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For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn in media relations
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The Bangladesh authorities must halt the imminent execution of a senior political leader who has been sentenced to death following a deeply flawed trial, Amnesty International said today.
“The people of Bangladesh deserve justice for crimes committed during the War of Independence. The continued use of the death penalty will not achieve this. It only serves to inflame domestic tensions and further divide a society riven by violence,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.
The Bangladesh Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and death sentence against Mir Quasem Ali, a key financier of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, after rejecting his review appeal. It follows an International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) judgement – a Bangladeshi court examining war crimes during Bangladesh’s 1971 War of Independence – that found Mir Quasem Ali guilty of committing crimes against humanity in November 2014.
Bangladeshi authorities should immediately end the illegal detentions of Mir Qasem Ali and Humman Qader Chowdhury, arrested respectively on 9 August and 4 August, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.
Both men were arrested without warrants or charges, have not been produced before a magistrate, and have not been allowed access to family or lawyers.
“There is no question that Qasem Ali and Chowdhury are subject to an enforced disappearance in the custody of the security forces. Yet the government continues to deny having them. Both men have been refused access to lawyers and their families, and production before a magistrate,” said Champa Patel, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.
“This is a practice which has unfortunately become completely routine in Bangladesh, and has to end.”
Bangladeshi authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop trumped-up charges against a prominent journalist who could be jailed for more than a decade for a Facebook post, Amnesty International said today.
Probir Sikder, editor of the daily newspaper Bangla 71, was arrested in August 2015 and has been out on bail since. He is due in court in Dhaka on 26 June, when the charges against him are expected to be formalized.
“Any charges against Probir Sikder must be dropped immediately and unconditionally. It is a sad state of affairs when a respected journalist could face more than a decade in prison simply for posting on social media,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.
The Bangladeshi authorities’ treatment of a prominent 81-year-old journalist, who has been held in solitary confinement for several weeks and denied medical care for chronic and life threatening health conditions, is an act of cruelty, Amnesty International said today.
Shafik Rehman, editor of the monthly Mouchake Dhil magazine, was arrested on 16 April suspected of being involved in a plot to assassinate Sajib Wazed Joy, the son of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“The Bangladeshi authorities must end the prolonged solitary confinement of Shafik Rahman and ensure his well-being. It is absolutely shocking that an 81-year-old diabetic man with a history of heart problems is being denied the medical care he needs,” said Champa Patel, Director of Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office.
According to Shafik Rehman’s lawyer and family members, he has been kept in isolation since 27 April in Kashimpur Central Jail, a maximum security prison, where he is not allowed to interact with other prisoners. He has had minimal access to both his legal team and family members since he was first arrested.
The Bangladeshi authorities must intensify efforts to hold to account the killers of secular blogger Ananta Bijoy Das and to end the impunity that exists for a wave of killings of human rights defenders and others, Amnesty International said on the anniversary of Ananata Bijoy Das’ death.
On 12 May 2015, while on his way to work Bijoy Das was approached by masked men carrying machetes in Sylhet, Bangladesh. They struck him on the head and body and then reportedly fled into the crowds. Bijoy Das was taken to hospital where he was declared dead. The attack was claimed by a violent group purporting to act in the name of Islam, Ansar al-Islam (also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team), which claims to have links to al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.
The execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami today is a deplorable move by the Bangladeshi authorities which will not deliver justice to the victims of war crimes, Amnesty International said today.
Motiur Rahman Nizami, the current chief of Bangladeshi political party Jamaat-e-Islami, was hanged at Dhaka Central Jail today. He was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh in October 2014 after he was convicted of charges relating murder, torture, rape and the mass killing of intellectuals during Bangladesh’s War of Independence in 1971.
“We are dismayed that Bangladeshi authorities have executed Motiur Rahman Nizami. The victims of the horrific events of the 1971 Liberation War are entitled to justice, but taking another life is not the answer,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director of the South Asia Regional Office
The Bangladeshi authorities should halt the imminent execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami and impose a moratorium on the death penalty, Amnesty International said after the country’s Supreme Court rejected his final appeal today.
Motiur Rahman Nizami, the current chief of Bangladeshi political party Jamaat-e-Islami, was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh in October 2014. He was convicted of murder, rape and the mass killing of intellectuals during Bangladesh’s War of Independence in 1971.
“We are dismayed that the Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence against Motiur Rahman Nizami. The victims of the horrific events of the 1971 Liberation War deserve justice, but the death penalty is not the answer,” said Jameen Kaur, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for South Asia.
“Taking another life will just perpetuate the cycle of violence. We urge the Bangladeshi authorities to halt this execution immediately, and impose a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty with a view to its eventual repeal.”
"The brutal killing today of an editor of an LGBTI publication and his friend, days after a university professor was hacked to death, underscores the appalling lack of protection being afforded to a range of peaceful activists in the country,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.
“There have been four deplorable killings so far this month alone. It is shocking that no one has been held to account for these horrific attacks and that almost no protection has been given to threatened members of civil society. Bangladeshi authorities have a legal responsibility to protect and respect the right to life. They must urgently focus their energies on protecting those who express their opinions bravely and without violence, and bringing the killers to justice. The authorities must strongly condemn these horrific attacks, something they have failed to do so far.”
The vicious killing of another secular activist in Bangladesh is a grave reminder that the authorities are failing to protect people exercising their right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.
Four masked men attacked Nazimuddin Samad, 28, with a machete in Dhaka late last night before shooting him dead. No one has claimed responsibility, but the killing fits the pattern of other similar attacks on secular activists by radical Islamist groups over the past year.
“There can be no justification for the brutal killing of Nazimuddin Samad, who has apparently paid with his life for nothing but being brave enough to speak his mind. This is not just a senseless murder, it is a blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression,” said Champa Patel, South Asia Director from Amnesty International.
Nazimuddin Samad was a student activist who had organised campaigns for secularism on social media. He was named on a “hit list” of 84 bloggers published by a group of radical Islamists in 2013.
Charbak* who recently escaped Bangladesh after his name appeared on several kill lists, reflects on what the recent murder of Faisal Arefin Dipon and others means for the future of free thought in Bangladesh.
I have come to tell you this with so much helplessness, suffering and agony in my heart. The post-independence young generation of Bangladesh – my generation – who collectively dreamt of a secular homeland, has lost another one of our own. Just over a week ago, machete-wielding extremists tore Faisal Arefin Dipon’s body to pieces, tearing our dream as well.
This time it wasn’t a blogger who was hacked down, but a publisher of secular books. So it seems that any kind of activity that facilitates free expression (not just blogging) will not be tolerated by thesegroups.
The brutal attacks against two publishers of the slain blogger Avijit Joy and their colleagues in Bangladesh today is further chilling evidence of the horrific pattern of violence against people exercising their freedom of expression in the country.
“We are deeply shocked by today’s news of yet more attacks against independent voices in Bangladesh,” said Abbas Faiz, Bangladesh Researcher at Amnesty International.
“The situation in Bangladesh is becoming increasingly dangerous for those brave enough to speak their own minds. The latest heinous criminal attacks are a deliberate assault against freedom of expression in the country.
“Given the horrific pattern of violence, we have reason to believe many other lives are now at risk.
“We are calling on the Bangladesh authorities to urgently act to ensure the protection of others in the country against such horrific and targeted violence.
Two opposition politicians face imminent hanging for crimes committed during the 1971 Independence War after serious flaws occurred in their trial and appeal processes, Amnesty International said today.
In 2013 Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury were sentenced to death by the country’s International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) on charges of war crimes and genocide at trials that failed to meet international standards for fair trial.
Both men had their convictions and sentences upheld on appeal in June and July this year respectively, and in the government’s haste to see more war crimes convicts executed, both have now had their appeals process sped up. The UN has stated the ICT fails to meet international fair trial standards.
The two men will have their review petitions, which are effectively their last appeals, heard on 2 November. If their convictions are upheld there is no legal way to overturn their death sentences.
The Bangladeshi authorities must send a strong message that killings aimed at silencing dissenting voices are despicable and will not be tolerated, Amnesty International said in reaction to the news that blogger Niloy Neel was hacked to death at his home in the capital Dhaka today.
Known for his secularist views, he is the fourth blogger to meet such a brutal fate at the hands of machete-wielding groups this year.
“This spate of savage killings must end here. There is little doubt that these especially brutal killings are designed to sow fear and to have a chilling effect on free speech. This is unacceptable,” said David Griffiths, South Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.
“The price for holding opinions and expressing them freely must not be death. The Bangladeshi authorities now have an urgent duty to make clear that no more attacks like this will be tolerated.
“Thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigations must be carried out promptly to ensure that all those responsible are brought to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.”
The Bangladeshi authorities must deliver justice over the shocking murder of the secularist Bangladeshi blogger Bijoy Das – the third such killing this year – if they wish to avert a looming crisis for freedom of expression in the country, said Amnesty International.
This latest attack again demonstrates Bangladesh’s secular bloggers are being targeted in a vicious campaign which the authorities are unable or unwilling to prevent.
“Some of these killings have been claimed by extremists – but they have been facilitated by the official failure to prosecute anyone responsible,” says Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher. “The murder of Bijoy Das again shows that Bangladesh is not doing enough to protect critics of religious intolerance, or to prosecute their attackers.”
“The prevalent impunity for all these cases continues to send a message that such attacks are tolerated by the authorities. Ending impunity and ensuring protection for those at risk must be a priority for the Bangladeshi authorities.”