Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities
P.O. Box 5493
Santa Clara, CA 95056USA
http://www.hrcbm.org
Email: appeal@hrcbm.org
Ph: 212-592-3627Fax: 212-202-7683

URGENT ACTION

July 1, 2002
HRCBM/Bang/Rabindra_01/2002

(MS word version of the Urgent Action is available at http://www.hrcbm.org/news/UA_Rabindra.doc )

Bangladesh:
Attack on Human Right Activist, Advocate Rabindra Ghosh

Ensure Safety & Security: Bring the Criminals to Justice

Section 1: Background
Bangladesh, born out of a bloody War of liberation with Pakistan in 1971, was founded as a secular, democratic country. Unfortunately, it did not take too long for the right wing forces and enemies of secularism to exert their influence and remove Bangladesh from its path of secularism and democracy. President General Zia, the founder of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), abandoned secularism in 1977. Subsequent to the death of General Zia, General Ershad of Jatiya Party put the death nail to secularism when he made "Islam" as the state religion in 1988. The political and social atmosphere of Bangladesh changed dramatically. Secularism and separation of state and religion were replaced with discrimination and religious intolerance. Violence against minorities intensified at an alarming rate since 1988. Hindus in Bangladesh experienced one of the worst episodes of human rights abuses in 1992 when Begum Khaleda Zia's BNP came to power for the first time. Between the 6th and 16th of December, 1992, at least 15 Hindu men, women and children were killed, more than 2000 girls and women raped, 10,000 injured, 200,000 made homeless, 3,600 temples razed, 40,000 houses destroyed.

Since the October 2001 general election in Bangladesh that brought Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)- Jamat-E-Islam led coalition government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to power, a new wave of brutality and violence has been unleashed against the minorities, the Hindus, Budhists, Christians and tribal people. The violence against minorities has surpassed that of 1992. The violence range from gang rape and abduction of minor children to elderly women, brutality, murders, attack on temples, churches and orphanages, looting, land grabbing, eviction and forced conversion to Islam. Minorities are being forced to pay Jizya tax to live in their own ancestral homes. The brutality and murder of prominent minority leaders, such as, killing of Professor Gopal Krishna Muhuri (Principal, Nazirhat College, Chittagong) on November 16, 2001, a Buddhist monk, Mr. Jnan Jyoti Barua on April 21, 2002, a Hindu priest, Madan Gopal Goswami on April 30, 2002, are a few of the examples of growing intolerance and persecution of minorities in Bangladesh. Pogrom of minorities is going on unabated.

Section 2: Attack on Human Rights Activist, Advocate Rabindra Ghosh

Advocate Rabindra Ghosh a human rights activist and President of HRCBM-Dhaka, Bangladesh, has been working hard at ground zero to bring the stories of human rights violation to the attention of the UN, other human rights organizations and governments of the civilized world. He is a lawyer at the Bangladesh Supreme Court where a group of Lawyer affiliated with Ruling party (BNP) of the same court snatched away video camera and video tapes. The following is a statement of Mr. Rabindra Ghosh:

"To-day at about 5 p.m. (Bangladesh time) at the Supreme Court Bar Association some government Advocates with the help of some terrorists attacked me in the Bar Association Hall at Dhaka while a meeting was going on. The meeting was scheduled to discuss about appointment of some judges and dismissal of judges. At the beginning of scheduled meeting some Advocates belonging to BNP sharply approached me and started rebuking me in a filthy languages and they also branded me as Agent of RAW, agent of RSS, agent of VHP and snatched away my video Camera along with the cassettes with tape of statements of victims of Satkhira District and the statements of O/C Satkhira and also the statements of the President of Satkhira Press Club and other reporters of Satkhira. The other colleagues of Supreme Court Bar Association prevented the lawyers of BNP not to snatch away the video Camera, but failed. The video camera with the cassettes has not yet been recovered from them. It is apprehended that the BNP lawyers are trying to make out a case against me within short time with the help of government agencies. I have been given to understand that the police at any time will apprehend me and tonight they may raid my residence. I feel myself insecured … …".

It was given to our understanding that Mr. Ghosh (who is also an advocate of Bangladesh Supreme Court) was assaulted by a group of lawyers affiliated with ruling party (as stated by Mr. Ghosh) along with miscreants in the country's highest institution of Justice "Supreme Court". The incident happened at around 5pm Supreme Court Bar Association meeting. The said lawyers along with a group of miscreants snatched away Mr. Ghosh's video camera and cassettes that includes video statements of victims and officer in charge of Sathkira Police Station. It is to be noted that HRCBM's investigation, which unveiled the truth about ongoing atrocities against minorities in Sathkira Districts of Bangladesh was published in Daily Sangbad (a leading daily newspaper of Bangladesh). Mr. Ghosh visited Sathkira accompanied with journalists from countries leading newspapers. He has also video taped the statements of victims, police officers and miscreants those who are apparently identified as the leaders of ruling party and its allies.
It is to be noted that Mr. Ghosh's visit at ground zero was to investigate the reports of atrocities in Sathikra. This report and video seems to intimidate the ruling party and as a result Mr. Ghosh was assaulted in the country's highest institution of Justice "Supreme Court" and in front of the entire committee of Supreme Court Bar Association. A number of lawyers tried to protect Mr. Ghosh but failed. According to Mr. Ghosh, it has been given to his understanding that a police raid will follow and he will be charged with treason. It is to be noted that that a similar incident took place when government arrested Mr. Shahriar Kabir, another human rights activist, on November 22, 2001, while returning from India after recording the plight of Bangladesh minorities who fled to India to save their lives, since October 1, 2001, General Election.
Mr. Kabir was interrogated by Police and went through severe torture as government used section 54 against him.
We are afraid the real motive behind such attack. Mr. Ghosh has informed us that he was given the understanding of a possible police intimidation and raid to his house as a follow up. The lawyers those who have snatched away Mr. Ghosh's video camera also imparted him in filthy language that he would be charged with treason.
We would like to assert that a similar incident took place when government arrested Mr. Shahriar Kabir, another human rights activist, on November 22, 2001, while returning from India after recording the plight of Bangladesh minorities who fled to India to save their lives, since October 1, 2001, General Election.

Section 3: Urgent Action Demanded

The Human Right Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) is deeply shocked at the attack on Advocate Rabindra Ghosh in broad daylight at the country's highest institution of Justice "Supreme Court". We express our grave concern about the safety and security of Mr. Ghosh.

We urge you to immediately intervene and provide immediate protection to Mr. Rabindra Ghosh, return all his documents, videos, video camera and personal properties snatched away.

HRCBM also demands immediate arrest of the miscreants and punishment of the people involved in the assault on Mr. Ghosh. The assault on him was in violation of all International norms on human rights.

We urge that the laws of the land and a free democratic society must be implemented, communal harmony must be restored and basic human rights of all citizens enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be guaranteed. The minorities must be protected.

APPEAL TO:
Honorable Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia
Office of the Prime Minister
Gano Bhaban
Sher-e Bangla Nagar
Dhaka
Bangladesh
Telgrams: Prime Minister Zia, Dhaka
Bangladesh
Fax: 88028113243
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister or Hon'ble Prime Minister.

Mr. Nurul Huda
Inspector General of Police
Police Headquarter
Fulbaria
Dhaka
Bangladesh
Telegrams: Inspector-General Huda
Fulbaria, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Fax: 88029563362
Salutation: Dear Sir

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