Adiba Islam Hridi breaks into tears while asking for her father Parvez Hossain, to be returned. Mayer Daak, a platform of the families of the people who fell victim to enforced disappearance, organised a programme where relatives of disappeared people joined at Shahbagh intersection, Dhaka on 29 August 2020
Prothom Alo File Photo

Some persons identifying themselves as law enforcers picked up Sajedul Islam from Bashundhara residential area in the city on 4 December 2014, just around a month before the tenth parliamentary election. Seven years and eight months have elapsed since then, but Sajedul never returned.

United Nation’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance has sent names of 34 victims of disappearance to the government of Bangladesh and asked for information about them. Sajedul’s name is also on the list.

Sajedul’s sister Sanzida Islam told Prothom Alo on Sunday, “Our 82-year-old mother is critically ill now from the shock of his disappearance. We want an answer about our brother’s whereabouts. We’ll wait till we get the answer. We want everyone who has disappeared like our brother, to come back.”

Today is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. A recent report of Human Rights Watch (HRW) published to mark the day said a total of 86 victims of enforced disappearances in Bangladesh since 2013 are still missing.

Diplomatic sources said, UN’s working group since 2013 made repeated requests to the government to visit Bangladesh.

HRW report says 86 victims of enforced disappearance are still missing in Bangladesh

In the latest instance, they sought the permission in April last year for visiting Bangladesh. But the authorities did not pay any heed to their call. The group, at a meeting in February, expressed their frustration over this. In June, the UN sent names of 34 persons and sought some specific information about them. They asked Bangladesh government if the allegations of enforced disappearance are true. If not, then what is the matter and how has the government responded to prevent such incidents, they asked. They also asked if the government conducted free and impartial investigations over the incidents and what steps had been taken to know the whereabouts of the victims.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen told journalists recently that they will reply to the UN’s queries based on information from law enforcers.

The UN sought information about the following persons: Mohammad Chowdhury Alam, Sajedul Islam, Mohammad Abdul Quader Bhuiyan, Md. Kawsar Hossain, Mohammad Fakhrul Islam, Al Amin, Sohel Rana, Mohammad Hossain Chanchal, Parvez Hossain, Md Mahfuzur Rahman, Jahirul Islam, Nizam Uddin, Mir Ahmad Bin Kashem, Mahbub Hasan Sujan, Kazi Farhad, Samrat Molla, Tapan Das, KM Shamim Akhter, Khaled Hasan Sohel, Abdullah Azmi, SM Moazzem Hossain, Md Hasinur Rahman, Raju Islam, Ismail Hossain, Md Tara Mia, Mohammad Nur Hossain, Mohon Mia, Iftekhar Ahmed Dinar, M Ilias Ali, Ansar Ali, Nobochondro, Selim Reza Pintu and Jahidul Karim.

Mostafizur Rahman, Bangladesh’s permanent representative to UN, told Prothom Alo on Sunday, “Answers to the questions sought by the working group would be given based on information from the law ministry and home ministry. Will provide them specific information about the persons in question, and also share Bangladesh’s legal and policy stance on the matter.”

Meanwhile, a Human Rights Watch report published on 16 August sought impartial international probe over the incidents of forced disappearance by Bangladesh’s law enforcers.

Former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Mizanur Rahman told Prothom Alo, “I’ve always said that is problem is nothing new. The list from UN has clearly shown us that these incidents are happening in Bangladesh.”

He said prevailing culture of fear in the country fetters democracy, freedom of expression and human rights.

“We have to take steps ourselves if we want to get rid of incidents of disappearance. Replying to UN’s queries alone will not be enough,” he added.