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I. Ranking in Human Rights Violators Index: 1st
II. Political Freedom
III. Human rights violations by the security forces
a. Right to life
b. Torture

c. Arbitrary arrest under Section 54
d. Arrest under false charges for quick promotion
IV. Judiciary and administration of justice

a. Attacks on judges
b. Judicial delay

V. Status of National Human Rights Institutions
VI. Repression on human rights defenders
VII. Freedom of the press
VIII. Violations of the rights of indigenous peoples
of the Chittagong Hill Tracts

IX. Violations of the rights of minorities
a. Violence against Ahmadiyas
b. Persecution of non-Muslim minorities
X. Violations of the prisoners' rights
XI. Violence against women
a. Status of minority and indigenous women
b. Trafficking of women and children
XII. Violations of the rights of the child
XIII. Status of refugees
a. Plight of the stateless Biharis
b. Plight of the Rohingya refugees
XIV. Status of Internally Displaced Persons
XV. Violations of International Humanitarian Laws by Armed Opposition Groups

I. Ranking in Human Rights Violators Index: 1st 

Ruled by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jamaat-e-Islami, Islami Oikkyo Jote and Jatiya Party (M) coalition, Bangladesh has been ranked No.1 violator of human rights in SAARC. Despite SAARC region having a quasi- military dictatorship in Pakistan, a Royal coup in Nepal, dictatorship of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in Maldives and the absolute monarchy of King Jigme Singye Wangchuk in Bhutan, Bangladesh has been ranked No.1 violator for gross human rights violations.

In 2005, Bangladesh had the most organised political killings and the highest number of “peacetime” extrajudicial executions in South Asia without any active insurgency. The government also failed to protect the judges from the Jihadis. Bangladesh was the most dangerous place for the journalists in South Asia while it also remained the only country that continued to practise population transfer policy to make the indigenous Jumma peoples a minority in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and annihilate their cultural identity.

II. Political Freedom

Apart from the use of disproportionate force against political demonstrators, Bangladesh had the highest number of political killings in South Asia in 2005. According to Odhikar, an NGO working in human rights, 310 people were killed, 8,979 wounded, 1216 arrested and 93 abducted in political violence. [1] The opposition Awami League (AL) boycotted the parliamentary sessions from 31 January 2005 in protest against the Speaker's refusal of their demand for adjourning the sitting after the adoption of an obituary reference on lawmaker and former Finance Minister Shah AMS Kibria who was killed with four other AL activists in a grenade attack on an AL rally by the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) activists at Boidder Bazaar in Habiganj on 27 January 2005. [2]

The assassination of Mr Kibria demonstrated the potent risks faced by the opposition parties, their leaders and cadres. There was little improvement from 2004 when AL lawmaker Ahsanullah Master was assassinated at Tongi in broad daylight on 7 May 2004 [3] , followed by bomb attack on Sheikh Hasina, AL chief and leader of the Opposition, at a rally on 21 August 2004 and bomb attack on Mohila Awami League meeting at Sylhet on 24 December 2004 in which AL district president Syeda Zebunnesa Haque and six others were injured. [4]

The attacks against the opposition political activists were systematic and took place throughout 2005. While Law Affairs Secretary of Dhaka City Awami League, Advocate Khorshed Alam Bachchu was gunned down by unknown assailants at Tejgaon in Dhaka on 17 May 2005, [5]   Sylhet City Mayor Badruddin Ahmed Kamran of AL luckily escaped a grenade attack during a public function in Sylhet on 2 December 2005. [6]

The involvement of Bangladesh National Party activists was clear. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) indicted 10 BNP activists in its chargesheet submitted in March 2005 and identified Habiganj district BNP Vice-president AKM Abdul Quaiyum as the mastermind of the grenade attack in Habiganj on 27 January 2005 that killed AL leader Shah AMS Kibria and four others. [7]

On 16 April 2005, a speedy trial tribunal court sentenced 22 people to death including Nurul Islam Sarker, a leader of Jatiyatabadi Juba Dal, the youth wing of BNP, and 6 others to life imprisonment in the high profile murder of Awami League lawmaker Ahsanullah Master at Tongi in May 2004. [8]

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel also reportedly targeted the AL leaders. On 3 May 2005, RAB personnel killed AL leader of Meghna upazila, Mofizul Islam alias Dudh Mian in an alleged “crossfire” at Chondigaon, Dhaka. [9] The deceased's wife Kawsari Islam alleged that he was extrajudicially executed after being picked up from the Dhaka Judge's Court premises on 3 May 2005. On 15 May 2005, the High Court issued an order to the government to explain as to why killing of Mofizul Islam alias Dudh Mian by the security forces should not be construed as illegal. [10]

On 31 May 2005, the RAB personnel killed Awami Juba League activist Suman Ahmed, son of Abdul Hakim, in an alleged crossfire at Rampura. [11] On 6 June 2005, Suman's mother Amela Khatun filed a petition with the chief metropolitan magistrate's court against the Housing and Public Works minister, Mirza Abbas, the State Minister for Home Affairs, Lutfozzaman Babar, the Home Secretary, Mohammad Safar Raz Hossain and the RAB Director General, Abdul Aziz Sarkar in connection with the killing of her son. The metropolitan magistrate ordered an inquiry into the killing. [12]

Indigenous Jumma peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) continued to be denied political freedom. Asian Centre for Human Rights was in posession of a list of 63 indigenous Jumma political prisoners, belonging to the United Peoples Democratic Front, who were detained at the end of 2005 under various false charges. Of these, 17 persons were being detained at Khagrachari Jail, 9 persons at Rangamati Jail and 37 persons at Chittagong Jail.

III. Human rights violations by the security forces

In 2005, Bangladesh had the highest number of “peacetime” extrajudicial executions in South Asia without any active armed opposition movement. Bangladesh is the only country which has formed a special force, the Rapid Action Battalion, with the power to execute people in the name of curbing crimes. While extrajudicial executions under any circumstances, including armed conflict situations, cannot be justified, the RAB and other security forces were responsible for the killings of 396 persons in custody including 340 persons in alleged “crossfire”, an euphemistic term for extrajudicial executions. [13] Of the total 396 persons, 111 persons died at the hands of the RAB, while 258 persons died in police custody and 4 in the custody of Cobra and Cheetah, special crime busting units of police, and 23 in the custody of other law enforcement agencies. [14]

Bangladeshi security forces were also responsible for other gross human rights violations including torture and rape. Replying to an unstarred question, State Minister for Home Affairs, Lutfozzaman Babar informed the Parliament on 28 June 2005 that 131 policemen were arrested on various charges, including extortion, since the BNP-led government assumed power in October 2001. The minister claimed that 23 of the arrested police personnel were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment and fined. [15] However, these claims could not be independently verified.

The security forces enjoyed virtual impunity for human rights violations. Often, departmental ‘punishment' in case of RAB personnel meant mere transfer of the accused security personnel to their parent organisations. [16]   In the case of torture of Abu Bakar Sultan Bidhan, executive director of Harness Level Industries Ltd, on 15 July 2005 by RAB personnel from Uttara in Dhaka for protesting their assault on an elderly man, [17] an inquiry committee held 13 RAB personnel, led by ASP Ashraful Islam, responsible for torture but all the action taken was to merely sent them back to their parent departments with recommendations for departmental action. [18] It was not known what actions were taken by the parent departments.

a. Right to life

Extrajudicial executions were rampant. On 1 January 2005 at around 4 am, one Manik alias Yunus was killed in an alleged ‘crossfire' between the police and his alleged associates at Balurmath area in Dhaka. Police sent his body to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital for autopsy. The body reportedly bore four bullets in the chest, back and head. [19] In a petition filed before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate on 19 May 2005, victim's mother, Mosammat Achhiya Begum alleged that Yunus was picked up by the police from the residence of her brother at Baithakhali in Rampura at about 6-00 pm on 31 December 2004. The police personnel demanded Rs 5 lakh from her for the release of her son, and when refused, they tortured and later killed him in a staged encounter. [20]

On the night of 8 May 2005, one Mohammad Sohel was reportedly shot dead by a police patrol team from point blank range after arresting him on accusation of being a mugger at Agargaon in Dhaka. The victim was going to Monipuripara in a rickshaw. According to the rickshaw-puller who was carrying the victim, some muggers had snatched a mobile phone from the victim. But instead of going after the real muggers, the police charged the victim of being a member of the gang and killed him in custody despite pleading by the rickshaw-puller that his passenger was not involved in either mugging or bombing. [21] On 14 May 2005, Sohel's father, Shamsul Haq Talukder filed a case against 7 policemen, including the officer-in-charge of Kafrul Police Station with the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Dhaka. [22]

On 11 May 2005, RAB claimed that Nazmul Islam Bhuiyan, alias Nazu, resident of Malita village under Palash Police Station in Narsingdi district, was killed in an encounter at the BSCIC industrial estate at Kararchar under Shibpur police station in the district when he was about to commit a dacoity with several other armed accomplices. Eyewitnesses, however, stated Nazmul was talking to two motorbikers – Dulal and Sohel –when a few RAB personnel came there in plainclothes. Failing to recognise the RAB personnel, Nazmul engaged into an altercation with them over some matter. The RAB personnel then put on their RAB jackets and identified themselves to the youths. Realizing the mistake, Nazmul got down on his knees and begged the RAB men for his life. The RAB personnel then held the three youths and dragged Nazmul to a nearby crop field. “The RAB men first fired into the air and then shot Nazmul pinning him to the ground with a foot on his chest,” a witness told The Daily Star. For the next couple of days, the RAB personnel randomly patrolled the area, threatening the residents not to tell what they had seen or heard. [23]

On 9 May 2005, High Court ordered a probe headed by the District Magistrate of Khustia, Jamal A Naser Choudhury into “crossfire” death [24] of Enamul Islam Ena, the publicity secretary of the Kushtia district motor workers union on 16 April 2005. [25] On 11 May 2005, the government reportedly decided to conduct executive enquiry into all deaths in “crossfire” in which RAB personnel were involved. [26]   At the end of 2005, the inquiry could not be completed.

b. Torture

Arbitrary arrest and detention allowed the security forces to perpetrate torture mainly to extract confessions, extort money and settle personal or political rivalry.

Many cases of torture were confirmed by medical examinations. On 6 March 2005, Delwar Hossain, owner of a phone-fax shop at Mograpra under Sonargaon Police Station of Narayanganj district, who was arrested by RAB on 20 February 2005 died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. The hospital doctors reportedly found marks of bruises on Delwar's head, back and legs. [27]              

The doctors at the Rajshahi Medical College Hospital where Selim Sarder, general secretary of Jhalmalia Bazar Businessmen's Association was admitted on 31 May 2005, reportedly found Selim's toes, knees, fingers of right hand critically fractured and mussels in the back and lower part of the body mangled in several areas. After his arrest by the RAB, Sarder was allegedly tortured, hit on bone-joints with hockey sticks and batons by five policemen, including Puthia Circle Assistant Superintendent of Police, Alamgir Kabir. [28]

Despite obtaining a bail from the Metropolitan Magistrate's court in a police assault case, Haji Ashraf Ahmed of Agamashi Lane under Kotwali Police station in Dhaka was arrested on the night of 10 April 2005 and severely tortured. Ashraf had to be admitted to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital with severe injuries. [29]

During cordon and search operations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, torture was routinely perpetrated. On 23 January 2005, army personnel led by Captain Mehedi conducted operation at Ugolchari and its nearby villages and arrested eight innocent Jumma villagers. One of the victims, Sumentu Chakma had to be admitted to Baghaichari upazila, sub-district, hospital because of torture and was later transferred to Rangamati general hospital. While five were released, Shanti Shankar Chakma alias Chipan, Tunya Chakma and Bhupati Chakma were handed over to Baghaichari police on 24 January 2005. [30]

c. Arbitrary arrest under Section 54

A large number of indigenous Jummas were arbitrarily arrested under Section 54 of Bangladesh Penal Code, which empowers the police to arrest anyone without an arrest warrant.

The Bangladesh security forces have been acting as law unto themselves across the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Arbitrary arrests without producing the arrested persons before the court within 24 hours as required under the Constitution of Bangladesh and torture in custody were common practice. 

On 26 January 2005, Uttam Mani Chakma, Suren Cakma and three other indigenous Jumma passengers were arrested at Burighat bazar under Naniarchar upazila in Rangamati district by the Bangladesh army personnel. They were tortured inhumanly. On 27 January 2005, Uttam Mani Chakma was handed over to Kotowali police station under Rangamati district and arrested under Section 54 of the Bangladesh Criminal Procedure Code. The rest were released. [31]

On 21 July 2005, an activist of the United People's Democratic Front, Anuk Chakma was arrested by police from UPDF's Lakshmichari Unit office under Khagrachari district under section 54 of the Bangladesh Penal Code and was transferred to Khagrachari District jail. Later he was shown arrested in connection with an extortion case (case No. 2. GR 164/2005) under sections 323, 379, and 506 of the Bangladesh Penal Code filed on 18 July 2005 with Lakshmichari police station by one Yusuf Driver, an illegal plain settler. [32]

On 12 November 2005, Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) personnel from Rajanagar zone and Kathaltali camp of Bagachatar under Longadu upazila arrested three innocent Jumma villagers - Bimal Kanti Karbari, Kala Kachu Chakma and Surja Kumar Chakma during a search operation at Naluya village under Longadu upazila. The BDR personnel also picked up Diganta Chakma alias Picchu and Shukramani Chakma from roadside while returning to the camp along with the arrestees. Later, the BDR personnel released all of them except Surja Kumar Chakma and Shukramani Chakma, who were handed over to the Longadu police station after fabricating false cases against them. [33]

d. Arrest under false charges for quick promotion

In their bid for quick promotions, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the security forces had been arresting innocent persons and depicting them as hardcore anti-nationals for quick promotion.

On 15 February 2005, the army personnel led by Lt. Colonel Abdul Rob of Baghaihat zone under 203 Khagrachari brigade arrested six innocent Jummas identified as Kulin Chakma, Buddha Dhan Chakma, Sonaiya Chakma, Nidhu Chakma, Shankar Chakma and Sneha Chakma when they were playing carom at a shop at Hajachara-Baghaihat area of Baghaichari upazila under Rangamati district. Under brutal torture, they had to confess that they were tax collectors of Jana Samhati Samiti. On 16 February 2005, the army led by Major Sourab handed over Kulin Chakma and Buddha Dhan Chakma to Baghaichari police station along with a country-made gun while the others were released. [34]

On 29 August 2005 at 2.00 a.m., troops led by Lt Colonel Abdul Rouf Khan of 20 Bengal from Baghaichari army zone conducted search operation at B-Block village of Bongaltoli under Baghaichari upazila in Rangamati district. The army personnel conducted thorough search of the entire house of Mrs Laxmi Rani Chakma, wife of late Manindra Chakma alias Tarzen, including the roof of the house. But they did not recover any firearm. About 15-20 minutes later, another group of army personnel again led by Lt Colonel Abdul Rouf Khan came to the house and began searching the house. During the search, a soldier climbed up on the roof and declared to have found out an AK-47 rifle and 15 rounds of bullets from the roof! Following the recovery of firearms, the army arrested six Jumma peoples and implicated them in a false case. [35]

On 14 November 2005, four PCJSS members identified as Sushil Kumar Chakma alias Sohel, s/o Shiddadhan Chakma, Gajendra Lal Chakma, s/o late Ramani Mohan Chakma, Shanti Chakma, s/o late Nalini Kumar Chakma, Ujjal Chakma alias Madbhadi, s/o Khagendra Lal Chakma were arrested from their houses in Panchari by the troops from Panchari army zone led by Major Nasim. At the zone headquarters, the army personnel forced them to pose before the camera with country-made guns and then handed them over to Panchari police station with these weapons after brutally torturing them. A false case under the Arms Act was filed against them. [36]

On 17 November 2005, troops from Baghaichari army Zone led by Mohammad Mojib, second-in-command of the camp arrested Gyana Ratan Chakma, Michael Chakma, s/o Pattor Chakma and Jagadish Dewan, s/o Ranjit Dewan after raiding Gangaram Mukh village under Sajek Union in Rangamati district. The army handed them over to the police claiming that they had recovered firearms including one pistol from the possession of Gyana Ratan Chakma. A case against them was lodged under the Arms Act. [37]

On 4 December 2005, Super Jyoti Chakma, Organising Secretary of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Democratic Youth Forum, was arrested by the Bangladesh army personnel in Lakshmichari of Khagrachari district. He was taken to the army zone headquarters where he was forced to pose before the camera with a gun in his hands. Later, he was handed over to the police and a false extortion case was filed against him. [38] He was released on bail on 5 December 2005. [39]

IV. Judiciary and administration of justice

Judiciary in Bangladesh suffers from lack of separation from the executive. The Supreme Court in its 12-point directives of 2 December 1999 ordered the government to make the judiciary independent of the executive. While the AL government of Sheikh Hasina (1996-2001) took seven extensions, the caretaker government of Justice Latifur Rahman took three extensions, and Khaleda Zia's government sought time extension for the ninth time. On 16 April 2005, Supreme Court gave six months' time to the government to implement its directive. [40] On 20 October 2005, Supreme Court decided to charge the government with contempt of court. [41]

a. Attacks on judges

The government failed to protect the judges from the attacks of the alleged Islamic terrorists who sought to impose “Koranic Laws” against the man made laws. At least two judges - Sohel Ahmed of Sadar Upazila Court and Jagannath Parey of Nalchhiti Upazila Court were killed in 2005. [42] On 18 October 2005, Biplob Goswami, speedy trial tribunal judge of the Sylhet division came under bomb attack at his residence at Kumarpara in Sylhet but he luckily escaped unhurt as the assailant missed the target. [43]

Many were injured in the attacks on the court premises by the Jihadis. Two persons were killed when the Jihadis carried out bombings in the courtrooms in three districts of Laxmipur, Chandpur and Chittagong on 3 October 2005 [44]   and nine persons were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up within the court premises of Chittagong and Ghazipur on 29 November 2005. About 100 others were injured. [45]

On 30 November 2005, the High Court ordered the government to submit fortnightly reports on the progress in the investigation of bomb attacks on different court-houses since 17 August 2005. [46] Instead of cooperating, the government moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order. [47]

b. Judicial delay

Judicial delay plagued the administration of justice in Bangladesh. In April 2002, a 11-member high-powered monitoring cell headed by State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar was formed to speed up investigation of the sensational cases and expedite trial and punishment of the culprits. [48]

Yet, in some of the most heinous cases of rape, trial did not take place. As on 29 March 2005, no trial took place in the rape and murder case of Zahida Khatun, a college girl, who was raped and murdered in broad daylight on 5 July 2002 in Magura by a gang allegedly led by one Mamun of Dariapur. In August 2002, the police listed the case as “sensational” and handed over to the Detective Branch (DB) police for investigation. In April 2003, the DB submitted two charge sheets but the case was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in July 2003. The CID was asked to submit a fresh charge sheet. In March 2005, two CID inspectors were transferred before they could submit any charge sheet. A total of six Investigation Officers were changed, but no charge-sheet was submitted to start the trial of the case. [49]

In another case, on 4 January 2005, a magistrate court ordered a CID probe into a gang-rape case that took place 17 years ago in Tanore. Four people, including present BNP vice president of Tanore and Chanduria Union Parishad Chairman, Mofiz Uddin, his accomplices Omar and Yaad and vice chairman of Soronjai,  Mozid Mollah, had allegedly raped a 19-year-old woman in Tanore in April 1988. On 16 December 2004, two accused were arrested. But prime accused Mofiz Uddin was still on the run from police while his men were pressing the victim's family to withdraw the case. [50]

As of July 2005, the Speedy Trial Tribunals disposed of a total of 6,133 cases after their formation in October 2002. [51]   These were miniscule considering that about 5,50,000 cases have pending before  the courts across the country. [52]

V. Status of National Human Rights Institutions

In 1996, then Awami League government started the process of establishing a National Human Rights Institution. Three years later, the Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission Bill, 1999 was drafted but the Awami League government did not show any political will to establish the NHRC till it lost the general elections in October 2001.

When the BNP led four-party alliance came to power in October 2001, it decided to continue the process. On 10 December 2001, a Cabinet Committee on Human Rights Commission was formed under the chairmanship of Law Minister Barrister Moudud Ahmed to examine the prospect of establishing a NHRI. The Cabinet decided to re-write the Draft Bill of the AL government. [53] On 22 January 2004, the Cabinet Committee on Human Rights Commission approved the draft bill and sent it to the cabinet division for approval. By the end of 2005, the Bill was not approved by the Cabinet.

VI. Repression on human rights defenders

Human rights defenders, especially the minority and indigenous rights activists, were attacked by the security forces, political activists and fundamentalists. On 5 December 2005, an indigenous rights activist, Joshi Chakma working with Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) was killed by a group of illegal plain settlers in Dighinala under Khagrachari district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The illegal settlers accosted her while she was on her way to work at a place called West Kanthal Toli and stabbed her with a sharp knife. She was seven-month pregnant. [54] No one was arrested.

Earlier, on the midnight of 28 July 2005, two employees identified as Tapan Kumar Roy and Liplal Marandi of an international NGO, the Christian Life Bangladesh, were murdered in Boalmari upazila of Faridpur district. They were reportedly threatened earlier for teaching about The Christ. [55]

BRAC was also targeted by the Jihadis. On the night of 15 February 2005, BRAC's office in Porsha upazila in Naogaon district was bombed by the alleged Jihadis. Four BRAC employees - Area Manager Abdur Rashid, Programme Officer Wahiduzzaman, and employees Enamul Haq and Rezaul Karim were reportedly critically injured in the bomb attack. Earlier on 13 February 2005, the BRAC's office in Kalai upazila in Jaipurhat came under similar bomb attack. [56]

In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, human rights defenders faced continued repression even for attending UN meetings. On 31 August 2005, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the CHT Affairs Ministry threatened to take legal action against indigenous activists from the CHTs - Mangal Kumar Chakma and Mrinal Kanti Tripura of the PCJSS, Albert Mankin and Ina Hume for demanding implementation of the CHTs Accord of 1997 at the 4th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held in New York in May 2005.

Indigenous Jumma organisations were also forced to cancel their meeting on land rights on 23 November 2005 following a directive from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) not to allow the meeting. [57]

Earlier, on 5 August 2005, Advocate Rabindra Ghosh, President, Human Rights Congress of Bangladesh Minorities and Professor Ashok Taru Saha, Vice President, HRCBM-Dhaka, were attacked inside the “Agnibina Express” train compartment by alleged BNP activists. They were returning from Jamalpur after completing an investigation involving torture upon Ahmadiya community under Sarishabari Police Station of Jamalpur District. [58]

On 3 July 2005, the executive director of Ain O Salish Kendra, Sultana Kamal, was threatened by an anonymous caller hours after the organizaton held the publication ceremony of a book titled ‘RAB: Uprooting Terrorism or Terrorism by the State'. Ms Kamal was threatened not to write anything against the RAB. [59] Thereafter many posters were put up at different parts of Dhaka criticizing the Ain o Salish Kendra. [60]

VII. Freedom of the press

In South Asia, journalists were the most vulnerable in Bangladesh. They came under attacks from all and sundry – the armed groups belonging to the Islamic jihadis, State agencies, judiciary, political parties and their cadres. At least two journalists were killed, 142 injured, 11 arrested, 4 abducted, 53 subjected to harassment, 249 received threats while 15 came under attacks and cases were filed against 130 journalists in 2005. [61]

Though Bangladesh has a number of laws restricting press freedom such as the Printing Presses and Publications (Declaration and Registration) Act, 1973, the Newsprint Control Order of 1974, Section 505(A) of the Bangladesh Penal Code, [62] Section 99(A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Special Powers Act of 1974, the demand for further stringent measures was echoed by the government, the Parliament and the press authorities of the government. While Speaker of the parliament Jamir Uddin Sircar sought a new device to curtail freedom of press on 6 July 2005, [63] in its annual report 2004 submitted before the parliament on 23 November 2005, Chairman of Press Council Justice Abu Syeed Ahmad suggested addition of ‘punitive provision' in the Press Council Act. [64]

On 21 March 2005, the High Court convicted editors, publishers and reporters of two national dailies Prothom Alo and Bhorer Kagoj for publishing an article in October 2004 alleging that additional judge of the High Court Faisal Mahmud Fayezee doctored his LLB result. While Samaresh Baidya, senior reporter for Bhorer Kagoj, was sentenced to two months rigorous imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 Taka, publisher of Bhorer Kagoj, Saber Hossain Chowdhury and former editor Abed Khan, publisher of Prothom Alo Mahfuz Anam and  Editor of Prothom Alo, Matiur Rahman, and reporters Ekramul Haque Bulbul and Masud Milad were fined 1,000 Taka each. [65]

Judges were allegedly quick to issue arrest warrants against the journalists in the very first hearing of defamation suits. On 7 July 2005, the court issued arrest warrants against editor of Prothom Alo, Motiur Rahman and editor of Janakantha, AK Khan Masud after BNP lawmaker Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu filed two separate defamation cases against them. [66] On 20 July 2005, Satkhira district BNP leader and Alipur Union Parishad Chairman Abdur Rouf filed similar defamation case against Publisher Al-Tamash Kabir, Acting Editor Bazlur Rahman and Staff Reporter Nazmul Haq Bellal of Dainik Sangbad. [67]

The ruling BNP and its student wing, Jatiyatabadi Chattra Dal were responsible for most of the physical attacks on the media persons. Those who were reportedly beaten up by the BNP activists are Al-Mamun Sagar, correspondent of the national daily Jugantor in Kushtia district on 23 February 2005, [68] Nikhil Chatterjee, correspondent of New Age at Patuakhali in Barisal district on 24 June 2005, [69] Rafiqul Islam, Correspondent of Bangla daily Amar Desh at Durgapur Press club on 6 July 2005, [70] Monjur Morshed, correspondent of the daily Jugantar on 9 August 2005, [71] Anwar Hossain, correspondent of daily Khabarpatra at Sakal Bazaar in Jamalpur district on 17 September 2005, [72] Badiuzzaman Mukul, a correspondent of the daily Karotoa, at Gabtali upazila on 20 October 2005 [73]   and Tapan Biswas, staff reporter of the daily Janakantha who was allegedly beaten up in the Secretariat of State Minister for Housing and Public Works, Alamgir Kabir on 20 November 2005. [74]

