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Monday, August 13, 2007

How are the Purnimas in Bangladesh?

How are the Purnimas?

Baby Maodud, Daily Jugantor, May 21st, 2007

An English Translation

Reader, you haven’t forgotten Purnima, have you? I am talking about Purnima Shil, you know the (Hindu) girl who used to live in the small village of Purbadulia in Uttarpara, Sirajgunj. Can you recall the girl who was an A student in the Ulapara Hamida Pilot High School?
That’s right, she was working as a volunteer for an ‘Awami League’ party candidate on October 1st, 2001. And what a crime it was? Do you remember October 8th, only a week after the election? As the day fell, a group of ‘Terrorists’ (*1) set upon Purnima’s dad, Anil Shil and unleashed a brutal assault on him. They later set upon Purnima’s mum and, two of her siblings and, broke into their home and took to looting the contents of the Shil household.
Purnima sped towards their neighbour Policeman Ismail’s house to seek help. But Ismail’s wife Sufia Begum started verbally abusing her with profanities- Purnima was thrown out of the house. The terrorists lay in wait in front of Ismail’s house.
Eight of them grabbed Purnima, picked her up and carried her off to a nearby farmland and took turns in brutally raping her. A bunch of feral beasts unleashed a torrent of sexual violence on this child- the one who cherished a dream, the one who had the brainpower, and the one who was determined to excel in life. She had seen her parents struggling for survival, felt the pain and suffering her younger brother and sister were going through. Purnima was the brave one who wanted to lift the family out of poverty. And then this! The Shame with The Filth from these beasts threw a dark blanket over Purnima. (*2)
Reader, you couldn’t have forgotten that picture of Purnima- tears rolling down the cheeks of her small face covered by her soft little hands. Our conscience woke up on that day of shame, our shame, as never before. After the incident, Purnima filed legal charges. During her deposition, she described ‘everything’ and named all the Terrorists.
Then entered the scene- who else but the newly elected local MP of “Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)” – he tried to sweep it under the rug. He offered money to Purnima’s dad to have the case withdrawn. But young Purnima showed her mettle and said, “I have lost everything, I want justice”
We are still waiting for the judgment day.
Reading Purnima’s deposition was chilling as we sensed the unbearable torture consuming Purnima when she spoke.
Purnima gave her deposition before a First Class Magistrate, Anwar Hossain Howladar. She said, “My name is Purnima Rani Shil. Last Monday, October 8th, It was around 2.00 -2.30 pm, I went to Doctor Bablu’s house to give private tuition to his daughter & his nephew. My mum was running a fever. She asked me to come back soon so that I can cook some food for sending on to my brothers. On my way back I heard Altaf mocking me. “Are you going to cook something for me”? I was scared, didn’t answer him back, and hurried back home. It would have been about 4.00 –4.15 pm. After that I cooked some rice and fish, and asked my dad to take it to my brothers. It was 6.0- 6.30 pm by then- there was no electricity at that time. Dad left home with the food and took a flashlight with him. After he went a short distance, ‘they’ started beating my dad near the Policeman Ismail’s house. We have never seen any one beating our dad before. My brother Gopal came running to tell us that my dad was being badly roughed up.”
“He asked my mum to have some money on her to pay for any medical treatment needed for my dad. When my mum & my brother asked me to accompany them, I told mum that I have homework to do for the school. She said it wouldn’t be safe for me to stay alone because ‘they’ can strike anytime. So we left home together. The electricity was now back. As we came near Policeman Ismail’s house, ‘they’ set upon us. I received six blows to my back. My mum got a vicious beating. After receiving a couple of blows, my brother fled. After the beating, I escaped and hid behind the row of banana trees in Policeman Ismail’s house. ‘They’ started looking for me with a flashlight. Sensing more trouble, I ran to Sufia, Policeman Ismail’s wife, and I cried, “Save me, sister, please save me.” Sister Sufia, shouted back at me, ‘You are a bad girl, why are you here, get out of my house’. Kismet was watching TV at the time. I urged Kismet, ‘Brother Kismet, please save me.’ Kismet got hold of me only to shove me out of the house towards ‘them’.”
