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Political parties urged to address enforced disappearances, crossfire
Political parties should address issues of human rights abuses, especially enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings, in their respective election manifestos pledging to bring all perpetrators to justice once they would form government.
Families and victims of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings and custodial torture, and rights activists made the call on Tuesday.
Marufa Islam Fedousy, sister of Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Sajedul Islam Sumon, who was picked along with seven others on December 4, 2013, stated that they wanted a clear commitment from the political parties that none would be victims of enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings if they would be elected.
‘We do not want to see anyone to disappear,’ Marufa urged political parties participating in national polls scheduled for December 30.
Gloom descended at the venue at National Press Club where relatives of victims narrated their ordeals and also demanded independent investigations into the cases of rights abuse.
Carrying portraits of the victims, they described how their near and dear ones were picked up and in many cases how their bullet-hit bodies were found dumped while the rests were never found.
Victims of torture also narrated how police tortured them and shot in the leg to silence their voice.
About 30 families and victims, who faced repressions or attacks during the back-to-back tenure of the Awami League-led government, attended programme organised by ‘Mayer Daak,’ (mother’s call), a platform of families of victims of enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killing.
Politicians, academics and rights activists attending the programme said that justice must be done one day, when none of the officials now enjoying impunity due to political blessing would be spared.
But, family members said they had been waiting for years just to know where their relatives were after they were picked by law enforcers.
Hafsa Islam Raita, a daughter of BNP leader Sajedul Islam Sumon, broke down in tears in front of the microphone asking, ‘where is my father?’
She said, ‘It is better that they also pick me up so that I can see my father.’
Hearing her, others attending the programme also broke down in tears.
Hridi Hossain, whose father Parvez Hasan was victim of enforced disappearance weeks before January 5 election in 2014, could not even speak up; she just held a portrait of her father in the gathering.
Parvez, along with 18 other opposition activists, became victim of enforced disappearance in December 2013, a few weeks before the January 5, 2014 general elections boycotted by all opposition parties.
With crutches, Badrul Alam of Sylhet said he was tortured in police custody in February 2015 only because of being a BNP supporter and later he discovered himself on the bank of a river where cops shot him in the leg.
He said both of their leaders Elias Ali and Iftekhar Hossain Dinar were picked up in April 2012 in Dhaka and their whereabouts were still unknown.
Saleha Begum, mother of SM Moazzzem Hossain Topu, who was picked up allegedly by law enforcers from Bashundhara on January 26, 2016, said she approached every single door of the government but his whereabouts were never known.
Enforce disappearance victim former Bangladesh ambassador Maroof Zaman’s daughter Samiha Zaman said since his father disappeared one year ago, security forces had no answer as to what happened to her father.
Dhaka University law department professor Asif Nazrul said enforced disappearance was the worst crime and there was no scope for prosecuting the state in International Crimes Tribunal for their crime against humanity.
Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal general secretary Khalequzzaman said if the victims of enforced disappearance were killed, the perpetrators should be brought to justice but if they were alive, they then should be returned to their families.
Rights group Odhikar’s director ASM Nasiruddin Khan Elan said that their organisation had been documenting the cases of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings and custodial torture for a long time and it made the government so angry that the organisation was failing to work properly.
Ganatantrik Bam Morcha coordinator Junaid Saki said that the government should prosecute those involved in enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings, otherwise it would be a boomerang for them.
Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said, ‘If you want justice, the next elections would be a way out.’