Case History: Mahmudur Rahman
On 14 February 2016, police sought a court order to have Mahmudur Rahman re-arrested.
Mahmudur Rahman is an editor of the newspaper Daily Amardesh, which was closed and sealed by police without a court order on 11 April 2013, the same day the human rights defender was arrested. As an editor of the Daily Amardesh, Mahmudur Rahman has published articles exposing corruption scandals involving high profile ruling party politicians including the Prime Minister and her family members. He also denounced the killing of 172 civilians by police during government clashes with the opposition in February 2013.
On 12 June 2013, the pre-trial detention of human rights defender Mr Mahmudur Rahman was extended for three days by Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Harunur Rashid, who confirmed the charges of inciting violence. The human rights defender was arrested on 11 April 2013, and was subjected to severe torture whilst in custody.
During a court hearing on 12 June 2013 the human rights defender was formally charged with inciting people to attack the Shahbagh Projomo Chottor protests. These protests demanded capital punishment for individuals who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes by the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh.
Mahmudur Rahman strongly denies that he ever incited people to attack the protesters.
The alleged incitement occurred on 22 February 2013, when Mahmudur Rahman was in fact confined to his office at the Daily Amardesh as a result of being surrounded by police and intelligence officers. At the court hearing, the human rights defender stated that the judiciary is not free to act independently and thus did not apply for bail.
Mahmudur Rahman has been in detention since 11 April 2013, with the first six days in police remand. It was during these six days that the human rights defender was reportedly tortured, including through the hammering of nails into his flesh and bones as well as electric shocks. On his appearance in court on 18 April 2013, eye witnesses said he had fresh wounds on his legs, blood on his clothes and that he found it difficult to sit down. He was briefly held in hospital before being returned to Kashimpur jail.
On 7 May 2013, Front Line Defenders learned that the High Court Division of the Supreme Court rejected a petition by human rights defender Mr Mahmudur Rahman challenging the decision to place him under police remand without adequate measures in place to ensure his physical health. The human rights defender's wife had argued that the decision violated the High Court's directives concerning pre-trial detention, but the Attorney General claimed that the human rights defender's wife could not file a written petition.
Mahmudur Rahman is currently receiving treatment in hospital in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU). Medical reports suggest that he was severely tortured whilst in custody. He has injuries on his limbs caused by iron nails as well as electricity. The human rights defender has been suffering from back pain, recurring fever and a reduced sugar level. He also suffers from a heart condition which can be fatal if left untreated.
Mahmudur Rahman has not been allowed to meet with his lawyer, and his family have been granted only very restricted visitation rights. The human rights defender went on hunger strike in protest at his arrest and arbitrary detention, after being arrested along with 19 other employees of the Daily Amar Desh, of which he is acting editor. A case has also been filed against his 74 year old mother, Mahmuda Begum.
On 18 April 2013, on his second day in custody at Kashimpur Central Jail, human rights defender Mr Mahmudur Rahman was moved from judicial custody to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University due to severe torture which reportedly included the hammering of nails into his flesh and bone as well as electric shock treatment.
Despite the closure of the Daily Amardesh, the Interim Chairperson, Mrs Mahmuda Begum, made arrangements to print at an alternative press, however this was forbidden by the District Magistrate and 19 people were arrested at the press on 14 April 2013.
The torture reportedly took place whilst Mahmudur Rahman was in custody at the Detective Branch of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police. The human rights defender was arrested on 11 April 2013 on grounds of sedition, destroying vehicles on the road and the publication of an 'unverified' letter in the Daily Amardesh. He was detained under police remand for six days before being handed over to judicial remand on 17 April 2013. The human rights defender had been on hunger strike in custody to protest his illegal detention, torture, and the arrest of his colleagues following the closure of the Daily Amardesh.
A petition was filed to the High Court Division Bench on 18 April 2013 challenging the decision to send Mahmudur Rahman to police remand. The human rights defender's lawyers argued that placing him in police remand without adequate measures in place to ensure his physical health violates the High Court's directives concerning pre-trial detention. Mahmudur Rahman suffers from a heart condition which can be fatal if untreated. When the human rights defender was escorted into court to hear the petition, eye witnesses said that he had fresh wounds on his legs, blood stains on his clothes and that he found it difficult to sit down.