Community Women Against Abuse

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Free Shahidul Alam and All Detained Protestors: Stop Violence against Students and Journalists Immediately

The Teachers Against Abuse and Torture & The Transnational Friends of Bangladesh’s Joint Statement

 

Over the past few weeks Bangladesh has witnessed a new social phenomenon, a social movement spear-headed by a generation of students who may be called “the generation of the 2000s”. School children and university students in Bangladesh have come together to demand road safety, rule of law and justice. Students have carried innovative placards and festoons, written all by themselves and performed protest songs on the streets of Dhaka, day in and day out. They chanted slogans, such as, We Want Justice. While this was all going on very well, we note in horror that after the sixth day of continual protest, a spate of violent activities took hold of the streets of Dhaka, perpetrated by a number of different groups claiming association with the government. Their protests have been opposed, harshly, by the police, members of the Chatro League and security agencies. In deep shock we note how a peaceful social movement by the school and college students is being vilified and demonized, as alleged, by different functionaries affiliated to the ruling party. The political hooligans had, as reported, chased students, violently attacked on peaceful gatherings, molested female students and journalists, locked up students in different buildings, and also had physically assaulted students in broad day light and in front of police. On several occasions police had, as evident in the published reports, tear gassed students, shot rubber bullets and used water cannons to disperse processions and gatherings.

 

This is all that an internationally acclaimed photographer, an activist and a writer in Bangladesh, Dr Shahidul Alam, was documenting, using his veteran lens. He was doing what he does best, and what a veteran photographer should be doing in times of crisis. His lens was speaking truth to power. As an independent journalist and photographer, he was simply on duty, filming the machete wielding goons chasing down the unarmed students. At some point his camera was broken by goons who didn’t want to be filmed. A number of the other photo-journalists were reportedly attacked on August 4 and 5 in different parts of the city. Around midday on August 5, Dr Alam was interviewed online by Al Jazeera English where he provided his observation and analysis of the current situation in Dhaka.Within hours of airing the live report, late in the evening on the same day, he was forcibly abducted by 20-30 men from his house in Dhanmondi.

 

At the outset, it was unclear as to where he was taken to and who his abductors were. According to the security guards of the building, the intruders claimed to be from the Detective Branch (DB). They had, as reported, forcefully taken away the CCTV camera footage, and put scotch-tape on the CCTV camera. Dr Alam was allegedly forcefully put into a Hi-Ace microbus. Late in the night, the Additional Commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, Abdul Baten has admitted to UNB (United News of Bangladesh) that a team from the Detective Branch of police has detained Dr Alam from his Dhanmondi residence for interrogation over his Facebook posts on the ongoing student protests. The family members of Dr Alam waited throughout that night in front of the DB office in Dhaka. It was only in the morning on August 6 that they were informed about his whereabouts. Later in the day he was produced to the Court and shown as arrested in a case filed by the Police under Section 57 of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act.

 

In a recent press conference held that morning by Dr Alam’s wife, who is also an anthropologist and a columnist, Rahnuma Ahmed asked:  “…Is the law enforcement force supposed to abduct him like this? It is the goons who abduct, we all know that. If the law enforcement force continues to pick up people from their houses forcibly, we have to re-think about the meaning of the term ‘Law Enforcement Force’ once again.”

 

Shahidul Alam’s lawyer, Barrister Sara Hossain, said that: “According to Section 33 of our [Bangladesh] constitution, if someone gets arrested it is customary for the force to provide information about the arrested person’s whereabouts, as soon as possible. Under  Section 43, a person’s house cannot be entered illegally or forcibly. The state is supposed to protect the communication and correspondence of every citizen. In this case, the state has violated both the sections.”

 

Echoing Rahnuma Ahmed, we condemn, unequivocally, the circumstances in which Dr Alam was (as alleged) abducted. This incident begs fundamental questions on citizenship rights and the rule of law. The incident shows how state institutions are engaging in victim-blaming and “violating law”. Is there any law? If not then how are they called law “enforcing agencies”? As citizens and transnational friends of Bangladesh, we deserve to know if it is the government’s responsibility to provide explanation to the citizens of Bangladesh. We ask the government why law enforcement forces are acting as goons. Why are the citizens being targeted and attacked one after another? Why are citizens being whisked away and made to disappear?

 

We demand immediate release of Dr Shahidul Alam. Dr Alam was, reportedly, tortured in the custody and has been made so frail that he is unable to stand on his feet. While his family is saying that he needs medical attention, he has been taken back to the DB office in the afternoon of August 8. As well a new campaign against Dr Alam and his family members and friends has been launched by pro-government groups on August 9, which has created fear of further custodial torture and judicial harassment. We are outraged by the maltreatment that an internationally renowned photographer, a cultural activist, a writer and a veteran archivist has been forced to undergo.

