Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Statement Of William Nicholas Gomes On Abduction And Interrogation In Bangladesh

On Saturday, 21 May 2011 , in the morning, I went out for some work. When I was returning to my house from highway near the Sayedabad Bus Terminal a man, who appeared to be taller than me with a height of 5 feet 7 inches, stopped me and told me, Please come near to the car, showing a car waiting on the road facing toward to Bashabo direction. Then, I looked at the car, which was indicated by the person. It was black MITSUBISI PAJERO jeep with dark black glass. I accompanied the person with the very helping mind and principle of showing path to a person, who might have lost his ways and needs my assistance. As I walked beside the black car I found the door was opened just next to me and from my back the man, who called me to come to the car, pushed me inside the car and from inside another man forcibly pulled me inside the PAJERO jeep. These two persons, who pushed me from outside and pulled me into the vehicle, sat on my left and right hand side on the seat in the middle of the vehicle. They asked my name by a question, You are William Gomes? I replied in the positive. Immediately, they put black ribon on my eyes (blindfolds) and then a black mask (hood) on my head. They took my belongings that include my bag, mobile phone and wallet. The two men sitting on my two sides pointed two guns to my head from both sides and said " Kuttar bachcha (son of dog), sound korbina (Don't make any sound)! Taile eikhan eiy guli koira dimu ( Then, we will shoot you right here); Tore marar order hoise (Already order has been issued to kill you). Then a man, who was sitting on the left seat to the driver, asked the driver to go to the ' Headquarter'. As the car started moving very fast a call came to a cell phone, which was carried by one of the abductors. The man received the call and the conversation I heard that he was saying, "Sir! Sir!! Kuttar bachcha re dhorsi (The son of dog is caught!). Sir! Sir!! Ekhon e handcuff dita chhi (We are going to handcuff him right now!). Then they took my both hands at the back handcuffed. The car was moving fast. After around 40 minute it stopped at some place where they brought me out of the car. Two persons were holding my arm and shoulders from two sides while one them asked, "You move by yourself!" I said, "I cannot see. How can I move?" The man said, "Kuttar bachcha dekhos na (Son of dog, can't see?) RAB er sob kisue tora dekhsos (You see everything what the RAB does). Tor putki dia aje ke gorom gorom dim dimu (We will push hot boiled egg through your anus today). Tor bapera tore kivave bachay dekhbi ne (You will see how your fathers – meaning AHRC, other international human rights organisations and international community – save you). They took me inside of something and instructed someone to press nine. Then I understood that it was a lift, which was going to the ninth floor of a building. They took me inside of a room and made me fully naked by taking off all my cloths including the underwear. One of them said, " Jarojer bacha muslomani kora abar nam dise christian (Son of a bastard is circumcised but takes a Christian name). Ei kuttar bacha RAB, army'r birudhee kaj korbe na to ke korbe (Who else will work against the RAB and Army except these sons of dogs)? Sob jaroj gula e kaj kore (All the bastards do the similar works). The other man said, "Hurry up! Brigadier Sir is coming! Do not talk much now! Sirs will do their jobs; Onek mota file ase kuttar bachar namey (Very thick file is there against this son of dog). They put me on the floor and asked, "Sejda de kuttar bacha! ( Bow down – like the Muslims touch their heads on the ground as part of prayer – son of dog)! I did not understand what I was asked to do. Then, a man forced me to bow down like sejda warning me not to touch the floor with my head. Then the man said, "Sejda dia thakbi jarojer bacha (Keep in this position like Sejda, son of bastard); Matha tulbi to putki dia gorom dim dimu (If you raise your head, hot eggs will pushed into your anus). Tor babara, AHRC r baba go hate pia loi sob gula re putki dia 100 ta koira dim dimu ( Whenever we will catch your fathers, the fathers from the AHRC, we will push one hundred hot eggs through their anus each). Suddenly, the man stopped talking to me and said, "Sir! Sir!! Ready Sir! Subject is ready!" I was felling cold to colder in that highly cold room without any cloth on my whole body during this time. An unknown voice asked me, " William Gomes, when did you last time went out of the country?" I replied, "May be in August last". " Where?" he asked. I replied, "In Hong Kong". He said, "You forgot the date? You khankir pola (Son of a prostitute), jarojer bacha RTHK [ Radio Television Hong Kong] te jia ki koisos buila gesos (Son of a bastard, did you forget what did you said in RTHK)? koto taka pisos ei sob desh birodhi kotha bolar jonno (How much money have you received for doing this type of anti- state activities?) I said, "I did not say anything bad." Then, they played the RTHK radio programme and said, "You and your AHRC is only good and Hasina (Prime Minister of Bangladesh) is bad?" I fell down on the floor on two occasions during this period. I felt that blood was coming out throughout my nose. I was felling extremely cold. They asked me, " When did you last meet with Khaleda Zia? Where is the money? Where is the koti (10 million) Taka that you have received?" I said that, "I have never met Khaleda Zia in my life. As a libertarian I do not meet with the right wing people." A new voice then said, " Kuttar bacha, Mishu'r case e koto taka pisos Khaleda Zia'r kas thika ( Son of dog, how much money did you receive from Khaleda Zia by dealing with the case of [Moshrefa] Mishu [a workers' leader, who belongs to the pro-communist party]?). At this point one man started talking in native English and asked me, "How much the AHRC gives you as source money? How many people do you have inside the RAB and the police?" He also asked, " How did you manage the audio record of Mishu's statement from the custody? How did you mange to organize protests in (South) Korea for Mishu?" I kept quite because I was feeling that my brain would soon come out of my head. Then, one of the interrogators, who was previously asking questions, said, "Kuttar bachcha chup keno (Why is the son of dog maintains silence)? Gola fataia tor bapera to sara pruthibi te koita tace RAB band korte (Your fathers have been shouting crazily all over the world to disband the RAB). Tor bapeder ban kormu, aj ke tore agey ban koira nei (We will ban your fathers; let us first ban you today). Then they asked, "When did you go to (Pakistan controlled) Kashmir? When did you meet with the ISI ( Inter Service Intelligence of Pakistan) people?" I said that "I never went there". They said, "We have information that you are appointed by the ISI to destroy Bangladesh army, RAB and the police". I said, "I never know anyone of the ISI; I am a human rights activist. I only work for the AHRC." They said, "We know that you are a dalal ( collaborator) of AHRC; they are the greatest enemy of Bangladesh and army." Your boss came to Bangladesh and said the army may come to power. What is the problem of Basil [Basil Fernando, Director of Policy and Planning Development and former executive director of the AHRC]? That kuttar bacha (son of dog) has been kicked out from his own country and that kuttar bachar sahos ki vave hoy Bangladesh army'r biruddhe kotha koi (How dare this son of dog speaks against the Bangladesh Army?) Khankir pola, tui Birganj er thana burn korar jono taka disos (Son of prostitute, you have paid money for burning the police station in Birganj [in Dinajpur district, in northern Bangladesh]). DGFI, NSI report taie koi (The report of the Directorate General Forces Intelligence-DGFI and National Security Intelligence-NSI reveals this information). AHRC ar ISI koto taka disilo (How much money did the AHRC and ISI give you)? Police re osomman koros (You dishonor the police)? Tor bape ra aisa desh chali bo (Will your fathers will come to rule the country)? Tor sob mail amader kase ase (We have all of your emails in our hand)! Ko kuttar bachcha! thana burn korte kare koto taka disos (Tell us, son of dog, whom did you pay how much money for burning the police station)? I answred that "I am against violence and I never learned from the AHRC to do any violence." The man said, "Ah ha re! koto sadhu! Torai to desher somman sesh koira dita sos (Wao! What a saint! You are destroying the dignity of the country); Desher er development bondho koira dita sos (Stopping the development of the country); Desh er bahirey mukh dekhaite pari na (We cannot show our face in abroad [for your work]). One of them said to another person, "Sir amader major Mustafiz bisoye ta jiggasa koren (Sir, ask him about our Major Mustafiz [Mr. Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, an army major, who is main instigator of the eye-gouging and fracturing of limbs of human rights defender Mr. FMA Razzak]); Bangladesh army'r man ejjot sesh koira dise ei shuorer bacha ra (These sons of pigs have finished the prestige and dignity of the Bangladesh Army). Another man asked, "How much money did you get to defame the Bangladesh army officials like major Musfatiz?" I said, "I am not against the Bangladesh Army. But there are bad people in the army, who kill people whenever they take over the power [of the country]. The man said, "Kuttar bachcha (Son of dog)! Army kharap r tomra bhalo (Army is bad and you are good)? Jaroj er bacha (Son of bastard)! NSI'r filey tor choddo gustirr khobor asey (There are detailed information of your fourteen generations in the files of the NSI); Tor bap e der sob khobor ase (All information about your fathers are also there). Tui Dulal re disturb korsos keno (Why do you disturb Dulal [A man, who was abducted by the RAB from the Dhamal Court area adjacent to the Dhaka Cantonment in 2010 and later returned after many months. He was kept in a secret torture cell cum detention centre of the RAB])? Razib Sazib re disturb koros keno ( Why do you disturb Razib and Sazib [Two cousins, who were recently kidnapped by the RAB and detained and torture for about five days and later handed over to the police implicating a fabricated snatching case])? At that time a phone rang and the man talk to someone as I heard he was saying, "Sir! Sir!! Finishing, Sir!" Then the foreigner, who was speaking in native English, asked, " When will Basil come to Bangladesh?" I said, "I do not know anything about Basil". He again asked, "When your boss Ashrafuzzaman [A staff member of the Asian Human Rights Commission] will come?" I again said, "I do not know". I felt so thirsty there at that time and I requested them to give me some water to drink. Then a man gave me water; it was mild hot and the taste of the water was not normal. Then another man said, "Razzak is a dalal (collaborator) and cheat; Our good officer major Mustafiz is saving the nation from dacoit ( robber) like you; He (Major Mustafiz asked his brother to bring the bastard (FMA Razzak) and chokh ta tuila ne (Gouge out his eyes); Ei kuttar bachcha salar pola jeno ar dekhte na pare (As if this son of dog and son of brother-in- law can never see with his eyes). Kuttar bachcha Razzak er jonno aamader ghum haram (We could not sleep for this son of dog Razzak); Sob jaiga thika sudhu mail r chiti (So many mails and letters have come to us all over [the world]). Tui kouttar bachcha ko koto taka pisos (You son of dog! Tell us, how much money have you received)? Haramair bachcha! Taka tor putki dia dimu (Son of bastard! We will push the money through your anus)! Police, magistrate der bolia dia hoise (Police and Magistrates are already instructed). Ja eibar joto khusi fight kor (Now, go! Fight [ your case] as much as you can!) Oi salar pola Razzak er case e court ar police re amra ja rai ditey komu ta e dibo (Whatever we will instruct the court and the police to do regarding the case of Razzak that verdict will be declared)! One of them said, "There is another kuttar bachcha (son of dog) of AHRC in Dhaka University". They asked whether I know him. I said, "No". Then, the man said, " Kuttar bachcha chinos na tui (Son of dog, don't you know him)? He said, "We taught him a good lesson; Sob gula desho drohi (All are traitors)! Ei gula ei deshe thakar joggo na (These [people] do not deserve a place in this country) ; Passport gula nia fela dorkar ei kuttar bachchader (The passports of these sons of dogs should be confiscated). I was also asked who are the people in the diplomatic missions helping us? They asked, "Who are the countries that are providing funds to you?" I said, "We do not have any funds." They also asked, "Why I am interested about the Bangladeshi nationals in Indian jails (for which my organization Christian Development Alternative- CDA wrote letter to the authorities requesting them to solve the problem from the human rights perspective.)