|>>> Contact the following Senators:
Edward Kennedy, John Kerry, Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton
|>>> Contact the Congressional Bangladeshi Caucus Members:
Gary Ackerman (NY-05), Michael Capuano (MA-08), Joseph Crowley (NY-07), William Delahunt (MA-10), Eliot Engel (NY-17), Chris Van Hollen (MD-08), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-06), Jim Moran (VA-08), Jim McDermott (WA-07), Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Bill Pascrell (NJ-08), Thomas Petri (WI-06), David Price (NC-04), Silvestre Reyes (TX-16), Ed Royce (CA-39), Brad Sherman (CA-27), Anthony Weiner (NY-09), Robert Wexler (FL-19), David Wu (OR-01)
|>>> Please visit and vote for Tasneem Khalil on Technorati to keep the story on Technorati’s "HOT WTFs" list.|
|>>> Please add the "Please Help Tasneem Khalil" image (on the top of my sidebar on the right) to your blog and link to any post about his story. Please help keep his story alive. It will keep him alive. [Many thanks to Jill at Never In Our Names for the image and support.]|
|>>> For readers in the UK, Pickled Politics is organizing an e-petition to the British Government.|
TASNEEM KHALIL HAS BEEN RELEASED (5/11/2007 1:39pm)
From Asif at Drishtipat:
Update 9:11:33 pm BDT
Tasneem is meeting with Mahfuz Anam in his office alone. Staffers in office say he looks physically ok, but badly shaken up. He is being taken home to his wife by DS staff after the meeting with MA.
Update 8:11:15 pm BDT
Tasneem Khalil released by joint forces. 24 hours after being picked up.
Update 7:10:15 pm BDT
Senior Daily Star office are huddled in office, including Mahfuz Anam. MA has released a statement. Excerpts: ” “I contacted the authorities concerned and was informed that him being questioned was not due to his journalistic work and had nothing to do with his functions at The Daily Star….In fact, it was because of the contents of his personal blog and some SMSs he had sent recently….Following my discussions with the authorities and because of the caretaker government’s commitment to the policy of freedom of the media, it was agreed that he would be released tonight.” Full statement is not online on DS website yet.
THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR YOUR OVERWHELMING RESPONSE. I’ll post more as I know more.
[Courtesy bdnews24.com] Below is the Press Release from Daily Star editor and publisher Mahfuz Anam that was sent out after negotiations with the military to secure Tasneem’s release (click image for larger version):
Update (5/11/2007 11:02am): The military has apparently promised to release Tasneem by 11:30am EST (9:30pm Bangladesh time). I’ll update as soon as I hear anything. Nothing is certain until he is released – the situation is quite fluid. Follow Drishtipat for up-to-the-minute information.
Tasneem Khalil, an editor at the Bangladesh’s leading English language daily, The Daily Star, has been taken away from his home by the military in Bangladesh. He was taken away just a few hours ago in the middle of the night. His whereabouts are currently unknown and his life is most certainly in danger.
Apparently Mr. Khalil’s crime is that he did his job. He spoke truthfully about the current situation in Bangladesh. He was interviewed by Nora Boustany of the Washington Post last month – that interview may have cost him his freedom and now possibly his life.
I have been speaking out over the last month about the military takedown of the democratic system in Bangladesh. One by one the fundamental rights of Bangladeshis have been taken away. But, Bangladeshis have recently started to fight back against the military. The press, the people and the courts have begun speaking out. The military now aims to silence them. Their thuggery is now plain to see.
Do not let Tasneem Khalil be "disappeared" into darkness. He is one of the brightest lights in Bangladeshi journalism and today, this minute, his life is in danger. Other reporters in Bangladesh are currently living in fear.
I urge anyone reading this post to come to the rescue of a man who has in times of need spoken out for freedom. Only sustained pressure and international news coverage will stay the brutal hand of the Bangladesh military.
UPDATE (5/10/2007 7:13 pm):
Human Rights Watch has just released the following statement demanding immediate release of Tasneem Khalil:
Bangladesh: Release Journalist and Rights Activist
Army Arrests Tasneem Khalil of Human Rights Watch
(London, May 11, 2007) – Bangladesh’s military-backed care-taker government should immediately release Tasneem Khalil, an investigative journalist and part-time Human Rights Watch consultant, who was detained by security forces late last night, Human Rights Watch said today.
