AI, HRW condemn ‘detention’ of SQ Chy, Mir Quasem’s sons
Bangladeshi authorities should immediately end the illegal detentions of Hummam Quader Chowdhury and Ahmed Bin Quasem arrested respectively on August 4 and 9, said Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Both men were arrested without warrants or charges, have not been produced before a magistrate, and have not been allowed access to family or lawyers, the New York-based HRW and London-based AI said in a joint statement.
Chowdhury and Quasem are the sons of Salahuddin Qader Chowdhury and Mir Quasem Ali, two senior opposition politicians who were convicted of war crimes during Bangladesh’s 1971 War of Independence. Salahuddin was executed in November 2015.
“There is no question that Quasem and Chowdhury are subject to an enforced disappearance in the custody of the security forces. Yet the government continues to deny having them,” said Champa Patel, South Asia director at Amnesty International.
Both men have been refused access to lawyers and their families, and production before a magistrate,” Patel said. “This is a practice which has unfortunately become completely routine in Bangladesh, and has to end.”
Chowdhury, a senior member of the opposition BNP, was arrested from inside his car as he was travelling with his mother to a courthouse to attend a hearing on August 4, Amnesty International and HRW said in a joint statement issued today.
Quasem, a Supreme Court lawyer, was arrested from his home on August 9 by several men, in plainclothes. His wife and cousin were present during the arrest, the statement reads.
Authorities have denied having either of the men in custody, although multiple credible sources have said that both men were at the headquarters of the Rapid Action Battalion in Dhaka on the morning of August 12, according to the statement.
Quasem’s wife has filed a general diary (GD) and Chowdhury’s family attempted to file a GD but the police refused to accept it, it claimed.
The statement said Bangladesh has been reeling from a spree of seemingly militant inspired killings and attacks, including a horrific attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery Café in Dhaka on July 1, and another the subsequent week on an Eid gathering.
In a much-delayed response, Bangladeshi authorities arrested nearly 15,000 people following the spate of attacks on bloggers, atheists, foreigners and LGBT activists, it added.
Following the attack on the café, the authorities arrested two hostages -- Hasnat Karim and Tahmid Hasib -- and then proceeded to issue contradictory statements about whether the men were in their custody, the AI and HRW said.
More than a month later, they finally admitted the men were in their custody, although they created a false cover story to avoid allegations of illegal detention, the rights bodies added.
“The Bangladeshi authorities have an obligation to pursue those responsible for the heinous crimes which have plagued Bangladesh for years, including of course the horrific attack on the café,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW.
“But time and time again, we have to call on the government to not give in to its knee-jerk response of arbitrary and secret detentions. The illegal detentions of Chowdhury and Quasem need to end immediately.”