 

We are therefore calling on the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to ensure:

  1. An independent inquiry into why the officials responsible destroyed property and threatened others.
  2. An urgent inquiry into why the security forces could not act within the bounds of the law.
  3. Provide an explanation as to why a peaceful movement for road safety was met with violence?
  4. Provide an explanation about why the university students (both public and private) are attacked by outside goons and why the goons were protected by the police? On August 7, 22 student protestors from different universities of Bangladesh have been remanded for 2 days in custody. According to confidential information, students are being harangued by the political party goons when taking shelter in private houses in some areas of the city. The figures in authority have stooped to talk down to children as if to threaten them into submission, showing how state institutions engaging in “victim-blaming”. The pupils have been threatened by the schools’ committees to be evicted from their schools.

 

Echoing students, we demand an answer to and legal action for addressing all of the above.

We call upon the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, to ensure justice for both students and journalists, and an immediate release of Shahidul Alam and all those detained protesters.

 

Sincerely,

We, the undersigned:

(names are in alphabetic order of first names)

A-Al Mamun, Associate Professor and Chairperson, Mass communication and Journalism, Rajshahi University, Rajshahi.

Abdur Razzaq Khan, Associate Professor, Department of  Mass Communication and Journalism, Dhaka University, Dhaka.

Agnes Khoo, Ph.D. Independent Scholar, The Netherlands.

Ainoon Naher, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Savar.

Akhter Sobhan Khan, PhD. Sociologist and environmental activist, London, UK.

Alfredo Quarto, Director, Mangrove Action Project, USA.

Amena Mohsin, Professor, Department of International Relations, University of  Dhaka.

Anu Muhammad, Professor, Department of Economics, Jahangirnagar University. Savar.

Ariana Reines, Poet, Visiting Critic, Yale University, USA.

Arpita Roychoudhury, Fellow Writer, PEN Center Germany, & Editor Europe Chapter, Ongshumali, Berlin, Germany.

ATM Nurul Amin, Professor Emeritus, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand.

Atonu Rabbani, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka.

Asheek Mohammad Shimul, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Dhaka.

Azfar Hussain, Professor, Liberal Studies/Interdisciplinary Studies, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan, USA.

Chaumtoli Huq, The City University of New York School of Law and Editor, New York.

Dr Bina D’Costa, Associate Professor, International Relations, the Australian National University, Australia.

Dina Siddiqi, Professor, BRAC University, Dhaka.

Ekramul Kabir, Filmmaker, Cinematographer.

Elora Halim Chowdhury, Ph.D. Professor & Chair,  Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department, University of Massachusetts Boston,  USA.

Fahima Al Farabi, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Savar. 

Fahmidul Haq, Professor, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, Dhaka University, Dhaka.

Farjahan Rahman Shawon, Research Assistant, Department of Curriculum and Instructions University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.

Farzana Boby, Independent film maker,  Broadcast Journalist at Deepto TV, Dhaka.

Gitiara Nasreen, Professor, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, Dhaka University, Dhaka.  

Gita Sahgal, Director, Centre for Secular Space, London.

Hana Shams Ahmed, PhD Student, York University, Canada.

Hasan Jamil, PhD. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.

Imtiaz Ahmed, Professor of International Relations, University of Dhaka.

Kaberi Gayen, Professor, Mass Communication and Journalism, Dhaka University, Dhaka.

Kazi Maruful Islam, Professor, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka.

Kajalie Shehreen Islam, Assistant Professor, University of Dhaka, Dhaka.

Laura Wagner, PhD. Archivist, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA.

Mahmudul H Sumon, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Savar.

Maidul Islam, Department of Sociology, Chittagong University, Chittagong.

Manosh Chowdhury, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University. 

Masood Imran Mannu, Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology.

Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

Meher Nigar, Assistant Professor, Department of Bangla, University of Dhaka.

Dr Max Farrar, Sociologist and Emeritus Professor, Leeds Beckett University, UK.

Mirza Taslima Sultana, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University. Savar.

Miriam Rose, Co-Chair, Foil Vedanta, UK.

Munasir Kamal, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka

Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan, PhD. Associate Professor, Department of  International Relations, University of Dhaka.

 Moshahida Sultana, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka.  

Nasrin Khandokar, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University.

Nira Yuval-Davis, Professor of Sociology, University of East London, London.

Md. Nur Khan, Human rights activist, Dhaka.

Parvin Jolly, Associate Professor, Department of History, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka.

Parsa S. Sajid, Writer, Editor and Researcher.

Piya Mayenin, Solicitor, London.

Paul Dudman, Archivist and Civic-Engagement Lead, Refugee Council Archive, University of East London, London.

Peter Marshall, Photographer, London , UK.

Peter Redfield, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, President, Society for Cultural Anthropology, USA.

Qazi Arka Rahman, Assistant Professor (on leave), Department of English, Jagannath University, Dhaka.

Qazi Mamun Haider, Department of Journalism, Rajshahi University, Rajshahi.

Rafida Ahmed Bonya, Bangladeshi-American author, humanist activist and blogger, USA.

Rahila Gupta, Author, activist and journalist,  London.

