Posts Tagged ‘abduction’

Why does MP Tulip Siddiq not want to speak out on Bangladesh?

December 5, 2017

Michael Polak, a human rights lawyer in the UK , wrote in the Guardian of 4 December 2017 “Why will Tulip Siddiq not speak out on Bangladesh’s ‘disappeared’ innocents?”. Behind this title is a serious matter. Ahmad bin Quasem is among the hundreds abducted by state forces in Bangladesh, the country of which this British MP’s  aunt happens to be the prime minister. The author points out that the excuse that the MP has “no sway over Bangladeshi politics” is far from convincing as:.. “And yet earlier this week the Bangladeshi cabinet adopted a resolution “greeting” the Hampstead and Kilburn MP for winning an award in Westminster. Siddiq accompanied the Bangladeshi prime minister during bilateral talks between Russia and Bangladesh in January 2013. Her paternal uncle is Tarique Ahmed Siddique, security adviser to the prime minister. Her mother and brother are both on the ruling party’s council and it is said that her brother is being groomed to be a future leader of Bangladesh. It is clear that Tulip Siddiq has a close relationship with various government figures in Bangladesh, including the prime minister.

Why this MP feels so reluctant to use her influence and to speak out on this and other cases is a mystery. The details of the case of Mir Ahmad bin Quasem, or Arman as he is known to friends and family, a British-trained Bangladeshi lawyer who was abducted in August 2016 by state security forces, follows below.
tulip siddiq
Tulip Siddiq. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty

Last year the family of one such victim approached me to press their case. Mir Ahmad bin Quasem, or Arman as he is known to friends and family, is a British-trained Bangladeshi lawyer who was abducted in August 2016 by state security forces. They knocked on his door and, in front of his wife and young children, dragged him away. This abduction followed the exact modus operandi of other abductions by the security forces in Bangladesh. Since this incident there has been no confirmation of his whereabouts, but we believe that he is still alive.

Mir Ahmad was on the defence team for his father, Quasem Ali, who was prosecuted by Bangladesh’s self-styled “international crimes tribunal”, set up by the ruling party in Bangladesh to try crimes committed during the country’s war of liberation against Pakistan.

The tribunal has been widely criticised internationally, including by groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the United Nations high commissioner for human rights and eminent British lawyers. Along these lines, Mir Ahmad decided to join his father’s defence team but was abducted a month before his father’s execution, while the appeal procedure was still under way.

Mir Ahmad has not been charged with any offence and his abduction and continued detention by the Bangladeshi government is contrary to the Bangladeshi constitution and the country’s obligations under international law. Forced disappearances are common in Bangladesh under the current government: more than 320 people have been disappeared since 2009.

Mir Ahmad is one of three sons of former politicians who were abducted at around the same time, one of whom has been released. In a secret recordingobtained by Swedish radio, it is claimed by a high-ranking government security officer that the fate of those seized is decided by those “high up”. Astonishingly, as reported in these pages, Sheikh Hasina recently claimed that such forced disappearances also occur in Britain and the US, saying “275,000 British citizens disappeared” in the UK each year.

Last week Channel 4 News raised the issue and put the matter to Siddiq. The interaction now has become a matter of public record. Siddiq complained that Mir Ahmad was not her constituent, that she had no sway over Bangladeshi politics and that in any case she was a British MP focusing on Britain…..Even if we are to take Siddiq at her word that she has no sway over Bangladeshi politics, what is preventing her from at least speaking out? My client may not be Siddiq’s constituent, but nor is he the constituent of Shabana Mahmood MP, who raised an official parliamentary question on the matter earlier this year.

Before and since the Channel 4 News report was aired, the family of Mir Ahmad bin Quasem have been visited by state security forces who have reportedly warned them that “if there is any such news, come next time we will not be good like this time and you will not get to see our face like today”.

