Human rights situation in Bangladesh worsened on civic and political fronts last year despite improvement in some socio-economic indicators, according to a report of Ain o Salish Kendra.
“The overall human rights situation in 2015 was alarming,” ASK Executive Director advocate Sultana Kamal told reporters at Dhaka Reporters Unity while presenting the Review of Bangladesh’s Human Rights Situation, 2015.
The ASK prepared it based on media reports, dividing the human rights situation in two categories — civic and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights.
It mentions that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization termed Bangladesh the most successful country in South Asia in the areas of agriculture and food security. Bangladesh has also been recognised as a lower-middle income country due to an increase in per capita income.
Besides, implementation of the land boundary agreement with India is a notable progress, says the report.
Some positive developments on civic and political fronts include the progress in the trial of crimes against humanity, the enactment of Formalin Control Act, Bangladesh Energy and Power Research Council Act, Bangladesh Public-Private Partnership Act, the framing of labour regulations, and the approval of domestic workers protection policy.
However, human rights indicators worsened in many other areas, it says.
ADVERTISEMENT POLITICAL VIOLENCE, LAW AND ORDER:-
The BNP-led 20-party alliance began a countrywide strike and blockade as the ruling party didn’t allow the alliance to hold a rally on January 5 to raise its demands for cancelling the January-5 polls of 2014 and for holding fresh elections.
The blockade continued for two months when arson attacks claimed the lives of at least 70 people, mostly commoners, the report says, adding that at least 812 incidents of political violence occurred last year.
EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS, CUSTODIAL DEATHS:-
While common people were getting killed in political violence, various state forces got involved in abduction, forced disappearances and extra-judicial killings in the name of crossfire and encounter that continued throughout the year, said Sultana Kamal.
In 2015, six people died in custody of law enforcers and five during arrest, while three committed suicide after arrest, the report says.
Besides, 68 people died in jail custody. And a number of people became disabled after being shot allegedly by law enforcers. The authorities, however, always denied such allegations, it adds.
DISAPPEARANCE, SECRET KILLING:-
Many families alleged that men identifying themselves as members of law enforcement agencies picked up their relatives.
Last year, at least 55 people fell victims to forced disappearance. Of them, bodies of eight were recovered later, seven were shown arrested, and five returned to their families. The whereabouts of the rest still remain unknown.
The authorities, however, have neither issued any statements on such incidents nor did they initiate any investigation, the report says.
REPRESSION ON RELIGIOUS MINORITIES:-
“Rise of religious extremism in 2015 was a matter of grave concern,” said Sultana Kamal.
Besides, killing of foreigners, death threats to Christian priests, bomb attacks on Hossaini Dalan in the capital and Ahmadiyya mosque in Rajshahi, and a gun attack on Bogra Shia mosque created a sense of anxiety among people, she said.
Last year, criminals vandalised and set fire to 104 houses and Hindu temples, and destroyed 213 idols across the country.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION:-
Referring to the killing of a number of free-thinkers, bloggers and writers, the report says this trend was a matter of concern last year.
Besides, progressive politicians, intellectuals and journalists received death threats.
The government tried to control the freedom of opinion through legal means, and showed a tendency to harass people through the Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 (amended in 2013), says the report.
Three journalists were killed and 18 others suffered repression at the hands of law enforcers. And a total of 244 journalists fell victims to violence last year, the ASK says.
“Practically, the opposition was not allowed to hold any rallies. Opposition leaders and activists were arrested on various grounds, and were not given bail. Thus, they were denied basic rights,” said Sultana Kamal.
The biggest humanitarian crisis in 2015 was the trafficking of Bangladeshis through the Bay of Bengal and discovery of mass graves in Malaysian and Thai borders, she added.
POLITICAL VIOLENCE, CASES AND TRIAL:-
The most burning issue of 2015 was political violence during the blockade in the first quarter of the year.
More than 400 cases were filed in connection with political violence throughout the year. Of those, 200 were lodged in the first quarter, and thousands of people were accused in those.
Sultana Kamal said these cases could not make progress because they were identified as “political”. “The actual criminals responsible for such incidents always remain behind the curtain.”
Political violence in Bangladesh left 153 dead in 2015, says ASK – bdnews24.com
The human-rights organisation made a report from news published in national newspapers, it said in a media release on Thursday, the last day of 2015.
A total of 865 politically violent incidents occurred in the year, the ASK said.
These incidents caused deaths to 153 and injuries to 6,318 people.
As many as 192 people died in so-called ‘crossfire’ or in custody of law-enforcing agencies, claimed the report.
Mobs lynched 135 people, it said.
The ASK statistics also said 104 residences of Hindus were vandalised and set on fire. Six business structures, 213 idols, Puja mandaps and temples of Hindus were vandalised and/or set on fire.
Sixty people were injured in the incidents.
India’s Border Security Force killed 32 people on the frontiers, said the ASK. The BSF also tortured 14 to death and injured 73. They abducted 59 people.
Sixty-nine people died in custody in 2015, said the ASK. Of them, 27 were convicted and 42 were in lock-up.
Of the 35 acid-violence victims in the year, three died, the ASK report said.
It added that 10 women committed suicide in 2015 after facing sexual assault. Five women and a man were killed because of their protest against sexual harassment.
A total of 304 others were sexually harassed.
In 2015, 752 women were raped and 60 were killed after rape. Two women committed suicide on being violated. The number of women who faced rape attempts is 94.
Twelve women were tortured in arbitration and fatwa, said the report.
It said 63 house helps fell victims to torture and seven of them died. The cause of death of 27 house helps in 2015 could not be known.
Demand for dowry claimed lives of 187 women. Besides the murders, 101 were tortured and 10 committed suicide, said the report.
A total of 373 women faced domestic violence. Of them, 273 were murdered, 54 committed suicide and 46 were tortured.