Rayhan Rhyne, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Jahangirnagar University.

Rezwana Karim Snigdha, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Savar.

Reetu Sattar, Artist, Britto Arts Trust, Prachyanat.   

Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Academic Activist, Eastern University of Bangladesh & Committee for the Protection of Fundamental Rights, Dhaka.

Ridwanul Hoque PhD,Professor of Law, Department of  Law, University of Dhaka, Dhaka.

Robayet Ferdous, Professor, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Dhaka, Dhaka.  

Roger Moody, Research Director, Mines and Communities, UK.

Rumana Hashem, Political Sociologist and Chair, Community Women Against Abuse, London.

Rushad Faridi, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Dhaka University, Dhaka.

Sadaf  Noor E Islam, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Chittagong University, Chittagong.

Sadia Arman, Practicing laywer and former-teacher, Dhaka.

Safia Azim, Photographer and Psychologist, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Salim Reza Newton, Professor, Mass communication and Journalism, Rajshahi University.

Samina Luthfa, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka.

Samarendra Das, Environmental Activist and Chair, Foil Vedanta, London, UK.

Shapan Adnan , PhD.Former Teacher of National University of Singapore, Singapore.

Soumya Sarker, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka

Sayeed Ferdous, Professor Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University 

Sayema Khatun, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Savar.

Dr. Saydia Gulrukh, Journalist and Researcher, Dhaka.

Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary, Bangladesh Indigenous Forum, Dhaka.

Seema Amin, Lecturer, BRAC University, Dhaka.   

Seuty Sabur, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, BRAC University, Dhaka.

Shaswati Mazumder Lecture, Fine Arts, Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Savar.

Shahana Hanif, Community Organizer, Co-Founder of the Bangladeshi Feminist Collective, New York City, New York.

Shusmita Chakravarti, Professor, Department of Folklore, Rajshahi University, Rajshahi.

Spyros Themelis, Senior Lecturer and Sociologist, School of Education and Lifelong Learning, University of East Anglia, Norwich.

Thahitun Mariam, Bangladeshi-American Writer, Community Organizer and Activist. New York City, USA.

Tapan Bose, Filmmaker & human Rights defender, New Delhi.

Taslima Akhter, Photographer and Documentary Filmmaker, Dhaka.

Tahmina Khannam, Assistant Professor, Department of Management, University of Dhaka.

Tasneem Siraj Mahboob, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka.

Tomas Munita, Independent Photographer and New York Times contributor, New York.

Tsitsi Jaji, Associate Professor, English and African & African American Studies, Duke University, USA.

Vanessa Lye, Practitioner and Researchers, London.

Veronica Saba. PhD researcher and women’s rights activist , Trieste, Italy.

Vishnu laalitha Surapaneni, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota, USA.

Yasmin Rehman, Women’s rights campaigner, Centre for Secular Space, London.

Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh, artist, president of the Arab Image Foundation.

Ziaur Rahman, Advocate, CEO and Legal Adviser, International Institute of Technology and Management, Dhaka.

Zobaen Sondhi, Fellow Writer in Exile, PEN Centre Germany, Berlin.

Zobaida Nasreen, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Dhaka.

 

Dr Shahidul Alam waves hand to his fellows from the Detective Branch Police Van on 8 August, 2018. Copyright: Sabuj Shahidul Islam

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Renowned photographer Shahidul Alam is still held by the Bangladeshi Detective Branch police custody

Press Release by DRIK

Tortured photographer Shahidul Alam raises his hands and waved to other photographers/ journalists before he was taken back to the Special Branch custody from the Hospital in Dhaka. Wednesday, 8 August 2018. Copy right: Sobuj Alam.

 

The recipient of Bangladesh’s highest honor, Shilpakala Padak Award (2014), globally renowned photographer, academic, and human rights activist, Dr. Shahidul Alam has been taken back to the Detective Branch (DB) police custody from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Medical University (BSMMU) on August 8.

 

On August 5th, Shahidul Alam was abducted by force from his apartment by approximately 30-35 unidentified men in white plain clothes. The men came in three cars, and entered the apartment building by force at 10:30 pm. They took away phones from the building security guard, destroyed CCTV camera in the building, and took away CCTV camera hard drives, according to the FIR submitted to police.

 

On August 6th, Shahidul Alam’s wife, eminent anthropologist Rahnuma Ahmed, filed FIR at Dhanmondi Thana, with the above details. Following a day of national and international outcry over the abduction, and a press conference where his family lawyer Sara Hossain and eminent citizens demanded his immediate return, the Detective Branch of Police stated that they were going to file a case and then, produced him in court in connection with a case filed under Section 57 of the ICT Act for online speech which ‘hurts the image of the nation’.

 

At the time of his court appearance, Alam could not walk, was missing sandals, and stated to the court that he had been beaten and tortured in police custody. Witnesses say he showed clear signs of mental and physical abuse.