? Why I am defaming a good government having good relationships with India?" That man also asked who were the people helping the university teachers in gathering information staying inside the governmental service? They talk about the poster and sticker and asked, "Who is drawing the posters and stickers and who is printing?" I said, "I do not know the designer. Only Zaman Bhai (Mr. Ashrafuzzaman, a staff member of the AHRC) knows; He has his friends - teachers in charukola (Fine Arts Faculty of the University of Dhaka). But I know the man who prints the materials in the press; I know the place but do not know the exact address." They asked, "Why did you send the materials to the parliament? We got complaints from the parliamentarians also! They talk about a law on torture! They must know that the law will never be passed! We will make it sure!" Then one officer said, "O re ekta rastro drohi mamla den (Fabricate a treason case against him); then, another person said, "Na, ore jongi mamla dai (No, we should fabricate a militancy case against him). Then the foreigner's voice said, "He is a terrorist!" The other man said, "Kill him and give to magur machh (Clarias gariepinus [a species of fish that eats up human being]) like Salim [ A petty businessman who has been disappeared after the RAB arrested him from Gazipur a year ago for which the lawyers of the AHRC filed a Habeas Corpus petition before a High Court Division Bench of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh]. I started crying and said, "I have two small sons; please pardon me! I will never do this work again!" Then, one of them said, "Kuttar bachcha! Tumi korba na (Son of dog! You will not do!)! Tumar baba ra to aj ke e as ta ce (Your fathers are coming today)! Bijo Francis and Jijo Paul! Amra jani na mone korso (Don't you think that we don't know it)? Haramir bachcha, amader ghum haram koira abar baire theke harmair bacha der daika nia an ta so (Son of bastard, destroying our sleep now you are bringing other sons of bastards from abroad)? Desher er development ar somman sesh koira dita sos (You are finishing the development and dignity of the country)! I said that I will not go [to the AHRC] and "I will do no more work for the AHRC". Then, the man said, "You better not leave the work! Behave well until Bijo and Jijo are in the country. Do not tell them anything about our meeting! Go and behave like a normal man! You better listen to us! Otherwise, we know better how to make you listen!" Then they took me in another room put my pant and t-shirt and drag me out from the room; put me in a similar car, which drove fast as well. When they opened my blindfolds and hood I saw the same 5 feet 7 inches tall man came near to the car. He was carrying my belongings – bag, mobile phone and wallet. I understood that it was the same car. The man was standing near to a vehicle of RAB and said, "Kuttar bachcha! Mukh khul ley magur mas re dia khamou (Son of dog! If you open your mouth we will arrange Clarias gariepinus to eat you up); Amara tor sob dekhta ci (We are watching your every movements). I got my health situation worse since that day. They might have put something in that water, which I drunk in their custody. I am having pain in two legs, particularly in knees and ankles. I find it very hard to write. Sometime it appears to be paralyzed; I do not find strength in hands; my body trembles and I feel that I will collapse at any time. I cannot sleep properly. Any small sound rings like big bang to me! I have pain in my backbone and at the whole of my back. Sometimes I cry when I remember that they made me naked and called me with very bad names. Can you imagine they called me jaroj ( bastard)? I fell that I should kill myself. They humiliated me but I cannot do anything. I am sure enough that The Commander of the Media and Legal Wing of RAB M Sohail was there in that room while they did all these to me and he was the man, who was translating to the foreigner. It seems that my life is finished! They took me at around 10 :30 am in the morning [on 21 May 2011 ] and when I reached home it was around 3 :30 pm. I feel the pain . . . experience the pain all the time. I am very much ashamed whenever I think that they made me naked and forced me to bow me down before them like a slave! They blamed me to have connection with ISI! I am not a man like that! I never went to Kashmir and Pakistan in my life! I am felling so restless and tired! I am feeling pains in my brain. It seems that something is moving inside my brain. I want to give good answer to the people who made me naked. I want them to know that I am powerless and poor and weak, but I am also fearless! I do not want to be killed by them like the DGFI and I want to sleep well, I still want to be a human rights lawyer. . .

Lesser Of Two Evils : Is It The Arab Regimes Or The Israeli Regime?