Khalil, 26, is a journalist for the Dhaka-based Daily Star newspaper who conducts research for Human Rights Watch. According to his wife, four men in plainclothes who identified themselves as from the “joint task force”came to the door after midnight on May 11 in Dhaka, demanding to take Khalil away. They said they were placing Khalil “under arrest” and taking him to the Sangsad Bhavan army camp, outside the parliament building in Dhaka.
“We are extremely concerned about Tasneem Khalil’s safety,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “He has been a prominent voice in Bangladesh for human rights and the rule of law, and has been threatened because of that.”
The men did not offer a warrant or any charges, Khalil’s wife said. Using threatening language, they searched the house and confiscated Khalil’s passport, two computers, documents, and two mobile phones.
“It is an emergency; we can arrest anyone,” one of the men said. Another asked if Khalil suffered from any particular physical ailments. They drove Khalil off in a Pajero jeep.
Khalil is a noted investigative journalist who has published several controversial exposes of official corruption and abuse, particularly by security forces. He assisted Human Rights Watch in research for a 2006 report about torture and extrajudicial killings by Bangladesh security forces.
According to Bangladeshi human rights groups, the army has detained tens of thousands of people since a state of emergency was declared on January 11, 2007. A number of those detained are picked up in the middle of the night, as Khalil was, and then tortured.
In Bangladesh, security forces have long been implicated in torture and extrajudicial killings. The killings have been attributed to members of the army, the police, and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite anti-crime and anti-terrorism force. The Human Rights Watch report Khalil worked on, “Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Torture and Extrajudicial Killings by Bangladesh’s Elite Security Force,” focused on abuses by the RAB.
Killings in custody remain a persistent problem in Bangladesh. To date, no military personnel are known to have been held criminally responsible for any of the deaths.
Khalil was called in for questioning by military intelligence last week, apparently as part of the military’s campaign to intimidate independent journalists ahead of May 10, 2007, when the army’s three-month legal mandate for ruling under a state of emergency came to an end.
“The Bangladeshi military should be on notice that its actions are being closely watched by the outside world,” Adams said. “Any harm to Tasneem Khalil will seriously undermine the army’s claims to legitimacy and upholding the rule of law.”
Update 2 (5/10/2007 11:18pm):
CNN Wire is currently carrying the following story of Tasneem Khalil’s arrest:
Bangladeshi journalist arrested
(CNN) — A Bangladeshi journalist was arrested and taken from his home Friday and is believed to be held by the army for unknown reasons, according to his wife.
Tasneem Khalil, who also works part-time for Human Rights Watch and as a stringer for several news organizations, including CNN, writes for the Dhaka-based Daily Star.
Khalil’s wife telephoned CNN to say that men from an army intelligence unit arrested him early Friday.
In a statement, Khalil’s wife said he was arrested by four men in plainclothes who said they were from "the joint task force." They refused to tell Khalil on what charges he was being arrested and cautioned him to be quiet "if you don’t want anything else to happen," she said.
She said the men searched the house, taking Khalil’s passport and cell phones, two desktop computers and "all the documents, notepads, piles of paper, CDs and everything. They took it all away."
The men allegedly took Khalil to the Sangsad Bhavan army camp, outside the parliament building in Dhaka. (Posted 7:33 p.m.)
Update (5/11/2007 1:50am):
According to CNN, CNN and Human Rights Watch are in contact with the Bangladeshi government trying to get information about Tasneem:
The Bangladeshi army has detained thousands of people since declaring a state of emergency on January 11, Human Rights Watch said. Many of them have been tortured, the group said.
"We are extremely concerned about Tasneem Khalil’s safety," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "He has been a prominent voice in Bangladesh for human rights and the rule of law and has been threatened because of that."
Late last year, Khalil worked on an HRW report about the elite Bangladeshi security forces and its alleged participation in torture and extrajudicial killings, said HRW press director Emma Daly.
CNN and HRW have been in contact with Bangladesh’s Special Envoy to the United States, Farook Sobhan, and other officials in attempts to find information about Khalil. Sobhan told CNN it was the first he’d heard about Khalil’s arrest and promised to make inquiries.
Update (5/11/2007 7:30am):
Tasneem is alive. He has been allowed to speak briefly on the telephone with his wife. The Associate Press is now covering his story. Scroll down for previous updates.