The security forces too attacked the journalists especially for taking photos of their illegal activities. The journalists who were beaten up by the security forces included SM Gorky, chief photo journalist of daily Jugantor who was beaten by RAB personnel on 14 March 2005 for taking snaps of beating up three youths on the street near Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, [75] photo journalists of national dailies including Sheikh Enamul Kabir and Sheikh Mamun of Janakantha, Anisur Rahman of The Daily Star, Wahid Hossain Raja of Bhorer Kagoj, Mir Hossain Miru of Jugantar, Masud Parvez Milon of Financial Express, AKM Musa of Sangram, Shariful Islam Lenin of Desh Bangla, MD Sharif of Naya Diganta, Hasanuzzaman Tapan of Janakantha and Mizanur Rahman Khan of The Independent who were beaten up by National Security Intelligence personnel on 7 July 2005, [76] Ehsan Jewel, Chittagong University correspondent of  Janakantha, who was beaten up by Officer-in-Charge of Hathazari Police Station Mahfuz Alam on 10 August 2005 [77] and  Subir Roy, the Khulna-based correspondent of news agency BDNEWS and a staff reporter of local daily Purbanchal, who was beaten up by three constables Chandan, Babul and Farukh of the Kotwali police station on 27 September 2005. [78]

The Jihadis and Maoists known as Purba Banglar Communist Party also attacked the journalists.

On 11 February 2005, Bureau Chief of daily Sangram in Khulna Shaikh Belaluddin died following injuries sustained in a bomb attack at the Khulna Press Club by the outlawed Purbo Banglar Communist Party (Maoists) on 5 February 2005. [79]

On 17 November 2005, Gautam Das, district bureau chief of the Daily Shamokal was killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen at his office in Faridpur. [80]

There were several failed attempts on the lives of journalists. On 4 January 2005, PBCP-Maoist  cadres [81] threw a homemade bomb at Khulna Bureau Chief of daily Jugantor, Dip Azad in Khulna but he escaped unhurt, as the bomb thrown at him did not explode. [82] In another incident on 28 June 2005, Shafiqul Islam, Bagmara correspondent of the daily Janakantha, was grievously injured when JMB cadres attacked him with scythe and bamboo. [83]

Not a single incident of atrocities against journalists has been properly investigated. The government failed to make public the probe report on police atrocities on journalists at the National Press Club in Dhaka on 21 June 1992. [84]

VIII. Violations of the rights of indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts

Indigenous Jumma peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts continued to face serious human rights violations due to the non-implementation of the CHTs Accord of 1997. As stated above, at the end of 2005, at least 63 Jumma political prisoners were being detained under false charges.

The security force were given impunity for human rights violations in the CHTs and the government of Bangladesh failed to de-militarize the CHTs as per the CHTs Accord of 1997. The CHTs continued to remain one of the most militarised zones in the world. Approximately one-third of the Bangladesh military had been deployed in the CHTs and the government reportedly spends an estimated US$125 million per year for the continued presence of the military in the region. [85]

During 2005, the government of Bangladesh undertook massive militarisation programme to provide security to the plain settlers and to facilitate population transfer into the CHTs. The government continued to take away the lands of indigenous peoples for militarisation. In 2005, government of Bangladesh undertook the process to seize a total of 66,774 acres of land for military purposes, including 9,650 acres of land in Bandarban for the expansion of Ruma military cantonment, 11,446.24 acres of land in Sualok Union of Bandarban for establishing an Artillery Training Centre; 450 acres of land in Pujgang under Panchari Thana of Khagrachari district for construction of an army cantonment; 45 acres of land in Babuchara under Dighinala Thana in Khagrachari district; about 183 acres of land in Balaghata in Bandarban district; 19,000 acres of land in Bandarban for the expansion of an Artillery Training centre and 26,000 acres of land in Bandarban for establishing Air Force Training Centre. [86]

The government also issued notices to acquire a total of 5,600 acres of land in Chimbuk area of Bandarban district for constructing an Eco Park and 5,500 acres of land in Sangu Mouza of Bandarban district. In addition, indigenous peoples have been intimidated to lease away 40,071 acres of land in Lama, Nikkyong Chari, Alikadam and Bandarban Sadar to private individuals for rubber and tea plantation. [87]

The Land Commission established under the CHTs Accord of 1997 to resolve the land disputes met only once in eight and half years on 8 June 2005 after the signing of the Accord. [88]

Bangladesh also continued the policy of ethnic cleansing of indigenous Jumma peoples by transplanting illegal settlers into the CHTs. By 2005, there were at least 50,000 illegal settlers living in the cluster-villages in the three hill districts of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachari. The illegal plain settlers were being kept in the cluster villages until they could forcibly occupy the lands of the indigenous Jumma peoples and permanently settle down. The government provides 86 kilogram of rice to per settler family per month, in addition to other amenities to sustain the illegal settlers and the conflict with local indigenous peoples. [89]

In June 2005, the government further decided to provide “free food rations” to 28,000 more illegal plain settlers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) [90] who were brought under the government sponsored transmigration programmes from 1978 to 1983.

IX. Violations of the rights of minorities

Islam is the state religion of Bangladesh. Though the constitution of Bangladesh guarantees freedom of religion under Article 2A and Article 41, in reality, the religious minorities who constitute about 12 per cent of Bangladesh's 152.6 million populations, [91] have been facing severe repression. According to a whitepaper on the repression of minorities in Bangladesh released on 10 October 2005 by the Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee (the Committee for Annihilation of Collaborators of 1971), more than 10,000 incidents of communal violence including murder, rape, torture, destruction of places of worship and forced conversion into Islam have taken place against the minorities since 2001. [92]

a. Violence against Ahmadiyas

Ahmadiyas faced physical threats from activists of International Khatme Nabuat Movement (IKNM) which intensified after the government failed to respect the High Court's order of 21 December 2004 temporarily suspending the ban imposed by the government in January 2004 on all publications of the Ahmadiya community, including the Koran and any translation or interpretation of it. [93] Despite announcement made by IKNM activists on 10 April 2005 that they would attack the Ahmadiyas on 17 April 2005, government failed to take any measure to protect the Ahmadiyas at Sundarban Bazaar of Shyamnagar upazila in Satkhira district. [94]

The approval of violence by the authorities only encouraged the IKNM activists. On 18 April 2005, three Ahmadiyas were attacked and one Faruk, son of Daud Moral was abducted. On 19 April 2005, Ahmadiyas were further attacked in broad daylight and dozens of houses were looted in the night. About 20 families fled their homes and villages. Fuljan Bibi, wife of Alam Sheikh and their sixth grade student daughter Jasmine were physically assaulted and threatened with rape if they did not leave the village. [95]

Throughout the year the Ahmadiyas faced attacks. These included attacks on the Ahmadiya mosque in Chittagong on 28 May 2005, [96] setting fire to an Ahmadiya mosque in Ahmadiya-inhabited area in Brahmanbaria on 24 June 2005, [97] vandalization of an under-construction Ahmadiyya mosque in presence of police at Dakshin Khan under Uttara police station in Dhaka on 18 July 2005 [98] and bombing of an Ahmadiya house at Brahmanbaria on 15 August 2005. [99]

b. Persecution of non-Muslim minorities

Minority Hindus, Christians and Buddhists faced serious persecution including physical attacks, killing, abduction, threat, torture, rape, destruction of temples and grabbing of their land by the Islamic fundamentalists and the ruling party leaders. 

A large number of Hindu temples were attacked and properties destroyed. These include destruction of a Hindu temple and three idols by one Rashid s/o Nurul Islam alias Kina and several of his accomplices in Lalbagh on 25 January 2005, [100]   rampaging of two Hindu temples and idols at Sandira village of Adamdighi upazila in Bogra on 17 March 2005, [101] vandalisation of a Durga temple at Palora village in Manikganj on 15 September 2005, [102]   and attacks on three puja mandaps in Khulna, Faridpur and Jessore on 6 October 2005. [103]

A Hindu priest identified as Gopal Barman of Narsingdi town was murdered on 21 October 2005. [104] The Jihadis forced Grace Presbyterian Bible College to move out of Khulna after attacking it twice in 2005. [105]

The lands of the religious minorities continued to be grabbed by the political party leaders and thugs. In February 2005, ‘Siddique Bahini' men tortured and forcibly occupied the land of 14 poor Hindu families at Kapalipara village in Patuakhali. [106] On 27 March 2005, the BNP thugs attacked the Hindu families at village Chhoto Shanta in Debhata upazila, Satkhira and grabbed 42 bighas of land. At least 10 persons were injured when they tried to resist the attackers. [107]

Eviction of the minorities on frivolous grounds was common. On 22 June 2005, about 300 people of 65 families, most of them belonging to Hindu and indigenous communities, were evicted by Mostafapur Union Parishad chairman and BNP leader, Samsuddin Mondal  from a 10-acre government land at Baradal village in Mostafapur union in Parbatipur upazila in Dinajpur district for a rehabilitation project for the landless. [108] On 25 and 26 June 2005, 17 more minority families were evicted from Baradal village. [109]

X. Violations of the prisoners' rights

Prison conditions were deplorable in Bangladesh. While hardcore criminals were allegedly allowed to use cell phones, eat the food of their choice and carry out illegal activities like murder and extortion from their prison cells, [110] ordinary prisoners, including the under-trials were deprived of basic necessities like proper food, water, toilet facilities and medical attention.


