Release of Mr. Mehedi Hasan- BGD 001 / 0108 / OBS 012.1

04/02/2008
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by the NGO Hotline Human Rights - Bangladesh about the release of Mr. Mehedi Hasan, a Bangladeshi citizen and a labour rights investigator for the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labour rights monitoring organisation that carries out investigations of working conditions in factories worldwide.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Bangladesh.

New information:

According to the information received, on February 3, 2008, Mr. Mehedi Hasan was released, with no charge held against him. As he is quite sick and physically not able to move, he is currently resting at home.

The Observatory welcomes Mr. Mehedi Hasan’s release and wishes to thank all the persons, organisations, and institutions that intervened in his favour.

Background information:

On January 24, 2008, Mr. Mehedi Hasan was arrested in Dhaka by the Bangladesh Intelligence Service, after carrying out a monitoring mission in Bangladesh along with Mr. Bent Gehrt, WRC South East Asia Field Director and a Danish national. He was first brought to the National Security Intelligence office in Gulshan, before being transferred to Pallabi police station. On January 25, 2008, Mr. Hasan was remanded to police custody for four additional days, for purposes of “further interrogation”. No further information could be obtained before his release, on February 3, 2008.

On the same day, Mr. Gehrt was arrested and interrogated at the Dhaka airport, as he was about to board onto a plane to Thailand, where he lives. The interrogation lasted about an hour, during which Mr. Bent was asked to provide explanations on the activities he and Mr. Hasan had carried out in Bangladesh over the past weeks. The type of questions raised by the interrogators showed that the Bangladeshi authorities were aware of the actions undertaken by the two defenders in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Bangladeshi authorities urging them to :

i.take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Mehedi Hasan and Bent Gehrt;

ii.put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Bangladesh;

iii.comply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, Article 6 (“as well as article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

iv.guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Bangladesh.

Addresses:

Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, Chief Advisor of the Caretaker Government, Office of the Chief Advisor, Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fax : +880 2 8113243 / 3244 / 1015 / 1490, Email: Info@pmo.gov.bd
Ministry of Home Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat, Building 4, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: mediacell@homemin-bd.org
Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email: info@minlaw.gov.bd
Mr. Mohammad Ruhul Amin, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, Supreme Court Building, Ranna, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh, Fax +880 2 9565058
Ambassador Debapriya Bhattacharya, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh to the United Nations in Geneva, 65 rue de Lausanne, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 738 46 16, E-mail: mission.bangladesh@ties.itu.int
Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Brussels, 29-31 rue J. Jordaens, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 646 59 98; Email: bdootbrussels@freegates.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Bangladesh in your respective countries.

***
Geneva - Paris, February 4, 2008

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 (0) 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT : + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 (0) 22 809 49 29
Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org

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