Sunday, January 1, 2012

100 people abducted in one year

The whistleblowers' news for the year 2011 was abduction ofat least 100 people belonging to different tiers of society in course of lastone year.The news of abduction and later killing or missing was first published in the country's oldest English daily -- The New Nation - causing worry to the authorities concerned.

The failure of the law enforcing agencies to rescue themalive has also raised question in different quarters.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman ProfMizanur Rahman on Saturday expressed concern over the recent incidents of'disappearance'.

"Though thenumber of crossfire has decreased in recent days, people are still worry as theincidents of 'disappearance' have risen," he said.

Prof Rahman also said the NHRC would take action against anyextrajudicial killings, including 'crossfire' or 'disappearance' afterinvestigation.

Many of the persons, missing after their abduction belong to both ruling and opposition parties, business community and political or business rivals, the law enforcers are equally blamed for the abduction.

Bangladesh rights groups are worried over the incidents ofabduction allegedly by plainclothes law enforcers and also extra-judicialkillings by RAB.

Rights groups have documented the cases of 60 people whostill remain untraced after they were allegedly picked-up by the anti-crimesquad last year, according to Ain-O-Salish Kendra, a reputed NGO on humanrights.

Chowdhury Alam, a ward level BNP leader, Liakat Hossain, aJubo League leader and several other activists of different politicalorganizations were kidnapped either by their rivals or police during the lastseveral months. They are still missing after their abduction, relatives said.

To name a few, Sarwar Jahan Babu, an activist of ChhatraLeague, was kidnapped from the Fakirapul area in the capital in broad day lighton October 26 last. He remains untraced since then.

Babul's brother Abdur Rahman Manik alleged that a group ofseven police in plainclothes picked him up from hotel Asar at Fakirapul.

Iqbal Bahar Faisal, another brother of Babul, also spoke inthe same vein.

Manik registered a GD with the Motijheel Police Station inthis connection on October 27.

Manik in his diary said Babul was an aspirant for the postof president of Chhatra League of Sonagachi municipality. A ward commissionerof the same municipality Noor Nobi Liton was reported to have been vying forthe same post. Liton might have been behind the plot in using police forkidnapping, it was alleged in the diary.

RAB allegedly picked up an expelled Jubo League leaderLiakat Hossain from Dhanmondi residential area a few months ago. Police dubbedhim a listed criminal. Hossain's family is not sure whether he is still aliveor dead.

BNP leader Chowdury Alam and commissioner of Ward-56 of DCC,was reportedly picked up by the RABmembers on June 25 and kept him confined. Both police and RAB denied theirinvolvement in his arrest.

Ashraf Sardar told The New Nation Wednesday that about 12-14armed hoodlums introducing them as RAB-5 members picked up his brother AkbarSardar, a resident of Madirapur district, from Thakurgaon district on March 24last, but still his whereabouts could not be known.

The victim's brother alleged that for establishing politicalsupremacy in the greater Madaripur and Shariatpur areas some quarters of theruling party had abducted Akbar Sardar from Thakurgaon.

Ashraf Sardar's another brother Ayub Sardar and his friendAbdur Rahman were also picked up by some people passing them as police on May16 and still they are missing.

Family members of the victim KM Shamim Akhter, 40, allegedthat a group of about seven to eight people identifying them as RAB members picked up him at about 9 am when he came out of his rentedresidence at 12/4 Purana Paltan lane on October 23. He was never to be found anywhere after his abduction.

Shamim is a former vice-president of the central committeeof Bangladesh Chhatra Union. He is an accused in a few cases lodged by hispolitical opponents.

Police, however, said many of the abduction cases wereengineered by the rival parties of the victims, but the law enforcers had tobear the brunt of such incidents.

The PM's baffling observations

These can only erode her credibility.

We are aghast at the PM's sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations that the opposition BNP resorted to killing and kidnapping 'to fulfil its political mission' of foiling the war crimes trial. This is not for the first time she has said so; but the intensity of her tirade doesn't fit in with the current political vibe. 

A relative calm seemed to pervade an otherwise torrid political scenario, thanks to the opposition deciding to sit in talks with the President. When we have just suggested that the onus is more on the ruling party to take things forward on the presidential talks, to be careful with words, here comes the Prime Minister with tongue-lashing at the BNP.

If the Prime Minister has specific information about the BNP's direct or indirect hand in the incidents of disappearances and 'secret killings', why doesn't she share it with the public and arrest the 'culprits'? 

Obviously, she doesn't have any hard information, otherwise why is she talking of a probe? And how good a probe it is going to be when she as the PM is being judgmental about its outcome?

Let's make it clear though, when Begum Khaleda Zia and Moudud Ahmed has asked for stopping the war crimes trial we condemned them in the strongest of terms. But to shift the blame of a law and order failure in curbing disappearances and secret killings (only on Saturday four persons disappeared) on to a 'plot' hatched by BNP to foil war crimes trial without furnishing any proof is disingenuous at best and misleading at worst.

This is trivialising the most dreaded form of criminality that enforced disappearance and secret killings are. 

This is also denigrating the minimal respect for human rights of those who have been abducted without a trace and occasionally surface as dead bodies. It is the state's responsibility to protect its citizens and not to empty the laps of mothers or households of their only earning members or leave a wife widowed. If the state fails to do it then it takes on the label of terrorising the citizens just because some gangsters have a field day with impunity.

Gono Forum demands CG restoration

IOJ for expansion of EC. 


The Gono Forum on Sunday demanded restoring the caretaker government (CG) system saying a neutral election is only possible with the CG system back in place.

“It (CG restoration) is not only the demand of main opposition BNP but also of the whole nation,” president of the party, Dr Kamal Hossain, told reporters after emerging from a dialogue with the president.

A 13-member Gono Forum delegation led by Kamal Hossain met with President Zillur Rahman at his official residence, Gono Bhaban.

During their nearly one-hour meeting that started around 11:00am, Dr Kamal proposed three options for reconstituting the new Election Commission.

Formation of a search committee to find suitable persons for the post of the chief election commissioner and other commissioners was top on the party list.

The other options are: reappointing the incumbent CEC, ATM Shamsul Huda, and two other commissioners; or appointing new CEC and commissioners as per the recommendations collected from all the political parties.

Meanwhile, joining the talks later, Bangladesh Islami Oikkyo Jote (IOJ) proposed the president to expand the EC and by incorporating a provision of having four commissioners instead of two.

The IOJ delegation proposed inviting five names from two major political parties for the appointment of the CEC and the five commissioners.

Leading a 12-member delegation to the talks, IOJ Chairman Misbahur Rahman suggested appointment of CEC as per the president's wish from the 10-men list of the two major political camps.

He also suggested appointment of four commissioners, two each from BNP and Awami League.