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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

ARTICLE 19 demands immediate release of journalist Longa Khumi

Khumi was arrested by the Bangladesh Army on suspicion of being a KNF informant

Update : 29 Jun 2023, 07:06 PM

ARTICLE 19, a UK-based international human rights organization, has expressed its deep concern over the detention of Longa Khumi the Daily Manab Zamin's district correspondent in Bandarban over his alleged links to a separatist group in the hill district.

Calling for his immediate release, it has demanded prompt and proper investigation into the incident and to bring the perpetrators to justice, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.

Faruq Faisel, the regional director of ARTICLE 19 South Asia, said: “Longa Khumi is evidently an innocent individual who has been caught up in escalating tensions within the region. 

“The arrest of journalist Longa Khumi bears multiple indications of illegality, including his arrest by the members of Bangladesh Army, arbitrary detention, and the absence of any concrete evidence,” he said.

“The claims put forth by the police fail to provide legitimacy to justify his arrest. Given the lack of credible evidence supporting the charges, journalist Longa Khumi must be released immediately,” he insisted.

Faisel alleged: “Arbitrary detention is not new in Bangladesh. Despite the existence of numerous international and national laws that safeguard against arbitrary detention; it continues to persist in our country. Arbitrary detentions, especially of journalists, needs to be ceased immediately.”

Longa Khumi was arrested by members of the Bangladesh Army on May 19 on the charge of being an informant to the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) separatist group. 

Later in the day, he was handed over to the police in Ruma upazila. Since his arrest, he has been kept in a remote rural area in the south-eastern district of Bandarban, isolated and incommunicado, the press release said.

The police have claimed that he is being held on the basis of “confidential documents” obtained by the army in the course of a “special operation” against the KNF, the media release added.

“Furthermore, he has so far been unable to speak to a lawyer or anyone else. Several of his colleagues have claimed he was just covering the conflict between KNF and the Bangladeshi Army and he has been scapegoated after two soldiers were killed by an explosion in Ruma, two days before his arrest,” ARTICLE 19 said. 

The failure to produce any solid evidence to prove the claims made by the members of the law enforcement agencies clearly indicates that Longa Khumi has been detained arbitrarily, making the detention completely illegal, read the press release.

“Those responsible must be held accountable under the law, and strict and exemplary actions must be taken against them. Such instances of arbitrary detention must be put to an end,” the right group demanded. 

ARTICLE 19 urged the government to implement effective measures to prevent the reoccurrence of such incidents, safeguard the journalists, and eliminate any form of harassment.

Jashim Uddin, former secretary of Ruma upazila unit of BNP, said Longa took part in the union parishad election from BNP in 2016.

According to sources in the security forces, Longa had long been under the surveillance of the army, as they got a list of KNF top leaders. Nathan Bom was listed as president of the group and Longa was listed as assistant foreign secretary, according to that. Longa was also vice-president of Kuki-Chin National Development Organization (KNDO) in 2008.

Longa was aware of the movement of the army patrol team and informed KNF members, according to security forces. 

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