Shahanur Islam, a prominent human rights lawyer and gay rights campaigner in Bangladesh received repeated death threats SMS over his mobile phone.
Shahanur told to Soja Kotha that recently on 25th August and 6th September 2022, he received separate two death threats messages along with his wife and kid over his mobile phone.
He added, on 25th October 2022 around at 10:17 pm BST, Mr. Islam received threats message in English language over his phone from an unidentified number. The message states that if you don’t stop fighting aims to establishment of homo sexual rights in BD, immediately you will be killed along with your family members brutally.
Later on 8th September 2022, he added that around at 1:07 pm BST that, he received another death threats SMS in Bengali over his mobile phone from an unidentified number. The threatening message states that do you have no fear of death? This county is only for Islam.
Survivors blow the lid off a secret prison operated by the DGFI, Bangladesh’s notorious military intelligence agency.
On May 29th 2016, Shekh Mohammad Salim was waiting at an auto repair shop in Kapashia, Gazipur, as technicians were renovating a bus owned by his family. This was something he took a great interest in coming from a family in the transportation business.
His undivided attention was soon disrupted by a microbus’ sudden arrival. A group of four to five men got out, with one of them holding a strange-looking device with a monitor. The cell phone in Salim’s pocket began to vibrate, indicating an incoming call. He reached into his pocket to pull out his phone, and the men nearby knew they had found their target.
“Are you Shekh Mohammad Salim?” asked one of them.
Not knowing any better, he nodded positively. The men then grabbed his hands and forced him into the microbus, with his hands cuffed behind his back and eyes covered with a blindfold.
Salim had no idea who his captors were, let alone why he was being picked up. But soon, he would be an inmate of an illegal secret prison, known as Aynaghar (House of Mirrors), run by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Bangladesh’s notorious military intelligence agency.
For the first time, two former inmates — including a former military officer — have come forward publicly to describe the features of this secret prison. In addition, two current military officers not only confirmed the prison’s existence but also provided Netra News with photographs of the tiny, cramped cells inside it. We have also obtained satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies to corroborate and even pinpoint the location of the facility.
Since 2009, as the Bangladesh Awami League returned to power, enforced disappearances have become a brutally effective weapon in the government’s arsenal of repression. According to a tally maintained by the rights group Odhikar, at least 605 individuals became victims of enforced disappearance in Bangladesh between 2009 and September 2021. The list includes terrorism suspects, alleged criminals, political opponents, critics of the ruling party as well as ordinary people like Salim. Human Rights Watch has published a list of 86 men whom they claim have been picked up over a ten-year period, and whose whereabouts remain unknown, and are suspected of still being in secret state detention or killed.
Our investigation into Aynaghar suggests that this particular facility is principally used to incarcerate “high-value detainees”. However, Salim was no “high value” captive — but rather an intriguing case of mistaken identity.
The list of names of former and current detainees of Aynaghar that was provided to us includes Mubashar Hasan, formerly a professor with North South University, whose disappearance was reported by The Wire, an Indian news website, to have been orchestrated by the DGFI. Former ambassador Maruf Zaman, himself a former military officer, and businessman Aniruddha Kumar Roy were also detained in Aynaghar.
Current detainees include two men picked up by law enforcement authorities in August 2016. Mir Ahmed Bin Quasem, the son of Mir Quasem Ali, the Jamaat-e-Islami leader who had been sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal, and Abdullahil Amaan Azmi, a former military general and the son of Ghulam Azam, former Jamaat-e-Islami chief who had been sentenced to life by the same court.
Two officers who saw these two men in Aynaghar confirmed the sighting to Netra News. On one occasion, Hasinur Rahman, too, saw Azmi at one of the toilets at Aynaghar, due to confusion among the guards who were in charge of taking the detainees for scheduled toilet visits. Hasinur also subsequently confirmed Azmi’s status as an inmate of Aynaghar through one of the civilian guards he cultivated inside the prison.
“Liton of Badda”
While Hasinur, as a former military officer, was treated with respect compared to other inmates, Salim was not. He would often be beaten and tortured.
A Dhaka court today has granted a three-day remand to five people, including two lawyers, in a case of assaulting three policemen, including a traffic sergeant, over the incident of police stopping and seeking the documents of a motorcycle that was coming from the opposite direction in the capital’s Jurain Railgate area.
Dhaka Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Tofazzal Hossain granted the remand after a court hearing on Wednesday. However, the court granted bail to another accused lawyer Yasin Jahan Nishan Bhuiyan.
The five accused seeking remand are — lawyer Sohaqul Islam Rony, lawyer Yassin Arafat Bhuiyan, Md. Sharif, Md. Nahid and Md. Russell.
On the day, six accused arrested in the case were produced in the court. Later, a petition was made to keep lawyer Yasin Jahan Nishan Bhuiyan in jail.
The investigating officer of the case, Khandaker Jalal Uddin Mahmud, inspector of Shyampur police station, appealed for the remand of the other five accused for seven days. On the other hand, the lawyers of the accused appealed for bail.
After hearing both the parties, the court granted bail to the accused Nishan. The other five accused were denied bail and remanded for three days.
Earlier, injured traffic sergeant Ali Hossain filed a case against 450 unidentified persons with Shyampur police station on Tuesday night in connection with the incident.
According to the case, Advocate Nishat was coming on a motorcycle with her husband Yasin on the wrong side of Jurain Railgate Road around 9 am on Tuesday. At that time, Sergeant Ali Hossain and Traffic Constable Siraj stopped them. Nishat introduced herself as an advocate and got into an argument with Sergeant Ali Hossain. At one point, Nishat’s husband Yasin got off the motorcycle and pushed Sergeant Ali Hossain.
The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) urges Prime Minister of Bangladesh H.E. Sheikh Hasina to do everything in her power to ensure that a full and impartial investigation into the reported attack is being carried out, with a view to bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards, as well as to ensure the safety of lawyer Shahanur Islam and his family members, since they believe that the continuous harassment against Mr. Shahanur Islam is based solely on his legitimate activities as a human rights lawyer.
The CCBE also express its serious concern over the prosecution and continuous harassment of lawyer Shahanur Islam as well as draw attention to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, in particular Principles 16, 17 and 18 on Guarantees for the functioning of lawyers and Principle 23 on Freedom of expression and association.
The President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) Margarete von Galen sent the letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh H.E. Sheikh Hasina on 10th November 2021 over email and fax.
The CCBE represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries, and through them more than 1 million European lawyers. The CCBE places great emphasis on respect for human rights and the rule of law and is particularly concerned with the situation of human rights defenders around the world.
The CCBE mentions the letter that on 26 August 2020 lawyer Shahanur Islam was attacked by approximately 10 individuals at the court premises of Naogaon district in the northern part of Bangladesh. As a result of the attack, he suffered serious face and body injuries and was subsequently hospitalised.
The CCBE also mentions the letter that the attack took place just after he left the hearing; he took part in against Md. Jahurul Islam, Member of District Parishad. The hearing in question concerned a fraudulent court summon issued by Jahurul Islam against lawyer Shahanur Islam in an on-going case between lawyer Shahanur Islam and Jahurul Islam, which began in late 2018 when the latter made false allegations against lawyer Shahanur Islam and two other members of his family. It is reported that the attack was led by Jobayer Hossain, son of Jahurul Islam.
The Supreme Court Bar Association in a statement on Saturday alleged that its member AMB Ibrahim Khalil was tortured in the custody of the Rapid Action Battalion and prosecuted on Thursday on a ‘funny’ charge.
Chakwbazar police station officer-in-charge Moudud Howlader said that he was not aware of any torture of the lawyer in custody but the RAB-10 accused him of resisting law enforcers from arresting a suspect, and assaulting them.
RAB-10 commanding officer additional deputy inspector general Mahfujur Rahman said that the allegation of torture raised by the lawyer against battalion members was baseless. He was rather arrested for obstructing battalion members from arresting a suspected drug dealer, the battalion official said, adding that further action would be taken against him for making the ‘false allegation.’
Supreme Court Bar Association secretary Ruhul Kuddus Kajal said that the lawyer told him that he was picked up by the battalion members on a motorcycle near the High Court area on Thursday afternoon and kept detained in a secret place for hours and tortured in custody, injuring his eyes and face, among others.
Ruhul said that the lawyer was handed over to Chakwbazar police station and now was in jail as a metropolitan magistrate court on Friday set his bail application for hearing today.
He said that the motive behind the torture was not entirely clear but he was vocal on social media over irregularities of lawyer forums.
নওগাঁয় পুলিশের মারধরের অভিযোগ তুলে আইনজীবীরা আদালত বর্জন করেছেন।
জেলা আইনজীবী বার অ্যাসোসিয়েশন সোমবার বেলা ১১টার দিকে জরুরি সভায় এই সিদ্ধান্ত নেয়।
বারের সভাপতি খোদাদাদ খান পিটু তিনি বলেন, বেলা ১১টার দিকে আবু সাঈদ মুরাদ নামে একজন আইনজীবী রিকশা নিয়ে আদালত চত্বরে প্রবেশ করার সময় প্রধান গেটে বাধা দেন ট্রাফিক পুলিশের পরিদর্শক রাজিব ও পুলিশ সদস্য মুক্তার হোসেন।
“পরিচয় দেয়ার পরও বাধা দেন তারা। কথাকাটাকাটির একপর্যায়ে আইনজীবী আব্দুর রাজ্জাক ও শাহ আলম এগিয়ে যান। পুলিশ তিন আইনজীবীকে গালাগালসহ মারধর করে।”
এ ঘটনার বিচার চেয়ে আদালত চত্বরে বিক্ষোভ করেন আইনজীবীরা। পরে আইনজীবীদের জরুরি সভায় সোম-মঙ্গল দুই দিন আদালতে বর্জনের সিদ্ধান্ত হয় বলে জানান বার সভাপতি।
ঘটনার পর আদালত চত্বর উত্তপ্ত হয়ে ওঠে। সেখানে অতিরিক্ত পুলিশ মোতায়েন করা হয়।
সদর থানার ওসি সোহরাওয়ার্দী হোসেন বলেন, জেলা ছাত্রলীগের পক্ষে ডিসির কাছে স্মারকলিপি দেওয়ার কথা ছিল। এ জন্য ওই এলাকায় যেন যানজট না হয় সেজন্য নির্দেশনা ছিল।
Relatives of apprentice lawyer Rejaul Karim Reja, who died in a prison cell of a Barishal hospital, yesterday alleged that Kotwali police did not record a murder case against three members of Detective Brach of police.
