91 went missing in 2017, 65 still unaccounted for, says ASK in year-end report

The human rights group briefed the media on the year-end report at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity on Sunday.

“The overall picture of human rights remained extremely worrying throughout the year,” ASK Coordinator Abu Ahmed Faizul Kabir said.

“People identifying themselves as law enforcers whisked away people and then killed them. People of different class and professions went missing at an alarming rate.”

The study based on media reports claims a total 60 people fell prey to abduction and murder in detention.

Among them, the bodies of two were recovered, eight were shown arrested, and seven returned to their families while 43 are still missing.

A total 31 people went missing “mysteriously”, says the report. Law enforcers showed arrested six out of nine people who returned to their families.

Like every year, the human rights group expressed concern over extrajudicial killings, torture and murders in detention.

As per their statistics, crossfire and police shootouts killed 126 people while 36 died in police custody–12 out of torture, 18 before and after being arrested, one committed suicide, four died of illness, and one died mysteriously.

A total 53 inmates died behind bars.

The year 2017 had been a traumatic one for religious minorities as well, Kabir observed.

A total 212 statues of deities were vandalised; attacks were unleashed on 45 households and 21 businesses. The incidents left one dead and 67 injured, according to Kabir.

The report mentions the controversial Section 57 of the ICT Act. “54 people including journalists and writers were prosecuted under Section 57. Writers, intellectuals and human rights activists were threatened and harassed for expressing their opinions on television shows and in newspapers.”

Law enforcers, terrorists, influential section, opinion leaders, ruling party leaders and activists physically assaulted, harassed and threatened 112 journalists, he said at the press conference.

A greater number of women faced sexual abuse at educational institutions and on streets this year.

Citing the report, Kabir said 255 women suffered sexual abuse and violence—12 of them committed suicide, 13 got killed, 168 were harassed for taking action against their stalkers, and four dropped out of school.

A total 818 females were raped in 2017 against 659 reported the previous year. The victims include children and senior citizens, he said.

Ten women suffered violence through village courts and fatwa (a ruling on the point of Islamic law given by a recognised authority). Three were ostracised from the community, three were forced to Hilla marriage, (a female’s interim marriage to a third person after a divorce to remarry the first husband) and four were physically abused.

A total 303 women faced torture for dowry—145 were murdered while 10 committed suicide; 188 cases were filed on the incidents, according to the study. 

The report claims that 441 women were subjected to torture in their families–270 got killed by husbands and in-laws while 34 got killed by other family members. Fifty-seven of them committed suicide.

The incidents led to the filing of 238 cases.

Forty-three domestic workers faced torture; 26 of them died at their workplaces. Acid attacks blighted 32 women of whom one succumbed to injuries.

A total 1,675 children were subjected to different forms of torture, claimed ASK. Among them, 339 were killed, 117 committed suicide, and 37 died mysteriously.

There were 565 incidents where children were subjected to sexual abuse, rape and other forms of harassments, according to the report.

Around 405 labourers died in fire accidents and by being crushed under collapsed building structures.

Kabir also highlighted deaths reported from processions, rallies, attacks on indigenous communities, border killings and faulty treatments at hospitals and clinics.

ASK Executive Director Shipa Hafiza, Senior Deputy-Director Roushan Jahan Parvin and Nina Goswami were present at the event.