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Bangladesh's anti-terrorism "policy" leads to forced disappeance of 500 people: Paris report

By Our Representative
The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in a new report on "enforced disappearances in Bangladesh" has said that country's government has used these "to silence members of the political opposition and dissenting voices." The report is based on 30 interviews with victims of enforced disappearances that occurred between 2012 and 2018, their family members, eyewitnesses, and information from other civil society organisations.
According to the report, “Vanished Without a Trace: The Enforced Disappearance of Opposition and Dissent in Bangladesh,” state actors, including military and police, "worked in tandem to make people disappear. Some returned home, alive but silenced. Some were found dead, supposedly killed in crossfire. Others never came back."
The report believe, "There is a clear pattern of Bangladeshi authorities using enforced disappearances to silence political dissidents, especially since 2011." Documenting cases of enforced disappearance in Bangladesh to share key features and modus operandi, it suggests that "they are part of a concerted strategy executed by State actors."
According to the report, "Far from being spontaneous and arbitrary acts, these attacks are systematic and amount to a State policy. This, combined with the fact that most of the victims were targeted on political grounds, qualifies these acts as a crime against humanity."
FIDH says, its findings are consistent with those of local civil society groups, "which have documented more than 500 cases of enforced disappearances over the past decade", adding, "There has been a marked increase in cases of enforced disappearances leading up to, and following, general elections in 2014 and 2018, with a noticeable exacerbation in the framework of Bangladesh’s anti-terrorism policy."
The report notes, "Enforced disappearances often occur in conjunction with other human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, and torture," adding, "Many of the victims, almost all of whom were men, were active in political parties that opposed the ruling Awami League party. Non-partisan critical voices, intellectual figures, academics, and journalists were also among those subjected to enforced disappearance."
FIDH quotes the father of a victim as saying, “The government has disappeared many people for the purpose of being in power. But they are still in power, their purpose has been fulfilled, so why are they still hiding our son? Why are they not releasing him? Our lives are being destroyed by this.”

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