GHRD’s local partners presented its 2010 year report on human rights during a press conference held in Dhaka on the 28th of February 2011 at the Reporters Unity Press Club at VIP Louche Auditorium.
The event was well attended and covered by all the major Bangladeshi news agencies and has successfully highlighted key human rights abuses against minorities and women in Bangladesh.
The guest of honour was the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Mizanur Rahman, who commented on many of the issues that GHRD has raised in its report. Dr Mizanur Rahman urged the Bangladeshi government to form a special committee to return confiscated properties to minority communities under the Vested Property Act and to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty.
He also reaffirmed the government’s sentiment that extra-judicial killings should be brought to a “zero-level”.
The conference included presentations from GHRD partners, advocate Rabindra Ghosh and advocate Shahanor Islam Saikot - Executive Director of Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR). Representatives from local NGOs were also in attendance, including Sree Biswanath Singh-President of Bangladesh Adibashi Samittee and Advocate Rana Dasgupta -Secretary General of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC).
Two victims of human rights abuses spoke out on their experiences: The first was Ms.Shila Mullick, a female NGO worker who was tortured by the police superintendent at Madaripur police station after he failed to persuade her to withdraw her case against the perpetrators who tortured and physically assaulted her husband. The second was Ms.Jhumur Ganguli who spoke on the desecration of Hindu Deities at Ramna Dhaka.
The event was positively covered by all major Bangladeshi newspapers and Bangladeshi television and the key issues highlighted in the paper have been widely reported.
Key issues highlighted in the news media include: reform of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act, ending the practice of ‘safe custody’ – the arbitrary detention of victims of abuse, return seized properties to Hindus, the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord, and ending the extra judicial punishments under traditional custom of village arbitration - also known as fatwa.
GHRD and its partners will continue to investigate human rights violations and lobby for change in 2011. GHRD’s focus for 2011 is moving forward on these issues and investigating and reporting on instances of abuse against women and minorities, in particular:
News coverage of the press conference in English:
News coverage of the press conference in Bengali: