“I was treated like an animal in a zoo. I was permanently blindfolded – the only time they removed my handcuffs from behind my back was to eat.”
Bangladeshi journalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol, known as Kajol, says he was held in an underground cell for 53 days, where he alleges he was tortured.”
Sometimes they would beat me before they took me for an interrogation. I can’t put into words how painful it was.
“They’d asked me about the stories I had written. I had to face a lot of torture. I still struggle to speak about it.”
“There are no human rights in this country,” the 54-year-old says, speaking to us from a secret location. “I live in continuous fear.”
Kajol chose to talk to us in the same week security forces clashed with members of the opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) in the capital Dhaka, and a mass anti-government rally was held on Saturday – the country’s Human Rights Day.
The BNP had urged people to take to the streets to demonstrate against the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League party. Among their main concerns are calls for free and fair elections, worries over the rising cost of living, and reports of human rights abuses.
In the run-up, opposition officials were detained by police, in what critics say was a direct attempt to crush any form of dissent.
Bangladesh’s government denies it is cracking down on freedom of expression. (BBC)