Amnesty International on Friday asked the government to stop harassing and intimidating the family members of exiled blogger Asad Noor and other human rights defenders immediately.
The Human rights organisation in a statement also said that defending human rights in Bangladesh has become increasingly challenging as many bloggers and human rights defenders fled persecution at home and sought protection abroad in recent years while continuing their activism.
The authorities are now targeting their families remaining in the country in an effort to silence them, said that statement.
In July, Asad Noor published several video blogs protesting against the persecution of the minority Buddhist community in Rangunia upazila in Chattogram.
A local youth leader of the ruling Awami League sued Asad on 14 July 2020 under the draconian Digital Security Act, accusing him of ‘hurting religious sentiments’ and ‘running propaganda against the spirit of the liberation war.’
Amnesty found that the local police raided Asad’s parental house in Amtali village in the southern district Barguna times and again on July 14, 15, 16 and 18, and being unable to find Asad, harassed his parents.
The local police kept the family members in detention for 40 hours before releasing them in the night of July 19.
‘The harassment of Asad’s family is not an isolated incident. It is part of a worrying pattern targeting families of human rights defenders in exile,’ said Sultan Mohammed Zakaria.
Amnesty’s South Asia researcher Sultan Mohammed Zakaria said that harassment of families, to muzzle human rights defenders in exile from Bangladesh, was utterly reprehensible. Such tactics of intimidation must be stopped immediately.
Instead, the authorities have the responsibility to prevent and effectively address allegations of human rights abuses and ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders, by carrying out prompt and independent investigations and bringing suspected perpetrators to justice, he said.
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