The issues of Rohingya, disappearance, murder and rape have become the talk of the town in 2017. Of the four most discussed issues of the previous year, Rohingya influx and incidents of disappearance have also grabbed attention of the international community, while some incidents of rape and murder have rocked the country.
The exodus into Bangladesh of tens of thousands of Rohingyas, persecuted in Myanmar, has been seen as a humanitarian issue. The massive influx of the Muslim ethnic community of Myanmar, a country virtually run by military dictators, started from August 25 last year while many Rohingyas are trickling into the country every day. Bangladesh and its nationals have showed the greatest sympathy to the persecuted community who had been residing nearby the country.
Around 6 lakh 55 thousand Rohingyas entered the country for shelter last year after the community faced serious atrocities ranging from murder, inhumane torture to rape. According to analysts, the persecution of the Rohingyas was carried out so that mega economic projects of China and India could run smoothly. On the other hand, it was easy to persecute the Rohingyas as most of the community are Muslims.
Though most of the countries of the world and United Nations (UN) took side with Bangladesh condemning the barbarous attack on the Rohingyas, countries like China, India and Russia supported Myanmar as the three countries have greater economic interest in Myanmar. In addition, China is the largest arms supplier to Myanmar followed by Russia and India.
UN termed the persecution in Myanmar 'ethnic cleansing' bypassing the term 'genocide' though legal experts think the persecution has all the ingredients of 'genocide'. Iterating the term 'genocide' incurs liability of holing international trial of the crime, legal experts said.
On November 23, Bangladesh and Myanmar have inked an instrument for the return of Rohingyas. In the first batch, around 1 lakh Rohingyas are expected to return to Myanmar, according to the ruling Awami League General Secretary and Senior Minister Obaidul Quader. However, it is feared that as per the provision of the instrument, it will take a long time to ensure return of all the Rohingyas.
According to Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), following the spread of violence in Myanmar, 6,700 Rohingyas were murdered, of whom 69 per cent were murdered by gun shots, 9 per cent burnt alive and 5 per cent in mass beatings. The international aid agency also stated that of the murdered, there were children below five years of age, of whom 59 per cent were shot dead, 15 per cent burnt alive, 7 per cent in mass beating and 2 per cent in landmine blasts.
The number of Rohingyas taking shelter in the country crossed 12 lakhs following the massive influx of the previous year, wreaking havoc on Bangladesh's small economy and environment. Due to the influx, price of daily essentials in Cox's Bazar sky-rocketed. Disappearance in 2017 has become a matter of insecurity of the citizens. The fear reached to such an extent that citizens are apprehended abduction at any moment. According to Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), at least 60 persons fell victims to enforced disappearance allegedly by plainclothesmen identifying themselves as law enforcers, of whom 8 were shown arrested, and 7 returned to their families while two found dead and the rest of the disappeared are still traceless.
In addition to that 31 more people are missing for mysterious reasons, of whom only 9 returned, while six were shown arrested by law enforcers.
M Maroof Zaman, former Bangladesh ambassador to Qatar and Vietnam, Naimul Islam, a senior officer of BRAC Bank, and Ishrak Ahmed Fahim, a varsity student, are in the list of missing persons.
According to ASK, people disappeared from January 1 to November 30 are Awami League-1, Chhatra League-1, Juba League-1, BNP-1, Jubo Dal-1, Chhatra Dal-2,businessman-6, service holder-6, teacher-1, professor-1, students-4, mason-1, motor mechanic-1, bicycle mechanic-1, easy bike driver-1, rickshaw-puller-1, UP member-1, publisher-1 and unidentied-22.
Of the persons who returned are Syed Sadat Ahmed Sadat, managing director of ABN Group, journalist Utpal Das, North South University teacher Mubashar Hasan , businessman Aniruddha Roy, and political analyst Farhad Mazhar are mentionable.
However, the returnees try to skip the issue of disappearance. Journo Utpal and teacher Sizar told journalists that they were blindfolded by masked men so they could not identify their abductors. On the other hand, businessman Aniruddha blamed his rival businessman for his abduction.
Farhad Mazhar was sued by police after his return for allegedly staging the abduction drama. A Dhaka court on Sunday summoned Farhad.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan gave credit to the law enforcers for the return of the missing though the returnees return themselves.
According to police's website, in the first nine months of 2017, at least 397 persons were abducted, of whom 78 from the city. However, the information was not updated later.
The year started with the rape of two university girls in Banani's Raintree Hotel, which stunned the country. In the incident, law enforcers arrested rapist Shafat and his accomplices, who are now languishing in jail. Following the incident, custom intelligence arrested three owners of Apan Jewellers for allegedly importing gold evading tax, of whom, one is Shafat's father and others are his relatives.
In Banani, two other rape incidents took place, including one by Kushan Omar Sufi, brother of singer Anusheh Anadil, at Hotel Sweet Dream on November 20.
In December, four females were raped while the perpetrators came to rob a house belonging to three expatriates. BCL leader Arif Hawladar raped six women and released video of the rape incident on the internet. He was arrested a few days ago.
According to ASK, at least 818 women were raped across the country, of whom 47 were killed after rape and 11 committed suicide, while in 2016, at least 659 women were raped. Of the rape, at least 186 were gang-raped. In 2017, 255 women were victims of sexual assaults while the figure was 244 in 2016. Of those, 12 committed suicide, and three women among 13 were killed as they protested.
The privous year was rocked by a number of sensational killings including killing of a ninth grader.
On January 6, some local boys killed a ninth grader, Adnan Kabir in the city's Uttara, which was seen as an incident of child-gang culture. Disco Group member Mehrab Hossain confessed that they had taken revenge on the deceased for attacking a member of the group by Nine Star group.
On 9 June, a woman along with her three children was found dead at her residence at Kaliertek in Turag. However, police in its primary investigation did not get any evidence of homicide. The mother committed suicide after killing her three children, according to police. On September 26, Sagor Mia, 18, was beaten to death at a hatchery in Mymensingh for allegedly stealing a water pump from the hatchery. Later, the owner of the hatchery and his accomplices dumped the body in a field. Law enforcers arrested the owner Akkas Ali.
On November 1, a woman and her son were killed at their flat in the capital's Kakrail area allegedly due to relation problem while on November 2, a father and his daughter were killed at their rented house in the capital's Badda for his wife's extramarital affairs.
Sensational murders and rapes of women and children stunned the nation in 2017, National Human Rights Commission chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said, "It would not be possible for us to be a disciplined nation without stopping such violence. Such violence could not be perpetrated if we could identify and punish the culprits. We have to come out of the culture of lack of justice," he said.