05/30/2009, 00.00
BANGLADESH

Bangladesh: two young brothers, victims of a family feud, disfigured with acid.

by William Gomes
Their father’s first wife demanded a sum of money and a piece of land. The target of the attack was the boy’s mother; on not finding here the women and her brother attacked the children. In ten years Bangladesh has seen 2200 acid attacks.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Two brothers disfigured with acid because of a family feud – over a question of money – with their father’s first wife the author of the attack.  This is the fate of Joanki (a baby girl who is only six months old) and his brother Arman (18 months), currently under treatment in hospital in Dhaka for the grave injuries they received.  Their parents are of humble origins – Mohammad Ali is an ironmonger – and have appealed to people for funds to help them pay for their son’s treatment.

Sriti Costa, a nurse at the severe burns unit in Medical College Hospital Dhaka, has told AsiaNews that Jonaki has “serious burns covering 7% of his body” and that his condition is “not good”.  Abu Zafar, the investigating police officer, confirms that a file has been opened against Asma, father of Siraj Mia, and the women’s two brothers, Dulal and Ujjal. “The suspects have fled – the inspector reports – but we have set up numerous check points.  We hope they will be soon caught”.

The episode took place in Sharifpur, in the centre east district of Bramhanbaria, on May 23rd last.  “Asma, my husband’s first wife” the mother of the two boys Morzina Begum, tells AsiaNews – and her brother Ujjal entered our home with the aim of pouring acid over me.  At that moment I wasn’t in the room and as a result they changed their target, attacking the babies”.  Morzina explains that “money issues” still pending between her husband and his first wife were behind the attack. On separating from his first wife, the woman demanded 50 thousand Taka [circa 525 euros] and a piece of land.  “When my husband refused – concludes Morzina – they began to persecute me”. In order to guarantee treatment for the babies, their parents have appealed for a loan from their neighbours.

Acid Survivors Foundation, a foundation based in Dhaka that cares for victims, reports that between January and April 2009 there have been 28 cases of acid attacks.  In total over the last decade since May 1999 – December 2008 there have been 2198 attacks. Many organisations for human rights – among them Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Christian Development Alternative and  Acid Survivors Foundation – condemn  “the brutal attack on two little brothers” and ask for “the immediate arrest of those responsible and exemplary punishment”.

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