Nine among 76 Bangladeshis, listed missing by UN, 'reappear', amid coercion charges by victims’ families
About eight to nine people, who were among 76 listed as missing by the United States, have reappeared, a senior Bangladesh official said, amid reports that authorities were coercing families to give false testimonies about victims
About eight to nine people, who were among 76 listed as missing by the United States, have reappeared, a senior Bangladesh official said, amid reports that authorities were coercing families to give false testimonies about victims. For some years now, Dhaka has been facing heat from rights groups and UN agencies for growing cases of enforced disappearances.
Last year, the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances had given Bangladesh a list containing 76 names of Bangladeshi nationals whose status was missing. Currently, the group is holding its five-day annual meeting (7 February-11 February) to examine overall 300 cases from 14 countries.
"We have heard that eight to nine people of the 76 people who the UN said are missing were found,” Masud Bin Momin, Bangladesh foreign secretary, was quoted as saying by The Daily Star. “There is a possibility that more will be found either in Bangladesh or outside the country," he added.
The UN grouping has been informed about the reappearance of these people, he said, adding that the grouping can’t make any wholesale campaign and objectionable recommendation against the country on the issue.
A report in Voice of America (VOA) claimed that police and RAB were taking forced statements from the family members of missing people, making them sign a paper to state that the missing persons went into hiding voluntarily.
“According to the statements, the disappeared persons had gone into hiding on their own, and the families falsely reported them as cases of enforced disappearance,” Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman, liaison officer of the Asian Legal Resource Center in Hong Kong, was quoted as saying by VOA.
The government, he said, has been trying to locate other people on the list, and their families and relatives are being contacted for it. On being asked if the government is under pressure, he denied it.
In a damming report last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said, “despite credible and consistent evidence that Bangladesh security forces routinely commit enforced disappearances, the ruling Awami League has ignored calls by donor governments, the U.N., human rights organizations, and civil society to address the culture of impunity.”
Last year, the US government has sanctioned seven serving and retired officials of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite paramilitary force, accusing them of being involved in the incidents of human rights abuses, including extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.