Rab torture cell revealed by The Guardian
The Guardian Tuesday 18 January 2011
Hand-drawn map shows nine cells, corridors where some inmates were kept chained and two interrogation rooms
A detailed map of a notorious Bangladeshi torture centre where several British nationals were held and interrogated has been produced by one of its former inmates.
The hand-drawn plan of the Task Force for Interrogation cell (TFI) in the northern suburbs of the capital, Dhaka, shows the mistreatment of detainees to be a deliberate and systematic affair.
Some inmates are held in one of nine cells, each measuring 3ft by 7ft, and many more are chained up in corridors, with their hands shackled to the bars of windows above their head. Some, according to the man who drew the map, are hooded and handcuffed and forced to kneel in the corridors for days or weeks.
At the end of one corridor are two torture rooms. One room, which has an observation window, is said to be equipped with pulleys and with a volt meter, to measure levels of electricity. Former inmates say fingernails litter the floor.
Several former inmates say the second room houses a rotating chair into which detainees are reported to be strapped – sometimes after being drugged – before being spun at up to 180 revolutions a minute. This room is also said to house a small library of photographs of people being tortured, which are shown to inmates before their own interrogation.
The TFI is located on the first floor of an five-storey office block inside a compound controlled by a Bangladeshi paramilitary unit, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). Diplomatic cables released last year by WikiLeaks show that RAB – condemned by human rights groups as a “government death squad” – has received training and support from the British government.
About a dozen British-Bangladeshi dual nationals were held and questioned after UK government ministers and intelligence officers pressed Dhaka for greater counter-terrorism co-operation in 2008, according to senior Bangladeshi officials. A number of these men were taken to the TFI, where they are said to have suffered brutal mistreatment while being questioned about associates, organisations and mosques in Britain.
One of the men, Faisal Mostafa, a chemist from Greater Manchester, is said to have been hooded and strapped to a chair, and questioned about the UK while a drill was driven into his right shoulder and hip. The Guardian has seen evidence that supports the allegation he was tortured in this way.
The man said to have been in command of the TFI during Mostafa’s incarceration and torture is a major serving with RAB’s intelligence wing. This man confirmed he had worked there around that time but denied any knowledge of Mostafa. Pressed about the methods employed there, he said: “This is confidential information. It’s top secret. The activities and other things – what goes on in there – must be very, very secret.”
Today Downing Street said a forthcoming inquiry into Britain’s involvement in torture and rendition since 9/11 would be free to examine events in Bangladesh. The prime minister’s spokesman said it would be up to the head of the inquiry, Sir Peter Gibson, to decide whether to investigate
Shahdeen Malik, a Bangladeshi human rights lawyer, said he was hopeful the Gibson inquiry would do so. “There have been hundreds of cases where legal proceedings relating to torture have been initiated, but never get anywhere in Bangladesh, because victims are not willing to speak out.
“Victims are blindfolded and taken to the TFI where they have special torture equipment, making it even more horrendous. The TFI needs to be closed this minute. The fact that British agencies are using information gained through certain methods is contrary to universally accepted basic norms. Even if it is that they knew but did nothing to stop it, this needs to be legally pursued.”