BANGLADESH: End harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in Bangladesh

Thursday 22 May 2014

Date: 15 May 2014 Type: Statement Source: Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development Keywords: human rights

APWLD joins our members in Bangladesh in calling for immediate action to address the escalation of attacks on human rights defenders in Bangladesh. Yesterday (15th May) a Director of our member organisation, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) escaped an attempted abduction. Nur Khan had been previously subjected to intimidation and harassment by unnamed men.

This attempt follows the recent abduction of the husband of, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, the director of another APWLD member organisation, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA). Abu Bakar Siddique was held for two days and finally released in an abduction that is believed to be connected to the work of Syeda Rizwana Hasan as an environmental and human rights defender. ASK released a statement on social media regarding the incident:

“ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION OF ASK DIRECTOR – We urgently want to inform you about the abduction attempt of Human Rights Defender, Mr. Nur Khan in Bangladesh.

Nur Khan is the Director (investigation) of Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), the leading Human Rights organization in Bangladesh (www.askbd.org).

On 15 May at around 5.10pm Noor Khan left ASK office (7/17, Block B, Lalmatia, Dhaka 1207). He got a rikshawa(manually paddled three wheeler) with another colleague and were just about few yards away from the office when a white micro bus obstructed his rickshawa. Being suspicious, Nur Khan quickly got down from the rickshawa and ran back to ASK office. His colleague noticed 5/6 people aged around 30 inside the micro bus.

Mr. Nur Khan is a prominent Human Rights Defender. Along with his organization, he was always very vocal against the Human Rights violations by the Law enforcement agencies. Recent time he observed someone always following him in a motorbike and even coming to the office inquiring about his movement.”

A report of the abduction incident can be found here: http://www.thedailystar.net/rights-...

APWLD joins ASK in calling on the government of Bangladesh to end the culture of impunity for attacks on human rights defenders and in particular call on the government to:

-  acknowledge the incidents of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances and provide clear commitments and procedures to hold perpetrators accountable;
-  reform laws and the legal system to ensure all violations are effectively addressed;
-  establish an independent commission to ensure transparent and accountable investigation and prosecution of alleged human rights violations by the state as well as non-state actors, and provide reparations for victims;
-  initiate both criminal and departmental proceedings against any law enforcement officials that are implicated in human rights violations.

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