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One Beating Leads to Another

October 31, 2005

(Ed. note: Human Rights at the Grassroots is a regular feature of Human Rights SOLIDARITY that seeks to provide a deeper appreciation of the lives of Asia’s people and the denial of their rights.)

A traffic jam in Bangladesh’s capital of Dhaka almost led to the death of a local businessman. SK. Abubakkar Sultan Bitan, executive director of Harness Level Industries Ltd., was on his way home from work on a Friday evening when he got stuck in traffic on Jasimuddin Road at about 8:00 p.m. on July 15, 2005. While sitting in his car, he saw three men in civilian clothes beating an elderly man on the side of the road. He immediately went to the aid of the man and sought to stop the beating. When Bitan protested about the beating though, one of the men threw sand in his eyes and pushed him. Defending himself, Bitan shoved a man who later identified himself as Ashraf, an additional superintendent of police (ASP) of the country’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a special unit created in 2004 composed of army and police personnel that allegedly has killed 116 people in the past year, often in so-called crossfire incidents.

“Do you know who I am?” screamed Ashraf. “How dare do you hit a RAB member? I will teach you a good lesson.”

Ashraf then arranged for Bitan to be taken to the RAB office in a part of Dhaka known as Uttara where he was charged with assaulting ASP Ashraf and beaten with iron rods until he was unconscious. Only through the intervention of a senior police officer did Bitan escape death, he said.

At 11:00 p.m. — about three hours after his ordeal began in the traffic jam — Bitan was released from the RAB office. He was first admitted to a local clinic and then transferred to Central Hospital in Dhaka.

(Ed. note: To read additional details about this incident and support this torture victim, please see the Asian Human Rights Commission’s [AHRC] urgent appeal at

Bruce Van Voorhis

Bruce Van Voorhis serves as missionary with the Asian Human Rights Commission located in Hong Kong.  He serves as a writer and editor with the Commission.

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