Bangladesh: Death threats continue in latest 'white list' addition

As the human rights organisation issued a new Urgent Action on a Bangladeshi journalist and his family who have received death threats, it said the UK government's policy could send asylum seekers back to persecution and even death.

46 people were reported to have been tortured to death by the army and the police in Bangladesh last year. Politically motivated detentions of journalists, politicians and university lecturers are common in the country.

Amnesty International UK Director, Kate Allen, said:

'This is the second extension to the 'white list' of supposedly safe countries in just four months, and the fear is that the UK government is closing its mind to asylum applications from whole swathes of the world.

'The government needs to stop this 'one size fits all' policy of pre-judging applications and look at individual claims on their individual merits.'

The case of Tipu Sultan

In January 2001, journalist Tipu Sultan was brutally attacked in his home town of Feni after he published an article criticising a local politician. Tipu Sultan, members of his family and Bakhtiar Islam Munna, who saw the beating, were all warned that they would be killed if the case against those who carried out the attack was not withdrawn. In the attack, Tipu Sultan's legs and hands were broken which resulted in him having to undergo numerous operations in order to regain the use of his limbs. This provoked an outcry internationally and in Bangladesh.

However, for about seven months the police were reportedly prevented by the local politician involved from registering Tipu Sultan's complaint against the attackers. It was only following the change of government that the police filed a case against 13 people accused of the attack. Two of the accused are in detention, three have been released on bail, and the rest have absconded.

Nearly two years later preparation for a hearing is now underway. However, when Tipu Sultan recently returned to visit his family in Feni, they and Bakhtiar Islam Munna were reportedly threatened by those allegedly responsible for the June 2001 attack on him. Despite pledges by the Bangladeshi authorities to uphold the freedom of the press, journalists are frequently targets of attacks, intimidation and harassment.

Dozens of journalists have been assaulted with impunity either by the police when covering demonstrations or by armed gangs affiliated to various political parties. In addition, several journalists have been arrested and accused of a range of politically motivated charges including sedition. They have been taken into custody for weeks or sometimes months and many of them have been tortured or ill-treated whilst being held.

For information on how to join Amnesty International's Urgent Action network visit https://www.amnesty.org.uk/ua or call 020 7814 6273.

View latest press releases