Odhikar worried at abduction, disappearance

Sat, 07/01/2012

While there has been a fall in incidents of extra-judicial killings, the number of ‘enforced disappearances’ allegedly at the hands of law enforcers saw an alarming rise last year, the rights group Odhikar said yesterday.

Revealing its Human Rights Report 2011, the organisation termed the country’s overall human rights situation in 2011 “disappointing”, noting that violence on women and journalists had also registered a rise.

Odhikar said 30 persons became victims of enforced disappearances last year while the number was 18 in 2010 and two in 2009.

Only those whose disappearances were linked to members of state-run agencies have been counted. Of the 30 incidents, the Rab was reportedly behind the disappearance of 14 individuals, the police behind 13, including 11 through its Detective Branch, and others were responsible for three others who disappeared.

Releasing the report at Jatiya Press Club yesterday, Odhikar Secretary Adilur Rahman Khan said, “The state might have adopted this tactic [enforced disappearances] due to national and international outcry against extra-judicial killings.”

The report also said 46 persons were reportedly tortured by different law enforcement agencies. Of them, 17 died.

The annual document was prepared on the basis of newspaper reports and information from Odhikar activists working across the country.

Another rights organisation, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), in its recent report put the figure of mysterious disappearances and secret killings at 51 during the same period. Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission expressed its concern over the rise of such incidents.

According to the Odhikar report, a total 84 persons fell victim to extra-judicial killings in 2011. The figures were 127 in 2010 and 154 in 2009.

Noted politicians, lawyers and journalists also spoke at the function chaired by Odhikar President CR Abrar. The speakers suggested that the government set up a tribunal to deal with incidents of disappearances, secret killings, deaths in custody and ‘crossfire’.

Disappearance is an old issue inBangladesh, and it has started again, Abrar said, adding that such incidents in 1973-74 were also protested.

CEO of Boishakhi TV Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul said the report might have flaws, but the government has to defend it with data, “not by batons”.

The report said 206 journalists came under attack in 2011. The number was 178 in 2010 and 145 in 2009.

Odhikar saidIndia’s Border Security Force killed 31 Bangladeshi nationals last year when the killing of 15-year-old Felani was a much-talked-about incident. The number was 74 in 2010 and 98 in 2009.

The report also said the number of deaths due to mob beating decreased in 2011, but now it has taken a “dramatic turn”. One Shamsuddin Milon, 16, was killed after police handed him over to the public at Tekerhat Mor in Noakhali from the police van, observed the report.

A total of 161 people were killed in mob beating last year. The figures were 174 in 2010 and 127 in 2009.

According to the report, the number of dowry-related violence shot up to 516 in 2011 from 378 in 2010.

Moreover, as many as 711 women and children were violated last year when 88 of them — 54 women and 34 girl children — were killed after rape.

The report said 672 women became victims of sexual harassment during the same period. Of them, six were killed, 59 injured, 91 assaulted, 12 abducted, 15 became victims of attempted rape and 29 committed suicide.

It said a total of 135 people were killed in political violence last year while 220 in 2010.

In addition, many incidents of violence, arson and loot took place in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in 2011 when 40 people were killed, 17 were abducted and 18 women violated.

Odhikar also said the government made the Anti-Terrorism Act 2009 more repressive and strict last year and expressed its concern that it might be used as a weapon against political rivals, demonstrators, journalists and human rights activists.

News Source:

The Daily Star