“Immediately ‘they’ grabbed me on the other side of the street. The lights were turned off in Ismail’s house at that time. But I knew ‘their’ voices- the voices of Altaf, Jalil, Mannan, Malek, and Hayven. ‘They’ lifted me up and carried me off on ‘their’ arms towards Hatkhola in Purbadulia. Then ‘they’ dropped me on a farmland flat, next to a vegetable plot. Almost 12 to 13 of ‘them’ pressed my body down as Jalil & Altaf begun raping me. I could see the criminals in the flashlight ‘they’ were then using. That aside, I knew ‘them’ all - ‘they’ all lived in my neighbourhood. Altaf, Jalil, Mannan, Malek, Litton, Rezaul, Rauf, Hayven, Majnu, Asif, Momin, another Altaf, Bablu, Jaharul, Hossain, Yashin, Abdul & a few more – ‘they’ were all there at the time. When they first grabbed me & then abducted me, I had started screaming but they soon pressed my mouth shut. They choked me on the throat. “
“Fazal’s son Altaf took out the gold ring from my finger. I do not know who took out the silver bangles from my arms. It was some time later when Sadhan, Asim and Akbar Member arrived at the scene and rescued me. At the time when ‘they’ were taking me away, my younger sister came out of the house running towards us; Malek & Mannan beat her up.”
“I am due to take my S.S.C. exams from Hamida Pilot High School. My dad knew very little about this whole incident up until the point I was preparing to come here for my deposition. My father was taken ill and I was sick, too. I was under Doctor Dilip’s treatment. When my father heard about the incident, he tried to dissuade me from coming here and to think about the family honour and the consequences that may harm our family. But why shouldn’t I come? I have lost every thing. I want justice.”
I met with Purnima and her mother a few days back. The family is living in great distress. They look battered, bruised. They cannot live in their ancestral village because of the harassment and the threats. The legal case has still not recommenced. Every bit of vegetable, fruit, bamboo shoot and the rest are stolen from their land and, yet the Shil family cannot live in their own home. This is something! More than one can cope with.
The Shils have managed to find a shelter in the town of Ulapara. Purnima’s older brothers now work from a makeshift barbershop (*3) on the sidewalk. There seems to be little security and peace in sight. Purnima’s older sisters work as part-time maid in some households that buy them one square meal a day (*4). The family has become a target in the community due to the gang rape perpetrated on Purnima (*4).
In the meantime, Purnima has passed her secondary & higher secondary education board exams, and is now studying at a technical institute. She is looking forward to earning a degree. This would qualify her for higher studies in Digital Technology leading to a professional career. So far Purnima has been receiving assistance from some local and international human rights organizations. She receives a bursary from Bangabandhu Memorial Trust. “I couldn’t have survived without these help.” She uttered those words with a lot of belief in her own self but one can feel that a sharp pain is still hurting her inside.
A metallic still surfaced on her face, “Why shouldn’t I get justice? Why (because of me) my family has to live this sub human existence? What is their crime? Why can’t they live in their own house? Why shouldn’t those criminals receive their due punishment? My life has been ruined, but I want my family members to live in peace, and without fear. This is my appeal, this is what I want.”
No doubt such words from Purnima are bound to touch everyone. One suspects that during the time of BNP & Jamat, the legal case was suppressed due to directives received from their coalition Government. Because of powerful local interests, the police was pressured into taking no action against the criminals. As a result, the case is still unresolved. The accused criminals move about with impunity, issuing threats, and intimidating Purnima’s family members.
When a female member of any family is preyed upon and become a victim of rapists, the family tends to face isolation and further suffering in the community. On top of that if there is no legal justice, it becomes practically impossible to exist in the community (*5).
On January12th, 2007, the Chief Administrator, Dr Fakruddin Ahmed, delivered his address to the Nation- he said that his administration would take drastic measures against those who commit crimes against women. In this context, he further asked for the joint & effective actions from the State and the affected communities. We want to see Purnima’s face lighten up a little. We know, the inhumane torture & pain she has suffered would haunt her for the rest of her life, but are we so helpless ourselves that we cannot even bring a ray of hope and a touch of comfort in Purnima’s life?

