“The recent rejection of the bail application of Mr. ASM Nasirrudin Elan on charges similar to those filed against its recently released Secretary, Mr. Adilur Rhaman Khan only means that Odhikar is effective in its human rights reports because it unmasks the government’s false claim of complying with its human rights obligations,” AFAD Chair Mugiyanto said in a statement.
Mugiyanto recalled that it was only last August when Mr. Khan was arbitrarily arrested in his home and jailed, only to be released on temporary bail due to increased international pressure. “Now, we have to reach out for international support again for Mr. Elan and this will bring more attention to the worsening human rights situation in the country,” he further said.
“If the government is really bent on proving the alleged erroneous reporting by Odhikar, it could have created an independent body to investigate and find out the truth,” added AFAD Secretary-General Mary Aileen D. Bacalso. “However, it resorted to threats and intimidations intended to silence Odhikar which has been helping human rights victims, especially those who were disappeared, in disseminating information about the state of human rights in the country,” Ms. Bacalso emphasized.
The attack against Odhikar stemmed from its publication of a fact-finding report on the killing of 61 people by security forces on May 5-6, 2013 against Hefazat-e Islam activists in Dhaka. The report was belied by government. It then demanded Odhikar to turn over the list of victims but Odhikar refused, preferring to turn it over to an independent investigating body as it feared for the safety of the victims. Since then, the government escalated its attacks against the organization firstly by approving the amended ￼Information and Communications Technology Act 2013 that served as their basis in issuing a ￼warrant of arrest for the two leaders.
Both AFAD officers who are currently in Geneva to attend meetings of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances call on the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to immediately release Mr. ASM Nasiruddin Elan, protect his right not to be tortured and stop the attack against human rights defenders. They have also brought the case of Mr. Elan to the said UN body.
Lastly, they call on all freedom-loving citizens of Bangladesh to assert their human rights and support Odhikar in defending and promoting not only the human rights of the Bangladeshi people but of all peoples’ human rights. They reminded everyone that human rights are universal principles which bind States parties to international covenants and treaties agreed upon by the United Nations.
AFAD Regional Campaign Officer
Signed and authenticated by:
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO