Bangladesh needs to develop an active human rights attitude within government and its political parties, which state of affairs is far from what it should be in today’s Bangladesh as citizens disappear with some regularity, telling of the impunity enjoyed by the disciplined services, government departments and affiliated-by-function institutions.
The following statement from Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, is fitting for Bangladesh to follow: “Families of missing persons and victims of enforced disappearance are caught between hope and despair. They have a right to know the truth, and states have the duty to establish it. Whether they succeed is more a question of political will than of a lack of possibilities.”
A very recent case in Bangladesh is that of IT expert Tanveer Hassan Zoha from the capital’s Dhaka Cantonment area, only a couple of days after the government’s ICT Division dismissed reports of the man’s affiliation with the government.
However, Tanveer’s uncle Mahbubul insisted his nephew was an employee of Insight Bangladesh Foundation, an IT-related non-governmental organisation and the NGO had a project with the government’s ICT Division though its contract expired recently.
It was early in the morning when Tanveer and associate Yamir were forced into two separate vehicles, reported Tanveer’s uncle Mahbubul Alam, former deputy director general of the state-run Bangladesh Television.
Some eight to 10 plainclothes men intercepted their vehicle friend Yamir told the press; Yamir was released shortly afterwards.
Asked whether law enforcers picked up Tanveer in connection with a probe into the Bangladesh Bank reserve heist, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters that he couldn’t tell for sure.
Tanveer’s family members said they went to Kalabagan Police Station around 2:30am to file a general diary report but officials there refused to accept it, saying the site of the incident was not under the police station.
The officials advised them to go to Kafrul police to file the compliant. They went to Kafrul Police Station in the morning, however, officials there asked them to go and approach the cantonment police, said Tanveer’s family.
The Daily Star called Shikder Shamim Hossain, Operational Commander of Kafrul Police Station, several times, but he didn’t pick up the phone.
A similar case is that of disappeared Parvez Hossain, who went missing two years ago and never returned, as told by Hridi Hossain, kindergarten student and his daughter speaking tearfully to newsmen at a press conference at the National Press Club last year when families of 19 disappeared persons.
These missing persons were all picked up it is alleged by members of law enforcement agencies, and the family organised the conference to press home their demand for necessary steps to find the victims.
Returning to Nils Muižnieks recommendations: …providing direct victims and their families with adequate reparation, including the necessary legal, social and psychological support; enhancing the processes of exhumation and identification; training public officials on missing persons and enforced disappearance; supporting missing person mechanisms and truth-seeking initiatives; ensuring effective access to information and archives; strengthening domestic legislation in this field; carrying out effective investigations and eradicating impunity; and promoting and implementing relevant international and European [Asia and Bangladesh have their own equally valid standards] standards.
Sources: The Daily Star, Prothom-Alo, and Pressenza contacts.