Awaiting justice for over four decades, families of freedom fighters, who were members of the armed forces, executed under Gen Ziaur Rahman’s rule, sought intervention of the US Ambassador Peter Haas for bringing the perpetrators to book.
Under the banner of ‘Mayer Kanna’, a platform of family members of victims of enforced disappearance during Gen Ziaur Rahman’s regime, they made the call to the US ambassador when he visited the residence of Sanjida Islam, coordinator of ‘Mayer Dak’, an organisation of families of victims of enforced disappearance, in Dhaka’s Shaheenbagh on Wednesday morning.
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Sanjida is the sister of BNP leader Sajedul Islam Sumon, who is reportedly a victim of enforced disappearance that took place in 2013.
The ‘Mayer Kanna’ organisers explained their move to seek the US ambassador’s intervention is a press release signed by Kamruzzaman Lenin, who lost his father, freedom fighter Sergeant Saydur Rahman who later joined the Air Forces and was hanged “without justification” under Gen Zia’s rule.
In the appeal to the US ambassador, the ‘Mayer Kanna’ organisers wrote: “We have come to you for a fair trial. We strongly believe the USA will take a strong stand against this inhumane act by killer Zia and will play a leading role in taking the issue to the international arena.”
“We hope that the US government will consider these matters in a very humane manner and set a shining example in history by setting up an international commission of inquiry and taking effective steps to strengthen the rule of law and human rights,” the appeal further reads.
Read more: US Ambassador visits residence of the coordinator of ‘Mayer Dak’ in city
After Gen Zia, founder of BNP, took over, 1000s of armed forces officers – many of them freedom fighters – were executed at his order, according to victim families and independent researchers.
On December 10, marking the international day for human rights, these families described a series of ordeals that turned their lives upside down during that period. Many are still unaware of the remains of their loved ones, executed during the rule of Gen Zia.
Referring to the aftermath of “hijacking and landing of a Japanese plane in Dhaka by the Japanese Red Army” in 1977, the letter for justice to the US ambassador mentioned that “forces loyal to Gen Zia” opened fire on army and air force in Dhaka, killing hundreds of officers, in the name of a coup d'état.
Zia unjustly executed around 1,156 army and air force personnel – by hanging or firing squad, the appeal reads.
The press release from ‘Mayer Kanna’ said that acting on information that the US ambassador was visiting a house in Shaheenbagh area in the capital, victim families, who live in the area, “showed up and drew the attention of the ambassador.”