Bangladesh: Acts of harassment against Mr. Pinaki Bhattacharya’s relatives

27/10/2020
Urgent Appeal

BGD 001 / 1020 / OBS 117
Harassment /
Intimidation
Bangladesh
October 27, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bangladesh.

Description of the situation:
 
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the harassment against relatives of Mr. Pinaki Bhattacharya, a blogger and human rights defender in exile who regularly denounces on social media human rights violations perpetrated by Bangladeshi authorities, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances[1].

According to the information received, on October 22, 2020, a police officer from the Detective Branch of the Bangladesh police and an officer from the local police station in Bogura, Bogura District, visited the residence of Mr. Pinaki Bhattacharya’s parents in the city of Bogura and questioned his mother and his uncle. The two police officers inquired about the activities carried out by Mr. Bhattacharya in his country of exile and his source of income and assets in Bangladesh. The police also took the contact details of Mr. Bhattacharya’s relatives.

On the same day, members of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police from the Mirpur Model police station visited the residence of Mr. Bhattacharya’s spouse in Dhaka to question her. As Mr. Bhattacharya’s wife was not at home, one police officer called her on her mobile phone in order to question her about her workplace and the means she uses to communicate with Mr. Bhattacharya. She was asked to provide information about Mr. Bhattacharya, in particular about his assets in Bangladesh. However, the call dropped due to poor connectivity and the questioning was interrupted.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about these acts of harassment against Mr. Bhattacharya’s relatives and recalls that the harassment of families of human rights defenders is recurrent in Bangladesh and seems to be merely aimed at sanctioning the human rights activities carried out by Bangladeshi human rights defenders, both in Bangladesh and abroad.

The Observatory urges the authorities to halt the climate of intimidation against the relatives of human rights defenders and to put an end to all acts of harassment against them and all Bangladeshi human rights defenders.

Actions requested:  
 
Please write to the authorities in Bangladesh, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Pinaki Bhattacharya’s relatives, as well as of all Bangladeshi human rights defenders and their family members;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against Mr. Pinaki Bhattacharya’s relatives, as well as of all Bangladeshi human rights defenders and their family members, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iii. Conform in all circumstances to the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2.;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by Bangladesh.
 
Addresses:

• Ms. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Email: pm@pmo.gov.bd
• Professor Dr.Gowher Rizvi, Adviser to the Prime Minister (International Affairs), Bangladesh. Email: advinternational@pmo.gov.bd
• Mr. Asaduzzaman Khan, State Minister for Home Affairs of Bangladesh. Email: stateminister@mha.gov.bd
• Mr. Anisul Huq, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs of Bangladesh, Email: minoflaw@law.com
• Md. Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh. Email: fm@mofa.gov.bd
• Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, E-mail: chief@bdcom.com or supremec@bdcom.com
• Mr. Amin Uddin, Attorney General for Bangladesh, Email: aminuddin1971@gmail.com
• H.E. Mr. Abdul Hannan, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail: mission.bangladesh@ties.itu.int
• Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Brussels, Belgium, Email: bdootbrussels@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Bangladesh in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Bangladesh.
 
***
Geneva-Paris, October 27, 2020
 
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
 
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39
• Tel FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18


[1] For more information, see Joint Statement, ‘Bangladesh: End enforced disappearances’, published on August 28, 2020.

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