Dhaka watches while ‘unlawful killings’ spiral: Human Rights Watch

August 13th, 2008 - 12:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Aug 13 (IANS) “Unlawful killings” by Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have surged in recent months and the army-backed government bas watched silently, global rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has alleged. According to the New York-based group, the police is emulating the methods of the RAB, a strike force manned by personnel from the army, the navy and the air force.

Together with the police, the RAB has killed at least 50 people in “suspect circumstances” over the past two months after a national outcry had stemmed killings for more than a year, reported the New Age.

“Despite overwhelming evidence of RAB and police responsibility for unlawful killings, the interim Bangladeshi government seems unwilling to address the problem,” Brad Adams, Asia director of the group, was quoted as saying.

“Instead, Bangladesh’s security forces continue to get away with murder.”

Since its inception in 2004, the RAB has been accused of killing more than 540 people, mainly top crime suspects and outlawed Maoists.

RAB is also credited with nabbing high profile Islamist militants, including Bangla Bhai, who was convicted and hanged in April last year.

The authorities do not dispute the deaths and say the killings occur when suspects resist arrest or are caught in crossfire.

However, local rights groups and the Human Rights Watch maintain that evidence has shown that many killings are poorly disguised extrajudicial executions, often preceded by torture.

In the latest, HRW accused security forces of the torture and killing of Moshiul Alam Sentu, a Bangladesh Nationalist Party student activist whose body was dumped near the southern city of Barisal.

“The body had two bullet wounds in the chest and another in the leg. Sentu’s neck was severely bruised and possibly broken, as was his left hand, indicating possible torture,” it said.

The RAB said Sentu was a wanted criminal and was killed in crossfire as its officers were attacked by his associates.

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