The Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances has expressed its concern over the deteriorating situation in Bangladesh ahead of general election and the precarious position in which its member-organisation, Odhikar, is operating.
The AFAD urged that the rising trend of persecution of human rights defenders and human rights violations in Bangladesh should be stopped and that they should be allowed to function freely, as part of a democracy.
It said Odhikar had been a member of AFAD since 2011 and had been contributing greatly to the efforts against enforced disappearances in Asia.
The statement issued on Wednesday said Odhikar had been relentlessly working for the promotion, protection and defence of human rights in Bangladesh despite adverse conditions, and they had been persecuted and threatened on many occasions.
In 2013, Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of Odhikar, was picked up by persons claiming to be from the Detective Branch of police, for publishing a fact finding report on extrajudicial killings committed by Bangladeshi security forces during their crackdown on a religious group and detained for 62 days under the regressive ‘Information and Communication Technology Act 2006.
On November 11, 2018, an article was published against Odhikar in Bangla daily, the daily Jankantha, accusing Odhikar of participating in nefarious anti-state activities. The article advocated that the registration of the organisation should be cancelled and it should not be allowed to operate.
Again, on November 13, 2018, another Bangla daily Bangladesh Pratidin claimed that Odhikar was indulged in ‘anti-state and anti-government activities’, engaged in ‘conspiracy against the country’ by providing wrong information to the international community regarding elections and the human rights situation.
This situation pointed to the extremely precarious position of Odhikar, which is facing open threats and intimidation from the state for carrying out its legitimate human rights work in the country.
Yet gross human rights violations are occurring across Bangladesh. As a member of the United Nations General Assembly, Bangladesh is morally obliged to abide by the letter and content of both these declarations.
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