[Statement] BANGLADESH/PHILIPPINES: Why Filipinos must protest the attack on FMA Razzak? – AHRC

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

BANGLADESH/PHILIPPINES: Why Filipinos must protest the attack on FMA Razzak?

Bangladeshi national F M A Razzak is the President of Human Rights Development Centre (HRDC) and Editor of the Pakkhik Gonomichhil in Paikgachha of Khulna district, Bangladesh. On April 29, 2011, Razzak and his younger brother, Mr. Bodiuzzaman Bodiar; brother-in-law, Mr. Bakkar, were attacked after having been kidnapped by the relatives of an army major, Mustafizur Rahman Bokul, upon the latter’s order.

After they were kidnapped and in custody of the Mustafizur Rahman’s relatives, the three were beaten severely. They gouged Razzak’s eye socket with screw drivers. They deliberately delay, with the tolerance of the local police, to have Razzak and the two other victims taken to hospital to be treated. Even when they were inside the hospital they were not given the immediate medical attention they needed. Had it not been due to pressure and publicity on their case, they would have probably been left to die.

What had happened to Razzak and his brothers is no different to the life of ordinary Filipinos in the country. The use of power and authority, in this case, being part of the security forces and by relatives of the security is a common practice of abuse in Filipino society. To be part of the security forces and to have a relation with anyone from the security forces–the police and the military–is in fact considered a form of protection for their family and for their interest.

Those in the police and the military, even before they have become full pledge security forces, have been mentally conditioned to restore and protect, not of the law and order, as we normally understood the police should be doing; and to protect the country from internal and external security threats, as what soldiers should also be doing. These only exist in the book and recited during taking of their oath respectively. But their existence is anyhow given legitimacy, not only on paper, but of publicity assuring the public they do uphold rule of law.

The attack on Razzak and his two brothers is not only about the attack against Bangladeshis and the nationals in their country. They, like the Filipinos who are forced to endure routine and systematic forms of attack, from intimidation and abuses by the security forces, all of them are victims of their own security forces. The security forces could justify their unthinkable acts of cruelty by abusing their position for being ‘persons in authority’.

At the height of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, which were also perpetrated by security forces, numerous persons and groups outside the country, had spoken openly against the barbarity and state of lawlessness in the country. The Philippine government took the issue of systematic extrajudicial killing of human rights and political activists seriously only after more and more people and groups outside the country spoke against it, including Bangladeshis and organisations who supported the campaign. They had contribution in putting pressure for the government to take action.

While the Filipino people would have to continue with its effort to draw attention to the continuing human rights abuses–extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and torture–in their own country; however, to speak against the abuse and cruelty on other nationals in another countries, no matter how foreign a person and the country maybe, strengthens and unifies the people’s aspiration of their fight against any abuses perpetrated by their own security forces. It does not matter what one could afford to do, how little they may seem, but by not letting this pass unnoticed, to condemn and to express anger against this act of cruelty, would remind us of being human beings and of our humanity.

Like the Filipinos, Bangladesh had also become a country to escape from by their own citizens. If one does not have political connections, one would have no opportunity to find a job to feed their family, a person’s status in their society is also determined by wealth, prestige, social and political connections. The police officers are seen as lawbreakers not as law enforcers. The people in the army, like those attached to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a military unit, had numerous records of murdering persons justifies outright murders on pretext of ‘crossfire (like the legitimate encounter in the Philippines)’.

In reality, in the Philippine society, like in Bangladesh, no matter what unit of security forces are attached to–the police and the military–they have also obtained a de facto licence to murder, forcibly disappear and torture persons. The manner as to how they do it perhaps may not be as open and obvious as what perpetrators of Razzak had done, by listening to the loudspeaker of his phone as he performs the military major order how to gouge Razzak’s eye socket, to kill him and the location where to dump his dead body.

But nevertheless the extent of secrecy on part of the Filipino security forces, their ability to kill, abduct and torture their victims, without leaving any trace and evidence; of doing it away from public eye, is even more frightening. In doing so, no one could know it happens and no one could know the extent of its cruelty.

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May 6, 2011

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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