More than a dozen human rights observers around the world have expressed concern about “gross human rights violations” in Bangladesh, including “enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings”.
On the eve of International Human Rights Day 2022, which is celebrated globally, on Saturday, human rights bodies, such as the Asia Network Against the Death Penalty, the “Meyer Duck” organization (Mothers’ Appeal), the Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances, and the Asian Human Rights Commission “AHRC”, issued a statement. jointly highlighting the violations in Bangladesh under the slogan “Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All”.
The statement pointed out that undemocratic practices and violations of human rights in the country led to “the spread of impunity.”
The statement noted that the South Asian country, with a population of 170 million, is a party to eight major international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
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Human rights groups urged the Bangladeshi government to establish an independent and specialized mechanism to work with victims’ families and civil society to investigate allegations of gross human rights violations.
She added, “The current authoritarian government has deprived citizens of the benefits of good governance and the administration of justice through the politicization of various state institutions, including the judiciary and the electoral commission.”
Despite severe international criticism, the Bangladesh government has intensified its crackdown on civil society organizations and human rights defenders, according to the same statement.
The statement added that the security services in the country carried out raids and arbitrary arrests against leaders and activists of opposition parties.
– “I’m still waiting for my brother.”
Sajidul Islam Shomon, an activist with the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, was forcibly disappeared along with seven others on December 4, 2013, from Bashundhara residential area in the capital, Dhaka, according to family members.
“We are still waiting for a phone call telling us where my brother is, and we hope to go and receive him,” Sanjida Islam, Shomon’s younger sister, told Anadolu Agency.
Describing the repression of her family, Shumon’s sister, an activist with Mayer Duck, said, “The government doesn’t track my brother’s whereabouts, it keeps us under threat.”
She claimed that “the security authorities came to her house several times and interrogated her family about the whereabouts of her brother, as if his family was hiding him.”
“Many people testified that the special police forces kidnapped my brother and seven others,” she explained.
We know that many victims of enforced disappearance – continues the sister of the disappeared activist – are in different locations, and our belief in this has been strengthened after a recent report on some of the government’s secret torture cells.
Regarding a fair trial, she explained that in the event of a specific allegation, the security forces can arrest any person and bring him to court for trial.
And she added, “Without any judicial trial, they detain citizens in their secret torture cells for years after forcibly disappearing them… It is a major crime.”
He stressed that our main demand is to stop enforced disappearances in Bangladesh from now on, and to find justice for the crimes that have already been committed, and for those who are still forcibly disappeared.
Earlier this year, Meyer Duck provided a list of 619 people who have been victims of enforced disappearance since 2009 in Bangladesh.
In this regard, Noor Khan, senior advisor at the Human Rights Support Society (HRSS), told Anadolu Agency, “Human rights defenders have long been calling for a credible and impartial investigation into enforced disappearances in Bangladesh.”
“Unfortunately, there is no clear initiative from the state on this issue,” he added.
He concluded by saying that “a commission should be set up with the support of the United Nations to investigate all human rights violations in Bangladesh, including enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and torture.”
The government denies the accusations
For his part, Bengali Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal refuted these allegations in a previous interview with Anadolu Agency.
He insisted that there are no cases of enforced disappearance in the country, and that the security authorities operate within the scope of their competence.
The Bengali minister pointed out that “there are many situations in which people voluntarily hide because of family disputes and other reasons, and we have monitored such cases.”
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is a multilateral treaty that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and entered into force on March 23, 1976.
The treaty obliges its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion and belief, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, electoral rights, and the right to a fair trial.
On June 26, 1987, the United Nations approved the Convention against Torture, with the aim of preventing torture around the world.