Its report titled 'Bangladesh: Sending Death Squads To Keep THE UN’s Peace', which ACHR claims is the "first ever comprehensive study" on the issue , was released Thursday to coincide with the ongoing visit of UN's Under Secretary General for Department of Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous to Bangladesh from July 22.
It said that Bangladesh is "sending its death squads to keep peace" for the United Nations.
The report claimed that the troops being sent for UN peacekeeping missions include the Bangladesh Army personnel posted in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been declared as ineligible to receive technical assistance from the United States under the Leahy Law because of its personnel being involved in gross human rights violations with impunity.
It says that between 2004 and 2011, the Bangladesh Army personnel were responsible for 15 cases of extrajudicial killings, 464 cases of arbitrary arrest, 374 cases of torture and 285 cases of forcible evictions in addition to burning down of 1,070 houses of indigenous tribal peoples of the CHT.
But sample this -- the report blames the Bangladesh Army for "murdering at least 70 suspects" of 2009 Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutiny at Pilkhana in their custody while the RAB which had 83 Army officers out of the 208 officers as of August 2013 were responsible for extrajudicial executions of 776 persons in alleged cross fire between January 2004 and June 2013.
It said a large number of these human rights violators have been posted with the UN peace keeping missions.
“The cross-fire is a blatant cover up of the extrajudicial executions by the RAB. Since its inception in 2004, not a single death has been due to innumerable crossfire incidents, which supposedly involve cross-firing with criminal gangs and terrorist groups. About 18 RAB personnel were killed in the Pilkhana massacre and the rest died in road accidents,” said Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.
Serving in a UN peacekeeping mission is deemed lucrative as an Army officer earn upwards of US $2,200 a month in addition to other allowances and perks, the report said.
This, it says, compares unfavourably against Tk 15,000 (about US $200) for an officer in the country and US $1,100 for a soldier, against Tk 7,717 (about US $100) that Bangladesh Army has systematically monopolised the UN postings.
But according to the military pay role, the salaries of armed force personnel are much higher than the ACHR claims
Bangladesh Army constitutes 93 percent of the peacekeepers deployed from the country while the remaining comes from Police, Navy and Air Force.
In fact, claims the report, the denial of opportunities to serve with the UN missions was one of the main reasons for the revolt by the BDR personnel at Pilkhana, Dhaka
on Feb 25 , 2009, in which a total of 74 persons including 57 Army Officers deputed to the BDR from the army were massacred.
The 10-member Investigation Committee formed by the Government of Bangladesh instead of resolving the grudge of the BDR personnel purposely misled the country by stating that the “United Nations has objected to the proposal of BDR
members being taken to foreign missions. Bangladesh Government has no
jurisdiction in this matter”, it said.
“This is another blatant lie as India’s Border Security Force personnel who are equivalent of the BDR in Bangladesh are regularly deployed for UN Missions and have previously served in Namibia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Haiti. That Bangladesh refuses to include the BDR personnel, rechristened as Border Guards Bangladesh, despite a national tragedy like Pilkhana massacre shows the vested interest of the Bangladesh Army to monopolise the UN postings,” Chakma said.
About 7 percent of the Bangladesh Army constantly remains deployed in UN
Peacekeeping missions at any given point of time, the ACHR report says.
"The UN has been steadily contributing to increasing militarisation in the country and
extending the grip of the Army on the country," it said.
The report pointed to Bangladesh increasing its defence budget by over 1 percent for the Financial Year 2011-12, among others, to purchase 44 new Main Battle Tanks, three Armoured Recovery Vehicles and two brand new helicopters for the army from China to provide logistical support allegedly for UN peacekeeping missions.
As a number of human rights violators from Bangladesh have been posted with the UN peacekeeping missions, Asian Centre for Human Rights called upon the United Nations to strictly implement “Human Rights Screening of United Nations Personnel Policy” of December 2012 to bar deployment of such violators.