Rafique Al-Islam, a campaigner against landmines in Bangladesh, was arrested at his home in Cox’s Bazaar on 21August by soldiers of the Rapid Action Battalion. Mr. Al-Islam is the Coordinator of the ICBL’s Treaty Implementation and Victim Assistance Working Group in Bangladesh, and is also the representative of the ICBL in his country. Liz Bernstein, Mr. Al-Islam’s colleague in ICBL, said that they feared for the well-being and even the life of Mr. Al-Islam. Rafique Al-Islam has been detained for nine days without charges. A hearing of his case — originally scheduled for Sunday 29 August — was held on Saturday 28 August. His family and lawyer were not informed of this change, and thus were unable to prepare his defense. On 29 August he was remanded into the custody of the Rapid Action Battalion for the purpose of interrogation for five days. Another hearing is scheduled for later this week. Mr. Al-Islam’s work has been highly respected, and he has worked in cooperation with public officials. Thus, Mr. Al-Islam’s arrest is very surprising. What is particularly surprising are reports that no information is available as to the reason for his arrest. The ICBL has not received a response from the Government of Bangladesh to repeated enquiries regarding Rafique Al-Islam’s arrest and detention.
Following a worldwide campaign undertaken by International Campaign to Ban Landmines members and other international peace and human rights groups including LRWC and with support from several States Parties to the AP Mine Ban Convention, the Bangladesh court dropped the charges against peace activist and ICBL member, Rafique al Islam, for lack of evidence.
On April 19th 2005, the Bangladesh district court handling the case of Rafique Al Islam dismissed the charges filed against him for lack of evidence. The court failed to prove Rafique’s involvement in a case of ammunition and explosives smuggling in August 2004, which Rafique and the ICBL had asserted from the beginning was not true. “It is a victory of the nonviolence work, the peace movement…”. Rafique is a Landmine Monitor researcher, as well as the Coordinator of the Treaty Implementation and Victim Assistance Working Group for Bangladesh, and the country representative of Non Violence Internationale, both members of the International Campaign to ban landmines.