Buet student Abrar Fahad’s killing reflects a deeper failing by the Bangladesh government to bring those responsible for politically motivated abuses to justice, says Human Rights Watch.
“A government that ignores torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings by security forces, and arbitrary arrests over dissent begets a culture where students can run a “torture cell” on a university campus,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of HRW, in a statement yesterday.
Bangladesh authorities should ensure a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into Abrar murder, and hold all those responsible to account, he said.
On October 6, Abrar, 21, was summoned from his dorm room at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) to Room 2011, known among students as the “torture cell” run by activists of Chhatra League, pro-ruling Awami League student body. A few hours later, he was found dead.
The BCL assistant secretary at the university told the media that the group interrogated Fahad about his involvement with Chhatra Shibir, pro- Jamaat-e-Islami student body. They claimed to have found “evidence” of Fahad’s ties to Shibir after looking through his Facebook account and confiscating his cell phone.
CCTV footage shows students carrying Fahad’s limp body from Room 2011 in the middle of the night.
Dhaka Medical College Hospital Forensics reported that he died of internal haemorrhaging from numerous blows to his body.
Police told the media that they found cricket stumps in room 2011, which they suspect were used to beat Fahad to death.
“This deadly incident is not surprising. The Awami League government has long refused to hold Chhatra League supporters accountable for acts of violence and intimidation. There are complaints of extortion, threatening false allegations, violent attacks around elections, and even acting as vigilante law enforcers during the 2018 student protests,” said Adams, adding, “Bangladesh should not be a Room 2011.”
Meanwhile, Switzerland has expressed deep sadness over the tragic death of Abrar.
“Switzerland strongly stands by every person’s right to life and freedom of expression,” Swiss embassy in Bangladesh said in a recent Facebook post.
“Those who encroach on these fundamental tenets of human rights need to be held accountable within the framework of international principles of criminal justice and human rights.”
Earlier, Germany, France, the UN and the UK also expressed concern over the death and called for an end to impunity.