Human rights activist Sultana Kamal on Thursday said she was misquoted in a recent report of an English language daily in India, India Today, about the incidents of enforced disappearance in Bangladesh.
“I strongly protest the way my words have been twisted and used out of context,” she said in a protest letter on Thursday.
India Today on 2 October published a report, ‘Travesty of justice’: Experts criticise errors in UN report on forced disappearances in Bangladesh.
In the report from Sahidul Hasan Khokon, filed from Dhaka, Sultana Kamal was quoted saying, “BNP has a history of faking cases of human rights”, and calling for “legal action against the party for that where appropriate meaning that such claims needed to be investigated properly as fake cases only serve to undermine credibility of these issues.”
India Today claimed in the report that the list of victims of enforced disappearances in Bangladesh given in a recent report of the United Nations is riddled with errors.
The report further claimed that leading human rights activists in Bangladesh, including Sultana Kamal, have questioned the reliability of the UN report.
Sultana Kamal accepted that she had given an interview to India Today but questioned the intention of the reporter.
“The way the correspondent framed the questions, I felt that he has already reached a definitive conclusion about enforced disappearances and to make his decision look legit, added quotes from experts.”
Sultana Kamal, who is the founder of Manabadhikar Shongskriti Foundation (MSF), said in her protest letter, “Inconsistency with the number doesn’t negate the practice of systemic enforced disappearances of the law enforcement agencies.”
Talking about India Today’s claim that the de facto opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) provided misinformation regarding enforced disappearances, she said, “These claims need to be thoroughly investigated. Because fake disappearances will only reduce the believability of real incidents.”
The MSF president further said, “The incidents of enforced disappearance, irrespective of the government and political parties, to suppress political activities and opposing views have turned into an institutional crisis that is ever expanding and occurring repeatedly.”
“The state has the responsibility to protect the citizens who are at risk of losing their security, freedom and individualism. A fair and effective investigation on these enforced disappearances requires cooperation of the civil society organisations, human rights activists, media and the government itself,” Sultana Kamal added.