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"The Fear Never Leaves Me"

Jul 24, 2012

Suspects in the 2009 mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles border guards (BDR) have been subjected to widespread abuse, torture, and deaths in custody, says a report by Human Rights Watch.

This report examines what happened in the aftermath of the February 2009 mutiny by members of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) during annual celebrations attended by senior military officials in Dhaka.
This report examines what happened in the aftermath of the February 2009 mutiny by members of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) during annual celebrations attended by senior military officials in Dhaka.

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Fifty-seven army soldiers, including a number of top army officers, and more than 74 people in total were killed when BDR mutineers opened fire in a crowded hall on February 25 and in clashes over the next 33 hours. Bangladesh authorities have a duty to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of these horrific killings. They also have a duty to respect the rights of suspects and accused persons. In this, they have failed miserably.

In the immediate aftermath of the mutiny and in the weeks and months that followed, security forces detained more than 6,000 BDR members. Detainees reported systematic torture and mistreatment, both as punishment and to obtain confessions. At least 47 detainees reportedly died in custody. While some died of natural causes, in many other cases Human Rights Watch and others have obtained clear evidence of torture, or other mistreatment leading to death. Many of the abuses were allegedly carried out by members of the notorious Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

The government’s prosecution of literally thousands of BDR members, most of them rank-and-file soldiers, has been characterized by serious due process violations, including the extraction of statements under duress, lack of meaningful access of the accused to counsel, and mass trials which strain the judicial system’s capacity to ensure fair trials for each and every accused. All soldiers in a given unit are tried together, regardless of how many accused are from that unit. This is of particular concern in cases that carry the death penalty as a possible punishment. 

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