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Bangladeshi writer, detained for social media posts, died in prison



Dhaka, Bangladesh-Officials and family members said on Friday that a Bangladeshi writer who had been detained for nearly a year for criticizing the government’s social media posts had died in prison, raising alarms about the country’s suppression of dissidents.

At the beginning of last year, writer Mushtaq Ahmed (Mushtaq Ahmed) was charged with 11 people for allegedly spreading social media content (including cartoons). They accused Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of mismanagement of the pandemic And corruption.

His case was filed under Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act, a law in 201

8 that gave the government broad powers to search, fine and arrest anyone who violated its vagueness, including violations of ” Unity, financial activities, security, defense, religious values ​​or public discipline of the country.”

Critics say it has been used to suppress dissent. The Asian Human Rights Commission said it has been on the record because it criticized Ms. Hasina’s government and arrested 138 journalists, students and political activists last year.

Mr. Ahmed was detained in the high-security Kahimpur prison and was released on bail six times.

Human rights organizations demanded an investigation into his death and called for the repeal of the Digital Security Act, which also includes measures to prevent cybercrimes and attacks.

The senior warden of Ahmed’s prison, Mohammad Gias Uddin, said the writer lost consciousness on Thursday night and was taken to the prison hospital. Uddin said that prison guards then took him to a larger medical facility in the nearby city of Gazipur, but was pronounced dead.

When Udiddin talked about the 54-year-old author, the prison doctor reported that Mr. Ahmed “never complained about his health problems. He used to take stomach and headache medicine.”

Ahmed’s cousin, Nafeesur Rahman, who is also a physician, said he was present during the autopsy.

Rahman said: “I didn’t find any injuries on my body.” He added that Ahmed’s heart was enlarged and his blood pressure was low when he lost consciousness.

The police charges against Mr. Ahmed (Ahmed) and 10 others accuse them of spreading misinformation and rumors about the coronavirus and spreading chaos through social media, destroying the image of the government. These accusations are nationalistic, accusing them of “publishing rumors against the father of the nation, the War of Independence.”

Before being arrested by elite troops in May last year, in his last post on Facebook, Mr. Ahmed compared the country’s health minister to a cockroach. He wrote in another article: “When a society laments more economic losses than life losses, it does not need viruses, it is already sick.”

Aliya Iftikhar, a senior researcher for the Committee for the Protection of Journalists in Asia, called his death a “destructive and unreasonable loss.”

Mizanur Rahman, a law professor at Dhaka University and former chairman of the Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission, said the Digital Security Act was used to reduce freedom of speech in the country.

Rahman said: “We must all understand that criticizing the government is not an inflammatory crime at all.” “Mustak Ahmed was not found guilty, but was sentenced to nine months in prison for criticizing the government. His death in prison is totally unacceptable.”

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and its sanitation infrastructure is also very poor. It is always vulnerable to coronavirus. People’s worries about the pandemic have intensified because the country’s authoritarian government has become increasingly corrupt, the regime has become increasingly serious, and the coup d’état has become increasingly serious.

Among those arrested in the Ahmed case was the famous cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, who published a political cartoon magazine criticizing the government on Facebook. , Named “Life in the Corona Time”.

Despite the appeal by the UN Human Rights Council panel of experts, Mr. Kishore is still in prison. The panel of experts said that because the government’s health makes him vulnerable to the coronavirus, Mr. Kishore should be released on humanitarian grounds, just as the government has released thousands of others as a Covid-19 preventive measure same.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists expressed concern about the statement issued by Mr. Ahmed’s death, and he reported to relatives at Mr. Kishore’s most recent court hearing last Tuesday that he “was subjected to severe physical abuse while in police custody, and There were serious leg injuries and ear injuries, which resulted in infections due to lack of proper medical care.”

“I was there when my brother Kishore gave birth in court on February 23,” his brother Ahsan Kabir said in a telephone interview. “Kishor told me that he was tortured between May 2 and May 6.”


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