The recently formed three-member probe committee of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is planning to visit the Marma sisters who suffered sexual violence allegedly in the hands of the security forces nearly a month ago.
The committee will visit the sisters on Wednesday, said Banchhita Chakma, convener of the committee and former principal of Rangamati Government College.
“If everything goes well, the committee will meet the sisters on Wednesday after completing all the formalities on Tuesday,” she told the Dhaka Tribune on Monday.
The NHRC held a special meeting on Sunday afternoon and formed the three-member committee, which is expected to submit a report by February 26, according to a press statement issued on the same day.
The other two members are NHRC Director and Additional District and Sessions Judge Sharif Uddin, and NHRC Deputy Director Gazi Salahuddin.
Banchhita Chakma said she had already met the Marma sisters – one of them 18 years old, who was raped, and the other 13 years old, who was molested – earlier when they were admitted at Rangamati General Hospital for treatment.
The sisters were raped and molested allegedly by members of the security forces during a drive in their village, Orachhari, in Rangamati's Belaichhari upazila on January 22.
In their statement, the NHRC said after the sisters' father filed a writ petition, the High Court on February 13 ordered the authorities concerned to hand over the girls to their family.
However, when the parents went to the hospital and demanded custody of their daughters on February 15 afternoon, the police personnel stationed at the hospital turned them away, the statement said.
NHRC Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said the commission would put their maximum efforts in accordance with the law to bring the culprits to justice.
The NHRC also condemned the attack on Chakma Queen Yan Yan and said they would look into that incident as well.
Chakma Queen Yan Yan and a volunteer, who were staying with the Marma sisters at the hospital, were physically assaulted by a group of masked men and women when they tried to prevent the sisters’ alleged abduction on February 15.
Rallies in Dhaka, Rangamati in protest
Rights groups as well as the general citizenry took to the streets yesterday to protest the physical assault on Chakma Queen Yan Yan and demand justice for the Marma sisters in Dhaka and Rangamati.
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The solidarity rally on Monday, February19, 2018, was also attended by hundreds of people as well as the top officials and workers of social organizations in the Chakma Circle in Rangamati | Dhaka Tribune
In Rangamati, a solidarity rally was brought out to protest the attack on the Chakma queen, which was attended by hundreds of people as well as the top officials and workers of social organizations in the Chakma Circle.
The Chakma queen, as well as Chakma King Devashish Roy, Bomang Circle representative Cho Hla Prue Jamie, and Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens Committee President Goutam Dewan, spoke at the event.
Condemning the attack on Yan Yan by the security forces, the speakers demanded a thorough investigation and appropriate punishment for the alleged attackers.
They further demanded necessary legal steps against those who sexually assaulted the Marma sisters.
In Dhaka, several hundred people from all walks of life brought out a torch procession under the banner “Citizens against Repression” from Shahbagh intersection to make clear their demand for justice.
Police tried to thwart the procession in front of Shahbagh police station, but the protesters went forward and marched through several streets of Dhaka University before finishing in Shahbagh.
“We tried to stop them as they did not take any permission for the program, as well as for the security purpose of the Ekushey Book Fair,” said Shahbagh police station OC Abul Hossain.
“Being the state’s employees, some army personnel repressed the state's citizens – they abducted two Marma sisters and assaulted the Chakma queen. We will not allow such things to take place in our country,” said Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, one of the protesters, while addressing the procession.
Demanding immediate punishment of the suspects, he also threatened to wage a tougher movement if the government did not meet their demands.
Rights group Nari Sanghati has announced a protest rally for February 23 in front of National Press Club. Meanwhile CHT-based organization Chhatra-Juba-Nari will organize an event on February 22-23 at the Institute of Engineers, Bangladesh in Dhaka.
Our DU Correspondent Fahim Reza Shovon and Rangamati Correspondent Bijoy Das contributed to this article