Saturday, December 10, 2011

Even 'crossfire' not this worse

Feel families of mysterious 'disappearance' victims.


Jesmin Akhter is still clueless about the fate of her father nearly six months after law enforcers reportedly picked him up from his house in Bagerhat. 

“Even a death in crossfire is better than disappearance, because the victim's family at least gets the body. But I do not even know whether my father is dead or alive,” 22-year-old Jesmin told The Daily Star yesterday.

Four policemen in uniform and some plain-clothes men picked up her father Habibul Hawlader, a fisherman, from his house at Morelganj in Bagerhat on June 6. Later, police denied arresting her father, she said.
“They were members of law enforcement agencies but they acted like robbers.”

Another woman Jharna Khanam said seven to eight people identifying themselves as law enforcers picked up her husband KM Shamim Akhter, former vice-president of Bangladesh Chhatra Union, from in front of his Purana Paltan residence on September 29.

“I went to the offices of all agencies and ministries concerned, and even to the National Human Rights Commission chairman, but all my efforts went in vein.”

“When my two little children ask about their father, I cannot give them any answer.” 

Like Jesmin and Jharna, family members and relatives of a number of missing people yesterday expressed their concern at an advocacy meeting on Accession to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance at Spectra Convention Centre in the capital's Gulshan area.

Saira Rahman Khan, founder member of human rights organisation Odhikar, said there have been reports of disappearance of at least 22 people in the last 11 months from January. Of them, 11 were picked up allegedly by Rab, two by police, six by personnel of the detective branch (DB) of police, and three by unidentified men.
In 2010, at least 18 people went missing. Fourteen of them were picked up allegedly by Rab, two by police and two others by DB personnel. 

BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told the meeting that his party had never supported any extra-judicial killings or forced disappearance.

If BNP comes to power again, it would stop extra-judicial killings and forced disappearance, he said.
The BNP leader, however, admitted that there had been crossfire incidents during the last BNP government's tenure between 2001 and 2006. But none of them were political, he claimed. 

Odhikar, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance, and International Federation for Human Rights jointly organised the meeting presided over by Odhikar President CR Abrar.