Saturday, December 31, 2005

Amnesty International condemns custodial deaths in Bangladesh

photo: Bangladesh born Amnesty International's Secretary General Ms Irene Khan-courtesy Prothom Alo http://www.prothom-alo.net

Dhaka, December 29, 2005 3:06:43 PM IST
Amnesty International, the world's largest human right watchdog, on Wednesday severely criticized Bangladesh for custodial deaths and its attempts to justify those deaths in the name of curbing terrorism.

"I hate to call it crossfire, what the rapid action battalion attributes for the custodial deaths, as there must be two parties in any such incident. But the reality is the just found body of the victim," Irene Khan, the Secretary General, of the organisation told journalists.

Khan, the first Bangladeshi national to lead the organisation, said the government had responsibilities to maintain the law and order, but at the same time the persons guilty have the rights to defend them in the court of justice.

The law enforcers in Bangladesh killed as many as 460 people, whom the law enforcers brand as criminals, since an elite anti-crime force come into being in June 2004. Human right groups in home and abroad condemned the lawmen's actions to kill the people in the name of 'encounter or crossfire'.

The two phrases are synonymous to 'criminals' deaths' now in Bangladesh. The latest crossfire took place on Tuesday in southern Khulna district, according to newspaper reports.

"Shoot to kill can not be the solution to crimes and it might boomerang,' Irene said asking the Bangladesh government to conduct an independent inquiry into the killings.

Earlier, the government of Khaleda Zia conducted departmental enquiry into almost all the crossfire deaths, and the reports found hardly any official in the law enforcers guilty of right violation.

Replying to a query, the Amnesty chief said that her organisation was aware of the incidents of violation of rights of people in the minority communities, and harassment on political opponents.

She urged the government and opposition political parties remain alert against violation of human rights, centering the next general elections.

She recalled the description of human rights violation by a teenaged girl after the 2001 general elections. "None in her neighbourhood protested against the crime as she was from minority community and it should not be done," Khan told the conference by the Youth Ending Hunger.

About 500 grassroots organisers, mostly students, are attending the two-day conference.

Irene shared her experiences of growing up of herself asking the youths to continue their effort to change the nation.

"You have to be leaders of present time, not of future as all the changes across the globe were done by youths including the liberation of Bangladesh," she said.
She urged them to work of establishing the human rights saying, 'If we do not uphold others' rights our rights will not be upheld.'

The powerful nations violated the rights of others' and that brought sufferings for them, she added. #

- source: ANI