Target: President Abdul Hamid
Goal: Release two Bangladeshi human rights activists who are being prosecuted for exposing government crimes.
Bangladesh has begun legal proceedings against Nasiruddin Elan, the director of Odhikar, the nation’s leading human rights group. They have granted bail to the secretary, Adilur Rahman Khan, who was also arrested. Elan and Khan are facing with charges for reporting on human rights abuses conducted by government forces. These charges violate their freedom of expression; the two activists need to be released, and the charges dropped.
It is believed that the act of arresting and prosecuting the director and secretary of Odhikar is a political move to silence critics of the government. They are both charged under two sections of the law, where they are accused of falsely reporting human rights abuses by the government during the Islamist Hefazat-e-Islami movement in May.
On August 11, Khan was arrested and detained for 62 days, at which point the High Court overruled the low courts and gave him bail. Elan unfortunately was denied bail and continues with legal proceedings. The police raided their group’s offices, confiscating computers and other materials, no doubt to use in court against them.
Human Rights Watch documented the events during the Islamist Hefazat-e-Islami movement, when efforts to disperse the crowd grew violent. Security forces left 50 people dead and 2,000 people injured. As a human rights group, Odhikar was trying to bring to light these horrific events, and instead they are being silenced and threatened by their own country. This needs to stop. Tell the president of Bangladesh that he needs to stop denying his people freedom of speech and release these activists.
Dear President Abdul Hamid,
I am writing this letter to ask you to release activists Nasiruddin Ela and Adilur Rahman Khan from custody and drop all charges. Your people should have the right to freedom of speech and should be allowed to investigate any human rights abuses, even those conducted by military or security forces. It is imperative that your people be allowed to criticize their government and voice their opinions.
There is evidence suggesting that security forces hurt and killed people during the Islamist Hefazat-e-Islami movement. You shouldn’t be going after the activists who documented the events, you should be prosecuting those who harmed and killed citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Avijit via Wikimedia