Since it has come to this, I earnestly hope that Siddiq can speak out to try to help ensure that Mir Ahmad’s mother, sister, wife and two young daughters are not intimidated by the Bangladeshi security services or face enforced disappearance themselves. This is an urgent matter and I ask Tulip Siddiq, as I have done many times before, to speak to me so it can be resolved.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/04/tulip-siddiq-bangladesh-disappeared-abducted-prime-minister

 

‘FOR THOSE WHO DIED TRYING’ Photo Exhibit on human rights defenders in Thailand by Protection International

January 16, 2017

exhibit 2

Protection International opened the photo exhibition, ‘For those who died trying’ on the Place des Nations in Geneva on Monday, 9 May 2016. The exhibition run from 9-11 May and presented the photographs of 37 murdered or abducted human rights defenders in Thailand. It has toured or will be touring various countries (e.g. Thailand, Brussels, Pamplona) and as from 22 January 2017 a small town in the Netherlands, Dordrecht (www.defendersindordrecht.org), houses the images.

The project looks to remember those who died defending human rights and protecting the environment by placing a portrait of the human rights defender, where possible, at the exact place he or she was murdered or abducted. It is vital, for the victims and their families, that their fight and their death is not forgotten and left un-recognised. Ultimately, those responsible must be brought to justice. Recognising those who died trying as HRDs and a better administration of justice are critical steps to end these killings.

More information can be downloaded here: ‘For those who died trying’ photo exhibition.

see related: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/12/02/new-on-line-memorial-to-remember-killed-human-rights-defenders/amp/

 

#BringBackOurGirls gets Argentinian Emilio Mignone award

December 6, 2016

The Government of Argentina has awarded the Nigeria#BringBackOurGirls movement the International Human Rights Prize ‘Emilio F. Mignone’ for work in advocacy towards respect for human rights worldwide. A statement on Monday 5 December in Abuja by the BBOG spokesman, Sesugh Akume, said the award ceremony would take place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Buenos Aires. It added that the coalition would be represented at the event by two members of the Movement, Aisha Yesufu, who is the Chairperson of the  Strategic Team, and Dr. Chinwe Madubuike.
The group stated “While in Argentina, they will as part of the award ceremonies, meet with the human rights group– Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo … …It is made up of grandmothers, mothers and other citizens who have since 1977 been advocating for the return of an estimated 500 children abducted or born in detention during the military era and illegally adopted, with their identities hidden.

The statement noted that like the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, which has advocated weekly in the last 39 years, the Chinwe Madubuike has been on a daily campaign since April 30, 2014 for the rescue of now 196 out of the 219 ChibokGirls abducted from their school on 14 April 2014 by Boko Haram.

Source: BBOG wins Argentine rights award – Punch Newspapers

This is what MEA Jury members say about Razan Zaitouneh, abducted in Syria in 2013

September 20, 2016

Jury members of the Martin Ennals Award speak about Razan Zaitouneh, one of three Finalists for the Martin Ennals Award 2016 . Razan Zaitouneh is a prominent human rights lawyer, activist, and journalist in Syria. Razan has dedicated her life to defending political prisoners and documenting crimes against humanity, whether committed by the Government or rebel forces. This video was uploaded on 25 April 2016. The MEA ceremony will take place in Geneva on 11 October. new MEA_logo with text

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/an-early-save-the-date-11-october-2016-martin-ennals-award-for-human-rights-defenders-in-geneva/

 

Itai Dzamara’s disappearance worrying for all human rights defenders in Zimbabwe

May 5, 2015

On 4 May 2015 Bridget Mananavire of Nehanda Radio in Zimbabwe marked 54 days since the disappearance of human rights activist and journalist, Itai Dzamara, with law enforcement agents continuing to profess ignorance over his whereabouts.

Abducted political activist Itai Dzamara
Human rights defender Itai Dzamara, abducted on 9 March by yet unidentified men

Rashid Mahiya, Heal Zimbabwe Trust executive director, said the government’s silence raised suspicion: “Itai Dzamara’s disappearance raises a distressing sense of insecurity among many human rights defenders in the country. The government’s silence vindicates speculation that its security agencies are responsible for Itai’s abduction and disappearance”…….”the State has a presence of abducting citizens, active opposition and human rights leaders and activists, some of whom disappeared and were never found while others were later discovered in police custody. Jestina Mukoko was abducted in 2008 and later discovered in police custody after 21 days while persons like Tonderai Ndira, Betha Chokururama were found dead,”.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the truth about Dzamara’s disappearance should be revealed so that the perpetrators face their judgment.

The European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe also reminded people that the human rights defender should never be forgotten, calling for his return.

‘Dzamara’s unending abduction worrying’ – Nehanda Radio.

