Secular bloggers, academics, gay rights activists, foreigners and members of religious minorities including Shia, Sufi and Ahmadi Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists have been victims of targeted killings and many of them hacked to death. The wave of targeted killings began in 2013 and intensified since April 2016. Many of the attacks were claimed by Islamic militants. The initial response from the authorities lacked decisive action and was inefficient to prevent future attacks. In June 2016, almost within 5 days, the government arrested over 11,000 people, most young men, in connection to the spree of killings. According to the police sources only 145 of those arrested were suspected militants having a membership to militant organisations. Though this is not a sufficient evidence to show that they were connected to the brutal killings. The authorities should investigate the attacks and bring those responsible to justice, but the mass arbitrary arrests without proper evidence of a crime will lead to lack of assurance that the monstrous killings will be stopped and those responsible will be found while due process is upheld.
The month of April witnessed vicious killings of civil society members in Bangladesh. The killings are a harrowing indication of the authorities’ failure in protecting individuals who are exercising their right to freedom of expression and engaging in peaceful activism. Xulhaz Mannan, the founder of the first LGBT magazine in Bangladesh, and his friend, Mahbub Tonoy were the latest to be murdered in the killing spree. The slaughter of LGBT rights activists underscored the mounting violence faced by those promoting human right and equality.
In collaboration with Global Human Rights Defence, the Organisation for Socio-Economic Development Nepal (OSED) organised the ‘We for Us’ project to improve the living conditions of marginalised communities in Khokana, Nepal. In the context of this project, OSED produced a number of events and seminars dedicated to raise awareness on human rights and women’s rights. Concurrently, OSED has made significant efforts to build collaborations with other local and international organisations to widen the reach of the impact of OSED’s activities and improve their human rights platform.
Nineteen years after the enactment of the Peace Accord, yet indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts are still landless and facing discrimination and persecution. They are still waiting for the government to fully implement the Accord and to restore their rights to their traditional lands.
There is a great need in Bangladesh to specifically address violence against indigenous women and girls as they often do not benefit from protection mechanisms and access to justice in the face of violence. The solution is a comprehensive national response which includes indigenous women and girls in the formulation, monitoring and execution.