Two outstanding human rights activists who’ve tracked extrajudicial killings and disappearances in Bangladesh have been sentenced on Thursday to 2 years in jail, elevating alarm a couple of new escalation in quashing dissent.
The Dhaka Cyber Tribunal, a courtroom within the capital metropolis, discovered Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan responsible of spreading misinformation below the nation’s data know-how act. The legislation grants wide-ranging powers of arrest and prosecution when coping with something the federal government finds defamatory.
It was the most recent instance of a widespread marketing campaign by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to make use of the judiciary, amongst different establishments that she has largely captured in her 14 years on the helm, to harass and lavatory down dissenting voices as she corporations her grip over the nation of 170 million forward of the following election. The nation’s courtrooms are crowded with members of the opposition, activists and journalists enmeshed in an more and more Kafkaesque judicial system.
The case towards Mr. Khan and Mr. Elan, leaders of the human rights group Odhikar, stems from a fact-finding report by their group a couple of brutal episode a decade in the past in Dhaka. The report, launched in 2013, discovered that the police had dedicated grave abuses in clearing a rally organized by a hard-line Islamist group.
The group, Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, had introduced the town to gridlock in Might of that yr with a protest towards feedback and cartoons it thought-about offensive to the Prophet Muhammad. In response, the police staged a late-night crackdown, chopping off electrical energy and unleashing violence. Opposition events alleged a demise toll within the tons of, whereas reviews in worldwide information media estimated between a dozen and 50 individuals. Odhikar’s report mentioned it had discovered the names of 61 individuals who have been killed.
Quickly after the report’s launch, Ms. Hasina’s authorities detained each the activists, holding Mr. Khan for 62 days and Mr. Elan for 25 days and calling their report distorted and defamatory below the nation’s data know-how legislation. Ms. Hasina’s officers maintained that nobody was killed throughout the operation, and he or she instructed the Parliament that members of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh had faked deaths “through the use of crimson dye.”
In a joint letter, greater than 30 worldwide human rights organizations, together with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty Worldwide, referred to as the conviction of the 2 activists “retaliation for his or her work documenting human rights violations in Bangladesh” and requested for his or her launch.
The organizations mentioned that whereas the federal government had waged a unbroken marketing campaign of harassment towards the activists and Odhikar — together with blocking entry to funds and never renewing the group’s registration — the 2013 case was revived not too long ago after the US imposed sanctions on officers of the Fast Motion Battalion, the elite paramilitary drive that’s accused of many human rights abuses. Bangladesh officers have blamed reviews by human rights organizations reminiscent of Odhikar for bringing about such sanctions.
“Human rights defenders needs to be allowed to conduct their crucial and vital work with out concern of harassment, intimidation and reprisals,” the joint letter mentioned. “As a substitute of prosecuting and punishing those that doc and expose human rights violations, the Authorities ought to examine and maintain the perpetrators of those violations accountable.”
The federal government of Bangladesh, in an announcement, referred to as Odhikar “a noncompliant and politically biased entity with confirmed file of circulating misinformation” and mentioned the judiciary “decides issues earlier than them based mostly on proof and in accordance with the legislation.”