Indictment in Senegal a breakthrough in the Congolese Chebeya-Bazana case?

January 13, 2015

Paul Mwilambwe, a major suspect in the Congolese Chebeya-Bazana case was indicted by a Senegalese court and placed under judicial supervision in Dakar on 8 January 2015. This decision was taken following a criminal complaint based on universal jurisdiction filed on 2 June 2014 by lawyers of the FIDH Litigation Action Group (LAG) and the families of Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana, the two Congolese human rights defenders who were assassinated in June 2010. FIDH hopes that these efforts of the Senegalese judicial authorities contribute to identifying the persons responsible for these assassinations and the disappearance of these two human rights defenders.logo FIDH_seul

That Paul Mwilanbwe has been indicted and heard by an independent investigative judge is a fundamental step on the road to truth and, we hope, to the justice which has not been available to the victims’ families in DRC” , said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President. “This is the first time since the Hissène Habré case that a case based on extra-territorial jurisdiction is being tried in Senegal, a step which sends a strong, positive signal showing that the Senegalese judiciary intends to play an active role in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes committed in Africa”.

Since the Democratic Republic of Congo did not provide for equitable judicial proceedings, we initiated the proceedings in Senegal to ensure that an impartial and independent investigation would be carried out and that full information would be obtained on the murder and the enforced disappearance of the victims, Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana. We wanted an independent judge to hear Paul Mwilambe, an actor in this tragedy, and this has happened today,” said Assane Dioma Ndiaye, a lawyer for the FIDH LAG and for the Chebeya and Bazana families.

Paul Mwilambwe, a major in the Congolese National Police force (PNC), was in charge of security for the office of General John Numbi, Head of the PNC at the time of the events, in the premises where Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana were killed. Shortly after these killings, Paul Mwilambwe fled to a country somewhere in Africa before going to Senegal. In a filmed interview with France 24 (in French), whilst still on the run, Mwilambwe testified and denounced his own participation and the role and involvement of senior members of the Congolese police, including General John Numbi in the enforced disappearance and murder of the two human rights defenders.

“For us, this indictment gives us great hope to obtain the truth and justice that was refused to us in Congo where the justice system is bogged down. I want to know where my husband was buried. I want someone to tell me where he is. And I want to be able to bury him with dignity” , said Marie-José Bazana, the wife of Fidèle Bazana whose body has still not been found.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/death-of-floribert-chebeya-and-fidele-bazana-in-drc-still-unresolved-after-3-years/

[Background: On 2 June 2010, Floribert Chebeya, Executive Director of the NGO Voix des sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless – VSV), was found dead in his car in a suburb of Kinshasa. His close associate Fidele Bazana was reported missing. The day before, the two human rights defenders had shown up at PNC headquarters to meet with its Director, the Inspector-General, and General John Numbi. They did not emerge from this meeting alive. Faced with the public outcry triggered by the murder of Mr. Chebeya and disappearance of Mr. Bazana, the Congolese authorities were obliged to open an investigation. This investigation culminated in the precautionary suspension of General John Numbi and the imposition of murder indictments for eight police officers, including Paul Mwilambwe, who fled.

On 23 June 2011, following a trial marked by numerous incidents the military court on 23 June 2011 in Kinshasa acknowledged the civil responsibility of the Congolese state for the murder of Mr. Chebeya, as well as in the abduction and illegal detention of Mr. Bazana by several of its officers. The court convicted five of the eight police officers accused. Four were sentenced to death and one to life imprisonment. Three of those condemned to death are still on the run, and three of the police officers found to have played a role in the disappearance of Mr. Bazana, have since been acquitted. On 7 May 2013, the Military High Court, sitting as a court of appeal, declared itself incompetent to investigate the procedural issues in the case and decided to turn the proceedings over to the Supreme Court, operating as a constitutional court. In practice, this decision suspended the appeal proceedings, which remain deadlocked in DRC to date. In addition, Congolese authorities have never instituted proceedings to investigate the role played by General John Numbi, who has since been replaced as Head of the PNC, despite evidence and the complaints filed by the families of the two human rights defenders.]

The Chebeya-Bazana case: indictment of Paul Mwilambwe in (…).

