The popular Bangladeshi Islamic speaker Sheikh Abu Taha Adnan has been found several days after he went missing.
Police claimed that he was in hiding for “personal reasons” and was found at his father-in-law’s house last Friday afternoon.
However, sources have told 5Pillars that his family and IT support team, who have access to his gmail and other electronic communications, tracked his last locations to the head office of DGFI, the highest intelligence agency in Bangladesh.
Sheikh Adnan went missing at midnight two weeks ago while he was on his way to Dhaka from Rangpur, which is around 250km away.
His family complained that police stations did not accept to investigate his disappearance and local media did not report the case. This raised concerns that he may have been forcibly disappeared by the authorities.
Last year a joint statement by 12 prominent human rights groups condemned Bangladesh security forces and law enforcement agencies for continuously committing enforced disappearances with impunity, targeting journalists, activists and government critics.
“From January 1, 2009 to July 31, 2020, at least 572 people have been reported forcibly disappeared by security forces and law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh,” a statement said. “While some were eventually released, shown arrested or discovered killed by security forces and law enforcement agencies in so-called ‘crossfire’ encounters, the whereabouts of many of them remain unknown.
“Enforced disappearance – the deprivation of liberty by agents of the state and concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the person in custody – is strictly prohibited under international law. Despite consistent and credible evidence of their occurrence, the Bangladesh government continues to deny its unlawful practice of enforced disappearances. Access to justice is systematically denied to victims and their families.
“Enforced disappearance is part of the ruling party’s ongoing crackdown on freedom of speech. Disappearance, or threats of disappearance, is used to silence critics and repress the opposition…
“Bangladesh government authorities have failed to respond to the repeated calls from families of the disappeared for investigations into the enforced disappearance of their loved ones. Victims and their families are met with repeated obstacles to legal redress, including police refusal to file cases and threats to drop cases.
“This is exacerbated for members of the opposition and those who criticize the incumbent government and the ruling party. Families of victims of enforced disappearances face serious threats and harassment by government authorities when they protest such unlawful treatment and injustice or when they seek to determine the whereabouts of their loved ones. Meanwhile, law enforcement enjoys a culture of impunity, perpetuated by the ruling party’s refusal to acknowledge the occurrence of enforced disappearances or hold security forces accountable.
“The Awami League-led government’s persistent denial that enforced disappearances occur in Bangladesh and its refusal to credibly investigate the fate and whereabouts of disappeared persons is an abdication of responsibility to address this serious violation of human rights.”