Sunday, July 31, 2011

ASIA: BANGLADESH/NEPAL: CHRISTIAN JOURNALIST TORTURED- ARRESTED- FEARS FOR FAMILY

ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Kalpit Parajuli
Since May 27 the police in Nepal have held William Gomes in custody for no reason. The activist was trying to reach Hong Kong via Nepal after being tortured and threatened by the authorities of Dhaka for his activities on behalf of Christians. Spokesman of the main opposition party accuses the government of Nepal of serious violations of human rights and calls on the Prime Minister to resign.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - After fleeing from Bangladesh after having been tortured by police, William Nicholas Gomes, AsiaNews correspondent and activist for human rights, has for months been in police custody in Kathmandu. Since 27 May the authorities are doing everything possible to deport him, but to date have not provided any explanation.

"I ran away to Nepal to reach Hong Kong and save my life - Gomes says - with the help of the Asian Human Rights Commission. When I went to the office of Immigration, officials delayed the process and then tried to deport me. " The activist said that on July 9, while trying to catch a plane to Hong Kong, the police searched his luggage for the presence of drugs and other banned substances, but found nothing.

"After the control - he says - I was stopped from boarding saying that my documents were not valid for travel abroad. Without further explanation they put me in detention, guarded by two policemen with anti-drug dogs, forcing me to ask the Bangladesh embassy for permission to transit. " The activist said he had obtained all the necessary documents for travel abroad and transit in foreign countries. "There is no reason for detention - he said - I have a visa to stay legally in Nepal, but the police consider me a criminal."

On 21 May last men in a dark car kidnapped and tortured William Gomes, a Muslim convert to Christianity. The man, a member of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and founder of the Christian Development Alternatives (CDA - a humanitarian organization), was stripped naked, forced to the ground and questioned for nearly five hours. These men, including a native English-speaker, accused him of being in contact with Pakistani intelligence (ISI - Inter Service Intelligence) and receiving bribes in order to "damage the Bangladesh Army." Moreover, they charged that Khaleda Zia had paid him to discredit Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. After the death threats to him and his family, Gomes vowed to leave the AHRC and was released.

Gomes says he's concerned about the lives of his family who are still in Bangladesh. "My wife, my children are in danger. I have become a man without a country, my government is working against me. Where should I go to save my life and that of my loved ones? ". He calls on all Catholics to convince the Nepalese government to release him and save his life.

In recent months the Gomes case has aroused much concern between the Nepali human rights organizations and opposition parties who accuse the authorities of acting without any authority or mandate, in violation of democratic norms and civil rights in the country.

According to Subodh Pyakurel, Informal Sector Service Centre for Human Rights in Nepal, the authorities have no right to hold the man in custody. "When I spoke with the airport authorities to help Gomes they couldn’t give me any concrete reason. The police can not prevent him from reaching Hong Kong and does not even have the right to deport him. "

Arjun Narsingh KC, spokesperson of Nepali Congress, the country's main opposition party, said: "How can our government ensure respect for human rights, when for no reason it holds an activist within its borders." After this scandal, Arjun invites the Prime Minister to resign and called on police to release Gomes allowing him transit to Hong Kong.

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