Kidnappings of human rights defenders in DRC continue unabated

September 16, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedjust published two recent reports on kidnappings in DRC. The first is that on 13 September 2014, the corpse of human rights defender Mr Mutebwa Kaboko was found in a forest, eight days after he was kidnapped by an armed group. Mutebwa Kaboko was a training facilitator for the organisation Aide Rapide aux Victimes des Catastrophes – ARVC, created in 2008 to help disaster victims, especially women and vulnerable children. Now operating in the territories of Uvira and Fizi Walungu, the association has led a campaign against the phenomenon of forced marriage.  He was abducted by men suspected of belonging to an armed group known as Mayi Mayi Yakutumba. [On 20 June 2014, Mutebwa Kaboko was abducted in a similar way by elements of Mayi Mayi Yakutumba. He had apparently denounced their presence in the locality of Katete. They had held Mutebwa Kaboko in the open forest for five days before releasing him.]

On 14 September two other human rights defenders, Ms Neema Bitu and Mr Jacques Muganga, were found back after being kidnapped and held for two days by members of a rebel group. The two defenders are investigators of l’Action des Femmes Contre la Torture – AFCT (Action for Women Against Torture), an organisation defending the rights of women based in the village of Mwaba Kangando/Kiliba, tens of kilometers from the town of Uvira near the border between Burundi and the DRC. The perpetrators are this time  suspected of belonging to Forces Nationales de Libération du Burundi, a rebel group composed mostly of Burundian combatants and operating in parts of South Kivu in the DRC. On the night of 13 September 2014, the two defenders were able to escape from their captors while they were firing on the government army. Their colleagues found them at dawn on 14 September 2014 at approximately. During their captivity, they reportedly suffered terrible beatings and now require emergency medical treatment.

This follows the abduction and detention on 1 September 2014, of human rights defenders Mr Célestin Bambone, Ms Marie Amnazo and Ms Kongwa Tulinabo [from the Action Paysanne pour le Développement et la Promotion des Droits de l’Homme (Peasant Action for the Development and Promotion of Human Rights – APDPDH), a human rights organisation based in Mugutu, in the South Kivu province and specialising in the monitoring of human rights violations in Mugutu and surrounding villages].

 

Attempted abduction of human rights defender Nur Khan in Bangladesh

May 20, 2014

Another example of the earlier reported lawlessness in Bangladesh. On 15 May  the director of investigation of the NGO Ain o Salish Kendra [ASK], Nur Khan, reported that six to seven people on a microbus tried to abduct him while returning home. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture and the International Federation for Human Rights, and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, issued on 17 May 2014 an appeal to the Government of Bangladesh to impartially investigate the incident to bring the perpetrators to book.

via Attempted Abduction of Nur Khan | Intl rights bodies condemn.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/bangladesh-chains-of-corruption-strangle-nation-asian-human-rights-commission/

Abu Bakar Siddique released but worries remain for human rights defenders in Bangladesh

April 27, 2014

While the world received with great satisfaction the announcement of Bangladeshi human rights defender Adilur as Final Nominee of the MEA, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture and the International Federation for Human Rights, draws attention to the strange and disquieting case of Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique, the husband of Ms. Rizwana Hasan, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyer’s Association BELA. He had been abducted on 16 April by unidentified men while traveling to Dhaka from Narayanganj by car. The vehicle with the unidentified men hit Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique’s car in Fatulla. When Mr. Siddique and the driver of his car exited the car, the unidentified men sprayed something into the driver’s eyes, and took Mr. Siddique away. On April 17, 2014 – about 33 hours after his abduction – Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique was left by his abductors blindfolded in Mirpur. Read the rest of this entry »

Human Rights Defender Razan Zaitouneh still missing in Syria after one month

January 27, 2014

[reposted as it seems that the link no longer worked – why? – Syrian secret service THAT sophisticated??]

After more than a month the abduction of 36-year-old human rights defender Ms. Razan Zaitouneh in Syria continues to go unsolved. She became part of the statistics herself that she was gathering inside Syria. Now part of ‘the missing’ inside her country Zaitouneh was joined in her abduction by her husband Nazem al-Hamadi, along with reform activist Ms. Sameera Alkhalil along with lawyer and poet Wael Hamada on December 9, 2013 in the Damascus suburb of Douma city. Just before she recorded this video message for the FIDH: