Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rights group protest abduction, secret killings in Bangladesh

SALEEM SAMAD

INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS groups are seeking answers from the Bangladesh authorities for ongoing abductions, disappearances and secret killings.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in their report released last week expressed alarm of increasing numbers of professionals including lawyers, university students, small businessmen and pro-opposition political activists are being abducted by plain clothed armed men from the streets, business offices and homes. Often the victims’ bodies with their hands tied or blindfolded are dumped on lonely roadsides.

Government continuously denied any knowledge of any abductions or disappearances. The failure of the authorities to probe by independent investigators into complaints of abductions, disappearances and secret killings, AHRC laments.

National rights organizations Odhikar, in its annual human rights report found alarming rise of disappearances, deaths in custody and attacks on journalists in 2011. Another rights group Ain-O-Salish Kendra, did not hesitate to express similar concern of disappearances and secret killings.

Top ranking officials of law enforcing and security forces instead blamed the “criminal gangs” or the “opposition political parties” for the abductions and secret killings.

An independent newspaper Daily Star in its Tuesday editorial, fears that the government’s denial may breed impunity. In spite of the government's denial, the newspaper writes that some of the cases are plainly indefensible. If deterrent measures are not taken, the government may be condoning a dangerous culture of impunity, completely opposed to the values of democracy and civil liberties.

Bangladesh, as a member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations and also a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has an obligation to protect its own citizens in the country.

The international rights group AHRC advised that the government should halt the law-enforcing agencies arrests of suspects without a warrants, which will generate a believe among general people that the police and other law enforcing agencies does not arrest or abduct in plainclothes.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic terrorism, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile from Canada after return of democracy. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com