Rights situation was alarming
The overall rights situation in Bangladesh was alarming last year despite some positive steps undertaken to establish and ensure public rights, states a report published by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK).
Enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary exercise of power by the state institutions continued along with communal violence, gender-based violence and violation of workers' rights, says the summary report.
Sultana Kamal, executive director of the rights organisation, presented the report styled â€œHuman Rights Situation in Bangladesh 2012â€ at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters' Unity yesterday.
The report highlights a distressing trend of communal violence in 2012. In addition to destruction of Buddhist temples, monasteries and houses in Ramu, Ukhiya and Teknaf in September, there were attacks on the Ahmadiyya community in Rangpur and Hindus in Kaliganj, Chirirbandar in Dinajpur, Sitakunda and Patiya in Chittagong, Jhenidah and Bagerhat.
â€œMost of these [incidents of violence] were fuelled by religious fundamentalists and political parties,â€ argues ASK.
The report says 56 people â€œdisappearedâ€ last year, of whom four were found dead and 38 are still missing. â€œLike the previous years, families of the victims alleged the involvement of law-enforcement agencies, especially the Rapid Action Battalion, in most cases,â€ says the report.
The law-enforcement agencies were responsible for extrajudicial killings of 91 people, in addition to illegal torture and harassment of countless others, it adds.
As many as 319 cases of deaths and torture by Border Security Force were reported last year against 155 such incidents in 2011. Last year 48 people were murdered, 106 injured and 140 abducted by BSF.
In 2012, five journalists were murdered and at least 442 were subjected to harassment and assaults. The number of journalists facing harassment or assault was 306 in 2011.
The ASK report shows rape of 1,149 women was reported in 2012. Besides, 538 women were subjected to dowry-related violence. Of them, 263 women were murdered and 19 committed suicide.
As many as 250 women were reported to have been subjected to â€œeve-teasingâ€ and harassment.
Eighty-four people died and 10,525 were injured in political conflicts. Crimes by student cadres of powerful political parties on different campuses and on the streets were particularly troubling, observes the report.
Attempts by the government to suppress dissent were notable last year, with mass arrests, police violence against protesters and declaration of section 144 as many as 165 times.
The most disturbing event concerning workers' rights took place at garment factory Tazreen Fashions. A devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions in Savar claimed the lives of 112 workers on November 24.
Although a government-formed investigation committee held the owner and officials responsible, no arrests were made.
Sultana Kamal said people had high expectations from the government when they had voted it to power, but it has failed to deliver.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad also published a year-end report saying 5,616 incidents of gender-based violence occurred with 900 murders of women and children, 435 suicides and 157 gang-rapes.
Bangladesh Human Rights Commission furnished a survey report asserting 4,520 people were killed in 2012.
Citizen's Initiative and Bangladesh Manabadhikar Bastabayan Sangstha also published similar reports yesterday.