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officers attacked opposition leaders.
officers have attacked at least five opposition
leaders during street demonstrations in the past few
days, and beaten them severely. Those targeted have
sustained injuries, some seriously.
The injured include an Awami League leader, Saber
Hossain Chowdhury; an Awami League Member of
Parliament, Asaduzzaman Noor; the former Agriculture
Minister, Mothia Chowdhury; a leading member of the
Supreme Court Bar Association, Advocate Shaira
Khatun; and the former Home Minister, Mohammed Nasim.
Others injured are opposition activists taking part
in demonstrations calling for electoral reforms.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury was injured on 6 September
when more than a dozen police officers started to
beat him. He identified himself as an Awami League
leader in the hope that the police might stop the
beating, but they reportedly became even more
furious and beat him severely. He went into a coma
and was rushed to hospital in Dhaka. He gained
consciousness after about an hour, but doctors
declared his condition as critical and advised that
he needed specialist treatment for injuries to his
head. His family had to fly him to Singapore for
further treatment on 10 September.
Asaduzzaman Noor was attacked on 12 September. He
was admitted to hospital with severe back pain
caused by the beating he received. Mothia Chowdhury
was attacked with an iron rod the same day. She was
admitted to hospital for several hours. Police also
attacked Advocate Shaira Khatun on 12 September
causing injuries to her legs and head.
Mohammed Nasim was attacked on 12 September in the
same place where Saber Hossain Chowdhury had been
beaten a few days earlier. Nasim was beaten with
rifle butts and iron rods. He was hit on the arm,
head and back, and went into a coma. Doctors have
declared his condition as critical.
According to eyewitnesses, none of these individuals
were acting violently and they posed no threat to
the police. They are believed to have been
specifically targeted because of their leading role
in the Awami League party.
An eyewitness told Amnesty International: “police
surrounded us and began beating Saber. We told them
who he was and that he had not done anything, but
they became furious and beat him more severely until
he fell unconscious”.
According to reports, the police attacked these
individuals in a specific and targeted manner. They
were surrounded by police officers and were not able
or allowed to disperse. They were then subjected to
In Amnesty International’s view, these attacks on
persons under police control when they were not
resisting the police in any way amount to torture or
other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Amnesty International condemns these attacks. The
organization is urging the Government of Bangladesh
to set up an independent, impartial and competent
body to investigate the attacks. Such investigation
should identify the police personnel who carried out
the attacks and the senior police officials under
whose command the attacks took place. Its remit
should also be expanded to identify any other
government connivance in these attacks.
Those identified as perpetrators of these attacks
should be brought to justice without delay in
proceedings which meet international standards of
Amnesty International is also urging the Government
of Bangladesh to ensure the safety and security of
opposition leaders and activists taking part in
rallies and demonstrations. Under no circumstances
should the government allow law enforcement
personnel to use excessive force or subject
demonstrators to torture or other cruel, inhuman or
Police attack on demonstrators started during recent
opposition rallies and marches towards the offices
of the Election Commission and the Prime Minister’s
Office to press demands for electoral reform. The
opposition considers the Election Commission (which
is to conduct the forthcoming general elections) and
the coming caretaker government (which is to oversee
the elections) to be biased towards the ruling
coalition. Opposition parties have been calling for
a change of the Election Commissioner and the head
of the caretaker government, demands that the
government has rejected. Some of the demonstrators
reportedly pushed through the security barriers
erected by the police and were involved in clashes
with the police. Hundreds of such demonstrators as
well as several police officers have reportedly been
The tenure of the present government comes to an end
in October 2006. A caretaker government is expected
to take office in November, and elections to the new
parliament are to take place in January 2007.