In 2004, Bangladesh's 64 jails housed more than 74,000 prisoners, including more than 2,000 female inmates. As of March 2005, a total of 1028 under-trial prisoners had been reportedly languishing for years, ranging from 10 to 16 years in some cases, across the country without being produced before any court for trial. The decision of the Cabinet Committee of 20 December 2004 to take measures for releasing the under-trial detainees remaining in jail for five years or more for minor offences has not been materialized. [111]

The Dhaka Central Jail lodged more than 11,000 inmates, over 300 of them were women. On an average, 300-350 prisoners lived in each room - many times higher than the sanctioned capacity. [112] Meherpur district jail reportedly housed nearly 300 convicts as against sanctioned capacity of 36. During the night it was reportedly difficult for prisoners even to sleep. There were little facilities for water supply and toilet. The food was substandard and inadequate. [113] In Kishoreganj district jail, about 800 prisoners were huddled against the capacity of 249 without any basic facilities. [114] In Chuadanga district jail, there were 600 prisoners against its capacity of 96.

Torture and other abuses were rampant in jails.

Many of the allegations of torture were brought to the attention of the courts.  On 18 January 2005, one Israyel Munshi filed a case with Jhenidah District and Sessions Judge's court alleging torture of his son Rabiul Islam and his fellow inmates by the jailor, one Havildar and two jail guards Alim and Miraz in Jhenidah district jail when they refused to pay Taka 300 as bribe for allowing food into the jail from outside. [115] Similarly, a convicted prisoner Mohammad Shariful Islam complained before a Dhaka court that deputy jailer Mohammad Reza and jail guard Mohammad Kalim of Kashimpur jail in Gazipur tortured him and threatened to kill him in Kashimpur jail on 25 February 2005. He also showed evidence, marks of bruises all over his body before the Judge Mohammad Shamsul Alam Khan of the First Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court. [116] On 28 May 2005 an investigation was ordered by the court. [117]  

Many prisoners died due to alleged torture and lack of medical treatment.  Some of the prisoners who died while in prison in 2005 included Shahabul of Sylhet Central Jail on 29 March 2005; [118]   Shyamol Sarkar of Jessore jail on 2 April 2005, [119] Abul Hossain of Nilphamari District Jail on 22 May 2005; [120] Sayed Ali of Narsingdi jail and Babul Bepari of Munshiganj jail on 5 June 2005, [121] Pannu Sheikh alias Selim of Madaripur District Jail on 10 June 2005; [122] Abdur Razzaque who died at Bogra Mohammed Ali Hospital on 16 June 2005; [123] Anwar Hossain of Nilphamari District Jail on 11 August 2005; [124] Abdur Razzaque of Bogra jail on 16 June 2005; [125] Sultan and Iaruddin of Dhaka Central Jail on 27 August 2005; [126] Mozammel Huq of Chuadanga jail on 10 November 2005; [127] and Alamgir Mridha of Barisal central jail on 21 November 2005. [128]

XI. Violence against women

Rape, acid attacks, torture and dowry-related killings were common in Bangladeshi society. According to Odhikar, a total of 907 women were raped, of whom 126 were killed and 14 committed suicide after rape in 2005. During the same period, 382 women were tortured for dowry. Of them, 227 were killed, 13 were thrown acid and 19 committed suicide. [129] Odhikar also claimed that about 4,200 women and children were raped, 467 of the rape victims were killed while 45 others committed suicide after rape and 740 women were killed and 283 tortured for dowry between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2004. [130] According to the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association, out of total 5,225 rape incidents between 2000 and 2004, only 2,715 incidents i.e. 51.96 per cent had been reported to the police. [131]

The security forces were also responsible for abduction and rape. On the night of 28 July 2005, a 17-year-old girl was raped by a policeman identified as Nurul Islam of Riot Police at a hotel in Farmgate area in Dhaka. [132]

Many police personnel were arrested for rape. Some of them were constables Rajendra Kumar, Kong Eng Murang and Yunus who were arrested in Manikganj on charge of gang raping a girl on 24 June 2005, [133] constable Sirajul Islam and his friend Nasir who were arrested on the charge of raping a 13-year-old girl at Gulshan in Dhaka on 12 May 2005, [134] and two Ansar personnel identified as Kausar Ali and Jahurul Islam posted at Bhitabolla police camp in Bagherpara upazila in Jessore district who were arrested on the charge of raping a girl of 9th standards in Jamdia village on 13 March 2005. [135]

a. Status of minority and indigenous women

Minority women were victims of rape and assault. Some of the incidents of violence against indigenous and minority women include rape of a 22-year-old tribal woman on 2 March 2005 at Balutila village of Dantmara union in Fatikchhari, [136] gang rape and murder of Sabina Bashki, a Santal tribal woman on 16 April 2005 in Baderganj, [137] torture of a pregnant indigenous woman after hanging her from a tree by a Union Parishad member Abdul Zabbar in Thakurgaon on 16 June 2005 [138] and abduction and gang rape of a Hindu girl by Mahidul Islam, chairman of Dariapur Union Parishad in Sreepur upazila in October 2005. [139]

Even when the culprits were identified, no action was taken. On 26 October 2005, Miss Painu Sing Marma (15 years), daughter of Keja Aung Marma of Mewa Para village of Rajvilla under Bandarban district was abducted and gang raped by six illegal plain settlers while she was going to Bandarban Buddhist orphanage. She was kidnapped in a motorcycle whose owner was identified as Mr. Kamal, a leader of ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party. The police failed to arrest and prosecute anyone of them. [140]

Instead of taking action against the rape of an indigenous woman, Ms. Kabla Tripura, wife of Ratnadhan Tripura of Alutila Madyam Para village under Matiranga upazila in Khagrachari district by an army personnel of Hriday Member Para army camp in the CHTs in August 2005, the Commanding Officer of the Khedachara zone put pressure upon the relatives of the victim to compromise with the accused. [141]

In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, whenever indigenous peoples protested against sexual harassment of their women and girls, the illegal plain settlers and security forces attacked their villages. On 25 July 2005, the army along with illegal plain settlers attacked Harangi Para, a Marma inhabited village under Kaukhali upazila in Rangamati district following the beating of a plain settler Md. Jabbar Ali who along with another settler Md. Yakub Ali, tried to rape a Jumma girl identified as Sanu Bhai Marma (15 years), d/o late Chaprue Marma. About 23 indigenous villagers were injured in the attacks. [142]

In a rare case, on 19 June 2005, Additional Session Judge SM Solaiman of the Special Court on prevention of women and child repression, in Bhola sentenced five ruling partymen to life imprisonment for raping two women of the minority community in Lalmohon upazila on 3 October 2001 after the elections. [143]

However, none has been punished for violence against women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts since the armed conflict began in 1975.

b. Trafficking of women and children

Bangladesh has been “a country of origin and transit for trafficking of women and children for the purposes of sexual exploitation, involuntary domestic servitude, and debt bondage”. [144] Thousands of women and children have been allegedly trafficked from Bangladesh each year to India, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Every month an estimated 200 to 400 Bangladeshi women and children are trafficked to Pakistan and an estimated 10-15,000 are trafficked to India every year. [145] Most women and children have been trafficked for forced marriage, prostitution, domestic work, and factory labor. Many of the children trafficked to the Middle East have been used as camel jockeys.

