August 12, 2013
By Talukder Shaheb
Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, one of the most respected human rights defenders in Bangladesh,was arrested on the 10th of August from his residence in Dhaka by officers from the Detective Branch (DB) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) . He is the Secretary of Odhikar, a prominent human rights organisation in the country, known for its critical assessments of human rights in performance and practice, by the Government of Bangladesh. He has also served as the Deputy Attorney General of Bangladesh and is a Senior Lawyer practicing at the Supreme Court.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), while in contact with his family, provided adetailed account of this chilling late night arrest by security forces, sans any warrant or reason. Neither Adilur, nor the family was informed why he was being taken into custody or where they were taking him.
The AHRC said that it believed that the reason for the government to arrest Adilur was a report Odhikar has published, after its fact-finding mission concerning the 5 May 2013 violence in Bangladesh. In the report, Odhikar had provided evidence that 61 persons were killed in the violence. The Government of Bangladesh demanded of Odhikar to produce proof regarding the murder of these people, with the details of the family members, who had spoken to Odhikar in confidence. Fearing that the government, after receiving such information would hunt down the families who spoke about the deaths of their relatives to Odhikar, Odhikar requested the government to constitute an independent enquiry commission to probe the deaths, and assured the government that it would produce its findings before such a body and not to the government. It is mentionable that the Government of Bangladesh has been denying any deaths in the 5 May incident and has been trying its best to silence everyone who has spoken against the killing spree that hit the country in May this year. (See my earlier post regarding the theatrics the government enacted in this regard)
Media in the country have reported, citing Mr. Masudur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner (Intelligence) and Mr. Abu Yusuf, Assistant Commissioner, of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, that there is a case against Adilur registered at the Gulshan Police Station, registered under Section 57 of the Information and Communications Technology Act, 2006. After his arrest, Adilur was kept in the Detective Branch Office at 36 Minto Road in Dhaka. Police officer Mr. Masudur Rahman alleged that Adilur “…has distorted facts about Hefazat-e-Islam and distorted photographs using Photoshop…”
Despite the fact that article 35(5) of the constitution of Bangladesh gives protection to every person from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment, and the fact that remand was virtually unthinkable for such a vague case under section 57, the Chief Metropolitan Court on Sunday granted 5 days remand to interrogate Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of human rights organization, Odhikar. Metropolitan magistrate Amit Kumar Dey passed the order after the police filed a petition seeking 10-day remand against him under section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act – 2006.
Wise words by the AHRC:
The arrest of Adilur Rahman was allegedly on the accusation, that he committed offences under the Information and Communications Technology Act, 2006, a legislation misused at will in Bangladesh, to silence freedom of opinion and expression, and often used by the government in violation of personal privacy and professional indemnity of the citizens.
Adilur’s arrest and detention is a chilling proof of the witch-hunt the Government of Bangladesh is systematically carrying out in the country, silencing all forms of voices against the incumbent government’s human rights abuses. Adilur’s arrest, and the manner in which it has been carried out, is further proof to the fact that the space for human rights, free expression and opinion has drastically reduced in the country. That such arrest in Bangladesh often is accompanied by brutal forms of torture, leading to even deaths in custody, places Adilur’s life and security at great peril in the hands of the state agency.
Is this a joke?
The government has arrested Adilur Rahman Khan after the human rights organization Odhikar dared to be the only credible voice to break the taboo on the massacres on the 5th and 6th of May at Motijheel in Dhaka. That Odhikar did not resort to BAL minded logic with more mindless pointless rhetoric but brought forward credible evidence that could not be waived off was a cause of nightmare for the government of Sheikh Hasina. The levels of depravity of this government has known no bounds as it has resorted to sleazy techniques of the lowest order in order to erase memories both long and short. One of these methods has been flooding Dhaka with public treasury hoarded state funded billboards spewing ridiculously simplistic yet boldly stated lies (see idiocy below).
Banani billboard says “Uninterrupted water, gas and electricity supply for last three Ramadans”
Other avenues of Awami standard un-originality have resulted in the closure of media channelsIslamic TV and Diganta TV in light of coverage of the Motijheel massacre perpetrated by government forces (both since 6th May 2013) and multiple arrests of the champion of the free press, Amardesh editor Mahmudur Rahman on a plethora of undecipherable charges. Mahmudur Rahman is still in police custody, with no end to his ordeal in sight while Amardesh is effectively barred from being published anytime soon.
It will not require a degree in rocket science to understand that the connection between Mahmudur Rahman, Odhikar secretary Adilur rahman and the media channels Diganta TV and Islamic TV is one and the same. Each and every one in his/its own way tried to expose the fallacies of an incompetent and authoritarian government, and fell under a hammer wielding radar of oppressive governance.
I shall not elongate this any further.
I ask for the immediate release of human rights defender Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan NOW!!!
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