.
Notes:
(1) “Terrorists” or “Santrasees” in ‘Bengali’ are people who terrorise their local community targets (especially minorities) and commit atrocities on them including killing, maiming, raping, ransacking or destroying their properties or temples
(2) As if, “Purnima”, the night of the full moon, was turned into ‘Amabassya’, the dark Moonless night.)
(3) Any permanent structure to work from is raided and demolished by the terrorists.
(4) Purnima’s brother in law has deserted her sister and her two kids. And to heighten the tragedy & injustice, Purnima’s dad has died recently.
(5) Most ‘individual female rape victims’ or ‘group rape’ victims and their families fear further retribution at the hands of the terrorists and refrain from bringing charges against them. For instance, there has been no justice for the 200 gang raped in a single night in Char fashion, Bhola (Nov 2001 Daily Star- “The night of the lost nose pins”.) And it would be interesting to see how long it takes in a more recent case- for the family of teenager Barnali Ghosh, a student, to get justice
http://hrcbmdfw.org/blogs/khulna_division_news/archive/2007/08/09/740.aspx
On Barnali Ghosh (Daily Amar Desh 13 July 07)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Gang Rape and Murder of Minority Hindu Girl in Bagherhat, Bangladesh






HRCBM Investigative Report




Investigator: Advocate Rabindra Ghosh, HRCBM-Dhaka, Bangladesh




Ms.Barnali Ghosh (19) was a regular college student studying Accounting department of Khulna Government Azam Khan Commerce College. She was reported to be a brilliant student stays at College Hostel. Her father – Bipul Chandra Ghosh (50) and mother- Ms.Susuma Rani Ghosh ( 35) permanently residing at interior part of a village – Chitra within Rampal Police station of Bagerhat district of Bangladesh. They have got other three younger daughters passing their lives with scanty income. Barnali came to her native home on 28th June, 07 from College hostel 2 days before missing from her home at night on 30th June, 2007.

Father of the victim Bipul Chandra became unsuccessful getting trace and informed the police about his daughter's missing on 3.07.2007 and made a general diary number 96 at Rampal police station stating the circumstances how she was missing at night on July, 1
Police did nothing to investigate the matter and kept abduction concealed.
After 11 days of her abduction the mutilated dead body the victim girl traced in nearby garden belonging to Jalil Munshi. The local people informed the police and recovered the mutilated/defaced dead body from nearby garden. Perpetrators/ abettors of crime thrown acid on the dead body with a view to conceal/deface and also to divert the attention of peace loving people of the area and the media of such nefarious incident of gang-rape with murder.
Father Bipul Chandra Ghosh lodged F.I.R. (First information Report) at Rampal police station on 11.07.2007 after identifying the dead and her wearing costumes. Bipul primarily noted two suspects in the FIR and police took case under section 364/302/201/34 of Penal code being Rampal P.S. case no. 11 dated 11.07.2007.
Police arrested two suspects till writing of this report.But it is reported from reliable sources that they are trying to divert the attention in a wrong direction.
HRCBM-Dhaka is preparing a detailed report soon and it would be sent to you.



News Report: The Daily Amar Desh



Publication date: 13th July 07.




RAMPAL (BAGERHAT), July 13: Melted dead body of a missing school going girl of Rampal upazila was recovered. It was learnt according to the police and the family of the missing girl that Barnali Ghosh, daughter of Bipul Chandra Ghosh of village Chitra under Rampal upazila and also a 1st year student of Accounting department of Khulna Government Azam Khan Commerce College went missing from her home at night on June 30 last. On the day of occurrence, when Barnali came outside of her home to attend the call of nature at about 12 midnight then some perpetrators caught hold of her and then took her to a garden 60-70 yards away from her house and there the perpetrators repressed her brutally and then killed her by suffocation and left her dead body there. After 11 days of the incident, a woman named Soma during cutting grass saw the melted dead body of Barnali and then Soma informed Barnali's father and then Barnali's father traced the dead body of Barnali.
On information, police reached the spot, investigated the incident and taking preparation to send the dead body for post mortem. Dead Barnali Ghosh stayed at Jahan Ali Hostel. She came to the house on June 28, two days before she went missing. A case was lodged in this connection with the local police station on July 1.
It is apprehended that more perpetrators gang-raped the college student and killed her brutally

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Urgent Appeal: False case and arrest warrant against HRCBM's human rights activist




Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM)
P.O. Box 5493
Santa Clara, CA 95056-5493
USA
Ph: 212-592-3627 (VM)
Fax: 215-434-6804
http://www.hrcbm.org/ , http://www.hrcbmdfw.org/ , http://www.hrtribune.com/
http://quandaryreflection.blogspot.com/
Email: info@hrcbm.org

