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Bangladesh: Government must institute an impartial and credible investigation in the cases of ‘disappearances’

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(Bangkok, 30 April 2012) The Government of Bangladesh must institute an impartial and credible investigation under the auspices of an independent authority on the cases of the ‘disappearance’, including that of Ilias Ali, a top leader of the opposition party and former Member of the Parliament, said the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights organization representing 49 Non Government Organizations across Asia.

The main opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called for three consecutive days of general strike from 22-24 April 2012 in connection with the disappearance of its Organising Secretary Ilias Ali and his driver. After providing the government  a four-day ultimatum to reveal their whereabouts, the party called for two additional days of dawn-to-dusk strike on 29 and 30 April, which has marked with sporadic violence, vandalism and detention of opposition leaders.

“We note prime minister’s call for continued efforts to find Ilias during the cabinet meeting and the local government, rural development and cooperatives minister’s assertion on that finding the frontline BNP leader alive was the ‘number one priority’. However, it is a matter of concern that the ruling party appears hell bent on taking the fight to the opposition.” said Yap Swee Seng, the Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.

Some senior leaders of the ruling party urged party activists to ‘build up resistance against all kinds of anarchy unleashed by the opposition’. According to a news report, a senior ruling party leader said that his party’s ‘leaders and activists would stand guard in neighbourhoods, roads, important intersections, and on campuses in the capital Dhaka.

The regional human rights group called on the Bangladesh government to respect and protect the right to freedom of expression in the form of peaceful general strike. It urged all sides to restrain from violent acts.

For further inquiries, please contact:

1. Mr. Yap Swee Seng, FORUM-ASIA, Executive Director, +66818689178, [email protected]

2. Mr. Sayeed Ahmad, FORUM-ASIA, Country Program Manager, +66842176150,[email protected]