Home minister Asaduzzaman Kamal has said that the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances had handed over to the government a list of 76 persons who have been victims of enforced disappearances in Bangladesh at various times. The government itself is looking for 35 persons on the list, for their involvement in criminal activities.
He was speaking on Saturday morning at a seminar of 'Socioeconomic condition and security of women of the minority religion in Bangabandhu's Sonar Bangla: Vision 2041', organised at the Kabi Sufia Kamal auditorium of the National Museum, but Mahila Oikya Parishad.
The paper presented at the seminar, quoting the human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), stated that over the past five years, there have been 2,803 attacks on the homes, business establishments and temples of the Hindu community.
Referring to these figures, the home minister asked for a detailed list of those who had damaged the property. While speaking about the number of Hindu homes and property that had come under attack, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal raised the issue of enforced disappearances. He said, "There is talk about enforced disappearances and it is said that thousands of people are victims of such enforced disappearances. I asked for a list and the international human rights organisation handed over a list of 76 names. Of these, 10 are BNP activists. They are staying in different places. And we ourselves are looking for 35 of those on the list for their involvement in various destructive activities, murder and arson. One of them is even in jail."
The UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances last year handed over a list of 76 victims of enforced disappearances to the government. In February this year, the matter had been discussed at the working group on enforced disappearances at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
And on 14 August during her visit to Dhaka, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, discussed the list with the home minister. Michelle Bachelet had been told by the government that 10 of the people on the working group's list of 76, had been located. And while the police wanted to assist in finding another 10 of the remaining persons, their families didn't respond. The remaining 56 are 'absconding' or missing. The government, incidentally, has been denying enforced disappearances all along.
Speaking at a press briefing in Dhaka on 17 August, Michelle Bachelet had highlighted the need to form an independent, neutral and transparent investigation agency to resolve the allegations of human rights violations. She also expressed deep concern about enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and such serious allegations.