The images with the numerous reports of the latest crackdown by the Syrian regime are shocking, showing absolutely no regard for the rights of ordinary people. Throughout the Arab Spring, the Arab regimes have demonstrated the same pattern of brutality towards peaceful demonstrations. The sight of close family members occupying key positions making lucrative trade deals, gives the impression that governments in the Arab world are a family business. If the country is governed like a private fiefdom, the citizens will be regarded as tax-paying tenets at best or as mere slaves, who can be disposed of when they start to make demands; therefore, the regimes will naturally behave like the masters, rather than the servants of the nation. Unlike the powerful response seen during the initial phase of the Arab Spring, the recent reaction in the Arab world towards the events in Syria has been lukewarm. Perhaps the masses have become desensitised after witnessing gratuitous violence over a sustained period, like we have become accustomed in the West to the Israelis killing the Palestinians or the Americans killing innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan, with their high-tech drones. These oppressive Arab regimes are still trapped in the post-colonial era, desperately trying to maintain censorship, which has been rendered powerless by the Internet and mobile phones. All the efforts to circumvent the power of the information highway have failed. Consequentially, giving impetus to the Tsunami of people who are demanding that governments should be accountable and free from corruption and nepotism; they should be the servants of the nation and not its masters. The Arab regimes are quick to attack Israel on the Palestinian issue, but this is lip service for domestic consumption, often exercised for political expediency. These regimes are client of Israel indirectly, because a client of the US means a client of Israel. One does not have to be politically savvy to realise that Zionists virtually write the Middle East policy for the US government. The power of the Israeli lobby and their influence cannot be denied; since 1980 they have given more than $97 million to congressional candidates; the recent reception Netanyahu received in the US Congress shows it stands with the Israeli government, above the US President. Whilst the ordinary Arab activists along with countless others are struggling to boycott Israelis goods, the Arab regimes are investing millions in the Israeli economy through the US, as the surplus oil money amounting to trillions of dollars, are recycled through the US-Zionist banks. Israel has not oppressed its citizens like the Arab regimes; therefore, the pro-Israeli camp will argue that Israel deserves the conceited title of being the &# 65533 ;only democracy in the Middle East&# 65533 ;. Of course, the implication is: the primitive Arabs have yet to evolve to become democratic states. Such racist opinions are unlikely to alter, despite the passing of the Arab Spring, or the Arab Summer or the Arab Winter! But, credit has to be given where it is due. I have heard from Palestinians who reside in Israel that the Israeli government gives them better rights than the Arab regimes. It is also true, that dissension in the Arab world is usually met with imprisonment, torture, and even death; the prisons are filled with political dissidents. Whilst the Israeli regime does not brutalise its own citizens to the same level as the Arab regimes, Israel&# 65533 ;s hideous face is exposed when you examine the treatment of the Palestinians and the general contempt towards the Arabs. However, the Arab regimes have also shown similar levels of cruelty towards other Arab states, revealed through the various conflicts, and Iraq being the most recent where hundreds of thousands have perished. This is expected, because, if they can brutalise their own citizens, they are likely to do far worse to others. Hence, the Israeli regime can be considered slightly better than the Arab regimes, because it excels in terms of treating its own citizens. This maybe a crude measurement, but it still has some level of legitimacy when you examine the facts. However, both regimes fall on the negative side of the scale, they are both evil, but one less so. In that case, what&# 65533 ;s the implication of the rational principle of &# 65533 ;lesser of two evils&# 65533 ;? It means the Arabs and the Muslims should exhibit greater levels of criticism against the Arab regimes, than they have shown against the Israeli regime. Indeed, it was rare to see any form of mass demonstration against the despotic Arab regimes anywhere, prior to the Arab Spring. What if Israel decides to join in and help the West in Libya or elsewhere, in order to halt the massacre of civilians? By the principle of: &# 65533 ;lesser of two evils&# 65533 ;, the Arabs and the Muslims would be obliged to endorse the Israeli participation. This may sound uncomfortable to some, but this is a possible reality, and a reality partially created by the masses tolerating these illegitimate regimes. Yes, you will reap what you sow!

