“Help bring back my father, I want to go to school with my father and play with him. I have already grown up, but I never had the chance to catch a glimpse of him. Take me to him if he refuses to come to me,” said four-year old Hridi Parvez Hossain.
Hridi, then one-and-a-half-year old daughter of Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal leader Parvez Hossian, who was reportedly forcibly disappeared in 2013, was speaking at a discussion titled Maayer Dak (mother’s call) at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Sunday. Families and relatives of victims of enforced disappearance organized the event, marking International Human Rights Day.
Families of at least 35 people, who have been missing for the last four years, attended the event, and a majority of the victims are leaders and activists of the BNP and its associate organizations.
At the event, some of the participants were seen wiping their eyes as the minor girl started calling her father, who has not returned home since he went missing on December 2, 2013.
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Pictures of disappeared people compiled in a banner at a discussion titled Maayer Dak (mother’s call) at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Sunday, December 10, 2017 Bangla Tribune
They demanded safe return of their near and dear ones, and sought intervention of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in this regard.
Hridi’s mother Farzana Akter said: “Hridi was only one and a half years old when Parvez was abducted. She did not understand anything at the time. Now, she wants to know her father’s whereabouts as she grows up.
“But I can never convince her with answers to her questions as to where her father has gone, what happened to him, and why he does not return home.”
Rehana Banu Munni, sister of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal’s Sutrapur unit president Selim Reza Pintu, said some people introducing themselves as law enforcers picked up her brother from their residence on December 11, 2011.
“Five years have elapsed since my brother was picked up, he has not come back to us as yet. We do not know whether he is alive or not.
“Thinking of him, my elderly mother cannot sleep and eat. We try to convince her with false assurances that Pintu is living somewhere and would certainly come back someday. Nevertheless, she has eagerly been waiting for him.”
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Rehana said they had filed a case over Pintu’s disappearance, but investigation into the incident is not making headway.
Holding a photo of her son, the mother of another victim, Abdul Kader Masum, was seen wiping her tears, sitting quietly in a corner.
“My son has never come back home since he was abducted. We approached all the authorities concerned, but none of them responded,” she lamented.
Masum, then 23, was a student of finance at Tejgaon College.
Sitting next to Masum’s mother was an woman in her 50s, who too joined the discussion with a photo of her son in her hands.
She said her son, Shafiqur Rahman, was picked up by some plainclothes men on February 18, 2015 and that she is not sure whether Shafiqur is still alive. “I demand safe return of my son.”
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Family members of one disappeared person hold his pictures at a discussion titled Maayer Dak (mother’s call) at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Sunday, December 10, 2017 Bangla Tribune
Meena Akter, wife of Kawsar Hossain, a driver by profession, said she has been striving to meet ends since Kawsar got disappeared on December 4, 2013.
“Every day I have to struggle to support my family and meet expenses of my children. I do not know how long I will have to go through such hurdles. I want my husband to be allowed to return home.”
Among those who have recently been disappeared is former diplomat Maroof Zaman. He has been traceless since he left home in Dhanmondi on December 4.
CR Abrar, a noted human rights activist and professor of international relations at Dhaka University, said: “This situation cannot continue any longer. We must seek justice from the state and ask to know what happened to those people.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune