Friday, December 7, 2018

Election 2018: Disappearances before 2014 election

This is the second post in the Election 2018 series. See first one here

Five years ago, just before the 2014 elections, Bangladesh law enforcement authorities picked up  21 Dhaka-based activists belonging to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party in seven separate incidents over a two week period in front of witnesses. Each of the pick-ups, which took place between November 28, and December 11, 2013 were investigated by The New Age newspaper and were subsequently written up in further detail in a report published by Human Rights Watch

In most of these incidents officials from Rapid Action Battalion or the Detective Branch of the police were witnessed as responsible

None of these men were ever brought to court, though two were released after two weeks. The 19 other men remain missing, and whilst their families continue to hope for the best, it must be assumed that the authorities have murdered them.

Some pick ups and disappearances in Bangladesh are organised without explicit political authority - but there is no way that this sequence of disappearances of opposition political activists did not take place without political instruction from a high level. At the time it was crucial that the government keep control of Dhaka and these disappearances were intended to stop opposition organisation in the capital city, some of which was certainly violent.

The Awami League government officials need to be held to account for these disappearances.

As reported in The Wire a senior government official has confirmed that Sheikh Hasina provided a green light for the subsequent disappearances in 2016 of Humam Quader Chowdhury and Mir Ahmed, and it is quite possible that this previous sequence of disappearances of 21 men were green-lighted at the prime ministerial level. 

It is to prevent investigations into incidents like this that the Awami League political establishment will do everything to prevent losing the forthcoming election.

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