Stop enforced disappearances


Families of persons who have been abducted or have ‘disappeared’, gathered together under the banner of Maker Dak, at the National Press Club on Saturday, demanding the return of their loved ones. Every year since 2013, these families have been gathering together, pleading to get their dear ones back.

The air is heavy with the cries of grieving parents, spouses, siblings and children, but nothing seems to reach the state authorities.

Parvez Hossain`s daughter Hridy holds up a picture of her missing father at a gathering held to demand the return of forced disapperance victims. Prothom Alo file photoAnyone committing a crime is tried and punished according to the law. But why should one disappear? This is clearly contrary to the rule of law. The government denies that the law enforcers are involved in enforced disappearances. But the relations of the missing people say that members of the police o RAB picked them up and took them away in front of them.

And the story of the few who have returned is almost identical. They were picked up, blindfolded, kept in an unknown location for days on end, ransom was demanded in some cases, and they were threatened to be killed if they spoke about their experience and so on.

And those who return do indeed remain silent.

According to one account, 97 persons disappeared in 2016. Non-government human rights body Ain O Salish Kendra reported that over the past three years, 267 persons were missing after being picked up by persons identifying themselves as law enforcers. Such incidents cannot continue unabated in any civilised country.

Many persons have been abducted or have disappeared over the past few years. These include persons of the opposition political party as well as some within the government-supported organisations. It is the duty of the law enforcement to find out who abducted these people. But they are mysteriously unbothered about the matter. No matter how much the government denies involvement, the seven-murder incident of Narayanganj proves that the law enforcement is very much involved in these enforced disappearances. The perpetrators in this case were punished due to the nationwide hue and cry and the extensive media coverage.

The recent annual report of the US state department also expressed concern at the enforced disappearances in Bangladesh being brought about by the law enforcement. The government has rejected this report. Before this, the RAB chief, in an interview with Prothom Alo, said there was no such thing as extrajudicial killing. Whether the term is correct or incorrect, the fact remains that the people want an end to the disappearances, or the killings in ‘crossfire’.

If indeed, as the government claims, the law enforcement are not involved in the killings and disappearance, then who is? Why are they not being caught? The government may reject foreign reports, but what about the cries of the families? We want every incident to be investigated by a neutral body.

If a person dies or is killed, at least the body is found. But there is no trace of these persons who have disappeared. This points to the incapacity of the government and is a shame to us as a nation. Listen to the cries of the families. Find the missing persons.

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