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State's inability to find Michael Chakma a 'failure'

  • Published at 08:09 pm June 28th, 2019
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Rights activists, authors, and left-leaning political leaders address a human chain in front of the National Press Club on Friday, June 28, 2019 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

'The government must investigate, and publicly admit if any of its state security agencies are linked to the incident'

Rights activists, authors, and left-leaning political leaders on Friday termed the Bangladesh government's inability in rescuing—or even tracing—United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) leader Michael Chakma as a 'state failure'.

They made the comment while addressing a human chain in front of the National Press Club, demanding the quick rescue of Michael—who has been missing since April 9 of this year. 

Saiful Haque, general secretary of the Biplobi Workers Party, said the government must investigate, and publicly admit if any of its state security agencies are linked to the incident.  

“The state was supposed to return Michael to his family unhurt, but it failed,” Saiful said, questioning why the UPDF leader's whereabouts have not been traced 120 days after he went missing from Kanchpur, Narayanganj.

“When every citizen in the country has the right to get justice, what is the point of picking up people using state agencies, and subjecting them to enforced disappearance?” Saiful further questioned, urging the government to opt for legal action against Michael, if he had committed a crime.

Naya Ganatantrik Gana Morcha President Jafar Hossain alleged that Michael had been abducted due to his political views. 

“Those dissenting against controversial government activities are either arrested or subjected to enforced disappearance,”  he said. 

Citing the recent abduction, and rescue of former state minister Sohel Taj’s nephew, writer Omar Faruk Chowdhury said: “Not everybody in the country has such a powerful family member. Without political and social influence, the missing ones are rarely rescued.”  

Faruk questioned why, despite repeated calls from different quarters demanding the leader’s rescue, it is taking the government so long to do so.   

The United Workers’ Democratic Front (UWDF), Pahari Chhatra Parishad, Hill Womens’ Federation, and Ganatantrik Juba Forum jointly organized the event. Michael was also the central general secretary of UWDF.

According to a statement released by the organizers, Michael Chakma's eldest sister Subhadra Chakma sought the High Court's direction, on May 13, to help with his rescue. 

On May 21, the High Court ordered the home secretary to submit a report detailing Michael’s whereabouts, and updates on his rescue mission within five weeks.  

Michael has been missing since April 9, after he left for Dhaka following organizational activities in Kanchpur, where he had gone to visit several labour dense areas to organize programs for the Boisabi Festival, and the anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse.