many others.

Of the three arrested, only Chowdhury was actively involved in politics. Bin Quasem worked as a lawyer and does not hold any political position and Azmi is a retired brigadier general.

Prior to their arrests, all the three men had expressed concerns over their safety a month back. Chowdhury and Azmi had even reported police surveillance at and outside their homes. Arbitrary and illegal detentions are routine security force tactics in Bangladesh. Two hostages in the Holey Artisan Bakery attack had been secretly detained for over a month. Facing intense national and international pressure, the government later on had admitted of having them in custody.

After being three months in detention, one was finally released without any charge while the other is still in detention and it is still unclear what charges, if any, he faces.

Adams said, "If the government has evidence against any of these three men, it should charge them and immediately grant them access to lawyers and family and then follow all other due process norms." He added, "The government also should own up to its secret detention practices, and put a stop to them.".

Source: ANI