February 14, 2008

Torture and intimidation: where is accountability?

Bangladesh can ill afford to have these kind of publicity but yet again accusations of torture and intimidation flood the international media.

The reason behind is a latest report by Human Rights Watch, the international Human rights watchdog that conducts research and advocacy on human rights published today an exclusive report on tortures in Bangladesh. This report presents the first hand accounts of torture on Tasneem Khalil (a Bangladeshi journalist and the representative of CNN and Human Rights Watch in Bangladesh) during his detention with the military intelligence.

(Click on the report cover to read the report or get the download information)

According to HRW "this is the most detailed public account of a case of torture in Bangladesh available anywhere". It is understandable that few had the privilege to escape to exile and describe the unpleasant ordeals without fear. In this case Tasneem was specifically told not to disclose about the tortures, not even to his wife.

Human rights organization Drishtipat notes:
"If someone reads it as a damning indictment against army in general, it will be wrong. As evident from Tasneem’s testimony, there were quite a number of people in army who were sympathetic to him. But the reality is that there is unchecked and unaccountable power to a very few. When that happens, there is bound to be misuse ot it. As a result, the image of the whole institution suffers. That is what we are seeing in Bangladesh today."
And even the people from the intelligence tried to do damage control:
"In the original thread posted after Tasneem got released, someone from the inside named “ABC” joined in the blog. It was a very encouraging start to a meaningful civil-military dialogue. Unfortunately, it stopped as ABC decided to give veiled threats to bloggers."
So it seems whenever these people try to fix some wrong doing they mess it up badly. People forget that torture and intimidation can work in short time but those will come back to hit back in long term. Soon more and more people will talk about their injustice and the perpetrators will have no where to hide.

The HRW has some recommendations to end these tortures.

Update: Shada Kalo Blog says:
Will the government do anything against them?

Highly unlikely. We know what will happen next. The wire services are carrying this story, and there will be some spoiled dinners in Bangladesh tonight. The powers-that-be that allowed Tasneem to leave the country will be questioned. A few careers will probably be trashed. And Tasneem's so-called confessions will be brought out to "prove" that he was a spy working against Bangladesh's interest.

But you know the truth. Speak up for human rights, speak up against torture, and speak up for democracy.


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