 

On August 7th, eminent jurist, Dr Kamal Hossain, with Dr Shahdeen Malik, Sara Hossain, Tanim Hossain Shawon, Jyotirmoy Barua, Aynunnahar Lipi among others, represented him in the High Court. The court ordered ‘immediate medical examination and treatment.’ The order was served by 9 pm on the various police authorities, but medical examination did not happen that night.

 

Dr Alam has been walking out slowly from the Hospital. The condition of his hand and legs are not good enough to walk on his own. His wife and family helped him to walk down the stairs on Wednesday, 8 August, 2018. Copyright: Sobuj Shahidul Islam.

On August 8th morning, Shahidul Alam was finally taken to the government hospital Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), and medical examinations were conducted as informed by the Director of the Hospital, Brigadier General Abdullah-Al-Harun. Around 2 pm, Shahidul Alam was returned to the custody of the Detective Branch of Police, instead of being kept at the hospital for further observation and treatment. His lawyer was given no access to him and it was not clear what treatment if any he received. The government hospitals’ health reports are due to the High Court at 10.30 am August 9th.

 

The Bangladesh Government, through the Attorney General, in the meantime sought to stay the High Court order for examination and treatment of Dr Alam in hospital by moving the higher court (the Appellate Division Chamber Judge). The ADC judge referred the matter to be heard August 9th morning in the Appellate Division. The Attorney General of Bangladesh submitted that ‘Shahidul Alam had criticised the Government’ and referred to the order to place him in remand.

#FreeShahidulAlam

For Further information, please visit:

An Acclaimed Photographer in Bangladesh Says He Was Tortured, New York Times, 08 August: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/world/asia/bangladesh-photographer-shahidul-alam.html

The veteran photographer was remanded for seven days on Monday, Dhaka Tribune, 07 August:  https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/court/2018/08/07/high-court-halts-shahidul-alam-s-remand/
Photographer charged as police crackdown in Bangladesh intensifies, The Guardian, 06 August:  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/06/famed-bangladeshi-photographer-held-over-road-protest-comments?CMP=share_btn_tw
Bangladesh protests: How a traffic accident stopped a city of 18 million, BBC News, 06 August  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-45080129
Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam detained after post about Dhaka protests, CPJ, 08 August: https://cpj.org/2018/08/bangladeshi-photographer-shahidul-alam-detained-af.php 


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Invitation to an International Women’s Conference

revolution in the making 1st conference, 6-7 October 2018, Frankfurt

Peace in Kurdistan is circulating the attached invitation to a major international women’s conference in Frankfurt on 6-7 October 2018: Revolution in the Making, as we strongly support this new initiative and would encourage as many of you as possible to consider participating. Women in the Mesopotamian and Middle East region have been struggling for freedom for a long time and we want to bring together women of the world to combine our knowledge, power to change, and our experiences.  You may have heard of the Women’s Revolution under way in Northern Syria (Rojava) where an area of self administration has been declared in which all ethnicities are working together to create a gender equal, ecologically sustainable future. If you are interested to know more, the following book is a great introduction: https://www.plutobooks.com/9781783719884/revolution-in-rojava/

Please do consider coming to the conference to hear about the feminist philosophy underpinning such a struggle and to take part in the discussions, panels and workshops. You will see in the technical information below that if you can get to Frankfurt all other expenses can be taken care of, including food and accommodation.

Courtesy: Women’s Initiative for Peace in Afrin, UK

revolution in the making
http://revolutioninthemaking.blogsport.eu/
1st conference, 6-7 october 2018, Frankfurt

To all the women, dear friends,
Your Mesopotamian and Middle Eastern sisters have been struggling for freedom for a long time – just as our sisters around the world. The social, ecologic and economic problems created by the patriarchal system – disguising itself in various forms over thousands of years – have grown ever larger. This system did not only deprive women, all peoples, workers, farmers and laborers of their freedom. Today we are confronted with the feminicide, society-cide, genocides and nature-cide.

Capitalism is in a structural crisis, and although it claims there is no alternative it has lost its legitimacy around the world. In order to overcome this crisis, the system revises and reinstates its fundamental pillars of religionism, scientism, sexism, feudalism, fascism and nationalism, and tries to present itself as the only alternative.
We, those who struggle, know that the fundamental common ground of all these paths is to further colonize women and peoples as well as ever further deepening of the economic, social and ecological problems.

Dear women,
We know there are paths beyond the ones that are presented to us as alternatives. In Rojava/North Syria, Bakur/Southeast Turkey as well as in other parts of the world such as the Zapatistas it is possible to see the struggle and building of the new. The building of a non-patriarchal system and a democratic economic order is at a reachable distance and has the potential to permanently establish itself. 21st century is thus just before us with the potential of being the century of women’s and people’s freedom.

