Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Conspiracy to torture in the UK

Over the past decade we've seen the UK government colluding in the torture of its own citizens, arranging for them to be detained by the US or Pakistan, providing lists of questions to be asked, and turning a blind eye while those dirty regimes tortured the information out of their victims. Now they've been caught at it again - this time in Bangladesh:

UK authorities passed information about British nationals to notorious Bangladeshi intelligence agencies and police units, then pressed for information while the men were being held at a secret interrogation centre where inmates are known to have died under torture.


Meetings and exchanges of information took place between British and Bangladeshi officials in an effort to protect the UK from attacks that might be fomented in Bangladesh, according to sources in both countries.

The likelihood that a number of suspects would be tortured as a result of the meetings went unmentioned, according to the sources. Subsequently, more than a dozen men of dual British-Bangladeshi nationality were placed under investigation, and at least some suffered horrific abuse from the Bangladeshi authorities.

Any ordinary person would see this for what it is: a conspiracy to torture by the UK government, using the Bangladeshis as proxies. It is contrary to UK and international law, and should result in severe criminal penalties for those involved . And former UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is directly on the hook: she flew to Dhaka to personally meet with the Bangaldeshi intelligence services, and demanded they investigate certain people. At least two of these people were later tortured:
Faisal Mostafa, from Manchester, was taken to the TFI after Smith's visit to Dhaka and is alleged to have been forced to stand upright for the first six days of his incarceration, with his wrists shackled to bars above his head. He is then alleged to have then been beaten and subjected to electric shocks while being questioned about Bangladeshi associates. At the point at which he was to be questioned about his associates and activities in the UK, he is said to have been blindfolded and strapped to a chair while a drill was slowly driven into his right shoulder and hip.


A second man, Gulam Mustafa, from Birmingham, was being held in Bangladesh during Smith's visit, and was released before being held a second time last April. He says he was tortured on both occasions while being questioned about associates in the UK, with his interrogators beating him, subjecting him to electric shocks and crushing his knees. He was eventually transferred to a prison hospital, where he was treated for injuries suffered he suffered during interrogation. Bangladeshi police officers who arrested him the second time say his first arrest had been at the request of MI6. "When we received the file from his first arrest from RAB, it was marked 'MI6 File'," said one senior detective. He added that when this man was arrested for the second time, officials from the British high commission in Dhaka contacted police and asked to be debriefed on the results of his interrogation. "They wanted maximum information." he said.

So, the British government asks for information on certain people, who are arrested and tortured, and the Foreign Office asks for the results. It doesn't take much to connect those dots, does it?

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office is still spouting its line that they "do not condone the use of torture". That's bullshit, and anyone can see it. Instead, they seem to have criminally and callously solicited the torture of UK nationals in order to obtain information. They and their Ministers need to be held to account for that policy, not merely politically, but criminally.