Denouncing the Unjust Imprisonment of Bangladeshi Human Rights Advocates

Date : 15 September, 2023

The South Asian Policy Initiative (SAPI) vehemently denounces the recent verdict handed down on 14 September 2023 by a Bangladesh court, which sentenced renowned Bangladeshi human rights advocates Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan to a two-year prison term.This decision not only constitutes a flagrant violation of their basic human rights but also underscores a disturbing pattern of suppressing the voices that advocate for justice, freedom, and equality in Bangladesh under the current regime.

Khan and Elan documented the tragic deaths of 61 individuals during the 5 May 2013 Shapla Massacre. That night, Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies mercilessly killed civilians in a rally of protesters, primarily composed of students and educators from Islamic educational institutions, peacefully demonstrating against religious defamation. Rather than being celebrated for their exceptional humanitarian endeavours through their human rights organisation ‘Odhikar’, the Bangladeshi government has chosen to subject them to this punitive sentence through a compromised judiciary.

Both Khan and Elan have been sincere in their pursuit of human rights and social justice in Bangladesh. Their dedication to shedding light on critical issues such as enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killing, torture in custody, violations in the border areas, and violence against women epitomises the spirit of civic engagement and responsibility.

The imprisonment of Khan and Elan constitutes a grave injustice against these activists and sends a chilling message to all individuals and organisations dedicated to promoting human rights in Bangladesh. Suppressing the voices of those who seek to uphold human rights represents a betrayal of the core values that underpin humanity and democracy. It is imperative to recognise that the Bangladeshi regime, led by Sheikh Hasina, has been implicated in a series of grave human rights violations for over a decade, with the incarceration of Khan and Elan being the latest addition to this grim tally.

SAPI urgently calls upon the international community, human rights organisations, and governments across the globe to impose sanctions on the Bangladeshi government and hold them accountable for their long list of transgressions. The unjust imprisonment of Khan and Elan warrants collective condemnation and concerted diplomatic pressure on the Bangladeshi government to reinstate the principles of democracy and human rights.

The South Asian Policy Initiative stands unwaveringly in solidarity with Adilur Rahman Khan, ASM Nasiruddin Elan, and all those who valiantly defend human rights in Bangladesh. Our commitment to advocating for justice and equality and safeguarding fundamental rights in South Asia and beyond remains resolute.

-South Asian Policy Initiative

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