Narinjara news



BEHIND THE PRISON REBELLION IN BANDARBAN

Staff Reporter,
Chittagong, 2nd April 02: The prison rebellion inside the Bandarban jail was caused by years of imprisonment after expiry of the prison term and the hellish situation in the jails of Bangladesh.

Though the said rebellion by 552 prisoners from Burma, Thailand and a few from India has apparently died down on condition of returning them to their home countries within a time frame of fifteen days, the implementation of the pledge has become uncertain. Because the respective governments of these foreign prisoners have not agreed to take back them. Though the Government of Bangladesh has repeatedly written letters after letters to the respective governments, there has never been any response from especially the military junta of Burma, SPDC. Though the matter has been inhuman there has been no outlet from the morass.

The foreign prisoners in Bandarban jail constitute of more than four hundred and fifty from Burma, 79 from Thailand, and a couple from India. Recently all of them have been brought to the Bandarban jail from various prisons of Bangladesh including that of Cox's Bazaar. Most of them have been arrested on charges of illegal entry and illegal fishing in the waters of the Bay of Bengal. Some of the smugglers who brought boatloads of shrimp, rice, and other agricultural produce have also been sentenced because they had been secretly reported to the police or border security on Bangladesh side by the Bangladeshi businessmen who wanted to avoid paying the price of the smuggled goods to the Burmese smugglers. The maximum prison term which could be awarded for the arrest according to the law of Bangladesh is just three months. The prison term for almost all of the prisoners has expired. Some of the prisoners have had been held inside the jails for as long as ten years.

The jail authority cannot release them because they have not received the surety of return to their homes. Now there has no option been left except pushing them back to their own countries.

A source in the police department told that, at least fifty letters have been sent to the relevant governments of the countries for taking these prisoners back. But every time the governments declined to take them back. Although the Government of Bangladesh has sent a number of letters, it has done practically nothing with force or has been vociferous enough to raise a campaign for sending them to their respective countries. These prisoners have been collected in the Bandarban prison because there are fears of spreading communicable disease like deathly AIDS among the inmates. But the place where these 552 prisoners have been flocked together has a capacity for only 114 prisoners. Under these hellish circumstances the foreigners became rebellious. In these circumstances, though words spread that they would shortly be moved elsewhere to other prisons they started the fast-unto-death hunger strike on Friday last.

They demanded that they should be given permission and made arrangements to meet the representatives of their own governments in the country. Six Rakhine, Mon and Burmese prisoners gave the lead in the hunger strike who have already spent twelve years behind bars without any further indictment after expiry of their prison terms.

To bring the rebellion under control the higher officials in the administration moved there and after long endeavours brought the situation under control. The administration pledged to return the prisoners within fifteen days.

Now there is every possibility for another rebellion in case of the failure to implement what the officials pledged. #

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