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International Day of Enforced Disappearance: Victims families demand independent probe commission

  • Published at 02:13 pm August 30th, 2019
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International Day of the Disappeared program held at the National Press Club in Dhaka Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Family members of the disappeared lament as their wait to get back the loved ones are never ending

Rights activists, eminent citizens, and politicians have demanded that the government forms an independent probe commission to investigate the allegations of all enforced disappearances.

They came up with the demand at a program held at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Friday marking International Day of the Disappeared.

Mayer Daak (Mother's Call), a platform of the families of missing, organized the program.

At the discussion, Zonayed Saki, chief coordinator of Ganasamhati Andolon, condemned the role of law enforcers of Bangladesh, saying the law enforcement agencies have become a unruly and lawless gang.

He said the tears should be turned into rebellion against forced disappearances.

Dhaka University Professor Asif Nazrul questioned if the law enforcement agencies were not involved in such incidents, why their cars were always seen around the spots where these people had been picked up from. 

Also read - International Day of the Disappeared: Do enforced disappearances affect Bangladesh’s standing in the world?

Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury said the best gift the government can present to the people on the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is bringing back those who were picked up and have disappeared. 

Mahmudur Rahman Manna, convener of Nagorik Oikya, said the government who snatched peoples' rights to vote, have no interest in the well-being of its people.

Human rights activists Farida Akhter said women's rights organizations should stand by the families because it is not just about enforced disappearance, but also about violence against women and children as they have been suffering for years. 

In the program, family members and relatives of the disappeared also shared their experiences and lamented as their wait to get back the loved ones was never ending.

Hafsa Islam Raita, the 16-year-old daughter of Sajedul Islam Sumon, bemoaned as her wait only was lingering to see her father. 

Sumon, general secretary of BNP's Ward No 25 unit, was reportedly picked up along with five others from the Bashundhara Residential Area in Dhaka on December 4, 2013.

Also read - International Day of the Disappeared: Agonizing wait for missing ones

She said: "It has been almost six years since my father went missing. I am growing up with his photograph by me and in agony." 

Michael Chakma's elder sister Subhadra Chakma, who broke down into tears at the podium, said she hopes such kind of incidents would never happen again.

Michael Chakma, a leader of the United People's Democratic Front (UPDF), went missing on his way to Dhaka from Narayanganj on April 9 this year.

The International Federation for Human Rights, the second-oldest international human rights group, published a report in April 2019, titled "Vanished Without a Trace: The enforced disappearance of opposition and dissent in Bangladesh," which cited 507 such cases between 2009 and 2018, covering the ruling party's back-to-back terms in office.

Among them, 286 returned and 62 were found dead, but 159 still remain missing. The report says the cases indicate the involvement of the police and the Rapid Action Battalion. 

The Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), a Dhaka-based legal aid and human rights organization, also offered similar figures in their data collected between 2013 and 2019.

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