• Monday, Dec 16, 2019
  • Last Update : 11:22 am

Waiting in both hope and fear

  • Published at 09:43 pm May 25th, 2019
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Families of victims of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings, and custodial torture, gathered in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on families of victims of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings, and custodial torture, gathered yesterday in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on Saturday, may 25, 2019 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The two kids, along with families of victims of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings, and custodial torture, gathered yesterday in front of the National Press Club

Lamia Akhter Mim was only two and a half years, when her father Kawsar Hossain went missing, and Adiba Islam Hridi was only one and a half years old, when her father Parvez Hossain  was picked up from Dhaka.

Today, with little memories of their respective fathers, all they want is, an end to their wait for their dearest ones. 

“I want my father back at my home before the Eid,” said Mim holding a portrait of her father on her lap on Saturday.

The two kids, along with families of victims of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings, and custodial torture, gathered yesterday in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka carrying portraits of their close ones, demanding the government's intervention, and initiative for the return of their relatives.

‘Mayer Daak,’ (mother’s call), a platform of victim families of enforced disappearance, and extra-judicial killing, organized the event to mark the International Week of the Disappeared, observed in the last week of May each year.

These families, till date, have been passing their lives amid both hope and fear, struggling to making it through every day, pondering over the fate of their absent family members.

Most of these victims were linked to the opposition parties, and were arrested by the security officials in the last decade. Some of the people who disappeared, did  return, while some turned out to be dead, but most continue to remain missing–for years. 

Lamia's father Kawsar Hossain, a private car driver, was picked up by half a dozen members of Rapid Action Battalion on December 4, 2013 from his home at the capital's Nakhalpara area.

“I am somehow maintaining the family by doing private tuitions, but do not know how long I will be able to sustain. I want my husband back,” said Lamia's mother Minu at a human chain.

Photo shows a child holds her father's photo in hand during a human-chain in front National Press Club in Dhaka on Saturday, May 25, 2019 | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka TribuneEven after seven years of disappearance of her husband Kawsar Hossain, Minu still waits for her husband to return to the family.

Hridi, the daughter of another victim Parvez, frequently asks her mother, Farzana Akhter, only a single question- where is her father, and when will he return home.

The mother does not have any answer, except for asking the daughter to wait. Parvez Hossain, along with 18 other opposition activists, fell victim to enforced disappearance in December 2013, a few weeks before the January 5, 2014 general elections.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) ward unit leader, Sajedul Islam Sumon’s sister Afroja Islam said, the return of former diplomat Maroof Zaman brought hope for the victim families, as they are expecting that their close ones will also return someday.

Selim Reza Pintu, president of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal’s Sutrapur unit in Dhaka, was also picked up from his house on December 11, 2013.

“Visiting door to door, we requested many people including the prime minister, but my brother remain traceless. My parents are living like the dead. My parents’ only wish is to see their son again. But I don’t know if their last wish will be fulfilled,” said Rehana Banu Munni, sister of Pintu.

An organizer of the Chittagong Hill Tracts-based United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF), Michael Chakma, also central general secretary of the United Workers’ Democratic Front (UWDF), went missing from Kanchpur in Dhaka on April 9. 

His sister, Subhadra Chakma, was not in a state to talk to media as she became unconscious during the human chain yesterday.

While speaking at the event, noted human rights defender Nur Khan Liton, Dhaka University law teacher Asif Nazrul, and Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafarullah Chowdhury, demanded the return of the victims.

The state must take the responsibility of the incidents, as well as ensure their safe return to their families, they said.

Former Ain O Salish Kendra director, Nur Khan Liton, called upon the government to form an independent probe commission to investigate into the incidents, and come up with a satisfactory investigation report so that people can keep faith in rule of law of the country.