Bangladeshi academics abroad condemn harassment of rights activists

Adilur Rahman, secretary of human rights organisation Odhikar, was taken away by prison van after the court verdict
Prothom Alo

A total of 39 Bangladeshi academics and professionals working in different universities in the world expressed concern over the reports of harassment of human rights activists, civil society members and opposition party leaders.

“We, the undersigned, are deeply disturbed by and anxious about the reports of continuous harassment of human rights activists, civil society members, and opposition party leaders and activists - including Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhhamad Yunus and two officials of the human rights group Odhikar - through the judiciary,” the academics said in the statement.

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The academics working in universities including in the US, UK, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Austria, Canada and Malaysia expressed their concern in a press release issued on Saturday.

“We strongly condemn the decision to sentence Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan for a fact-finding report Odhikar published a decade ago. The court's decision to award them two years of jail time is the culmination of more than a decade-long harassment that Odhikar and individuals associated with it are facing,” the statement reads.

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The signatories in the statement also expressed worry over legal harassment of supporters, members, and leaders of opposition parties, including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami.

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They said the legal harassment of the opposition supporters has gained pace with the national elections only months away.

“We maintain that legal harassment of opposition and civil society actors violates universally accepted human rights standards, as well as Bangladesh’s own constitutional safeguards. We demand that the government refrain from instrumentalizing the judiciary to silence its critics and that the judiciary remains impartial, as the Constitution demands it to be,” the statement added.

The signatories are: Hasan Mahmud, assistant professor, Northwestern University in Qatar; Sultan Mohammad Zakaria, former country specialist of Pakistan and Bangladesh at Amnesty International, Md Nazmul Islam, George Mason University, USA; Abdul Aziz, lecturer, Monash University Malaysia; Jamal Uddin, lecturer at Cornell University, USA; Mohammad Al-Amin, postdoctoral fellow, University of Colorado, USA; Mohammad Ahsanul Haque, Aarhus University, Denmark; Faham Abdus Salam, writer and activist; Shafquat Rabbee, columnist and adjunct faculty, College of Business, University of Dallas, USA, Zia Hassan, researcher, Bildungsbrücken OWL, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF); S Arefin, PhD Fellow, University of Massachusetts, USA; Mohammad Abdur Raqib, PhD fellow, University of California Irvine, USA; Sibbir Ahmad, PhD researcher, Michigan State University, USA; Russell Mohammad, R&D engineer, Japan; Rahnuma Siddika, PhD researcher, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA; Abu Taib Ahmed, PhD researcher and Instructor of Record, Colorado State University; Tanzilur Rahman, PhD researcher, Michigan State University, USA; M Shahid, Purdue University, Indiana, USA; Md-Kamrul Islam, PhD eesearcher, University of Illinois Chicago, USA; Md Mustafijur Rahman, post-graduate researcher, Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University,  Turkey, Mizanur Rahman, PhD researcher, Politecnico de Torino, Italy; Muhammad Mustafiz, postgraduate researcher, Marmara University, Istanbul; Md Syful Islam, PhD researcher, Ankara University, Turkey; Md Sajjadur Rahman Chowdhury, postgraduate researcher, Georgia State University, USA; Md Sahidul Islam, PhD researcher, University of Florida, USA; Md Khadimul Islam, PhD researcher, Wayne State University, Michigan, USA; Shah Jahan Shuvo, PhD researcher, University of Alabama, USA; Kazi Mehedi Hasan, PhD researcher & research assistant, Southern Illinois University, USA; Jaber Ubaed, Chevening scholar and graduate student, UCL, UK; Nousheen Sharmila Ritu, research assistant and MSc graduate, University of Oxford, UK; Muhammad Talha, graduate student, University of Bergen, Norway; MH Mahmud, graduate Student, University of British Columbia, Canada; Shamsul Islam Chowdhury, graduate student, Aalborg University, Denmark; Kaji Jahirul Islam, graduate student, Mersin University, Turkey; M Fahim, graduate student, University of Leeds, UK, Abdul Muhaymin, graduate student, Bilkent University, Turkey; Ikhtiarul Arefeen, Erasmus scholar, Central European University, Austria; Md Ashraf, graduate student, Yale University, USA and Zunaid Almamun, graduate student, Wayne State University, Michigan, USA.