Govt Needs To Shelve PSC With ConocoPhillips

IT IS perhaps a poignant indicator on how detrimental to our national interest the production sharing contract that the government, according to the commerce minister, will sign on June 16 with the US oil giant ConocoPhillips for exploration and extraction in the hydrocarbon blocks 10 and 11 in the Bay of Bengal is that even the finance minister, apparently a staunch believer in anti-people neo-liberal economic policies, has demanded clarification from the Energy Division on a particular provision of the contract. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Tuesday, the finance minister issued a letter on Sunday, asking the Energy Division to clarify the concern expressed by experts over the model PSC 2008 , especially its Article 15.5.4. The article says Petrobangla can retain only 20 per cent of the total marketable natural gas for the first 10 years, that too, if it has its own pipelines and other infrastructure to transport gas to the national grid. The rest will be exported in the form of liquefied natural gas and Petrobangla will be paid for its small stake. The experts rightly pointed out that ‘money earned by exporting gas, instead of using it for power generation and industrial production… will contribute little to our national economy.’ One need not have a degree in economics to figure out that the proposed production sharing contract, which the cabinet committee on economic affairs approved on May 23 , is devoid of even a business rationale. First, it essentially envisages the US oil giant’s virtual ownership of the two hydrocarbon blocks, given the condition that Petrobangla must have its own pipelines and other infrastructure to transport natural gas from the blocks to the national grid to have 20 per cent stake in whatever quantum of gas is extracted. In other words, the contract essentially gives an international company the right to do business with, and make profit from, gas that Bangladesh owns. Worse still, it also means that the country may have to import gas extracted from its own hydrocarbon blocks. Moreover, Bangladesh is currently undergoing a serious energy crunch, struggling to run even the existing power plants and industrial units. The current electricity shortfall, according to the Power Development Board statistics, is in the range of 1 ,500 and 2 ,000 megawatts; the deficit is expected to rise further. The government has undertaken several projects to install power plants, without actually specifying where the primary fuel for these plants, e.g. gas, coal, etc, will come from. Of course, exploration and extraction of natural gas is an imperative for Bangladesh but only to an extent whereby the gas is fed to the power plants and industrial units. If exploration and extraction of new hydrocarbon blocks by international oil companies means buying gas at international market prices, the country might as well look for sellers of gas on the international market to import gas and suspend exploration of its own resources until it develops its own exploration and extraction capacity. There is hardly any reason to believe that the government and its energy officials somehow overlooked the simple math. Moreover, the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, asserted in her previous tenure as the head of government that export will only be an option when Bangladesh has a proven gas reserve for domestic consumption for 50 years. The sudden change of heart on her government’s part could then very well be construed as a manifestation of its subservient policies, subservience to the countries and organisations that pursue neo-liberal agenda. Be that as it may, the government must not go ahead with the contract with ConocoPhillips. The conscious and patriotic sections of society and the media must raise their voice and sustain pressure on the government so that it does not.

Abuse In The Name Of Law

Independent lawmaker Fazlul Azim' s questions in the Jatiyo Sangsad on the ramifications of mobile court operations during hartal hours reflect broad public concern over the issue. Despite Home Minister Sahara Khatun's belief that these courts foiled looting and prevented deaths during the 36- hour hartal called by the BNP and its allies, the glaring fact is that democratic practice does not condone the operation of such courts. It is our considered opinion, as we are sure it is of citizens across the spectrum, that setting up mobile courts to nab protestors and send them off to prison in the name of the law is truly an abuse of the law. A general strike, for all one's reservations about its timing and necessity, is an act of political protest which has not been declared illegal. As such, why curb it through dispensation of instant justice that falls far short of minimum requirements of a legal action such as right to defence and presentation of witness and evidence? However much the home minister may claim to be acting under law, for the public in general such arbitrary action is reprehensible. For the state now to weigh in by placing opposition activists under arrest and subjecting them to summary trial and eventually carting them off to jail is simply unacceptable. Political agitation must be met by political means. Indeed, we recall the ruling Awami League's earlier statement that the just-ended hartal would be tackled politically. People cannot and must not be terrorised in the name of the law. We realise that the political gap between the ruling party and the opposition is too wide to be bridged any time soon. If the government thinks that a short- circuiting of the political process in handling agitation will work, it is making a big mistake. High- handedness has never worked in democratic politics. We therefore urge the government to rethink this entire matter of letting mobile courts loose on opposition activists and make sure that the exercise will not be repeated in future. Let the government heed public opinion on the issue. We reiterate our opposition to ham-fisted measures to silence any kind of public protest.