Renowned human rights, social and cultural activists of the country have released a statement today on the conviction of Odhikar secretary Adilur Rahman Khan and its director ASM Nasiruddin Elan, and the reaction of global bodies on the issue.
The statement reads: “We are deeply shocked and appalled at the outpouring of support from different global bodies including a resolution by European Parliament over the two year conviction of Adilur Rahman and one of his associates, both of whom were found guilty of manufacturing and packaging of alarming scale of disinformation and outright lies through a report ostensibly to serve the agenda of radical religious forces Hefazat e Islam. “On May 5, 2013, Hefazat by assembling several thousands of madrasa students, in league with Jamaat-e-Islami, held a rally in the capital Dhaka from where communal and radical demands including the enactment of Taliban style of Shariah Law was raised. The incited mob attacked the public properties and business institutions, vandalized a political party office and created havoc amongst the people in general. From this rally the leaders of Hefazat also delivered hate speech and hate campaign targeting the womenfolk, minorities and liberal and secular minded people. The law enforcing agencies, to tackle the situation, took necessary steps for dispersing the mob.
“On May 10, 2013, Odhikar, the platform led by Adilur and his associate published a report, completely ignoring the actual facts while these radical elements were likened to ‘any other social non-political and cultural organization that aims to take into account socio economic cultural political matters that affects the values and practices of Islam.”
“Even back in 2013, in the report, the gruesome killing spree reportedly unleashed by radical forces against bloggers who called to end the impunity of war criminals was downplayed and the demand of bringing ‘blasphemy charges’ against those activists was packaged as a justified one.
“Another major anomaly featured heavily in the report, as unearthed by independent media reports and subsequent police investigations, was misinformation and outright lies.
These gross anomalies include altering of identity of localities. At least four people namely Md. Al Amin, Jahidul Islam Sourov, Sohel and Jasim Uddin who Odhikar declared as dead, were found to be alive. Names of five dead people surfaced twice while one who died from cardiac arrest was placed as a victim of police action. Moreover, six names were added in the list as dead who happened to die in a separate incident while no detailed identity has been given against seven people. On top of that, identities of 11 people remained traceless, initially revealed by media reports and corroborated in court documents.
“It is to be noted here, even the Odhikar officials Adilur Rahman and his associates were asked by the government to disclose the names of the so called 61 activists, who they claimed died, but Adilur failed to justify their claims.
“Moreover, the entire stint of Adilur Rahman as a deputy attorney general, during the last rule of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami, witnessed largest pogrom against minorities including burning down of places of worship, looting valuables from houses, burning alive people and rape, resulting in forced migration of a large number of minority populace. It is noteworthy to mention that a number of local independent rights bodies found at least 28000 cases, which were incorporated in the Shahabuddin Commission report, a manifestation of such wide scale attacks on the communities across the county. In 2002, as the rights activists appeared before the High Court Division of Bangladesh Supreme Court to bring the perpetrators to justice, Adilur Rahman, the then Deputy Attorney General of Bangladesh, opposed the move.
“Now that European Parliament, US local embassy, State Department official, a number of global rights bodies stood up in praise for Adilur and his associate following a verdict passed by court after ten years of legal battle while Adilur was allowed to deploy best lawyers of his choice, we would request these bodies to take the context of human rights on ground as a whole, not on the basis of motivated assessments grounded on biased views peddled by defenders of radical groups like Adilur,” the statement reads.
“Moreover, we did not see these said bodies raise voices equally when ultra radical groups, those who joined the May 5 rally and were defended by Adilur in Odhikar report as typical social orgs, went on rampage to stop war crimes trials as minorities came under attack in at least 32 districts between 2013 and 2015.
It is also important to reiterate that a barrage of smear campaigns, in line with radical outfits, has been afoot targeting overseas audience where false statistics against minorities peddled in separate letters issued by US congressmen and EU parliamentarians, reportedly crafted by the lobbyists and defenders of radical groups like Mr. Adilur, already sparked condemnation from rights activists and minorities alike,” it says.
“In the end we urge the foreign actors to abstain from inciting proven advocates of radicals, emboldening radical forces, putting minorities at risk by defending biased bodies like Odhikar and echoing radical views, rather we request such bodies to verify information from multiple sources instead of relying on biased ones. Recurrence of these works would only undermine the credibility of these bodies and expose double standards on part of these bodies,” the statement says.
The signatories are:
Dr Sarwar Ali , Trustee, Liberation War Museum; Khushi Kabir, Rights Activist;
Mofidul Hoque, Trustee, Liberation War Museum; Sultana Kamal, lawyer and human rights activist; Rokeya Kabir, Rights Activist; Shahriar Kabir, Historian and War Crimes Researcher; Ramendu Majumdar, Cultural Activist; Nasiruddin Yusuf, Cultural Personality and Liberation War Hero; Rubayat Ferdous, Academician and Social Activist; Nirmal Rozario, President of Bangladesh Christian Association; Ven. Bhikkhu Sunandapriya, General Secretary, Buddhist Federation Bangladesh; Dipayan Khisa, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum; Prof Meshbah Kamal, Academic and Historian; Abul Momen, Journalist and Academician; and
Alo De Rozario, Social Activist.