A total of 72 human rights organisations have called for the unconditional release to the secretary of the human rights organisation Odhikar, Adilur Rahman Khan, and its director, ASM Nasiruddin. These organisations from various countries, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, issued a statement on Thursday, calling upon Bangladesh to release them.
Earlier, Dhaka's cyber tribunal had sentenced Adilur Rahman Khan to two years imprisonment under Sector 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act. Nasiruddin was also given a two-year prison sentence under the same act.
The statement issued by the 72 human rights organisations said that the Bangladesh authorities should ensure that Adilur Rahman and Nasiruddin are able to carry out their human rights activities without facing any form of retribution. The statement has been published on the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights website.
On 19 June 2013, Odhikar had published a report about the operation conducted by the law enforcement agencies at a rally of Hefazat-e-Islam held at Shapla Chattar in Motijheel. The report stated that 61 persons had been killed in the operation run by the law enforcement. A case was filed against Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin, accusing them of spreading false and manipulated reports on the operation of the law enforcement agencies.
The statement said, after that incident Odhikar had applied to the NGO Affairs Bureau in 2014 to renew their registration. However, the organisation's registration was not renewed. The government tried to interfere in various ways in the activities of the leaders of the human rights organisations. They blocked the organisation's source of funds so that it had to halt its human rights activities.
The statement went on to say that in December 2021 the US imposed sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and seven of its serving and former officers on grounds of serious human rights violations. There were allegations that Odhikar was behind these sanctions. The next year, in 2022, the NGO Affairs Bureau rejected Odhikar's application for its registration to be renewed.
The organisations issuing the statement include Advocacy Forum Nepal; Amnesty International; Anti-Death Penalty Asian Network (ADPAN); Asian Alliance Against Torture; Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD); Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum- Asia); Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL); Association of Family Members of the Disappeared, Sri Lanka; Asociacion Pro-Busqueda de Ninas y Ninos Desapercidos, El Salvador; AwazCDS-Pakistan; Balaod Mindanaw; Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM); Belarusian Solidarity Foundation, Bir Duino, Kyrgyzstan; Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC); Capital Punishment Justice Project, Australia; Centre for the Sustainable Use of Natural and Social Resources (CSNR), Bhubaneswar, India; Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR); Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation; Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN); Colllectif des Families de Desparu en Algerie; Defence for Human Rights Pakistan; Desaparecidos - Philippines; Eleos Justice, Monash University, Australia; Euro-Mediterranean Federation Against Enforced Disappearances (FEMED), France; Families of the Disappeared (FOD), Sri Lanka; Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND); FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders; Forum ONG Timor-leste' Free Jonas Burgos Movement; HAK Association, Timor-leste; Human Rights Alert, Manipur, India; Human Rights First; Human Rights Hub, Sri Lanka; Human Rights Watch; Indonesian Association of Families of the Disappeared Families (IKOHI); Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI - Indonesia); Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI); Indonesia's NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy (HRWG); INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka; Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) - Indonesia; International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED); International Federation of ACATs (FIACAT); International Legal Initiative (ILI) - Kazakhstan; International Service for Human Rights (ISHR); JAAWABODA KENDRAYA (J. K.), Sri Lanka; Karapatan Alliance Philippines (KARAPATAN); Karnali Integrated Rural Development And research Centre ( KIRDARC ) Nepal; Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared-Detainees (FEDEFAM); Legal Literacy - Nepal; Liga Guatemalteca de Higiene Mental; Madres de Plaza de Mayo - Linea Fundadora, Argentina; Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN); Martin Ennals Foundation; National Fisheries Solidarity Organization, Sri Lanka; Negombo Citizens’ Committee (NCC); Nonviolence International Canada; Pakistan Development Alliance; People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD); Programme against custodial torture & Impunity (PACTI); Public Association “Dignity”, Kazakhstan, Astana; Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia; Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights; Sindhi Foundation; Task Force Detainees of the Philippines; The Awakening, Pakistan; The Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS); The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL); Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Washington DC; We Remember-Belarus; Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC); World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.