The government reportedly rescued and rehabilitated 338 victims of trafficking and brought 155 camel jockeys home during the period from 15 June 2004 to 1 December 2005. Three traffickers were sentenced to death and 80 others to life imprisonment. [146]

XII. Violations of the rights of the child

According to Odhikar, a total of 1,235 children were subjected to torture in 2005. In addition, 308 were killed, 319 raped, 96 trafficked, 37 acid attacked and 85 remained missing. [147]

Indigenous Jumma children have been victims of torture, rape and other sexual abuses at the hands of the security forces and the illegal plain settlers. On 23 January 2005, a 9-year-old boy named Bandachya Chakma, son of Pagana Khulo Chakma of Dojar area was sexually abused by an army personnel. The victim and his friend had gone to the forest to collect forest products when the army personnel encountered them. The accused sent the victim's friend to buy him food, and sodomised the minor boy. Later, the accused gave Taka 50 note to the victim to not to disclose the matter. [148]

There were no juvenile correctional homes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the juveniles were often put in prisons along with adults. On 6 August 2005, the army arrested two teenaged supporters of UPDF, identified as Santo Chakma (14 years) and Iron Chakma (16 years) from Machalong Baghaichhari upazila in Rangamati and sent them to Rangamati district jail. The army claimed that they were arrested during a raid at Macholong forest areas and sophisticated arms and ammunitions were recovered from them. [149]

According to the first National Child Labour Survey conducted by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics in 1995-96, there were about 6.3 million child workers of 5-14 years among 34.4 million children in Bangladesh. [150] The second National Child Labour Survey (2002-2003) found that there were 4.9 million working children (excluding economically active children who are unemployed) which comprised 14.2 per cent of the total 35.06 million children in the age group of 5-14 years. The total working child population in the age group 5- 17 years was estimated at 7.9 million. In the age group of 5-17 years, the proportion of boy and girl child workers is 73.5 per cent and 26.5 per cent respectively. [151]

XIII. Status of refugees

There were about 20,572 recognised [152] and 14,000 unrecognized [153] Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. In addition, there were some 250,000 to 300,000 stateless Biharis or “stranded Pakistanis” living in 66 camps across the country. [154]  

a. Plight of the stateless Biharis

At the end of 2004, there were 250,000 to 300,000 Bihari muslim refugees living in 66 camps throughout Bangladesh. [155]  They are the descendents of Urdu speaking Bihari Muslims who moved from India to then East Pakistan in 1947. The last repatriation of Bihari Muslims from Bangladesh to Pakistan took place in 1993 when Pakistan accepted 53 Bihari families. [156]

The camps had been disproportionately overcrowded and they lacked basic civic facilities. In Rangpur camps, there had been several instances where 12 or more family members sleep huddled together in a single room no larger than eight by ten feet. [157] In some of the camps, the inmates have to co-habitat with animals. During the monsoon, the camps become inhospitable. In Mirpur's Millat Camp, there was only one latrine for 6,000 people as in December 2004. [158]

Skin disease, water-borne illness, upper respiratory infections and gastro-intestinal disorders etc were common among the camp inmates. [159]

On 5 May 2003, 10 Bangladesh-born Bihari residents of the Geneva Refugee Camp at Mohammadpur were granted voting rights by the High Court. [160] Yet, there was no further advancement towards granting of citizenship right to all Bangladesh-born Bihari refugees. No further initiative has been taken both by Pakistan and Bangladesh governments to address their plight.

In absence of nationality, the “stranded Pakistanis” have been denied their basic rights to livelihood and the right to live with dignity, besides enjoyment of other political and social rights. Children of the Bangladesh-born parents have also been deprived of admission in educational institutions. [161]

b. Plight of the Rohingya refugees

In early 1990s, a total of 2,50,877 Rohingya refugees, mostly of Muslim faith, crossed into Bangladesh to escape persecution at the hands of military junta in Myanmar. Of them, 2,36,597 were repatriated to Myanmar under the supervision of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). [162] A total of 20,572 [163] refugees were officially provided shelter in two recognized camps at Kutupalong in Ukhia and Nayapara in Teknaf in the Cox's Bazar district. In November 2005, the UNHCR started the process of registering the remaining Rohingya refugees in the two camps. [164] Only 92 refugees reportedly returned in 2005 while 210 had returned in 2004. [165] An estimated 14,000 [166] others were also living illegally in slums, mostly at Dumdumia under Teknaf in Cox's Bazar district.

There were reports of lack of adequate food, clothes, medical facilities, sanitation or safe drinking water. During the rains, the roofs leak, making camp conditions inhospitable. Penury and neglect forced the refugees to illegally sneak out of the camps and work in the local community – pulling rickshaws, fishing, making bricks or working in the nearby salt fields at cheap rate. [167]

Many Rohingyya refugees have been settled in the lands of the indigenous peoples in Ukiha para in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, thereby further contributing to the pauperisation and exploitation of the indigenous communities. [168]

XIV. Status of Internally Displaced Persons

The internally displaced persons were mainly concentrated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.  The CHTs Accord defined “internally displaced persons” as the indigenous populations who have been displaced (Clauses D.1 and D.2 of the CHT Accord). In June 1998, the Task Force defined “internally displaced people in the CHTs” as “all tribal peoples from the three districts who had been compelled to leave their village, land or house during the conflict from 15 August 1975 (date of assisination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) to 10 August 1992 (date of unilateral ceasefire declared by PCJSS) and forced to take shelter in other areas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts”. However, the definition was soon thrown out of the window.

In 2000, the Task Force under the chairmanship of Dipankar Talukder prepared the list of 1,28,364 IDP families, including 90,208 indigenous and 38,156 non-tribal families. [169] In effect, the government sought to declare “illegal plain settlers”, who in the first place were brought into the Chittagong Hill Tracts for ethnic cleansing of indigenous Jumma peoples, as IDPs. In addition, upto 10,000 tribal IDP families were not counted, nor were the refugees who had become internally displaced after repatriation from India were included in the task force's IDP list. [170]

There were about 100,000 indigenous displaced families including 43,000 Jumma refugees who had returned to CHTs from Tripura State of India after the peace accord was signed in 1997. About 40 villages of returnee refugees were under the occupation of the illegal settlers and over 3,000 families did not get their land back. [171]

The internally displaced indigenous peoples, especially those living in forest areas, were also deprived from using forest products and even collection of firewood was prohibited. They were also not provided any rehabilitation or food aid, educational facilities, health care services, sanitation and safe drinking water. In 2005, about 20 children died due to lack of health care and clean drinking water facilities. [172]

Among the Jumma IDPs, only those who were repatriated from India have been given food assistance. The other indigenous Jumma IDPs do not receive any assistance, although the government of Bangladesh have been providing free food ration to the illegal plain settlers, who have been settled on the lands of the Jumma IDPs, since 1978.

XV. Violations of International Humanitarian Laws by Armed Opposition Groups

The near simultaneous explosion of 459 time bombs in 63 out of 64 districts [173] on 17 August 2005 in which 2 persons were killed and over 100 were injured, put Bangladesh on the spotlight of terrorism. According to Odhikar, at least 62 people died in bomb and grenade attacks in 2005. [174]

Jihadi terror activities have been posing serious threat as reflected from the murderous attack on liberal writer, Professor Humayun Azad in Dhaka on 27 February 2004, [175] the bomb attack on British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Anwar Choudhury on 21 May 2004 in Sylhet, [176] the assassination attempt on Sheikh Hasina on 21 August 2004, [177] the assassination of former Finance Minister AMS Kibria on 27 January 2005, [178] the bombing of the BRAC office in Naogaon district on 15 February 2005, [179] etc.  On 23 February 2005, Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman even called Islamic militancy a ‘foul propaganda' by a section of the media. [180]

The BNP led government was accused of colluding with the Jihadis. On 26 September 2005, BNP's International Affairs Secretary Syed Najibul Bashar Maizbhandari resigned from the party, protesting the government's ‘failure to act' against Jamaat-e-Islami. [181] In November 2005, BNP expelled lawmaker Abu Hena from the party for his statement that there was hand of the party in emergence of the outlawed JMB. [182]

Instead of cooperating with the judiciary, the government challenged the High Court order of 30 November 2005 which directed the government to submit fortnightly reports on the progress in the investigation of bomb attacks on different courthouses since 17 August 2005. [183] Of the 1,296 cases filed for alleged terrorism charges, charge sheets were filed only in 94 cases. [184]

Former Islamic Foundation Director Moulana Fariduddin Masud, detained for suspected links to the August 17 blasts, pointed out involvement of Minister of Industries and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami in the blasts. [185] However, no investigation was done. On 13 December 2005, Rapid Action Battalion arrested Ataur Rahman Sunny, chief of the military wing of the Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and brother of its chief, Shaikh Abdur Rahman. Ataur Rahman Sunny used to be an activist of the Islami Chhatra Shibir, student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh. [186]

A number of other arrested members of the Jihadi groups reportedly confessed to having close ties with Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh. [187] On 7 December 2005, police also arrested Mohiuddin Faruqi, suspected regional commander of JMB's Khulna division and Islami Oikya Jote leader. [188]

There were also reports of involvement of security forces with the Jihadi groups. On 16 February 2005, the Additional Superintendent of Police of Khulna, Mofazzel Hossain, was arrested for allegedly harboring an outlawed jihadi operative. [189] On 3 October 2005, police arrested Abu Taleb alias Babul Ansari, assistant security officer of the parliament secretariat, in Dhaka for his alleged links with the Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh. [190] According to officials of the Joint Interrogation Cell, Babul Ansari allegedly confessed that he was a leader of Allah's Dal, an Islamist militant outfit, and reportedly disclosed the names of 20 leaders of Allah's Dal. [191] On 7 December 2005, police arrested a former National Security Intelligence official, Nesar Uddin for renting his house to prime suspect of Gazipur blast and JMB member, Walid Elahi Jewel, who was arrested by the security forces on 5 December 2005. [192]

Majority of the cadres of terrorist groups were drawn reportedly from madrasas across the country and Islamic Chatra Shibir, the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami. [193] On 18 September 2005, Masud bin Ishaque, a member of the JMB, arrested in Khulna for suspected links to the August 17th serial blasts, reportedly confessed before the chief metropolitan magistrate in Khulna of having trained the Islamist militants in firearms and bombs in the mosques in Khulna under the supervision of Islamic terrorist leaders including Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai. [194] Similarly, on 25 September 2005, an arrested JMB militant Faisal Ahmed told a Dhaka court that the capital's Kakrail Mosque had been used to train bombers involved in the August 17 serial blasts. [195]

During the BNP-Jamaat rule, the state support to madrasas increased exponentially. According to Bangladesh Economic Review, from 2001 to 2005, the number of madrasas increased by 22.22 per cent in comparison to the 9.74 per cent growth of the general educational institutions. The number of teachers in general schools and colleges increased by 12.27% against 16.52% per cent increase in madrasas. The number of students in general educational institutions rose by 8.64 per cent while the madrasas saw 10.12 per cent rise. These figures related to about 9,000 government registered madrasas. [196] There were about 64,000 madrasas in Bangladesh in 2005 and majority were unregistered.    

