Information on the current status of the Freedom Party (Maijdee), including whether there were any reports that members faced any problems in 1996 and 1997 [BGD28870.E]

Specific information on the current status of the Maijdee faction of the Freedom Party could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

However, the following information deals with the Freedom Party and its youth wing, Jubo (Juba) Command, in general, and may be of interest.

On 15 August 1975 Bangladesh's founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family were killed in a military coup (DPA 31 Jan. 1997; AFP 8 Feb. 1997). Some of the 1975 coup leaders formed the Freedom Party in the 1980s, while others were given diplomatic assignments abroad by successive governments (Asian Survey June 1997, 588; AFP 8 Feb. 1997; ibid. 15 Aug. 1997). Once the Awami League (AL) came to power in June 1996, however, many of these former coup leaders went into hiding, fearing prosecution for the coup from Sheikh Rahman's daughter, the current prime minister and AL leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed (ibid. 8 Feb. 1997; ibid. 17 Apr. 1997; Asian Survey June 1997, 588). ). In August 1996 Freedom Party founder Farooqur Rahman and two other retired army officers were arrested for their involvement in the coup (DPA 31 Jan. 1997; Asian Survey June 1997, 588). Colonel Abdur Rashid, the other top Freedom Party leader, fled Bangladesh to seek asylum abroad (DPA 31 Jan. 1997). In November 1996 the Indemnity Ordinance, which had "granted immunity from prosecution" for those involved in the coup was repealed (The Bangladesh Observer 1 Jan. 1997, 3; Asian Survey June 1997, 588). In January 1997, a series of trials of those allegedly involved in the coup began (AFP 8 Feb. 1998; Reuters 20 Jan. 1997). On 28 or 29 January 1997 the High Court "upheld a recent law" that had been passed by Parliament to withdraw "all constitutional protection" for the coup leaders (DPA 31 Jan. 1997; Asian Survey June 1997, 588). As of mid-April 1997, the trial of those involved in the 1975 coup and the murder of Rahman and his family continued (AFP 17 Apr. 1997).

Section 2(a) of Country Reports 1997 states that since the Awami League took power in June 1996, it has

issued press guidance restricting coverage of a very limited number of stories. Opposition papers reported that the Government was giving 'press advice' asking government-owned papers not to carry news of the Freedom Party, Juba (Youth) Command [the Freedom Party' youth wing] and BNP leader Anwar Zahid, Zobaida Rashid, wife of colonel Rashid, or statements from BNP leaders. ... (30 Jan. 1998 n.p.).

According to a 15 August 1997 AFP report, "the Freedom Party has not been banned but keeps a low profile."

In 1996 and 1997 members of the Freedom Party and/or its youth wing, the Jubo Command, reportedly faced some of these following difficulties:

On 16 October 1996 police raided the home of a "top Freedom Party leader" Mian Abdur Rashid in Banani and seized two of his passports (The Bangladesh Observer 17 Oct. 1996, 1).

On either 28 or 30 January 1997 fourteen members of the Freedom Party and/or Jubo Command, including Jubo Command president Abdullah Hil Masid (Masud) and its secretary Abu Naser, were arrested in Dhaka on the charges of conspiring against the state (The Bangladesh Observer 31 Jan. 1997, 1; DPA 31 Jan. 1997; AFP 8 Feb. 1997).

On 18 March 1997 Syed Ebadul Hasan, Freedom Party leader for the district of Habiganj, was arrested "on suspicion of possessing fire arms without license" (The Bangladesh Observer 24 Mar. 1997, 10). Following a three-day police remand he was then awarded a one month detention sentence under the Special Powers Act and sent to the district jail (ibid.).

On 22 March 1997 Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) reported that police were seeking members of the Freedom Party, which had supported a countrywide strike called by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in protest against the government's signing of a water treaty with India and the "alleged granting of transit rights" to Delhi.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 15 August 1997. "Fugitives Suspected in Bangladesh Coup Plot Found: Report." (NEXIS)

_____. 17 April 1997. Nadeem Qadir. "Coup Plotters Go on Trial in Bangladesh After 22 Years." (NEXIS)

_____. 8 February 1997. "Members of Party Founded by 1975 Coup Leaders Face 'Treason' Charge." (NEXIS)

Amnesty International. 1997. Amnesty International Report 1997. New York: Amnesty International. [REFWORLD]

Asian Survey [Berkeley, Calif.]. June 1997. Vol. 37, No. 6. Zillur R. Khan. "Bangladesh's Experiments with Parliamentary Democracy."

The Bangladesh Observer [Dhaka]. 24 March 1997. "Habiganj Freedom Party Leader Arrested."

_____. 31 January 1997. "14 Jubo Command Workers Held."

_____. 1 January 1997. "State of the Nation–1996."

_____. 17 October 1996. "Residence of Freedom Party Leader Raided."

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1997. 30 January 1998. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 22 March 1997. BC Cycle. "Police Raid Homes of Opposition Activists, Dhaka Braces for Strike." (NEXIS)

_____. 31 January 1997. BC Cycle. "Bangla Police Arrest 14 Moslem Radicals for Anti-State Conspiracy." (NEXIS)

Reuters. 20 January 1997. BC Cycle. "Trial of Mujib's Killers Begins in Bangladesh." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International Report 1996. 1996.

Critique: Review of the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1996. 1997.

Dhaka Courier. 26 December 1997. "Chronology of Events: 1997."

Handbook on Election Reporting. 1995.

Human Rights in Developing Countries Yearbook 1996. 1996.

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. Monthly. January 1996 -December 1997.
ODR, Berne. July 1996.

Feuille d'information sur les pays: Bangladesh: État en juillet 1996.

Political Handbook of the World 1997. 1997.

Resource Centre. "Bangladesh" country file. January 1996-present.

State of Human Rights in Bangladesh 1996. 5 April 1997.

Electronic sources: Internet, IRB Databases, LEXIS/NEXIS, World News Connection (WNC).