To: High Commission of Bangladesh, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Urgent Appeal: Release imprisoned activists, Protect Human Rights & Democracy in Bangladesh
We, the undersigned individuals, are deeply troubled by the worsening situation of reprisals against political opposition members, human rights defenders, and other dissenting voices in Bangladesh in context of upcoming elections.
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.
27th September 2023.
Endorsed by 29 organizations and 58 individuals mentioned below Organizations
1. Centre for Communication Training
2. Centre For Policy Alternatives (CPA)
3. Centre for Equality and Justice
4. Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)
5. Centre for Society and Religion (CSR)
6. Civil Organizations for Democracy, Kandy
7. Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP)
8. Community Brotherhood Organization
9. Community Development Foundation – (CDF) Maradankadawala
10. Community Development Foundation – (CDF) Ratnapura
11. Hashtag Generation
12. Human Rights Hub (HRH)
13. Human Rights Office Kandy
14. International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka.
15. Lawyers for the Rule of Law
16. Lawyers’ forum for the people
17. Media Law Forum (MLF)
18. Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)
19. National Fisheries Solidarity Organization (NAFSO)
20. Renaissance Movement
21. Sisterhood Organization
22. Social Development Foundation- UVA Province (SDF-UP)
23. Social Integration Development Institute (SID)
24. Solidarity Movement for Justice for Hill Country People
25. Sri Lanka Alumni and Professional Association (SLAPA)
26. Sri Lanka Democratic Network (SLDN)
27. Sri Lankan Democracy Network (SLDN)
28. Success for Life
29. Voice of the Plantation People Organization
1. A. C. M. Rumaiz- Director, Child Vision, Puttalam
2. Achala Piyumantha – Rights Activist
3. Anthony Vinoth- Human Rights Activist
4. Anuruddha Bandara- Political Activist and Human Rights Defender
5. Anushaya Collure
6. Asma Edris- Activist
7. B. Gowthaman
8. Balasingham Skanthakumar- Social Scientists’ Association (SSA)
9. Bishop Duleep de Chickera- Former Bishop of Colombo
10. Brito Fernando- President – Families of the Disappeared
11. Charles Ravi – Executive Director CDF
12. Chintaka Rajapakase
13. Christobel Saverimuttu- Treasurer, Sri Lanka Council of Religions for Peace
14. D.M Dissanayaka- Attorney at Law, CMEV Chief of Operations
15. Damith Chandimal- Human Rights Activist
16. Deekshya Illangasinghe
17. Dr. Herath M. Ariyaratne
18. Dr. Joe Willam
19. Dr Nimalka Fernando – Women’s Political Academy
20. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
21. Ermiza Tegal – Attorney at law
22. Fr. Bennette Mellawa- Catholic Chaplain to the University of Rajarata
23. Fr. Jeevantha Peiris
24. Fr. Nandna Manatunga
25. Fr. Rohan Silva
26. Francis Raajan
27. Herman Kumara- Convener, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO)
28. Hiroshan Fernando – Attorney at Law
29. Jagath Siriwardana- Sri Lanka Alumni and Professional Association (SLAPA)
30. Jayathilaka Bandara- Artist
31. Joanne Senn
32. Kasun Chanaka – Young Activist
33. Mario Gomez
34. Marisa de Silva
35. Mrian Pradeepa- Co-ordinating secretary- Janawaboda Kendraya
36. Nadishani Perera- Executive Director, Transparency International Sri Lanka
37. Navaratna Banda
38. Nilasini Sreenika- Human Rights Activist.
39. Nilushi Dewapura- Attorney at Law
40. Nishantha Preethiraj – National Organizer Deshodaya Movement
41. Philip Dissanayaka- Right to Life Human Rights Center
42. Poojeee Hewasundara – Journalist
43. Prabodha Rathnayaka- Attorney at Law
44. Rev. Asiri P. Perera – Retired Bishop
45. Rohana Hettiarachchi- People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL)
46. Ruki Fernando
47. S. Balakrishnan- Civil Society Advocacy Resource Centre
48. Saman Seneviratne -Director-Programs, Institute for Democratic Reforms and Electoral Studies
49. Sandun Thudugala – Social Activist
50. Sanjaya Karunasena – Vini Vidumu Sri Lanka
51. Sarath Athukorala
52. Shan Wijethunga
53. Shyamala Gomez
54. Sr. Nichola Emmanuel
55. Surekha Samarasena- Director, Sisterhood
56. Thissa S. Rasnayake
57. Ven. Fr. Samuel J Ponniah.
58. Vimukthi De Silva – Women Activist