Dear Friends,
For this reason, we want to bring together and combine our knowledge, power to change and our experiences in the conference “Revolution in the Making”, which will take place in Frankfurt between 6-7 October 2018. We think that as much as an in-depth analysis of state-class civilizations’ ways and methods used in the colonization of women there is a need for the revival of the resistance memory of women. We find it extremely important that we share experiences; so that we can be prepared for patriarchal system’s new attacks. We will thus be able to create paths, methods and perspectives that can match the conditions, qualities and needs of our age. So that we can organize ourselves and create our alliances from the local to the universal. Against the constant attacks of the patriarchal system we will be able to weave a durable network of resistance. Thus, we will have the opportunity to become an active subject of the most gripping struggle of our age.
Now is women’s time, now is the time to weave this future together and is time to make the 21st century the century of women’s and people’s freedom!
Main sessions of the conference:
•    The Crisis of Patriarchy and its Systematic War on Women
•    Women’s Struggle for Freedom and Building Processes
•    Experience of the different women’s movements
•    Revolution in the Making – Weaving our Future Together
•    Workshops

Technical Information:
Date: 6-7 October 2018
Time: 9am
Location: Frankfurt am Main
Simultaneous Translation: Kurdish, English, German, Turkish, Italian, Spanish and French
Registration fee: € 30 including lunch and coffee, tea; €50 solidarity price (Let us know if you have difficulties)
registration begins on 5th October at 5pm.
Accommodation: Solidarity accommodation for a maximum of three nights by Kurdish families and their friends. We also have reserved rooms in affordable hostels

Registration:
Please register till 15th of September under womenweavingfuture@riseup.net. Let us know if you will need accomodation and for how many nights, if you need child-care and in which region you are living.
More information on the program and actual announcements you will find on our webpage www.revolutioninthemaking.blogsport.eu

 

For Further information, contact:

Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk
https://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com


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Tracing your Female Ancestors and Electoral Registers

This post is not about abuse of women or men as such, but we re-blogged the article with thanks to the Archives+ Blogspot because it addresses important questions in relation to Electoral Registers and Tracing Female Ancestors.”Can we use these register’s to find women prior to the Representation of the People Act 1918? How do you search the Electoral Register?” See below for answers:

This blog is the seventh in a continuing series of posts written by members of the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society.  In this blog, we turn our attention to Electoral Registers  specifically trying to trace our female ancestors.  Can we use these register’s to find women prior to the Representation of the People Act 1918?  How do you search the Electoral Register?

There are many ways in which we can continue to draw and add to the profile of our female ancestors.  After 1918, and the enfranchisement of women over 30 (who met the minimum property qualifications), we can now start to consider the use of Electoral Registers in order to better place our female ancestors.

First let’s look at the interesting story of  Lily Maxwell, who become the first women to a vote in a Parliamentary election.

Lily Maxwell

Lily Maxwell, was born in Scotland about 1802 and…

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Protesters Demand Justice for Rape Victims and Rani Yan Yan

 Press Release by Jumma Peoples Network, UK

 London, 15 March 2018

Protest against rape and sexual abuse of Marma sisters outside Bangladesh High Commission in London, 15 March 2018. Copy right: JPNUK.

 

The Jumma Peoples Network UK, a non-profit, non-aligned human rights organisation based in the UK, in association with Survival International organised a peaceful demonstration outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London on Thursday 15 March 2018.

This event was held to condemn the physical assault on Chakma Queen Rani Yan Yan committed on 15 February 2018 at the Rangamati General Hospital and the rape and sexual assault on two indigenous Marma sisters on 22 January 2018, by the Bangladesh Security Forces. The attacks took place in their home in Orasori village in Rangamati Hill District, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. Protesters condemned the attacks on indigenous women’s and their human rights defenders.

Two minutes’ silence was observed as a mark of respect for the victims of rape and sexual assault and to express solidarity with Rani Yan Yan and other women Human Rights defenders.

Protest against rape and sexual violence outside the BDHC in London 15 March 2018. Copyright: Pushpita Gupta

An indigenous woman from the CHT holds placard asking for Justice for Marma Sisters at the protest against sexual violence against indigenous women. BDHC, London, 15 March 2018. Copyright: Pushpita Gupta.

Kumar Sivasish Roy, Ujjaini Roy and Lal Amlai from Jumma Peoples Network UK, Chris Chapman from Amnesty International, James Swapan Peris from Campaign for the Protection of Religious Minorities of Bangladesh and Rebecca Durand, a womens human rights activist spoke at the event. Members from the Nirmul Committee, Community Women Against Abuse, Jumma Community, and more well-wishers were also present there.

At the end of the protest rally, a joint petition by the Survival International and Jumma Peoples Network, UK was submitted to the Bangladesh High Commission to be delivered to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

 

 

 

 

 

Please click to down load:

Survival International and Jumma Peoples Network UK joint petition to PM of Bangladesh 

 

Press Release – Demo in London and Survival International and Jumma Peoples Network UK – joint petition to PM of Bangladesh

……………………………………………..

Thank you for your solidarity.

Protest against rape and sexual violence in the CHT took place outside Bangladesh High Commission in London, 15 March 2018. Copyright: Pushpita Gupta.

