Adiba Islam’s father Parvez Hossain was the general secretary of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal’s Bangshal unit. Unidentified people picked him up from the capital’s Shahbagh in December 2013 and he has been untraced since then. Law enforcement agencies could say nothing about whether Parvez Hossain is alive or dead.

Families of 40 such enforced disappearance victims participated in a human chain organised by ‘Mayer Dak’ in front of the National Museum in the capital on Friday, marking International Human Rights Day.

Teenager Anisha Islam took part in the protest along with others. Her father Ismail Hossain, a timber trader from capital’s Mirpur, went missing in June 2019. Seeking whereabouts of her father, she begged to the prime minister saying her family appealed to the Rapid Action Battalion headquarters, the police commissioner and the home ministry. But no one could give the whereabouts of her father.

Anisha Islam now studies at Class 9 at a Dhaka school. She wants her father back as well as good governance be established in the country. She raised a question in the human chain saying why do such situations still prevail 50 years after independence?

Family and relatives of former president of Awami League’s student front Chhatra League’s Rampura thana unit, Moazzem Hossain, also took part in the human chain. While speaking, his mother Saleha Begum was crying. She said her son had disappeared on 26 January 2016. She met the prime minister three times. Though prime minister assured her, she has not got her son back as yet. Saleha Begum went to everyone from home minister to inspector general of police in search of her son.

At the human chain, Shafiqur Rahman, father of former vice president of Chhatra Dal’s Gulshan thana unit Saiful Rahman, begged for the return of his son. His son had disappeared from Vatara area on 18 February 2015.

Shafiqur Rahman said, “I urged the government that if they couldn’t give the whereabouts of my son, they least tell us about the location of his grave. At least we can pray for him.” His wife also died in 2018 as she could not bear the disappearance of the son, he added.

“Is it a crime that my son was involved in politics?” Shafiqur Rahman asked saying, “Ban politics then. You will not get involved in politics either. There is no necessity of police in the country anymore.”

Relatives, holding the pictures of the missing persons stood on the street at the Friday’s programme. Many of them were so little or just learned to walk at that time their fathers were disappeared.

Expressing solidarity to the programme, convener of Nagorik Oikya Mahmudur Rahman Manna, professor of law at Dhaka University Asif Nazrul, coordinator of Ganosamhati Andolon Zonayed Saki and former vice president of Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) Nurul Haque Nur and Faizul Hakim of National Freedom Council, among other, spoke at the event

Those who are responsible for the enforced disappearance would face trial one day, Mahmudur Rahman Manna said adding the government is disrupting the people’s security in various ways.

Asif Nazrul said the tears of these children shows the state of law and order in the country. Some of them lost their fathers; some did not even see their fathers and some might have little memory with their fathers. Some of them might lose the memory of their fathers. Every year, these children shed tears in front of all. The rights to life is the biggest right and the fathers and relatives of these children could not have this, he added.

Terming the National Rights Commission as toothless, Asif Nazrul said why it is necessary to keep this institution at the cost of public fund. Why is the Information Commission necessary? Let dissolve these institutions, he suggested.

Coordinator of Ganosamhati Andolon Zonayed Saki said the state and the rights to citizens now face threat. Criticising the government, Zonayed Saki said the existence of Bangladesh has been threatened in order to stay in power. All must be united amid this circumstance, he added.

DUCSU VP Nurul Haque said families of the victims have been arranging programmes at various days defying torture and repression and people with different opinions have been uniting. If it continues it would be possible to bring back the victims of the enforced disappearance and protect the human rights in the country, he added.

Manzur Hossain moderated the protest programme while coordinator of Mayer Dak, Afroza Islam, presided over it.

People claiming to be from law enforcement agencies picked up Afroza Islam’s brother Sajedul Islam in December 2013 and he was never found.

Afroza Islam said they participated in the human chain with the example of the state of human rights in the country and change is a must.