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Bangladesh: Government Must Expedite Efforts to Ensure Safe Return of Abu Bakar Siddique

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(Bangkok, 17 April 2014)The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights NGO, expressed grave concern over the abduction of Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique, the husband of prominent human rights defender Ms. Sayeda Rizwana Hasan. The human rights group urged the Government of Bangladesh to expedite efforts to ensure the immediate safe return of Mr. Siddique and that all perpetrators are held accountable.

Ms. Rizwana, who is the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association and recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012, has filed a complaint with the law enforcement authorities asserting that her husband may have been abducted by persons who are disgruntled with her environmental advocacy work. Rizwana is also a Task Force member of the South Asia for Freedom of Association (SAFoA), a sub-regional network advocating for the right to freedom of association in the region. FORUM-ASIA is also the secretariat of SAFoA. Twenty four hours after the said abduction, Mr. Siddique’s whereabouts and the circumstances surrounding his abduction remain unknown despite reported joint investigations by the police and the Rapid Action Batallion (RAB), an anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit.

“While we recognise the ongoing efforts by the police and the RAB to investigate this case, we are gravely concerned that there is still no information on the whereabouts of Mr. Siddique and the circumstances behind his abduction” said Evelyn Balais Serrano, Executive Director, FORUM-ASIA.

Recently, civil society organisations, human rights defenders and their families have come under increasing attacks in Bangladesh from both State and Non-State actors. FORUM-ASIA expressed fears that Siddique’s abduction may be the latest of such attacks.

Besides the call for expedited government efforts to ensure Mr. Siddique’s immediate safe return, FORUM-ASIA also urged the government to provide his family with all necessary support and protection to safeguard them from any further attacks or harassment.

“The Government of Bangladesh has the obligation to ensure a safe environment for the legitimate work of human rights defenders, including by guaranteeing the safety of their families and ensuring protection from any form of attack by both state and non-state actors” asserted Balais-Serrano.

Background of the abduction:

According to reports provided by sources in Bangladesh, unidentified men abducted Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique from Fatulla in Narayanganj on 16 April 2014, while he was travelling to Dhaka from Narayanganj by car. The vehicle the abductors were in, collided with Mr. Siddique’s car near Bhuiyan Filling Station in Fatulla, Bangladesh at around 2:45pm. When Mr. Siddique and the driver of his car, alighted to assess the damage, the men sprayed something into the driver’s eyes, blinding him, and took Mr. Siddique away in a micro bus.


FORUM-ASIA is a regional human rights group with 47 member organisations in 16 countries across Asia. With offices in Bangkok, Jakarta and Geneva, FORUM-ASIA addresses key areas of human rights violations in the region, including freedoms of expression, assembly and association, human rights defenders, and democratisation.

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