For more information please contact:

Email: jpn_uk@hotmail.com

Web: www.jpnuk.org.uk

 

Note:The International Council for Indigenous Peoples of Chittagong Hill Tracts & Jumma Peoples Network International started the below petition to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and 4 others

You can Sign the petition if you agree with the statement below:

https://www.change.org/p/bangladesh-justice-for-raped-marma-sisters-rani-yan-yan-and-indigenous-women-human-rights-defenders

Justice for raped Marma sisters, Rani Yan Yan and Indigenous women human rights defenders

 

We the undersigned individuals and organisations are deeply concerned about the recent incident of sexual violence against two indigenous Marma sisters on 22/1/18 [1] and assaults on Rani Yan Yan (the Chakma Queen) and Women Human Rights Defenders on 15/2/18 [2] in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh perpetrated by Bangladesh military and security forces.

Human rights groups report there has been a concerted and coordinated effort to cover up the rape and sexual assault [3] and also attempts to impose a mainstream media blackout [4].

Incidents of rape and sexual assault are common in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, with a young Tripura girl reportedly raped on International Womens’ Day [5]. From 2014 to June 2017, there have been 297 reported cases [6] of violence against indigenous women and girls none of these cases have been properly prosecuted, nor the perpetrators punished.  Rape and sexual violence targeting indigenous women and girls are part of a systematic and brutal strategy to terrorise the indigenous communities and displace them from their lands. [7]

Background

On 22 January 2018 a patrol party from Farua Army Camp carried out house to house searches in Orasori village, Bilaichari district in Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh They entered the house of an indigenous Marma family. Two men raped the 18-year-old sister and seriously sexually assaulted the younger 14-year-old sister.  Their seven-year-old brother was present in the room.

The following day the sisters were taken to hospital for treatment. Whilst at the hospital they were placed under tight surveillance, unlawfully detained [8] and subjected to degrading treatment.  Rani Yan-Yan and other women’s human rights defenders attended the sisters for 20 consecutive days, to provide support and to bear witness to their treatment. One of the reasons Rani Yan Yan visited the sisters, is because she is also from the Marma indigenous group and can communicate with the sisters in their mother tongue. The sisters said they were scared to return to their village, for fear of retaliation for speaking out.  A writ was filed to release the sisters into the protective custody of Raja Devasish Roy and Rani Yan Yan. [9]

Attack on Rani Yan Yan and Women Human Rights Defender

The parents of the two girls, having allegedly been placed under extreme pressure from the Bangladeshi security forces, filed a counter-writ for their daughters’ release, which was upheld on the 13/2/18.  This led to a raid on the hospital by security forces and plain-clothes personnel when the sisters were forcibly taken from the hospital (15/3/18). Rani Yan-Yan and a woman human rights defender were assaulted, kicked and beaten trying to protect the sisters who were refusing to leave.  A physical assault of such magnitude on Rani Yan Yan is tantamount to an attack on all the indigenous people of the Chakma Circle. The Chakma Raj is held in high esteem and is considered to be the custodians of centuries-old traditions and way of life.

Accountability and Scrutiny

There is an intense lack of scrutiny of the situation facing Indigenous peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.  It is notable that Bangladesh is the largest contributing country to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO).  It is abhorrent to think of perpetrators of such crimes serving as UN Peacekeepers.  We welcome the statement made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (4/3/16) pledging reforms to improve accountability for abuse by peacekeepers including measures for stricter vetting of new UN personnel and quicker investigations. [10]

International Scrutiny and Safeguarding

It is commendable the international community is acting to combat the sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable women and children in communities by aid workers from International NGOs such as Oxfam and Save the Children.  However, the same level of scrutiny and accountability is required for all recipients of aid, including Bangladesh, especially when there are credible reports of vulnerable women and children and being sexually abused by those in power and having little or no means of holding those in power to account for their crimes.

Recommendations:

We call on Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Government of Bangladesh to:

  • End impunity for security forces for sexual and physical violence against indigenous women in the CHT
  • Bring all perpetrators of sexual violence to justice in the CHT and plains of Bangladesh in accordance to international standards;
  • Ensure access to justice for the Marma sisters in accordance to international standards, as well as ensuring their physical and psychological wellbeing
  • Carry out an independent, impartial investigation into the attack on Rani Yan Yan and the Women Human Rights Defender and bring the perpetrators to justice
  • Urgently ensure the security of Rani Yan Yan and the Chakma royal family and other human rights defenders in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
  • Implement the 1997 CHT Peace Accords in full before its 21st anniversary in December 2018. [11]
  • Demilitarise the CHT and removal of army camps in accordance to the 1997 CHT Accord

We further request assurance from the Government of Bangladesh to take all precautions to ensure that there is proper scrutiny of all personnel, including military from Bangladesh prior to serving in the United Nations to certify ‘they have not committed or are alleged to have committed criminal offences and/or violations of international law..’

