An elderly Anglo-Bangladeshi journalist has been hospitalized after being held in solitary confinement and denied medical treatment in prison, his family said.
Shafik Rehman, 81, is a prominent journalist with dual British and Bangladeshi nationality. He has supported pro-opposition groups in the country and was arrested on April 16 on charges of conspiring to kidnap and kill the son of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, Sajeeb Wazed.
He denies the accusations, which his family denounced as “completely grotesque”. He is the third pro-opposition editor-in-chief to be detained in Bangladesh since 2013.
Talk to The independentMr. Rehman’s son, Shumit, said his father was rushed to Dhaka hospital with severe chest pain and diarrhea.
“My father is being held in solitary confinement in a maximum security cell, pending investigation. This is not the way the law works at any level, certainly not at his age. No charges have been laid, ”he said.
“For the past month, he has been made to sleep on the floor, without a fan, locked up 23 hours a day. He has a stent in his artery and is diabetic, he needs his medication every day. Nobody provides that.
Mr. Rehman is now in stable condition and has been transferred from the hospital to a Dhaka prison with medical facilities, but his family is increasingly concerned for his health. Shumit Rehman called on the British authorities to intervene in this case.
Amnesty International has said that the conditions in which Mr. Rehman is being held contravene Bangladesh’s obligations under international law to detain people without “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
Champa Patel, director of the South Asia division of the human rights group, said: “The Bangladeshi authorities must end Shafik Rehman’s prolonged solitary confinement and ensure his well-being.
“It is absolutely shocking that an 81-year-old diabetic man with a history of heart problems is denied the medical care he needs.”
Mr Rehman is a well-known journalist in Bangladesh and previously worked as a speechwriter for the leader of the Bangladesh opposition party and chaired a pro-opposition think tank.
He is credited with presenting Valentine’s Day as a public holiday in Bangladesh. He previously worked for the BBC in London and is a chartered accountant in England. He resides in the UK for about six months a year.
His son Shumit’s MP Matthew Offord said The independent that he was aware of the situation and that he had made representations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State on behalf of the family.
“All the appropriate measures have been taken in a difficult and sensitive situation,” he said.
The British High Commission in Bangladesh did not respond when approached by The independent to comment on the matter.