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Despite Overwhelming Evidence, Bangladesh Authorities Deny Enforced Disappearances

In August, Human Rights Watch released a report on enforced disappearances in Bangladesh since 2009, when the current Awami League-led government took office.

True to form, authorities responded the way they always do – deny, deny, deny.

All “fabricated,” Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen declared, saying that “Some people dissociate themselves from their families and then they come back home after some days.”

The Bangladesh embassy in Washington DC warned us against conflating “what could be kidnapping with government-sponsored disappearances.”

Under international law, an enforced disappearance occurs when anyone is held by state forces, followed by the authorities refusing to acknowledge the detention or conceal the person’s whereabouts, placing them “outside the protection of the law.” This is what we have repeatedly documented.

Bangladesh authorities also said we did not consult them but have ignored our previous communications. The embassy reiterated its denials after a briefing held by the US Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

Hundreds have been forcibly disappeared in Bangladesh since 2009. While several were later shown to have been killed in an armed exchange with security forces, some were later released or surfaced in court appearances. But the period of detention or abduction by state actors, combined with the state refusing to reveal their whereabouts, still amounts to enforced disappearance.

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