We would like to make the following recommendations to the United Nations and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to improve the accountability of both civilian and military personnel serving the UN. We request the UN to:

  • Exercise due diligence and ensure proper screening prior to deployment of personnel from Bangladesh that are alleged to be involved in criminal offences and violations of international human rights law.  (In accordance with UN Human Rights Screening Policy 2012) [12]
  • Allow Bangladeshi and Indigenous women’s human rights groups, women human rights defenders from the to submit details of named personnel involved in these disturbing events, which are in clear violation of international human rights law, as well as criminal offences.
  • The UN establish a database of personnel unsuitable for UN service. This should be open to contributions from indigenous women and human rights groups with experience and evidence of human rights abuses
  • Consider how information on allegations of human rights abusers can be gathered from countries with poor rule of law and lack of access to justice

We urge the Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Women, Torture, Child Protection, on Violence against Children and for Children and Armed Conflict, Human Rights Defenders and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to urgently investigate the recent events with a view to making recommendations to provide protection and access to justice for the Marma sisters, Rani Yan Yan and women human rights defenders, reporting back to the United Nations at CEDAW and via the appropriate mechanisms.

 

We call on the international community, International financial institutions and donor countries such as the UK, Australia, USA, France and Canada, Japan (DfID, AusAID, USAid, CIDA, SIDA, NORAD, EU) to:

  • Ensure proper investigation of de facto military rule and access to justice in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, ensuring that issues relating to the treatment of the indigenous people are brought into the mainstream and to bring strong diplomatic pressure to bear.
  • Encourage and support the Government of Bangladesh and Indigenous communities in the implementation of the 1997 CHT Peace Accords and de-militarisation of the CHT

We ask supporters to stand in solidarity with the Marma sisters, Rani Yan Yan and other human rights defenders as they fight for justice and to hold their abusers and the institutions they represent to account for their actions.

You can help by writing to your representative:

USA

http://congress.org/

UK/EU

https://www.writetothem.com/

Canada

http://4mycanada.ca/wp/?page_id=99

Australia

https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Guidelines_for_Contacting_Senators_and_Members

Further Reading and References:

[1] Rape of Marma sisters, In conversation with Rani Yan Yan; The Daily Star 2/2/18 http://www.thedailystar.net/star-weekend/human-rights/rape-marma-sisters-1528471

[2] Bangladesh: Assault on Chakma Rani Yan Yan: An Official statement from the Chakma Raj Office

http://iphrdefenders.net/bangladesh-assault-on-chakma-rani-yan-yan-an-official-statement-from-chakma-raj-office/

[3] Rights Groups accuse Bangladesh army of covering up sex assault, Al Jazeera, 28/2/18

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/bangladesh-minorities-bid-cover-army-sex-assault-180217110336276.html

[4] CHT incident, digital media and analogue government, New Age Bangladesh, 21/2/18

http://www.newagebd.net/print/article/35186

[5] Protest at DU against rape of Tripura girl, Daily Star 9/3/18

http://www.thedailystar.net/country/protest-at-dhaka-university-against-rape-of-tripura-girl-1545802

[6] Bangladesh: Uphold the Rule of Law and End Impunity for Security Forces, Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact statement 3/3/18

http://iphrdefenders.net/bangladesh-uphold-the-rule-of-law-and-end-the-impunity-of-security-forces/

[7] Indigenous women target of rape in land-related conflicts in Bangladesh, IWGIA, 8/3/18

https://www.iwgia.org/en/bangladesh/3235-indigenous-women-target-of-rape-in-land-related-conflicts-in-bangladesh

[8] Rape of Marma girl: Questions aplenty, Daily Star, 1/2/18

http://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/rape-marma-girl-questions-aplenty-1528153

[9] Settle rule on Marma sisters in 6 weeks: SC, Daily Star, 22/2/18

http://www.thedailystar.net/country/settle-rule-rangamati-marma-sisters-rape-confinement-6-weeks-supreme-court-1538443

[10] UN: Stop Sexual abuse by Peacekeepers, Human Rights Watch, 4/3/16

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/03/04/un-stop-sexual-abuse-peacekeepers

[11] Suffering of Jumma tribes continue 20 years after peace accord

https://www.survivalinternational.org/news/11873

[12] Human Rights Screening of UN Personnel, UN Policy 11/12/12

http://dag.un.org/bitstream/handle/11176/387395/Policy%20on%20Human%20Rights%20Screening%20of%20UN%20Personnel%20December%202012.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y


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Protest against sexual assault and attack on indigenous women in Chittagong Hill Tracts

Where? In front of Bangladesh High Commission, London

When? 13:00 – 14:00, Thursday, 15th March 2018

 

The Jumma Peoples Network UK, in association with Survival International, is organising a peaceful demonstration outside the Bangladesh High Commission, 28 Queen’s Gate, Kensington, London SW7 5JA, at 1pm to 2pm on Thursday 15th March 2018, to protest against rape and sexual abuse of two Marma sisters by the Bangladesh security forces in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a region in south-east Bangladesh. As well, the demo is being organised to condemn the violent assault on the Chakma Circle Adviser, Rani Yan Yan.

