Friday, 8 March 2013

Injustice meted out left, right and centre

To take a break from the ICT and surrounding chaos, let us remember that there are other trials taking place in Bangladesh which may even more rightly be termed 'show trials'; namely, the BDR mutiny trials. This is what HRW had to say on these in October 2012:

“Each accused has the right to a fair trial, meaning there must be specific evidence against him, a lawyer with sufficient time and access to represent him, and an impartial court. None of these basic principles have been met.” said Adams. “It is likely that many of those convicted had nothing to do with the mutiny, causing them and their families massive and unnecessary hardship.”

Human Rights Watch has documented numerous concerns about these trials. In July 2012 Human Rights Watch released a report, “‘The Fear Never Leaves Me’: Torture, Custodial Deaths, and Unfair Trials After the 2009 Mutiny of the Bangladesh Rifles,”which provided a detailed account of the mutiny and the response of the authorities. It documented serious abuses by the authorities in the aftermath, including at least 47 custodial deaths and widespread torture of BDR members by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and other security forces. The government has claimed that all deaths in custody were due to natural causes.

The government explained that a few of the men in custody had unfortunately committed suicide by beating themselves up and subsequently shooting themselves twice - in the head.

A similar report prompted that indefatigable bideshi champion of fair trials in Bangladesh, David Bergman to write an article challenging the Bangladeshi government to answer 25 tough questions on the trials. Now, despite my respect for Bergman and the extremely useful service he's done to everyone via his website on the war crimes trials, he often manages to annoy me greatly by trying to sound unnecessarily impartial when there is no need to do so. Consider his article mentioned above:
Custodial deaths, torture and unfair trial?

(you don't need that question mark there)

HAS any member of the Awami League government actually read the recent Human Rights Watch report alleging custodial deaths, torture and unfair trials following the Bangladesh Rifles mutiny?

(yes they have - and they swiftly binned it and got back to corruption, torture and other pastimes)

Human Rights Watch is generally respected for the quality of its research, but even it can make mistakes — and it is always difficult to investigate and corroborate allegations of custodial torture. There is, therefore, nothing wrong with a government contesting allegations made by the organisation — but for any criticisms to have credibility they must actually engage with the substance of the report’s findings.

Aaaagh! Why does he have to go to such lengths explaining that there is a theoretical possibility that  HRW got it wrong and that the government may have a valid excuse? Then again, Bergman here managed to refer to Bangladesh as a 'thriving democracy'; perhaps he may be somewhat restrained in his criticism of Hasina's regime because of family history.

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