Harassment of families of enforced disappearance victims must stop

The law enforcers turned a blind eye when the families of the victims of forced disappearance went to them for help. Some of those victims have been missing for five to 10 years. The law enforcement did not take any measures to find these victims till the date. It is heard, they have been putting pressure on the families lately which is not only illegal but also inhuman.

The sad saga of the families of the victims was published in Prothom Alo on Friday. The families alleged that the police have been collecting signatures on papers that read their loved ones are missing, not victims of forced disappearance. Those who did not sign are being harassed in various ways. After the report was published, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) denying the allegation of harassment said, the police went to the victims houses to seek updates.

DMP's statement will not alleviate the suffering and pain of the victims’ families. Who picked up those persons? The victims’ families claim the victims were picked up by plainclothes personnel, introducing themselves as law enforcers. There are several allegations against members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in this connection.

Members of 19 families gathered at the Press Club last Saturday for a rally of "Mayer Dak" formed by the family members of the missing persons. One of the victims alleged that he was evicted when he went to the police station to file a General Diary. It is quite shocking that any member of the law enforcement could commit such atrocities. So what is the difference between the police members of independent Bangladesh and the police members of the colonial period?

Quoting non-government organisations, the United States cited extrajudicial killings of 600 people and the disappearance and torture of more than 600 people since 2009, and blamed RAB and other law enforcement agencies. The US has also imposed sanctions on seven former and current RAB officials.

The United Nations has asked the foreign ministry for information, names and addresses, of 34 missing persons. After that, the government seemed to be little active. Their activities seem to be aimed at putting pressure on the families concerned rather than finding the missing persons.

We want to state clearly that the harassment of the families of the missing persons must stop. If the government does not make any effort to find their loved ones, the country's image will be further tarnished. Attempts to cover up things may backfire.

At the moment, the government should conduct a credible investigation into every allegation of disappearance. Investigations into the disappearances by the very law enforcement agencies who are the accused will not yield any results. We think that if a judicial committee is formed in this case, it will be acceptable to all.