Although two decades had passed since the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord 1997 was signed, incidences of rape and sexual violence against Jumma women are increasingly evident in the region. The recent occurrences of rape and sexual abuse were committed as part of organised violence against Jumma women. Indigenous community representatives and local civil society organisations have reported that members of Bangladesh Army, who were deployed by the government of Bangladesh for security purposes, had first raped a 19-year old Marma woman, then assaulted her 14-year old sister in a village called, Orasori, in Rangamati – a sub-district at the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The two Marma sisters were raped and abused on 22 January, and both of the sisters were confined at the Rangamati Sadar Hospital since 24 January. They were subsequently taken out of the the hospital by force (against their will), and were handed over to their parents after three weeks, on 15 February. Amnesty International reported that the sisters are currently staying at an accommodation of a ruling party leader in a restricted environment, contrary to their request of shelter.

Instead of enquiring into the rape and sexual abuse of the two sisters, the Bangladeshi security forces had committed a violent physical attack on the Chakma Circle Adviser, Rani Yan Yan, and one of her volunteers on 15 February 2018, when they were visiting the ward where the two Marma sisters were kept. Most appalling is that an impartial investigation to prosecute the perpetrators is yet to begin and the survivor’s family has been subjected to intimidation by the army.

We call upon everyone to join the demo and to stand in solidarity with those fighting for justice for the Marma sisters in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The protesters outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London will ask the Bangladesh government to ensure immediate safety and security of the two survivors of sexual violence, and to begin an impartial investigation into the violence against the Marma sisters. A joint memorandum by members of the Jumma Peoples Network UK, Survival International, Amnesty International, Campaign for Religious Minorities in Bangladesh and Secular Movement of Bangladesh, Community Women Against Abuse and other human rights activists will be submitted to the Bangladesh High Commission to be delivered to Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

We ask our supporters to join the demo this Thursday. Organisations and individuals are encouraged to bring along your own placards and organisational banners to show your support for the indigenous women in Bangladesh.

For further information, please contact:

Jumma Peoples Network UK

Phone: 07723059225 and 07931777262

Email: jpn_uk@hotmail.com

Web: www.jpnuk.org.uk


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A women’s revolution in Northern Syria fights for its life


 

Courtesy: Women’s Initiative for Peace in Afrin, UK

 

Help Build the Women’s Initiative for Peace in Afrin, DO something truly international on IWD2018

We call upon the women of Britain to join us in the Women’s Initiative for Peace in Afrin to be launched in Parliament on 6 March, Committee room 3, House of Commons at 7pm. Please leave 30 minutes to allow for security clearance.

Behind the frontlines in war-torn Syria, the region of Rojava has established, since July 2012, grassroots democratic structures based on the principles of radical democracy, ecology, and women’s liberation. Led by the political system of Democratic Confederalism, the people created communes, assemblies, academies, and cooperatives to organise their daily lives in a secular, multi-cultural, and gender egalitarian manner. An autonomous women’s movement has established women’s social, political, and economic structures to secure a radical transformation of a society shaped by male domination, patriarchy and violence against women. A wide-ranging legislative programme has banned harmful traditional practices such as polygamy, child marriage and forced marriage. The Social Contract of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) makes the elimination of discrimination against women in all spheres of life a guiding principle. A women’s quota of 40% is enforced in all governance structures while the co-presidency principle ensures that every institution, from the federal administration to the small neighbourhood communes, is chaired equally by a woman and a man.

Despite its ground-breaking assault on patriarchal structures, Rojava gets very little coverage, perhaps because its commitment to true equality is threatening to Western capitalist powers. This is probably the best place in the Middle East to be a woman. Women’s struggles all over the world can take heart from this truly revolutionary society which has achieved so much so quickly.

This relatively peaceful and totally non-sectarian society is under threat from Turkey. On 20 January 2018, the Turkish army and affiliated jihadist gangs launched a war of aggression on Afrin, one of the cantons of DFNS. This cross-border invasion by the Turkish state, cynically labelled “Operation Olive Branch” is a violation of international law. Since the beginning of the operation, hundreds of civilians have been wounded and killed, dozens of homes, schools, and vital infrastructure have been destroyed in the airstrikes and ground invasion.

The War on Afrin is a War on Women. This revolution is your revolution.

We demand:

  • immediate end to the attacks on Afrin
  • end of arms trade with Turkey
  • humanitarian support for Afrin
  • independent investigation into war crimes in Afrin
  • establishment of a No Fly Zone for the protection of civilians
  • support for the democratic forces and peace efforts of the DFNS for a free, democratic Syria
  • support for the inclusion of the DFNS in the Geneva peace talks on Syria

Please RSVP via https://www.facebook.com/events/180906479191644/?notif_t=plan_user_joined&notif_id=1519912083507020

For further information on Women’s  revolution in Rojava, please read this article: https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/5160/the-rojava-experiment