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Naval authorities Harass FORUM-ASIA Member in Bangladesh

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Odhikar has received threats after publishing a fact-finding mission inquiring into the deaths of men in custody of naval authorities. The government of Bangladesh must investigate this deplorable case properly and thoroughly, make steps to establish the rule of law in the country and protect human rights defenders exposing this case.

FORUM-ASIA is alarmed by reports of threats made on human rights defenders working for Odhikar by naval authorities stationed in Banani, Bangladesh. FORUM-ASIA demands such acts stop immediately and investigations on the case ensue. FORUM-ASIA also urges the government of Bangladesh to ensure the safety of its human rights defenders and their families, so that human rights principles are respected and upheld in every situation and that Bangladesh’s obligations under international human rights law are respected.

Sections of security forces continually pressure and threaten human rights organisations. This pattern of intimidation has intensified and should be a matter of serious concern accorded special attention by the government of Bangladesh.

One incident in particular concerns the reprehensible verbal abuse and intimidation of Mr. Nasiruddin Elan, the acting director of Odhikar, a dynamic Bangladeshi human rights organisation that is a member of FORUM-ASIA.. Odhikar recently conducted two fact-finding missions regarding the murder of ward commissioner Mr. Dulal of Charfashaion Upazila on 20 February 2007 and Mr. Farid of Tajumuddin Upazila on 21 March 2007. Both of them died while under naval custody. Upon completion, Odhikar sent the fact-finding reports to the naval chief. Both reports were signed by Mr. Elan.

After sending the reports to the naval authorities, Mr. Elan was asked several times to go to the naval headquarters at Banani. Finally on 3 May 2007, Mr. Elan was taken to naval premises in Banani by someone claiming to be a naval radio operator. At the headquarters, Mr. Elan was allegedly verbally abused and threatened by a certain Captain Zubayer and other unidentified men. Captain Zubayer and his men also threatened to interrogate even Mr. Hassan Arif, the former Attorney General of Bangladesh and current president of Odhikar, if necessary. This case is an appalling violation of human rights in the country.

FORUM-ASIA is shocked by the level of verbal abuse and intimidation to human rights defenders being reported from Bangladesh. FORUM-ASIA demands that the government of Bangladesh conduct a proper investigation into the incident and guarantee the total protection of all human rights defenders in the country.

FORUM-ASIA also reminds the government of Bangladesh of its latest promise to establish a National Human Rights Council. This promise must be fulfilled to protect human rights activists and remedy past cases of violations. Establishing a National Human Rights Council is one way by which the government of Bangladesh can begin to fulfil its obligations under international human rights law and finally establish the rule of law in the country.

In solidarity,

Anselmo Lee
Executive Director

For further information, please contact Shekh Mohammad Altafur Rahman, Coordinator, South Asia Program, FORUM-ASIA. Email: [email protected]; Phone: 0066-02-3918801.