Migrant Forum in Asia
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Urgent Appeal to release imprisoned human rights defenders and protect Human Rights and Democracy in Bangladesh

We, the undersigned individuals and groups, are deeply troubled by the worsening situation of reprisals against political opposition members, human rights defenders (HRDs), and other dissenting voices in Bangladesh in the context of upcoming elections.

During her tenure as Bangladesh’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina’s administration has employed law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to silence opposition voices. This has resulted in a climate of fear and erosion of democratic principles and freedom of expression.

The legal harassment faced by human rights defenders, including politically motivated lawsuits, has limited their ability to advocate for the rights and welfare of the Bangladeshi people.

Of particular concern is the misuse of the draconian Digital Security Act (DSA) to arrest and prosecute critics of the government. Such actions undermine the fundamental principles of freedom of expression and dissent, which are vital for the healthy functioning of a democracy.

Initiating criminal proceedings against Nobel Laureate Mohammad Yunus, Chair of the board at Grameen Telecom and his colleagues for matters that should be addressed in the civil and administrative arena is a clear act of political retaliation, threatening the principles of justice and human rights. It is emblematic of the abuse of laws and the justice system for political purposes.

We strongly condemn the recent sentencing of Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan, dedicated HRDs associated with Odhikar human rights organization, on dubious charges. It underscores the need for immediate action to protect the rights of human rights defenders in Bangladesh.

We call on Bangladeshi government to;

1. Stop all forms of harassment, intimidation, and threats against HRDs and political opposition members. The government must respect and protect their rights to freedom of expression and association.

2. Uphold Due Process and Fair Trial Rights. Ensure that all individuals arrested and detained, including HRDs, are afforded due process and fair trial rights in accordance with international standards. This includes access to legal representation and a transparent legal process.

3. Immediate Unconditional Release of Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan, through the quashing of their convictions.

4. Investigate the allegations against Mohammad Yunus and his colleagues impartially through civil procedures, ensuring that labor laws are not misused for political purposes.

We call upon the Bangladeshi government to take immediate steps to restore and protect human rights and democracy, the cornerstones of a just and prosperous society.

The world is watching, and the fate of democracy and human rights in Bangladesh is of global concern. We stand in solidarity with the people of Bangladesh and all those working tirelessly to uphold the values of freedom, justice, and human rights.

If you or your organization can endorse this, please email to nilushicsr@gmail.com or +94 77 258 0763 by night of 26 Sep 2023. Clearly indicate how you want the name written.

The Petition will be handed over to Bangladeshi HC during the protest and released to the media afterwards as this will be part of a global and asian campaign.

Hope you can join this protest to condemn the recent sentencing of Adilur Rahman Khan and Nasiruddin Elan.

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MFA is a regional network of non-government organizations (NGOs), associations and trade unions of migrant workers, and individual advocates in Asia who are committed to protect and promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers.

It is guided by a vision of an alternative world system based on respect for human rights and dignity, social justice, and gender equity, particularly for migrant workers.

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