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FORUM-ASIA Executive Committee Member Adilur Rahman Khan, Recipient of 2014 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights

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FORUM-ASIA Statement:  18 May 2014 

FORUM-ASIA Executive Committee Member Adilur Rahman Khan, Recipient of 2014 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 

A Testament to the Indomitable Spirit of Human Rights Defenders

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) extends its heartfelt congratulations to long-time human rights defender Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar, FORUM-ASIA’s member organisation in Bangladesh, and Executive Committee member of FORUM-ASIA, as the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Award. Adilur will receive the award jointly with the Mothers of Khavaran of Iran today in Gwangju, South Korea.

The prize is bestowed to exceptional struggles and honours outstanding and consistent work of defenders for the advancement of human rights, democracy and peace in any part of the world.  The extraordinary commitment Adilur has shown in his steadfast assertion for respect, protection and realisation of human rights in Bangladesh has merited this noble recognition even as it fuels further the ire of the Bangladeshi authorities.

 Adilur has worked relentlessly through Odhikar to promote human rights, democracy and the establishment of rule of law. He has called for accountability for abuses like enforced or involuntary disappearances and extrajudicial killings lest they become seeds of impunity. Like most Bangladeshi human rights defenders, his work has led to reprisals in the form of arbitrary arrest, detention, fabricated charges, judicial harassment and intimidation.

Adilur was arrested last year without a warrant and held without charge for 59 days from 10 August to 11 October 2013 – an apparent retaliation by the Bangladeshi government to a report published by Odhikar that exposed killings in a police crackdown in May 2013. Trumped-up charges of “publishing false images and information” and “disrupting law and order” were laid against him and the subsequent trial has dragged on and severely obstructed his work. Odhikar continues to face open intimidation and blatant government attempts to hinder its work. The organisation’s funding has been frozen by the NGO Affairs Bureau, which is under the control of the Prime Minister’s Office. Odhikar has been unable to pay its staff since April 2014 while constantly facing harassment and intimidation from state security forces.

FORUM-ASIA is encouraged by the international recognition of Adilur’s important work, and his courage and perseverance in the context of a climate of fear and intimidation. The conferment of this award upon Adilur is a validation not only of his extraordinary and fearless work in the face of the brute power of a State bent upon repression, but of the struggles of all human rights defenders. It is a testament to the indomitable spirit of all who work for peace, justice and human rights for all.

We thank the May 18 Foundation for initiating this award, inspired by the Gwangju spirit of spreading the lessons learned from its history of struggle and solidarity for democratisation in the region and in the world.

Click here to download the statement (PDF)

FORUM-ASIA is a regional human rights group with 47 member organisations in 16 countries in Asia, working for the promotion and protection of all human rights, including the right to development through collaboration and cooperation among human rights organisations and defenders in Asia, and engagement with governments, inter-governmental organisations and other stakeholders at the national, regional and international levels.

For more information, contact Evelyn Balais Serrano, Executive Director, tel. +66 92262 7971; [email protected]; or visit