The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked that personnel of an elite Bangladeshi armed guard raided the home of journalist F.M. Masum in Dhaka on October 22, brutally assaulted him and then took him to their headquarters and continued the torture for close to 10 hours.
“The IFJ condemns this inhuman act by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). We begin to suspect the battalion has been consistently abusing the special powers it has for fighting organised crime and terrorism to crush all dissent and critical opinion,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
According to media reports and information from IFJ partners, Masum was picked up from his apartment when RAB personnel raided a neighbour’s home in connection with an investigation into an alleged drug trading ring.
Masum was physically assaulted as he opened his door. When he identified himself, the violence only escalated.
After inflicting considerable physical injury on Masum, the RAB personnel reportedly took him to their headquarters where he was subjected to systematic torture.
Masum, a correspondent with the English-language daily New Age, was reportedly told that he was being dealt with in retaliation for the editorial postures taken by his editor, Nurul Kabir, a widely respected journalist and intellectual.
New Age has been known to take a critical stance on current political themes, including during two years of “emergency” rule which ended late last year.
RAB units have earlier been implicated in the torture and ill-treatment of a young and courageous journalist, Jahangir Alam Akash, in October 2007.
“We welcome the public expressions of regret for the latest atrocity from the top echelons of the RAB command structure and the Bangladesh Government, but expect that proper recompense will be rendered Masum and appropriate punishment imposed on those guilty for his torture,” Park said.