UNB : The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) – alongside its 27 member organisations – expresses its unwavering solidarity for prominent Bangladeshi human rights defenders, Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan.
“We are deeply concerned over their recent conviction to two years in prison, along with a fine, by the Dhaka Cyber Tribunal,” they said.
According to them, Adil and Elan, through their exemplary work at Odhikar, a watchdog for civil and political rights abuses in Bangladesh, have diligently documented human rights violations in the country.
These violations include cases of extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, and violence against women and minorities.
Since 2013, Odhikar and its staffers – notably Adil and Elan-have faced relentless judicial harassment.
This followed the publication of a report documenting the extrajudicial killings of 61 people in an overnight crackdown on protestors.
Authorities responded by levelling trumped-up charges against Adil and Elan under Section 57 of the Information and Communications Technology Act of 2006, alleging the offence of ‘publishing fake, obscene or defaming information in electronic form.’
Subsequently, Adil and Elan endured arbitrary detentions, lasting 62 and 25 days respectively, before their release on bail.
Odhikar vehemently rejected these charges and called for an independent probe commission to seek justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings.
Over the years, Odhikar, alongside Adil and Elan, became the target of various smear campaigns and criticism for their human rights advocacy.
In 2022, the NGO Affairs Bureau (NGOAB) declined to renew Odhikar’s registration, citing the alleged publication of ‘misleading information’ about extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, which have ‘significantly damaged the State’s international reputation.’
This decision was also upheld by the Prime Minister’s Office.
“FORUM-ASIA is in solidarity with Adil and Elan.
They have devoted their lives to the pursuit of justice and the protection of human rights in Bangladesh.
Following a decade of unwarranted harassment, their sentencing sends a chilling message to all human rights defenders in Bangladesh and beyond. FORUM-ASIA calls upon the Government of Bangladesh to drop all charges and promptly release Adil and Elan.