South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Families of missing people express helplessness as they recall their loved ones

Published in The Dhaka Tribune on Dec. 11 by Mohammad Jamil Khan ::

Three-year-old Adiba, who has barely learned to speak, stood desolately holding a placard with a picture of her father who has been missing since
last year.

Her mother Tanzin Akther stood by her, relating to the Dhaka Tribune the story of how her husband Parvez Hossain went missing when he went out with three of his friends – Chanchal, Sohel and Jahir – on December 2, 2013.

“We were supposed to attend a party at Sohel’s house that evening and Parvez called me at around 3pm, saying they were heading to Shahbagh to buy some flowers for the party.

“That was the last conversation I had with him. When I called him after 4pm, his phone switched off along with the phones of his three friends. I filed a general diary with the Bangshal police station the next day and also contacted RAB officials, but could not get any clue about the whereabouts of my husband and his three friends.”

Since then, no trace of Parvez, a leader of BNP’s Bangshal thana unit, has been found.

Adiba and Tanzin were only two of the many relatives of missing persons who gathered yesterday at the National Press Club to attend a discussion titled “Violation of Human Rights: In which condition  the country is,” organised by Basic Rights Protection Committee.

Rehana Banu also came to yesterday’s programme with a picture of her brother – 31-year-old Selim Reza Mintu – who has also been missing for the past year. A businessman by profession, Mintu was  involved with politics of the Chhatra Dal.

“Around 1:30am on December 11, 2013, around seven to eight people knocked at the door of our Pallabi house and identified themselves as administrators. They took Mintu away with them. Since then, we could not find any trace of him despite filing GD and complaints with the police and the RAB,” said Rehana.

Also present at the programme, was Kazi Abdul Matin, a retired army sergeant from Comilla who fought to liberate the country, who described his son’s disappearance on March 29 this year.

Matin’s son Rakibul Islam Shaon was a Comilla Jubo League leader and former organising secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra League of Comilla Victoria Government College unit.

“In the early hours of March 29, Shaon was taken from home by some 15-20 RAB members along with another team of plain-clothed police who had traced my son’s whereabouts from one Anwar who had been detained by the RAB earlier. They entered the house forcefully and started assaulting my son and his wife with a hammer.

“They pulled my son into a microbus and headed towards Bishnupur with two more RAB vehicles. Afterwards, I went to the RAB 11 office at Shaktola and informed them about my son’s abduction. But they replied that they did not take anyone named Shaon,” Matin said.

On March 31, Shaon’s wife Farzana Akter filed a general diary with Kotowali police station in Comilla, but was unable to file any case. Even the intervention of Railways Minister Mujibul Haque failed to trace Shaon ‘s location.

“I fought in the Liberation War and also served as a bodyguard for Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Now I wonder why I had fought for a country where there is no justice?” said Matin.

Relatives of other victims of police brutality also shared their experiences at the programme.

Uzma Kawsar, daughter of slain Dr Foyez Ahmed, said: “On December 13 last year, my father was shot dead by RAB members. The RAB personnel led by Lt Col Tareq Sayeed tied my father up with  a rope and threw him off our rooftop. Then they shot him to confirm his death.

“My father’s only fault was that he was involved with Jamaat-e-Islami’s politics. But if he was guilty then why did the law enforcers not punish him legally. Was it necessary to kill him like this?” said Uzma. 

She added that her family was still afraid to return to their home in Lakshmipur as the RAB had also threatened to kill her brother – who was not at home when their father was killed.

According to human rights watchdog, Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), a total of 82 people were victims of force disappearances or abductions during the first nine months of the year. During 2007 to 2009, a total of 21 people faced force disappearances while the figure was 44 in 2010, 59 in 2011, 56 in 2012, and 76 in 2013. 

Addressing the programme, Nagarik Shakti’s Mahmudur Rahman Manna said: “The government is saying that the people of the country are living happily; but if 82 people faced forced disappearance in a year, then there would be no peace of mind.”

Columnist Syed Abul Maksud said it was mandatory to solve the cases of human rights violation immediately so that the victims’ families would get some relief.

Presiding over the discussion, lawyer Shahdin Malik called for the formation of two judiciary commissions, saying an independent judiciary commission would investigate disappearances, killings and abduction, while the other would be formed for tribal and minority communities.

Following the programme, a human chain was also formed in front of the National Press Club, demanding immediate action to locate the missing people.