[1] . Blasts, killings by Islamists dominate 2005: Odhikar, New Age, 1 January 2006

[2] . AL MPs siege speaker's room, show black flags, The Daily Star, 1 February 2005

[3] . AL lawmaker gunned down at rally, The Daily Star, 8 May 2004

[4] . Bomb goes off at Sylhet Mohila AL meet, The Daily Star, 25 December 2004

[5] . Top city AL leader slain, The Daily Star, 18 May 2005 

[6] . Sylhet mayor escapes grenade attack, The Daily Star, 3 December 2005

[7] . 10 BNP men charged with killing Kibria, The Daily Star, 21 March 2005 

[8] . 22 sentenced to death for killing Ahsanullah Master MP, New Age, 17 April 2005 

[9] . Rab 'crossfire' kills AL leader, The Daily Star, 4 May 2005

[10] . Why killing of Dud Mia not illegal, asks HC,
The Daily Star, 16 May 2005

[11] . Juba League activist among 2 killed in 'crossfire' in city, The Independent, 1 June 2005

[12] . Abbas, Babar, RAB chief sued for Juba League leader's killing, New Age, 7 June 2005

[13] . Blasts, killings by Islamists dominate 2005: Odhikar, New Age, 1 January 2006

[14] .

[15] . 131 cops held on various charges-Home minister tells JS, News from Bangladesh, 29 June 2005

[16] . RAB personnel are drawn from the police, army, air force, navy and paramilitary force BDR

[17] . Awful cost of protest, The Daily Star, 17 July 2005

[18] . 13 RAB men suspended for torturing businessman, New Age, 24 July 2005

[19] . 3 die in custody, 'crossfire', The Daily Star, 2 January 2005

[20] . OC, SI of Badda thana sued for death of youth in 'crossfire', New Age, 20 May 2005

[21] . 'Mugger' killed by cops despite his claim of innocence, The Daily Star, 10 May 2005

[22] . 7 cops sued for killing a man, The Daily Star, 15 May 2005

[23] . Another shady case of Rab 'crossfire', The Daily Star, 13 June 2005

[24] . Probe committee records statements of 46, The Daily Star, 30 May 2005

[25] . HC rule over 'crossfire' killing in Kushtia, New Age, 10 May 2005  

[26] . Govt to probe deaths in Rab crossfire, The Daily Star, 12 May 2005

[27] . Youth arrested by Rab dies at DMCH, The Daily Star, 7 March 2005

[28] . Who tortured the trader?, The Daily Star, 2 June 2005

[29] . Police beat up trader, dump him into jail, The Daily Star, 12 April 2005

[30] . Human Rights (HR) Violations in the CHT - 2005, Jumma Peoples Network - UK,

[31] . Human Rights (HR) Violations in the CHT - 2005, Jumma Peoples Network - UK,

[32] . UPDF activist arrested in Lakshmichari, Press Section, Publication and Publicity Department, United People's Democratic Front, 23 July 2005

[33] . Two innocent villagers arrested by BDR in Longadu, PCJSS, 30 November 2005

[34] . 6 innocent Jummas arrested by the army in Baghaihat, PCJSS,

[35] . 29 August 2005: Harassment of Army on Indigenous Jummas in Baghaichari, Rangamati,

[36] . Returnee PCJSS members arrested by army in Panchari, PCJSS, available at

[37] . Army tortures 3 in Gangaram, Baghaichari, Human Rights Monitoring Cell, United People's Democratic Front (UPDF), 6 January 2006

[38] . DYF leader Super Jyoti Chakma arrested in Lakshmichari, 
Human Rights Monitoring Cell, United People's
Democratic Front (UPDF), 5 December 2005

[39] . Super Jyoti Chakma released on bail, Human Rights Monitoring Cell, United People's Democratic Front (UPDF), 5 December 2005

[40] . Govt gets half a year more for separation of judiciary, New Age, 17 April 2005 

[41] . SC refuses govt appeal for more time on judiciary separation, New Age, 21 October 2005

[42] . Bombers kill two judges in Jhalakati, New Age, 15 November 2005

[43] . Sylhet judge escapes bomb attack, New Age, 19 October 2005

[44] . Militants strike again on courts, The Daily Star, 4 October 2005

[45] . 9 killed in suicide blasts as militants continue attack on judiciary, New Age, 30 November 2005 

[46] . HC asks govt for regular report on blast probe, New Age, 1 December 2005

[47] . SC rejects govt petition, upholds HC order with minor changes, The Daily Star, 5 December 2005

[48] . Move for quick disposal of sensational cases, The Daily Star, 24 April 2002

[49] . No trial in 33 months, IO changed six times, The Daily Star, 29 March 2005

[50] . Court orders probe, The Daily Star, 5 January 2005

[51] . Speedy trial tribunals dispose of 6,133 cases, The Bangladesh Observer, 19 July 2005

[52] . "Locked up rights" by Rita Bhowmick, available at

[53] . Human Rights Commission: Out of agenda again?, Abul Hasnat, The Daily Star, 20 July 2003

[54] . Female NGO worker murdered in Dighinala, HR Monitoring Cell, UPDF, 10 December 2005

[55] . 2 NGO workers murdered, The Daily Star, 30 July 2005

[56] . Brac, Grameen Bank under bomb attack, Daily Star, 17 February 2005

[57] . PMO order stops workshop on CHT people's land rights,
The Daily Star, 24 November 2005

[58] .

[59] . Threat against Ain O Salish Kendra for RAB report, New Age, 5 July 2005

[60] . Vested quarter harasses ASK for anti-Rab stance, The Daily Star, 8 July 2005

[61] . Blasts, killings by Islamists dominate 2005: Odhikar, New Age, 1 January 2006

[62] .

[63] . Sircar seeks new device to curb press freedom, New Age, 7 July 2005

[64] . Press Council suggests punitive actions, New Age, 24 November 2005

[65] . HC slaps fines, jail term on journalists for contempt, New Age, 22 March 2005

[66] . Court orders arrest of Prothom Alo, Janakantha editors, New Age, 8 July 2005

[67] . Sangbad Editor, two others sued in Satkhira, The Daily Star, 24 July 2005

[68] . JCD men beat up journos for reporting on gambling, The Daily Star, 24 February 2005

[69] . BNP cadres assault newsman in Patuakhali, The Independent, 26 June 2005

[70] . Newsman beaten by JCD activists in Rajshahi,
The Independent, 7 July 2005

[71] . BNP cadres kidnap journo, The Daily Star, 10 August 2005

[72] . BNP men abduct journalist, beat him, New Age, 18 September 2005

[73] . Journalist assaulted, New Age, 22 October 2005

[74] . Journalist assaulted by state minister, New Age, 21 November 2005

[75] . Rab beats up Jugantor chief photojournalist, The Daily Star, 15 March 2005

[76] . 10 injured as NSI men assault photojournalists, The Independent, 8 July 2005

[77] . OC beats up CU journalist on campus, The Daily Star, 11 August 2005

[78] . Three cops withdrawn for assaulting journalist, New Age, 28 September 2005

[79] . Journalist Belal succumbs to bomb injuries, The Daily Star, 12 February 2005

[80] .

