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Dhaka Tribune

‘Unprotected rights has created gap between state and people in 42yrs ‘

Update : 15 Dec 2013, 10:00 PM

The failure to protect people’s rights has widened the distance between the state and its citizens in more than four decades of independence, according to Sultana Kamal, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist of the country.

“In 1971, we felt much more united. We (the people and the state post-1971) had empathy towards each other in the war-torn country, since both of us were affected by the heinous activities of the Pakistani occupational army and its collaborators, such as razakars, al-Badr and al- Shams,” Sultana Kamal, also a freedom fighter,  told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

“But now the distance between the people and the state is so much that people often fail to reach the state in regards to rights,” said Sultana, who is now the executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra, a leading civil rights organisation.

“Presently, the state needs to create an environment where people will feel they belong to this state. And the state is protecting their rights,” she added.

In 1971, Sultana and her sister, Saida Kamal, went to Agartala,  and along with Zafarullah Chowdhury, established a field hospital near the northeastern Indian city to treat wounded freedom fighters and war refugees from Bangladesh. She had also enlisted as a freedom fighter in Sector-2 under Khaled Mosharraf.

She also said that after the Liberation War, in principle, the state and the people had a common platform.

There was a social consensus in rebuilding the country, rehabilitating the war-affected people, including the families of martyrs and other victims, Sultana said.

There was a “high standard” of urgency from every sphere to help one another, she added.

Sultana noted that the state had the main responsibility to eliminate the distance between it and its citizens.

The state was liable for the distance because human rights violation usually occur when the state commits crimes against its citizen, she explained.

“People are more conscious now regarding their rights, than they were back in 1971. That is a development in the human rights arena in Bangladesh,” Sultana said, adding, “But if you look into the human rights violations that are taking place, then we did not develop that much in that field. The state has the primary duty to protect and promote human rights,” Sultana said.

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