Bangladesh DGFI Operates Uyghur-style Secret Detention And Solitary Confinement Facilities In Dhaka

Bangladesh DGFI detained young citizens who speak out against oppression of government. Photo by HRW

Dhaka, Bangladesh (GDC) – With amazing Video research report a Bangladesh-focused Sweden-based news has revealed the possible location of a secret prison where victims of enforced disappearance are being held in Bangladesh.

Detailed Report by Netra News based on official records of two victims of enforced disappearance who were held in prison in the heart of the capital Dhaka. Both men double-checked the details of Netra’s article in a phone interview with VOA.

The two men said the prison was named Aynaghar (House of Mirrors) and is run by the Directorate General of Military Intelligence (DGFI), the Bangladesh Defense Forces intelligence arm.

Solitary confinement and detention center in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Netra news.

Netra News also published photos of prison cells. They said the photos were provided by military officers still on active duty.

The Netra News report appeared on the eve of a four-day visit to Bangladesh by UN Secretary-General Michelle Bachelet, who arrived Sunday and has already spoken with several ministers about the widespread allegations of enforced disappearances by state agencies.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (middle) visits a Rohingya refugee camp in Uhia state on August 16, 2022.

According to the Bangladeshi human rights group Odhikar, at least 605 people were victims of enforced disappearances in the country between 2009 and September 2021. 81 dead, 154 remain missing the organization said.

Human Rights Watch released a list of 86 men arrested over the decade, but their whereabouts remain unknown and are still suspected of being in secret state custody or murdered.

A list of Bangladesh army officers involved in torture, illegal detention and extra-judicial killings of innocent civilians. Photo Netra news.

Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters after meeting with Bachelet that there is no such thing as “enforced disappearances” in Bangladesh, while Home Minister Asaduzhaman Khan said some of the missing were crimes. He suggested that he had fled to another country after committing to go bankrupt or disappeared due to family conflicts.

Regarding Netra News’ investigation, Khan told reporters on Sunday that Netra New always comes up with “fake and fake news.” “We don’t consider this news at all,” he said.

DGFI did not respond to a request for comment.

On the other hand, Amnesty International said, “The harrowing details of enforced disappearances uncovered by survivors in the Netra News investigation require an independent, immediate and effective investigation into the incident to hold the perpetrators accountable. should be encouraged,” he said.

“UN Secretary-General Michelle Bachelet must clearly and strongly condemn these human rights violations during her visit to Bangladesh and call for an independent and impartial investigation into these barbaric practices.”

Allegations of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by state-owned forces have become routine under the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed, who has been in power since 2009.

Those who became victims of such disappearances and were later released had never spoken publicly about their detentions for fear of reprisal. This is the first time these victims have spoken on record and provided details of their experiences.

Detention facilities

Detainees Sheikh Mohammad Salim and Hasinur Rahman, who were interviewed individually by Netra News, provided strikingly similar accounts of secret prisons, and the news portal said they were housed in the same place. It was concluded that

They described each cell as having no windows, high ceilings, only one light, and a loud, large exhaust fan that ran almost constantly, drowning out all other noise. did. They also provided similar descriptions of toilet facilities, food and wall carvings where previous detainees identified “DGFI” as a prisoner of war.

Salim, a small-time welder, now living in Malaysia, wasn’t 100% sure of his identity in the security forces, but he was a former lieutenant colonel in the Bangladesh Army and was awarded Bangladesh’s fourth-highest decoration, Bir Phra. Rahman, who won the tick, – had no doubts.

Shekh Mohammad Salim (left) and Hasinur Rahman (right). Survivors of Bangladesh DGFI torture. Photo by Netra news.

Rahman was previously posted as commander of the RAB (Rapid Action Battalion), a notorious militia organization against which the United States imposed human rights-related sanctions last December.

Rahman himself had led several anti-military activities, but was fired in 2012 after 28 years of service over vague allegations of his own involvement with militant groups – which he strongly denies.

Even before he was discharged from the army, Rahman was allegedly kidnapped by security services in 2011 and his whereabouts remained unknown until his release months later. In 2018, he was kidnapped again and held in Aynaghar for 18 months.

Rahman said Netra News was able to pinpoint Aynaghar’s location by peering outside through the toilet’s exhaust fan. As a former military man, he knows the Dhaka garrison inside and out, and provided the outlet with enough detail for the news portal to locate the facility using his Maxar satellite imagery.

Human rights violation

Speaking to Malaysia’s VOA, Salim said he’s on record because he believes he’s the victim of a terrible injustice.

A Netra News investigation found that Salim’s detention was likely due to an error in identity. Security services were interested in a person who used the alias “Selim” and was accused of planting a bomb to kill Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Netra news published graphic images showing brutal oppression of opposition activists.

“While I was in that prison, I heard many people crying in different cells. We are lucky to have been released, but there are still many unfortunate people there,” Salim said. Told. “I’m taking this big risk just for them. [the government] To stop the heinous crime of enforced disappearance. ”

Zulkarnain Saer, who participated in the Netra News investigation, told VOA that victims of enforced disappearances have remained silent even after their release. This is because the state has complete control over their lives and the lives of their families.

Sael, who worked as an undercover reporter on Al Jazeera’s award-winning investigative film, ‘All the Prime Ministers Men,’ said: ‘One wrong move and they could be kidnapped again and gone missing. That’s why it’s so important that these voices are heard and reported.”

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