19 December 2017, Tue, 12:06

Enforced disappearance is systematically escalating in Bangladesh, says AFAD

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) has denounced the “outright denial, apathy, and inadequate responses” of governments to the thousands of recorded cases of enforced disappearance across the region.

AFAD concluded its five-day congress in Sri Lanka by resolving to strongly address the phenomenon, which it said was systematically escalating in Bangladesh and Pakistan, where the situation is now “full blown”.

According to the human rights organization Odhikar, there were 408 disappearances recorded in Bangladesh between January 2009 and November 2017 and 2,496 disappearances recorded in Pakistan between 2005 and November 2017.

AFAD leaders have been recognized by prestigious award giving bodies for their outstanding defense of human rights but even they have been victims of arbitrary arrest and detention based on trumped-up charges.

AFAD Chairperson Khurram Parvez was detained in Kotbhalwal Jail in India for 76 days on the pretext of preventing him from “disturbing public order” – a form of preventive detention under the Public Safety Act. Although he was released in November 2016, his case has recently been reopened.

AFAD went on to say that Adilur Rahman Khan, the secretary of Odhikar, was arrested in Bangladesh for the alleged violation of the Information and Communication Act, 2006 (amended 2009).

He is now out on bail as the case is pending but Odhikar’s legitimate foreign funding remains frozen in the bank upon the orders of the government.

AFAD strongly condemned the abductions and the unjust persecution of the leaders of civil society organizations. It urged governments to conduct “prompt, thorough, and impartial” investigations into reported disappearances, even when no official complaint had been filed.

AFAD said reparative measures that include monetary compensation, restitution, rehabilitation, and guarantees of non-repetition must likewise be instituted.

At the close of the conference, AFAD rallied its members to “intensify their collective struggle to protect the absolute right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance in solidarity with all the peoples of Asia and the whole world”.