A DB team detained Rejaul at a tea stall near his home on Barishal city’s Hamid Khan Sarak around 8:00pm on December 29 when he was having tea, said his brother-in-law Abdul Barek Hawlader.
The DB that night filed a drugs case against the 30-year-old apprentice lawyer with Kotwali Police Station and handed him over to police, he added.
A local court sent him to jail the following day.
On January 1, he was admitted to Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital. He passed away on Saturday night.
In a letter to US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller signed by over 35 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has pleaded to the US government to intervene “ for the immediate protection of Rabindra Ghosh and other human rights activists and attorneys” in Bangladesh.
The letter provides a detailed account of the attack on Rabindra Ghosh, a human rights lawyer and human rights activist who has devoted his life’s work to defending the rights of and pursuing justice for persecuted religious minorities in Bangladesh. Sadly, the October 16, 2020, brutal assault of Ghosh and his colleague, also an attorney, inside a Bangladesh police station by state and non-state actors is just one incident in a decades-long pattern of abuse and assault on Ghosh.
The letter goes on to state that “No government can protect all its citizens against all attacks, but they can protect them against attacks by the government or in which governments are complicit. The Bangladeshi government must provide equal protection under the law for all its citizens and punish according to law, those police and other officials who engaged in or allowed these attacks on Rabindra Ghosh and other attorneys and activists for religious freedom. Failure to do so would give the Bangladeshi government license to proceed with its attack on religious freedom and its advocates.”
Spearheaded by Illinois-based Forcefield, NFP the letter was signed by a total of 37 human rights NGOs and activists from across the globe working in tandem with members of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable’s South Asia Working Group, which is responsible for monitoring, documenting, and raising awareness of religious freedom violations in the region.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party has expelled Morsheda Khatun Shilpi — defence lawyer for Mujahidul, an accused of BUET student Abrar Fahad killing — from BNP associate organisation Jatiyatabadi Ainjibi Forum for violating the organisation’s discipline.
BNP expelled the lawyer, also a member of the 179-member central convening committee of JAF, in a press release signed by the party senior joint-secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi on early Wednesday.
BNP protested Abrar murder and alleged that he was murdered for criticising the government’s anti-state deal with India and demanded highest punishment for the killers.
Morsheda was expelled against the backdrop of social media outrage against her for taking part in the legal battle for an accused in the case of killing Abrar Fahad and many demanded her expulsion from JAF.
The press release signed by Rizvi, however, did not mention whether she was expelled for standing as the defence lawyer of Mujahidul.
Supreme Court lawyers under the banner of Jatiya Ainjibi Okikya Front held a demonstration in front of the Supreme Court Bar Association office in protest against sending barrister Mainul Hosein to jail after denying bail in bailable case.
Metropolitan magistrate Tofazzal Hossain denied bail to Mainul and sent him to Dhaka Central Jail. The lawyers condemned magistrate Tofazzal for denying bail to Mainul flouting Appellate Division’s standing directive.
The lawyers said that they would announce a tougher action programme from a rally to be held at SCBA Bhaban at 2PM today if bail was not granted to barrister Mainul Hosein by morning today.
Jatiya Ainjibi Okikya Front’s convenor and former SCBA president Zainul Abedin said that magistrate Tofazzal rejected bail application of Mainul Hosein, a former SCBA president, on the government’s dictations.
SCBA secretary AM Mahbub Uddin Khokan demanded withdrawal of judicial powers of magistrate Tofazzal for violating the Appellate Division’s standing order and the Penal Code that requires granting bails in bailabe cases.
Khokon also demanded checking call list of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Dhaka to probe whether anyone had influenced him to reject Mainul Hosein’s bail application.
On Thursday Mainul Hosein was sent to the Dhaka Central Jail in a defamation case filed on October 21, 2018 by journalist Masuda Bhatti alleging that he had called her a person of loose morals in a live TV talk show.