UN Human Rights experts should intervene to stop en masse arbitrary arrest

Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

June 4 2008

The New Age, a national English daily in Bangladesh, reports today that  “(t)he government has so far detained about 12,000 people, including local leaders and activists of major political parties and local government representatives in a crackdown that began midnight past Friday (30 May 2008).”

Quoting the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mr. Noor Mohammad, the country’s media reports that the police headquarters acknowledged the number of detainees were 10,054 until Tuesday (3 June 2008). Of them 1,729 persons were arrested within 24 hours since Sunday morning.

According to the media reports, the law-enforcing agencies dominated by the armed forces have launched this massive arrest and detention by abusing Section 15 (1) of the Special Power Act of 1974 and Rule 16 (2) of the Emergency Power Rules of 2007. It is also reported that the arrested persons are randomly charged with false cases.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is aware that Section 15 (1), one of the widely abused sections of the Special Power Act of 1974, allows the authorities to arrest people for committing “sabotage”. Since the proclamation of the State of Emergency on 11 January 2007 and the Emergency Power Rules of 2007 has been in effect, the law-enforcing agents like the police, controlled and dominated by the armed forces, have been randomly abusing Rule 16 (2) to arrest innocent persons and detain them arbitrarily.

The AHRC has been documenting these cases concerning human rights abuses in Bangladesh. The AHRC strongly condemns the ongoing arbitrary arrest of innocent persons and urges the authorities to release those who are arbitrarily held in detention. The AHRC also urges the international community including the concerned independent experts of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights at the UN to intervene in the current situation in Bangladesh. 

AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.


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