Narinjara news


BANDARBAN, April 17:
A total of 140 Myanmar and Thai prisoners have been shifted to Comilla and Noakhali jails from Bandarban jail on charge of agitation.

The jail authorities informed that under green signals from the higher authorities they kept 552 Myanmar and Thai prisoners confined in separate cells by resorting to different techniques and the police under tight security and special arrangement shifted 35 Myanmar and Thai prisoners to Noakhali jail on April 5 and 105 prisoners to Comilla jail on April 7. Before their shifting, they were assured of being sent to their own countries.

DIG of prison of Chittagong and Sylhet division, Md. Abdus Salam monitored the shifting of the prisoners. The shifting of the rest of the prisoners will be completed soon.

A source in the Bandarban prison said the prisoners might resort to tougher agitation at any moment as the (Bangladesh) government in utter violation of its promise to send them back to their countries, started shifting them to different prisons across the country.

The agitation on the charge of which the government started shifting the prisoners to different prisons was in the form of their declaration that they would commit [suicide] en mass if they were not sent to their countries.

They, as a first step to this, went on hunger strike. Their demand to send them to their countries came at the backdrop of the fact that their punishment period ended long since and that the governments of their countries were reluctant to take them back.

On March 30, 552 Myanmar and Thai prisoners withdrew their hunger strike on the assurance by the parliamentary advisor to the Prime Minister, Salauddin Quader Chowdhury and State Minister for Environment Zafrul Islam Chowdhury that they would be sent to their countries soon. But the government took a secret decision to shift the foreign prisoners to weaken their strength so that they, who are expert in kung-fu and karate, might not encounter the police in clash.

The shifting of 140 prisoners was the first step to the government plan to baffle the prisoners’ plan of committing suicide en mass.

Sources said the foreign prisoners underwent untold sufferings in the prison where 800 prisoners were kept against its capacity of accommodating only 144. their long prison life in the midst of scarcity of food, lack of health care facilities and their exposure to infectious diseases turned unbearable for them and the prison turned virtually to a hell for them.

After the end of their punishment period, they had to pay taka 500 each to the jail authority a month for accommodation in the jail and or else they were given accommodations in rooms considered hazardous for their health.

Moreover, the reluctance of their governments to take them back home forced them to resort to the suicidal plan to realize their demand.

[Source: The Independent, Dhaka, 18 April 02]