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Bangladesh: Rights Disappeared

| A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on Human Rights Day 2014

( December 10, 2014, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) Fundamental human rights are not guaranteed in Bangladesh in the daily life of its people. The rights of freedom of expression and opinion are infringed. The freedom of press is severely curtailed. People are being imprisoned for expressing their opinion about powerful persons and institutions of the state. Arbitrary arrest and detention regularly deny the right to liberty and security of persons. Subsequently, the prisons, where inhuman treatment humiliates the detainees and prisoners, are overcrowded.

Arbitrary deprivation of life by extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances continue. Freedom of peaceful assembly and association does not exist for critics of the incumbent government. Defending the rights of the victims of human rights abuse has become even more challenging amidst chilling persecution. Judicial remedy is selective and subjective, in the absence of independent and credible criminal justice institutions. Justice is neither accessible nor affordable for the people at large. Instead, the culture of impunity reigns over everything; political and judicial authorities guarantee this.

The Anti-Corruption Commission has contorted into a tool of the government to justify and cover up the scandalous corruption of the ruling elite. The people's financial life is crippled while an underground economy is maintained by the law-enforcement system of Bangladesh.

Arbitrary arrest, detention, fabrication of criminal cases, torture, and threats of extrajudicial executions are systematically used for extorting an unimaginable amount of money from the poor every year. A chain of corruption has replaced the chain of command in the law enforcement system and the criminal justice institutions including the Judiciary.

The survival of democracy in name remains at the mercy of an authoritarian political system.
The Election Commission has succumbed under the regime's desire to extend its power into perpetuity. And, the power grab has opened the door for the undeserving to acquire unimaginable amounts of wealth. The greed for wealth and power among those who pretend to be political leaders has contributed to greater destruction of institutions and social insecurity. Citizens are paying the price for political and bureaucratic insanity. Merit and professionalism have long been replaced by nepotism and corruption in all levels of public institutions for the benefit of the partisan interests of the ruling political and financial elites.

Fear has been driven home in Bangladeshi society to silence the people. Human rights have disappeared from the territory, akin to how humans are being disappeared regularly by law enforcement agents and paramilitary forces. Puppets dancing to the tune of feuding political camps have intensified problems for the people in absence of a responsible civil society.

World Human Rights Day should inspire the people to step up and reform the criminal justice institutions and democratise the state of Bangladesh. It is the time for the people to wake up and unite against the suffocating conditions. The ordinary people, and those who are guided by their conscience, need to stand up to reshape their state. They must realise that their own rights are more important than anything else on earth.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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