[NGO in Special Consultative Status with UN]


URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION

Urgent Appeal
7th August 2007


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UA-001-2007: BANGLADESH: Arrest Warrant Against Advocate Rabindra Ghosh President of HRCBM-Dhaka Chapter, Bangladesh

BANGLADESH: False case, Arrest Warrant against Human Rights activist


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Dear friends,



The Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM), a Human Rights and humanitarian organization and an NGO in special consultative status with UN has received a report from it’s Dhaka chapter, in Bangladesh, regarding the alleged arrest warrant against it’s president of local chapter advocate Rabindra Ghosh. It is reported that annoyed by the investigation of Advocate Rabindra Ghosh for the recovery of historic Bhabani Temple at Bogora, Upazilla Nirbahi Officer filed the case against our renowned human rights activist alleging that advocate Rabindra Ghosh is involved in malicious activities against the state. Police has given 24 hours notice based on the warrant and requested advocated Rabindra Ghosh to comply.

CASE DETAILS:

Combined Armed forces of Bangladesh demolished Mandir structure of “Sree Sree Ma Bhabani Temple “ at Bhabanipur Sherpur-Bogra District on Feb 13, 2007 in the name of unauthorized structure. Decree and order of the high court was violated. Pujari (worshippers) and Office bearer manhandled. Sanctity of historic temple desecrated.

Detailed Report available at http://hrcbmdfw.org/blogs/rajshahi_division_news/archive/2007/02/22/617.aspx

HRCBM-Dhaka has received an appeal dated 20th February,07 from historic Bhabanipur Mandir Committee to-day that their Temple structure situated at Bhabanipur within Sherpur P.S. of Bogra District of Bangladesh has been demolished in the name of unauthorized structure on the government property on 13th February,07 without any lawful authority and most illegally. One Dulal Talukder- Treasurer of Bhabanipur Mandir Committee has been manhandled by Major – Shafique of Armed forces while Dulal objected not to demolish the rest houses built for Foreign Guests. The Pujaris and victims are now staying under the open sky. On receipt of information HRCBM-Dhaka led by advocate Rabindra Ghosh communicated with Mr.Abdul Gani – Deputy Commissioner-Bogra , ( 01713202455) Mr.Zamil Ahmed – Superintendent of Police, Bogra, (01713202455) Mr. Ferdous – Upazila Nirbahi Officer (01715041951) Major –Shafique (01717600501) and the Officer-in-Charge Mr.Shafiqul Islam (01713374069) over their Cell telephones. All the executives admitted that they have demolished unauthorized structure occupied by the occupants. But on careful scrutiny of the documents available with the Committee members it has been found that all the documents are genuine and the demolished property is a “Debottor Property” deity’s property as per judgment and decree of the Civil court vide Other Suit No. 39 of 2002 pronounced by Md. Atiqur Rahman, Joint District Judge, Court No.1 Bogra dated 31.08.05.
The Judgment of court is as follows: -“ that the suit be decreed on contest against the contesting defendants and exparte against the rests without cost. It is hereby declared that the land of shecule “ka” to the plaint measuring 17.31 acres is the Debottor property of the Deity Sree Sree Ma Bhabani and it is not the khas land of the government. It also declared that if any document is executed and registered by the government-defendants in respect of the said suit-land in favor of any third party will be treated as void, inoperative, illegal and of no legal effect.”The above court’s order has been communicated to the administrative authority in time for necessary records and action. But it is unfortunate that the local administration most illegally land without any legal authority with active collusion with government officials demolished the structure of Mandir premises which caused a serious tension amongst the Minority Hindu communities of Bhabanipur-Sherpur P.S. Bogra.
HRCBM-Dhaka talked with O.C. Sherpur Police station and apprised him the situation, but the O.C. only noted down HRCBM’s concern in his general diary entry No.662 dated 20-02.2007, but he did not take any remedial measures till writing of the report. On that day, a Colonel Mostafizur Rahaman from Bogra made a telephone call to Advocate Rabindra Ghosh and he wanted to know as to why advocate Ghosh is so much interested with the matter relating to demolition of Mandir premises. Advocate Ghosh politely told him that, as there is court’s order, no administrative authority have got right to intervene with the Debottor Property. Henceforth, the act committed by the Armed forces is illegal and without any lawful authority. Mr. Mostafizur became angry with Advocate Ghosh and warned him not to instruct any officers in future during their course of official works.
As the case developed and recovery of the historic temple progressed, annoyed local official along with the help from joint armed forces filed the case against Advocate Rabindra Ghosh alleging his work anti state. Today (7th August, 07), police knocked the door of Advocate Rabindra Ghosh giving him 24 hours to comply with arrest warrant.



