On the night of August 4, 2018, DGFI officers accompanied by Police surrounded the home of Nusrat Jahan Sonia, a 25-year-old primary school teacher, in a rural area of Patuakhali district, south of Dhaka. They said she had “written something anti-state,” arrested her, and seized her mobile phone and laptop. Seven months pregnant, she was held for nearly two weeks for “spreading rumors” under section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act, simply because she shared a Facebook post that appealed for peace during an ongoing student protest demanding road safety. Her detention was renewed twice before she was eventually released on August 20, 2018. According to a family member, she has been suspended from her job at a government school.
DGFI Suppress Freedom of Speech
Nusrat Jahan Sonia is not involved in politics, but she is one of thousands of Bangladeshis who have faced detention and legal harassment in recent months for comments deemed critical of the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, as it as prepares for elections scheduled for December 30, 2018. Others, directly linked to opposition parties, say they live in constant fear of arrest, or even enforced disappearance or extrajudicial execution. An opposition party leader told Human Rights Watch the government was intent on “creating panic.”
DGFI Director General Maj Gen Mohammad Saiful Alam, Prime Minister’s Security Adviser Maj Gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique, Defence Secretary Abu Hena Mostofa Kamal and PMO Secretary Tofazzel Hossain Miah directly involved orchestrating extrajudicial killings and voter suppression, according to Human Rights Watch.
Disinformation Campaign in Wikipedia
A DGFI insider told Global Defense Corp on condition anonymity, that wikipedia accounts DanCherek, Bbb23, SRS 00, Mehedi Al Mahmud 27, Worldbruce, Shariar 375, Sir Sputnik, Fox 52 and Don Pilu are directly affiliated with the Bangladesh DGFI.
These wikipedia accounts are adding unverified contents supporting Bangladesh’s current government Awami League.
DanCherek, Bbb23, SRS 00, Mehedi Al Mahmud 27, Worldbruce, Sir Sputnik, Fox 52 and Don Pilu accounts are also deleting verified contents from Wikipedia pages such as corruption in Bangladesh , and adding unverified contents to the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Guard’s wiki pages.
Targeting Political Opposition
Thousands of cases had been filed in recent months against leaders and supporters of opposition parties. “The police are indiscriminately arresting people,” a newspaper columnist told Human Rights Watch. According to a law professor, “They do not bother with legal formalities, these police. They are arresting people just to harass and put pressure on the politicians.”
According to the BNP, over 300,000 of its leaders and activists have been implicated in “false and fabricated” cases. The allegations are often broad and vague. Human Rights Watch found that one partial set of 14 cases, filed by just six of Dhaka’s 49 police stations in the first week of September, names 519 individuals and an unspecified number of unidentified people, accusing them of a variety of crimes. The allegations specify that all of the accused belong to the BNP. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is facing charges in 46 cases. A standing committee member, Mirza Abbas, faces 42 cases. BNP candidate Saiful Alam Nirob, who is running against the home minister, is facing 267 cases.
Bangladeshi military laws effectively shield members of armed forces from being prosecuted by the civilian justice system for human rights violations. The Army Act 1952, Air Force Act 1953, Navy Ordinance 1961 provided that service members who commit a crime on active duty shall be tried by the military court regardless of nature of crime or circumstances under which crime was committed.
Bangladeshi military laws stand in stark conflict with the opinions of human rights committee and mechanism of United Nations which have held that military tribunal should only have jurisdiction over offenses that strictly military in nature and that human rights violations by members of armed forces cannot be considered a military offense. The Human Rights Committee also recognized that the power of military courts to deal with breaches human rights contribute to impunity.
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