Human rights activists have alleged that they are currently working in an environment of fear, whereas in the past, they had no fears when protesting against human rights violation.

They also said that they are struggling to find the courage to protest against instances of people getting picked up and the environment of enforced disappearances and killing have created panic everywhere.

The speakers made these remarks at a human rights conference at Bishwa Sahitya Kendra in Banglamotor of the capital on Saturday afternoon.

Human Rights Support Society (HRSS) organised it.

This was the organisation's eighth human rights conference. The theme of this year's conference was 'no more silence over enforced disappearance-killing, fear will be conquered with a voice of protest'.

Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA) chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said, "We live in such a society where due to various reasons we couldn't speak much about whether Munia's death was murder or suicide or death for instigation. Today it's Munia, tomorrow it could be me. The day after tomorrow, it could be someone else."

Saying that people are the source of all power as per the constitution, but this is not being practised, Rizwana Hasan said, "Due to it not being practiced for a long time, the situation has detiorated to such a level that they can do whatever they want. Movements cannot always be run using bookish language."

She suggested human rights activists to take to the streets.

Answering a question from a human rights activist, Rizwana Hasan said, "'Aynaghar' has been discovered after the civil society kept talking about it continuously. The way the civil society should have talked, we have failed in many cases, while the system has failed us in many cases. But we have to speak up."

Rights activist Hamida Hossain described her experiences and struggles while taking part in human rights movements.

Chief adviser of the organisation, human rights activist Nur Khan said, "The statements that are being made about'Aynaghar', the same statements were made by those who returned from enforced disappearances. Many victims, however, have not said anything."

He said, "The human rights activists or the civil society members are not as vocal about this as they should've been due to partisan outlook. In the past, cultural activists and teachers would launch protests. They are not carrying out protests like that anymore. These questions are surfacing."

Saying that he could speak up about similar torture in the past, Nur Khan said, "Back then, they could go to the family, police stations and court for torture cases. There was not so much fear around at the time. Now when there is news that someone has been picked up, we in fear try to look into the matter through journalists. At best, we muster up some courage and try to contact a district level officer. We no longer have the courage to even do that now. Because, they are facing so much non-cooperation, and are working in an environment of fear."

Nur Khan said the fear of enforced disappearances and killing have covered the society with a blanket of fear.

He also said, "Unfortunately, everyone in Bangladesh is busy with soft issues, as talking about them won't cause any problems, won't annoy anyone or won't land them in jail. There are some issues which if anyone talks about, they will be silenced, their registration will be cancelled and you won't be allowed to work any longer."

Human rights activist Nur Khan believes that the youth have to march ahead by conquering their fears.

Nur Khan said, "We have to continue moving forward by conquering our fears to establish equality, humanity and restoring ethics in politics."

Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) executive director Sara Hossain alleged that those who are considered children are being sued under the Digital Security Act.

She said there is a provision in the Children Act, that children will be released if they don't commit serious crimes.

The organisation's chairman Shahjada Al Amin presided over the conference. HRSS executive director Ijajul Islam gave the welcome speech. HRSS research and publicity officer Imamul Hossain presented the activities of the organisation.