Two human rights organizations – Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – have urged Bangladesh to immediately release Mir Ahmad Bin Quasem and Abdullahil Amaan Azmi, who were allegedly picked up by plainclothes men in 2016. Mir Ahmad Bin Quasem is the son of executed Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali while retired brigadier general Abdullahil Amaan Azmi is son of late Jamaat leader Ghulam Azam, who died in jail after being awarded life term for crimes against humanity.
In separate statements issued on their respective websites, both the AI and HRW came up with the call on Friday after Humam Quader Chowdhury, son of executed BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, was found near his Dhanmondi residence Thursday night seven months after his disappearance. “The release of Humam Quader Chowdhury is one positive step, but he should never have been held in secret detention in the first place,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“The Bangladeshi authorities need to now come clean about what has happened to Mir Ahmad Bin Quasem and Abdullahil Amaan Azmi, and provide their families with answers. They were picked up in front of relatives and other eyewitnesses and there is little room for denial that security forces were involved in their enforced disappearances,” he added.
Meanwhile, South Asia director at Amnesty International Biraj Patnaik said, “For far too long, far too many families have lived with the grief of not knowing where their loved ones are.” Humam Quader Chowdhury was taken away by men in plainclothes on 4 August 2016.
Mir Ahmad Bin Quasem and Abdullahil Amaan Azmi were also taken in August 2016 in separate incidents and have not been heard from since. The three men are all sons of opposition politicians tried and convicted by the International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh set up to prosecute crimes against humanity committed during 1971 liberation war, said the rights bodies.
International pressure has mounted on the Bangladeshi authorities over these and other cases. Last week, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances called on the government of Bangladesh to reveal the whereabouts of the three men and all other victims of enforced disappearances in the country.
The working group’s statement, citing concern over a rise in enforced disappearances over the last few years, was endorsed by several other UN experts. The government has denied holding the men in custody, although family members cite multiple credible sources to confirm the men were held by different branches of security forces since their abductions, including the Rapid Action Battalion and the military intelligence Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, according to AI and HRW.
Enforced disappearances, particularly targeting supporters of opposition parties, are routinely conducted by security forces in Bangladesh, they said. The Bangladeshi human rights group, Odhikar, reported that in 2016, at least 90 people were arrested by security forces and not heard from again. “Enforced disappearances have become a scourge in Bangladesh,” said Biraj Patnaik. “The Bangladeshi authorities need to put an end to this criminal practice immediately,” he added