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ACHR PRESS RELEASE
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ACHR Index: PR/BD/02/07
02 April 2007

SAARC leaders urged to intervene against the killing of prominent tribal leader of Bangladesh

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights today appealed (http://www.achrweb.org/urgent_action/UA-BD0207.htm) to the Heads of the Delegations participating in the 14th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to intervene against the killing of a prominent Garo tribal leader, Mr Choles Ritchil in the custody of the joint forces stationed at Khakraid under Modhupur Police Station, Tangail District of Bangladesh on 18 March 2007.

Mr Ritchil's dead body, handed over to the family members on 19 March 2007, bore torture marks like eyes plucked, testicles removed, anus mutilated, two hand palms smashed, nails of 3 fingers of the right hand removed etc. Though deceased Ritchil's wife, Sandha Rani Simsang, filed a complaint with the Modhupur Police Station on 20 March 2007, no First Information Report (FIR) has been registered as of 2 April 2007.

“Many NGOs in Bangladesh such as Ain o Salis Kendro, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Adhikar etc demanded registration of the FIR but no further action has so far been taken to approach the judiciary against the police for their failure to register the FIR. The registration of an FIR is the first step towards ensuring justice but the fear of reprisals from the joint forces prevails in Bangladesh – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.  

Mr Choles Ritchil has been targeted for opposing the construction of an Eco-Park over 3,000 acres of Modhupur forest under Tangail district of Bangladesh inhabited by the Garo indigenous people. About 25,000 indigenous Garo people faced eviction because of the Eco-Park, and on 3 January 2004, one Garo, Piren Snal was killed on the spot and 25 others including women and children were injured in police firing. After the declaration of the state of emergency on 11 January 2007, the Forest Department officials restarted the construction of the controversial boundary wall for the Eco-Park but had to abandon following protest by indigenous peoples led by Mr Choles Ritchil. 

Asian Centre for Human Rights, among others, demanded registration of the FIR, a judicial inquiry and exhumation of the dead body of Choles Ritchil for autopsy by independent panel of doctors.

ACHR also approached the State government of Meghalaya to intervene with the Ministry of External Affairs of the government of India for intervention with the government of Bangladesh on the issue.

[Ends]


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