39 international organizations are calling on the Bangladesh government to release human rights defenders Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan, associated with the Odhikar group, who are facing imprisonment and fines over accusations of falsifying a 2013 report on extrajudicial killings. The groups criticize the government’s sustained harassment of the duo and other human rights activists, highlighting years of judicial harassment exacerbated by associations with US sanctions against the Rapid Action Battalion. 

Thirty-nine organizations are urging Bangladesh to release human rights defenders Adilur Rahman Khan and ASM Nasiruddin Elan. The duo, linked to the Odhikar group, face prison and fines, accused of falsifying a 2013 report on extrajudicial killings. The organizations criticize the government’s continuous harassment of Khan and Elan. They demand an end to the retaliation against them and other human rights activists.

 

Khan and Elan have faced years of judicial harassment since the publication of their 2013 report. The government escalated their case, associating them with US sanctions against the Rapid Action Battalion. The trial saw due process violations including inadequate defense preparation time. The organizations stand with the defenders, emphasizing their sentencing is a move to silence them and tarnish Odhikar’s reputation.

 

The Bangladesh government has also hindered Odhikar’s operations, blocking fund access and stalling its registration renewal since 2014. Post US sanctions, the government increased scrutiny of the group, demanding proof for their findings. The NGO Affairs Bureau rejected Odhikar’s renewal application in 2022, accusing it of tarnishing the nation’s image globally. The organizations condemn the government’s attempts to undermine human rights groups and discredit international reports citing Odhikar’s work.

 

The collective of organizations insists that human rights defenders should work without fear of intimidation and reprisals. They urge the Bangladesh government to focus on holding violators of human rights accountable instead of punishing the whistleblowers. The organizations express solidarity with Khan and Elan, urging for their immediate release and the reversal of their convictions, enabling them to continue their work fearlessly.

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