A group of Sri Lankan human rights activists launched a silent protest over the arrest of two human rights activists in Bangladesh yesterday in front of the Bangladesh Embassy in Colombo. “Release Bangladeshi human rights defenders Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan! Ensure their rights & well-being till release!” was the demand of protesters to the government of Bangladesh.
A Bangladesh court on Thursday sentenced two leading human rights activists to two years each in jail, after a trial critics say is part of a government crackdown ahead of elections.
Adilur Rahman Khan, 63, and Nasiruddin Elan, 57, have led the Odhikar organization for decades, working to document thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances of opposition activists, and police brutalities.
They “were sentenced to two years in prison”, Judge Zulfiker Hayat told the court.
“We are protesting the arrest of the two activists of Odhikar Organization, a Human Rights Organization like us, General Secretary Adilur Rahman Khan, and a member of its board of directors, Nasiruddin Elan.” Told to the media Brito Fernando a Human Rights activist who were gathered near the Embassy of Bangladesh in Sri Lanka.
“On two days in May 2013, a large number of people died as a result of a repressive act carried out by the government of that country. A list of names was released by the Odhikar organization to the media and internationally, due to the fact that the country was brought into disrepute by doing so, they had to face this fate”, he said.
“Due to that incident, 65 days Adilur Rahman was in jail and Nasiruden was in jail for 25 days. After that they got bail. But at the end of that process of the Court case, in 2023 they had to face two years imprisonment.” Told Brito Fernando, a human rights activist and president of the Family Association of the Disappeared, spoke to the media regarding the imprisonment of Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasruddin.
Further Brito Fernando told the media that by misusing the Digital Security Act, the government is currently violating the right of the people of the country to express their opinions and the right to dissent, and many parties are condemning Hasina’s regime for arresting critics. It is clear that Shik Hasina’s government has aimed to undermine the activities of the opposition groups before the upcoming general elections.
“As a result, two defenders of democracy and human rights, Adilur and Elan, have been sentenced to prison terms. Human rights organizations and activists in South Asian countries are currently protesting for their release,” he added.
According to him, a group of 72 international rights groups condemned the sentencing and demanded the men be released.
Alice Mogwe, head of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), said their conviction was based on “politically motivated charges”, while Amnesty International slammed the government’s “relentless crackdown”.
“It is not those who denounce murders who should be punished, but those who commit them,” said Gerald Staberock, head of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).
Nur Khan Liton, a former head of another of the country’s leading human rights organizations had told AFP, “This verdict will send a chilling message to the human rights defenders in the country and make their work enormously difficult”.