[81] . Khulna outlaw confesses to his role in bomb attack, The Daily Star, 17 February 2005

[82] . Jugantor journo survives bomb attack, The Daily Star, 5 January 2005

[83] . Bangla Bhai men attack journalist, The Daily Star, 29 June 2005

[84] . Repression on Journos-'Make report public', The Daily Star, 22 June 2005

[85] . The Indigenous World Report 2005, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, Copenhagen, Denmark

[86] ."Plan to set up Para Commando Training Centre in Bandarban", Press Section,  Publications and Publicity Department, United People's Democratic Front (UPDF), 18 November 2005

[87] . Recent land grabbing, UPDF,

[88] . Frame Laws for CHT Land Commission, The Daily Star, 9 June 2005

[89] . JS body meet discusses probes of Bengali settlers in CHT, The Independent, Dhaka, 24 April 2006 available at

[90] . Ration for 28,000 more Bengali speaking families in CHT on cards, The Daily Star, 4 June 2005

[91] .30 injured in Bangla riots, The Statesman, 3 January 2004

[92] .10,000 incidents of minority repression in Bangladesh since 2001

[93] . Ban on Ahmadiyya books stayed, The Daily Star, 22 December 2004

[94] .50 hurt as bigots attack Ahmadiyyas in Satkhira, The Daily Star, 18 April 2005

[95] . Email communications from Bangladesh Development Partnership Centre (BDPC) of 20 April 2005

[96] . Ahmadiyya mosque besieged in Ctg, The Daily Star, 29 May 2005

[97] . Ahmadiyya area in B'baria bombed, mosque torched, The Daily Star, 25 June 2005

[98] . Zealots vandalise Ahmadiyya mosque, The Daily Star,
19 July 2005

[99] . Blast at Ahmadiyya house injures woman, The Daily Star, 16 August 2005

[100] . Criminals damage Hindu temple, The Daly Star, 28 January 2005

[101] . Two temples rampaged, idols looted, The Daily Star, 19 March 2005

[102] . Hindu temple vandalized, The Daily Star, 16 September 2005

[103] . Idols vandalized in 3 areas, The Daily Star, 8 October 2005

[104] . Body of Hindu priest recovered in Narsingdi -
Two statues stolen from temple, The Daily Star, 22 October 2005

[105] . Christian Freedom International (CFI), available at

[106] . Lands of 14 Hindu families occupied in Patuakhali, The Daily Star, 16 February 2005

[107] . Hindu family land grabbed, The Daily Star, 29 March 2005

[108] . Landless evicted to rehabilitate landless!
The Daily Star, 25 June 2005

[109] . Musclemen evict 17 more Dinajpur landless families, The Daily Star, 27 June 2005

[110] . Hedonic indulgence behind bars, New Age, 9 June 2005

[111] . Fresh bid to release under-trial detainees, New Age, 27 March 2005

[112] ."Locked up rights" by Rita Bhowmick, available at

[113] . Prisoners suffer in Meherpur jail- 300 huddle in place of 36 inmates, The Bangladesh Observer, 19 July 2005

[114] . Kishoreganj jail inmates passing subhuman lives, The Bangladesh Observer, 18 July 2005

[115] . Jhenidah Jailor faces case for 'torture' of inmate, The Daily Star, 20 January 2005

[116] . Prisoner complains of torture in Kashimpur jail, The Daily Star, 27 May 2005

[117] . Court orders investigation into Kashimpur jail torture, The Daily Star, 29 May 2005

[118] . Prisoner dies in Sylhet jail, The Daily Star, 31 March 2005

[119] . WP to slate death of activist in jail, New Age, 6 April 2005

[120] . Prisoner dies in Nilphamari jail, The Daily Star, 23 May 2005

[121] . Two prisoners die in Narsingdi, Munshiganj, The Independent, 6 June 2005

[122] . Prisoner dies in Madaripur jail, The Daily Star, 11 June 2005

[123] . Death of Prisoner- Bogra jailor, 4 others sued for 'torture', The Daily Star, 18 August 2005

[124] . Prisoner dies at Nilphamari jail, The Daily Star, 13 August 2005

[125] . Death of Prisoner- Bogra jailor, 4 others sued for 'torture', The Daily Star, 18 August 2005

[126] . 2 prisoners die in Dhaka Central Jail, The Independent, 28 August 2005

[127] . Prisoner dies in jail, The Independent,
Bangaldesh, 20 November 2005

[128] . Prisoner dies in jail, The Independent, 26 November 2005

[129] . Blasts, killings by Islamists dominate 2005: Odhikar,
New Age, 1 January 2006

[130] . Over 4,000 raped in 4yrs, New Age, 8 March 2005

[131] . Half of rape cases reported, New Age, 9 March 2005

[132] . Cop arrested on rape charge, The Daily Star, 30 July 2005

[133] . 3 constables held for rape in Manikganj, New Age, 1 July 2005

[134] . Cop, his friend arrested on rape charge, The Daily Star, 14 May 2005

[135] . Two ansars closed on rape charge,
The Daily Star, 14 March 2005

[136] . Indigenous woman raped, The Daily Star, 4 March 2005

[137] . Indigenous people block road over cop inaction, The Daily Star, 29 May 2005

[138] . Repression on indigenous woman condemned, The Daily Star, 22 June 2005

[139] . UP Chairman sent to jail for rape, The Daily Star, 10 November 2005

[140] . Jumma girl raped by Bengali culprits in Bandarban, 8 November 2005,

[141] . Human Rights (HR) Violations in the CHT - 2005, Jumma Peoples Network - UK,

[142] . Attack on indigenous Jumma village in Kaukhali by the army and Bengali settlers, PCJSS,

[143] . 5 ruling partymen given life term for rape in Bhola, The Bangladesh Observer, 22 June 2005

[144] .

[145] . Study shows 200 to 400 women trafficked to Pakistan every month, The Financial Express, Bangladesh, 19 November 2005

[146] . 338 victims of trafficking rescued since June last year,
The Daily Star, 16 December 2005 

[147] . Blasts, killings by Islamists dominate 2005: Odhikar, New Age, 1 January 2006 

[148] .

[149] . Two UPDF supporters arrested in Machalong, Human Rights Monitoring Cell, United People's Democratic Front, 22 August 2005

[150] . National Child Labour Survey 2002-2003, Bangladesh Bureau Of Statistics, Page 5

[151] .

[152] . Decision to make list of Rohingya refugees, The Independent, 18 October 2005

[153] . Undocumented Rohingya refugees suffer in silence, The New Nation, 26 May 2005

[154] . Refugee Voices: Stateless Bihari in Bangladesh, Refugees International available at 

[155] . Ibid

[156] .

[157] . Stateless Biharis in Bangladesh: A Humanitarian Nightmare, Refugees International available at
article/detail/4666? PHPSESSID=


[158] . Ibid

[159] . Ibid

[160] . 10 Geneva Camp refugees get voting rights, The Daily Star, 6 May 2003

[161] . Born here but still branded refugee, New Age, 20 June 2005

[162] . Decision to make list of Rohingya refugees, The Independent, 18 October 2005

[163] . Ibid

[164] . Refugees being registered, The Daily Star, 27 November 2005 

[165] . Ibid

[166] . Undocumented Rohingya refugees suffer in silence, The New Nation, 26 May 2005

[167] .

[168] .

[169] . Minorities increasingly at risk of displacement, IDMC, 28 March 2006

[170] . Ibid

[171] . Written statement submitted by Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN) to the Commission on Human Rights, 3 February 2003, available at

[172] . Minorities increasingly at risk of displacement, IDMC, 28 March 2006

[173] . 459 blasts in 63 districts in 30 minutes, The Daily Star, 18 August 2005

[174] . Blasts, killings by Islamists dominate 2005: Odhikar, New Age, 1 January 2006

[175] . Humayun Azad stabbed, fighting for life, The Daily Star, 28 February 2004

[176] . The Daily Star, 22 May 2004

[177] . Assassination attempt on Hasina, The Daily Star, 22 August 2004

[178] . Kibria, 4 AL men killed in grenade attacks, The Daily Star, 28 January 2005 

[179] . Bomb attacks on BRAC, Grameen Bank offices, New Age, 17 February 2005

[180] . Islamist militancy is a propaganda by media: Saifur, The Daily Star, 24 February 2005

[181] . Maizbhandari quits BNP as govt fails to act against Jamaat, The Daily Star, 27 September 2005 

[182] . BNP expels Abu Hena MP,

[183] . HC asks govt for regular report on blast probe, New Age, 1 December 2005

[184] . Blasts, killings by Islamists dominate 2005: Odhikar, New Age, 1 January 2006

[185] . Arrested moulana points finger at Nizami, The Daily Star, 24 August 2005

[186] . Sunny discloses sources of fund and explosives, The Independent, 16 December 2005

[187] . Jamaat link to militants becomes evident, The Daily Star, 22 September 2005

[188] . Khulna IOJ leader held for JMB link, Ex-NSI staff arrested The Daily Star, 8 December 2005

[189] . Additional SP of Khulna arrested, The Daily Star, 17 February 2005

[190] . JS secretariat security officer detained for 'militant link', The Daily Star, 8 October 2005

[191] . Allah's Dal man names leaders, New Age, 12 October 2005

[192] . Khulna IOJ leader held for JMB link, Ex-NSI staff arrested The Daily Star, 8 December 2005 

[193] .

[194] . Khulna mosques used as militants' training camp - Says suspect; JMB carried out attacks on cinemas in 2002, The Daily Star, 19 September 2005 

[195] . Kakrail Mosque was used to train Aug 17 bombers, JMB cadre says in confessional statement, The Daily Star, 26 September 2005

[196] .  

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