Malicious Intention of Bangladesh Law Enforcement Agency

With sheer disappointment we have to assert that despite interim Government’s good intention to uphold rule of law, a group of officers within armed forces, local administrations and police in Bangladesh are misusing emergency power to confiscate land and indulge in rein of terror against minorities in the country.
The arrest warrant issued by local Magistrate in a false case against our renowned human rights activist Advocate Rabindra Ghosh is just another example of the grand design to annihilate minorities of Bangladesh and prevent rights advocacy for the marginalized people of Bangladesh.



SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please immediately write to the relevant authorities listed below demanding an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into this case. Please urge them to arrest the alleged perpetrators and bring them to justice as soon as possible.

Sample letter:

Dear _________,

BANGLADESH: False case and arrest warrant against Human Rights activist Advocate Rabindra Ghosh
Name of victim: Advocate Rabindra Ghosh, President HRCBM-Dhaka Chapter, Bangladesh

Alleged perpetrators: Upazilla Nirbahi Officer, District Commissioner and Colonel Mostafizur Rahaman, Joint Armed Forces.


Date of incident: Reportedly arrest warrant was issued today dated 7th August, 07.

I am deeply concerned by the false case and alleged arrest warrant against President of HRCBM-Dhaka, Bangladesh and well known human rights activist advocate Rabindra Ghosh.
According to the information I have received, the victim was given 24 hours to comply by Bogra police personnel who visited advocate Ghosh’s house this morning.
In light of the above, I strongly urge you to:

  1. Immediately order an impartial and thorough investigation into this case and bring the alleged perpetrators before Justice.
  2. Provide appropriate compensation and legal remedies to the victim’s family as well remove all cases against advocate Rabindra Ghosh.
  3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee physical and psychological integrity of advocate Rabindra Ghosh.
  4. Order immediate removal of all charges in the absence of valid legal charges that are consistent with international law and standards.
  5. Ensure the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.


Lastly, I urge the Government of Bangladesh, as a state party to the Convention Against Torture (CAT), to strictly implement the convention into local level and criminalize torture committed by its law enforcement officers without further delay.
Yours sincerely,



PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:


1. Dr. Fakhruddin AhmedChief Adviser
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Office of the Chief Advisor Tejgaon
Dhaka
BANGLADESH
Tel: +880 2 8828160-79, 9888677Fax: +880 2 8113244 or 3243 or 1015 or 1490

2. Barrister Moinul Hossain
AdviserMinistry of Law,
Justice & Parliamentary Affairs Bangladesh Secretariat
Dhaka-1000 BANGLADESH
Tel: +88-02-7160627 (O)Fax: +88-02-7168557 (O)

3. General Moeen U Ahmed
Chief of Army Staff
Bangladesh Army
Army Headquarters
Dhaka Cantonment
Dhaka
BANGLADESHTel: +880 2 9870011Fax: +880 2 8754455

4. Barrister Fida M Kamal
Attorney General of Bangladesh
Office of the Attorney General
Supreme Court Building
Ramna, Dhaka-1000BANGLADESH
Tel: +880 2 9562868Fax: +880 2 9561568
5. Mr. Nur Mohammad
Inspector General of Police (IGP)Bangladesh Police
Police Headquarters'
Fulbaria, Dhaka-1000BANGLADESH
Tel: +880 2 9562054 or 7176451 or 7176677Fax: +880 2 9563362 or 9563363

6. M. Humayun Kabir
Ambassador Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC 3510,
International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20008, USA
Telephone: (202) - 244 – 0183Fax :(202) - 244 - 2771/7830

7. Prof. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
Attn: Mr. Safir Syed
c/o OHCHR-UNOG1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9230Fax: +41 22 9179016 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR TORTURE)