Tuesday, November 13, 2007

12 Academics Jailed and Tortured in Bangladesh

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Action Alerts

12 Academics Jailed and Tortured in Bangladesh

Date: November 5, 2007

The American Society of Plant Biologists urges immediate action on behalf of plant biologist Dr. Anwar Hossain and 11 of his prominent academic colleagues at the University of Dhaka and Rajshahi University, Bangladesh (see list below). These professors were arrested and jailed in August 2007 and remain in custody to this day. The arrests were made by a Joint Task Force under the direction of the Director General Forces Intelligence (DGFI), the central intelligence agency of the Bangladeshi armed services, in connection with student protests, and the arrested academics have not been charged with any crime.

On August 20, 2007 at a soccer game at Dhaka University a group of soldiers complained that several students were obstructing their view, and they began thrashing the students. Almost immediately large numbers of students turned on the soldiers. There was a riot. It spread to other campuses in the city and within a day to other campuses across the country. Many students were injured and imprisoned—one was killed. Meanwhile, the Dhaka University Teacher’s Association (DUTA), led by its General Secretary, the aforementioned Dr. Hossain, attempted to calm the situation. Indeed, faculty officers of DUTA met on August 23, 2007 with senior members of the DGFI and offered their cooperation. That night at 12:15AM, teams led by DGFI officers entered the campus apartments of Dr. Hossain and three other senior Dhaka University faculty members, each of whom was taken from their families and imprisoned. There is strong evidence that these professors and their arrested colleagues from Rajshahi University were tortured for several days, and they are still being held in prison with minimal access to family, attorneys, and medical care. Several articles published in the Bangladeshi and American press provide additional details about the arrests and the events that precipitated them.
See, for example:

Article 1 Aug. 21, 2007

Article 2 Aug. 22, 2007

Article 3 Aug. 22, 2007

Article 4 Aug. 25, 2007

Article 5 Aug. 28, 2007

Article 6 Nov. 2, 2007

A more personal account – that of Dr. Hossain’s son, Sanjeeb, who witnessed his father’s arrest – is available here:

In addition to the 12 professors, an unknown number of students from both universities have also been arrested, and concern for their well-being is growing as well. Indeed, on September 4, 2007 Secretary General Irene Khan of Amnesty International, in a letter to Bangladesh’s leader, Chief Adviser Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, called for authorities to ensure that all human rights violations reported in the context of recent student unrest be thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to justice. Khan further stated that use of excessive force, as well as reports of torture and ill treatment of detainees while being interrogated by military intelligence personnel are matters of deep concern. Moreover, the detainees’ denial of access to lawyers and family members is in clear violation of international human rights standards.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D - MA) in a letter of October 26, 2007 to M. Humayun Kabir, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Washington, D.C., urged the Bangladeshi government to release the 12 professors and any students who have also been detained for political reasons. Sen. Kennedy further stated that “holding these twelve men without charge and for political reasons is a major assault on the integrity and independence of the academic community of your nation and calls into question your government's commitment to human rights and the rule of law.”

Take immediate action:

Send or fax letters urging the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Hossain, his eleven faculty colleagues, and any detained students to:

  1. Dr. Fakruddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor

    Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

    Tejgaon, Dhaka, Banglades

    Fax: 880-2-811-3244 or 3243

  1. His Excellency M. Humayun Kabir

    Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

    Embassy of Bangladesh

    3510 International Drive, N.W.

    Washington, D.C. 20008

    Fax: (202) 244-7830 or 2771

  1. General Moeen U Ahmed, Chief of Staff

    Bangladesh Army

    Dhaka Cantonment

    Dhaka, Bangladesh

Your letters might also echo Amnesty International’s call for the Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that all violations reported in the context of these events on August 20, 2007 and shortly thereafter are investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice. And you might further wish to express your concern regarding the use of to ture during the detention of these professors and students.

Detained Academics

Professor Anwar Hossain, Dean, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dhaka University

Professor Harunor-Rashid, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science, Dhaka University

Professor Sadrul Amin, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Departmentof English, Dhaka University

Professor Neem Chandra Bhoumik, Department of Applied Physics, Dhaka University

Professor Saidur Rahman Khan, Former Vice-Chancellor of Rajshahi University

Professor Abdus Sobhan, Department of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering, Rajshahi University

Professor Moloy Kumar Bhowmik, Department of Management, Rajshahi University

Professor Abdullah Al Mamun, Department of English and Department of Mass Communications, Rajshahi University

Professor Selim Reza Newton, Department of Mass Communications, Rajshahi University

Professor Dulal Chandra Biswas, Department of Mass Communications, Rajshahi University

Professor Sabbir Sattar Tapu, Department of Geology and Mining, Rajshahi University

Professor Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan Sajal, Department of Geology and Mining, Rajshahi University

This Action Alert was posted by the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program on behalf of the The American Society of Plant Biologists.

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