Strong political will and consensus is essential for stopping the relentless violations of human rights in Bangladesh, said academics, rights activists and politicians on Saturday.
Awami League’s leaders Saber Hossain Chowdhury and Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Odhikar’s adviser Farhad Mazhar, columnist Syed Abul Maksud, BNP lawmaker Syeda Asifa Ashrafi Papia, CSSD’s secretary-general Mahfuz Ullah, Biplobi Workers Party’s general secretary Saiful Haque, Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal’s central committee member Rajekuzzaman Ratan also spoke at the programme, which was presided over by CR Abrar, Odhikar’s president.
According to Odhikar’s report, India’s Border Security Force killed 74 innocent Bangladeshi citizens in 2010, injured seventy-two and kidnapped 43.
The report said that 127 people were killed by the country’s lawmen without trial though the government has repeatedly pledged that it would stop extrajudicial killings.
According to the report, the Rapid Action Battalion killed 68, the police killed 43 and nine were jointly killed by the RAB and police, and one by the Bangladesh Rifles [now Border Guards Bangladesh].
At least 220 people were killed and around 14,000 injured in political violence in 2010.
Most of the deaths due to political violence resulted from clashes between the ruling Awami League and opposition BNP, and intra-party feuds, said the report.
At least 576 incidents of intra-party violence took place between factions of the Awami League which left 38 dead and injured 5,614.
At least seven people died and 1,146 were injured in factional violence between BNP activists.
The Awami League-led government set a record by imposing Section 144 of the Criminal Code of Procedure, banning gatherings 144 times across the country during the year.
According to Odhikar’s report, 16 people picked up by plainclothesmen, claiming to be lawmen, simply disappeared. They are yet to be traced.
At least seven apparel factory workers were killed and 2,538 injured in violence resulting from strikes and demonstrations by aggrieved workers.
Two hundred and fifty-nine labour leaders including Montu Ghosh, Mushrefa Mishu, Bahrane Sultan Bahar, were arrested. It is alleged that they were tortured in police custody.
The report said that 127 people were lynched by mobs and 20 others were killed for protesting against harassment of girls.
Five hundred and fifty six incidents of rape were recorded in 2010. Among the victims 248 were women and 308 were girls. Sixty-one of the 248 women were raped and killed and 119 others were gang-raped, added the report.
The report said that three hundred and twenty-six women were sexually harassed and seven of them were killed. At least 25 women and girls, unable to bear harassment, committed suicide out of humiliation. Miscreants threw acid on at least 137 women and girls.
Husbands or in-laws killed 243 women for dowry and injured 122.
AL lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury said that both the ruling party and the opposition would have to come to an agreement to improve the human rights situation in the country.
‘If we can ensure the human rights of the general people, it will help to protect the human rights of elite of the society,’ he pointed out.
‘There is no problem with the RAB’s activities, but it must not violate the Constitution by killing anyone without giving him the opportunity of self-defence through trial,’ he added.
He also said that the human rights agenda should be de-politicized at any cost.
Farhad Mazhar also underscored the need for political and social consensus for stopping human rights violation in the country.
‘The state is playing the role of a terrorist organization in Bangladesh…We don’t have any consensus on the issue of protecting human rights in the country,’ he observed.
He also criticized the government for not taking steps against the continued killing of innocent Bangladeshis in border areas. ‘The BSF killed a teenage girl on Friday while she was crossing the border with her father. Such brutality should be stopped at any cost,’ he said.
Syed Abul Maksud alleged that hundreds of people were being tortured in the name of remand in police custody. Terming ‘crossfire’ one-sided fire, he said that too many people have killed in the so-called crossfire. He requested Odhikar to send a copy of its annual report to the chief justice so he can issue suo moto rule on the concerned agency to take necessary steps to stop human rights violation.
Odhikar also reported that there was a sharp rise in the incidents of clandestine killings and disappearances across the country last year.
It said that its report was based on information received from rights defenders in the districts, the victims’ families and newspaper reports.