BANGLADESH: Release Human Rights Defender Elan Immediately 

AHRC-STM-202-2013-01.jpgThe Asian Human Rights Commission condemns the detention of ASM Nasiruddin Elan and demands his immediate release. Mr. ASM Nasiruddin Elan, Director of Bangladeshi human rights organization, Odhikar, has been detained in prison by the Cyber Crimes Tribunal of Dhaka, today, November 6, 2013. This detention is part of the continued repression against the whistle-blowers exposing the ongoing State-sponsored gross violations of human rights in Bangladesh. Elan has been charged by the country’s police under the Information and Communications Technology (Amendment) Act, 2013, a draconian law, for publishing fact-finding report on governmental crackdown on the pro-Islamist demonstrators in the early morning of 6 May 2013 in Dhaka.

AHRC has learned that the Judge, KM Shamsul Alam, left the court room after Elan’s lawyers submitted petition seeking bail for this human rights defender, who spontaneously surrendered before the Tribunal. After a while the bench officer of the Tribunal returned to the court room and read out the order of sending Elan to prison, passed by the Judge from his office room. According to the lawyers, such reading out of a court’s order by a bench officer is unprecedented in Bangladesh judiciary.

Earlier, Elan’s colleague Adilur Rahman Khan, Secretary of Odhikar, was detained for 62 days on the same charge, who was granted bail by a High Court Bench in October 2013 (For further details, please see: AHRC-STM-142-2013AHRC-STM-144-2013AHRC-STM-166-2013AHRC-STM-180-2013; and AHRC-STM-184-2013).

The authorities of Bangladesh have been continuously abusing the agencies and institutions of the State, including the judiciary, in order to silence the dissident voices. Detention of rights activists for challenging the government’s official version of ‘zero casualty’ in the 6 May crackdown, and for pressing the demands for credible probes headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, provokes more questions pointed to the authorities than answers.

The AHRC urges the civil society of Bangladesh to open their eyes and stand beside the human rights defenders. Any failure to protect the right to liberty of today’s victims will narrow the space for everyone in the country in the long run. The AHRC also urges the international community, particularly those based in Bangladesh, to defy the de facto ‘war on dissident voices’ in Bangladesh in the interest of global peace and stability.

For further details, in Hong Kong, please contact: Mr. Md. Ashrafuzzaman; +852-60732807 (telephone) or write to:

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