Bangladesh: Nation witnessed impunity in punishing ‘Adhikar’ secy Adilur 

by  Uday Hasan


Bangladesh has termed the international protest against the imprisonment of "Adhikar" secretary Adilur Rahman Khan for the crime of tarnishing the country's image by publishing human rights reports with false and fabricated information.

In the judgment announced on September 14, Judge AM Zulfikar Hayat of Dhaka's cyber tribunal said in his observation that Adilur's organization has tarnished the country's image by spreading false information through the report. And experts say, through this verdict, a long-standing falsehood has been defeated

On May 5, 2013, "Adhikar" published a false report about the operation conducted by the law enforcement forces against the violence and riots that took place at the rally of the religious organization Hefazate Islam in Dhaka. Where it is said, "at least 61 members of Hefazate Islam were killed in the rally in the operation of the law enforcement forces." However, Adilur could not present any evidence to support this fabricated claim to government.

Analysts say that Adilur-led organization ‘Adhikar’ published the fake report mainly to embarrass the ruling government and tarnish the country on human rights issues. It has been more clearly proved in the prison sentence given by the court for publishing the report with false information.

What happened at Shapla  Chattar (Square) ?

Hefazete Islam organised a rally and ‘Dhaka siege’ program on May 5, 2013 at Shapla Chattar in Motijheel, declaring the leaders and activists of Ganajagran Manch, an organization formed to demand justice for war crimes in Bangladesh, to be atheists and apostates, demanding their punishment. The organization brought thousands of innocent students of Qaumi Madrasas from across the country to this gathering. 13 anti-constitutional and medieval points were announced from the rally. The government was threatened to fall also. The Hefazat's program was not limited to holding rally. Since the morning, along with blocking the entrances of Dhaka, security check posts were set on fire and vandalized many institutions and shops including GPO, Baitul Mukarram Market, Traffic Police Office, House Building, Public Administration Ministry's Transport Pool, Mukti Bhaban etc.

BNP-Jamaat-led alliance gave maximum support to their movement in the plan to bring down the government in an undemocratic process. The law and order forces showed maximum patience and tolerance in dealing with the harassment of Hefazat Islam which lasted throughout the day. It was requested to finish the meeting at the appointed time and go back home. But Hefajat remained steadfast in its decision to spend the night and continue riot in Shapla square, ignoring the repeated peaceful calls of the government and law enforcement agencies. The law and order forces started the operation in the night of May 5 to protect the lives and property of the people. Members of the law and order forces kept the road leading to Kamalapur station in front of Bangladesh Bank and the road next to Bangabhaban empty and positioned themselves in front of Dainik Bangla intersection area, Dilkusha, Fakirapool and Notre Dame College areas.
Sound grenades and tear gas were used to disperse the rally in the operation. Hefazat activists left the Shapla premises without any resistance. Despite the best efforts to avoid casualties, eleven people were killed in the operation, according to the police. Among which were pedestrians and members of law enforcement members. Most of whom were killed in the day-long conflict.

Anti-government propaganda begins: 

After the Shapla Chattar incident, the opposition started various false campaigns to undermine the image of law enforcement agencies and government in the international arena and to create communal unrest. Adilur Rahman and his NGO Adhikar entered the fray when the campaign fizzled out due to lack of evidence. He served as the Deputy Attorney General during the BNP-led four-party coalition government. Adilur Rahman's organization 'Adhikar' published a Fact Findings report on their website on 10 June 2013 titled 'Hefazete Islam Bangladesh Assembly and Human Rights Violations'. This report claims that 61 people were killed in the operation of the law enforcement forces in the Hefazat Islam rally. A list containing detailed information about those who have collected by ‘Adhikar’. In addition, this report also claims that about two and a half thousand people are missing. After the publication of the rights report, various negative reports were published in the national and foreign media using it as a reference, which greatly undermined the image of the state. Immediately after the publication of the report, the government sought to verify Adhikar's claim that 61 people had been killed. Under the Right to Information Act, the government wants the list of victims from Adhikar. But the right refused to provide that list and continued their purposeful disinformation.

Cases under common law:

The cyber tribunal accepted the allegations of spreading false and misleading information as a case on September 11, 2013.
It is said in the charge sheet of the case that the accused Adilur and Elan tried to disrupt the law and order situation by creating and circulating reports with fabricated, purposeful and false information about the death of 61 people by creating confusion and anger in the public mind. The image of the law and order forces, the government and the state is severely undermined at home and abroad.

It is further said, 'They create prejudice against law enforcement in the minds of devout Muslims which is an offense under Section 57 (1) and (2) of the Information Technology Act. Similarly, the accused deliberately tried to create tension among the devout Muslims to worsen the law and order situation and to discredit the government to other states. Investigations by the law enforcement agencies revealed that the Adhikar’s report contained exaggerated and false information by listing the names of fictitious persons including writing the same person's name multiple times, referring to living persons as dead persons, inserting the names of deceased persons in the list in other cases.

Who is Adilur Rahman Khan?

Adilur Rahman Khan, editor of human rights organization ‘Adhikar’. He is basically a political activist. During his student life he was involved in left-wing politics. In 1991, he participated in the national elections from Sanumganj district for a left-wing political party. Later, he joined the politics of BNP after entering the legal profession. After 2001, he also became the leader of the Central Committee of BNP. He was the deputy attorney general appointed by the BNP-Jamaat allaince government. He was also forced to resign from this post after the BNP-Jamaat government lost power in 2007. Since becoming the editor of this organization on human rights issues in Bangladesh, Adilur Rahman Khan has been using this organization to implement the agenda of the opposition party and engage in false propaganda against the government.

Adilur's punishment releases nation from taint

Analysts say Adilur's prison sentence has vanquished a long-standing lie. Adilur Rahman tried to put the burden of false stigma on the neck of the state, the initial step of removing that stigma was completed by the court verdict. It has been proved that the report of 61 deaths published in the report of 2.5 thousand is a farstanding talk. Adhikar’s claiming custody is completely false and purposefully fabricated. He could not give the list of 61 victims in the court.

He would have been freed from this penalty if he had given proper evidence. For this they got 10 years’ time. Even after ten years, his lawyers could not provide evidence in court. During this case and after the verdict of the case, various international organizations and embassies of Western countries in Bangladesh issued statements demanding the cancellation of the case and the release of Adilur Rahman and Nasir Uddin Elan.

However, the country's analysts think that in this case, the court did not punish a human rights activist, but a liar, who engaged in a despicable attempt to destroy the country's communal harmony recently by spreading false information, acted as a participant to tarnish the country's image in the international arena. Prominent people of the country have given counter statements expressing their emotion against the statement of various organizations against Adilur's sentence. They said, "If any party is aggrieved by the verdict, there is an opportunity to go to the high court. Despite this, a group started a campaign against the court's verdict. Just as we consider it essential to uphold the right to expression, we also consider it necessary to ensure that the anti-humanist radical sectarian groups and their imperialist allies do not get the opportunity to pursue their despicable interests under the pretext of the right to expression.

The statement noted that it is surprising that some local and foreign dignitaries and institutions protested in the tone of the controversial, extremist organization Hefazat Islam after the announcement of this verdict.

Judiciary protest:

The Bangladesh Judicial Service Association (BJSA) has protested the resolution passed by the European Parliament on Adilur's trial. The organization thinks that the proposal in the European Parliament is an attempt to interfere with the judicial system of the country. They added that it is important to note that the Tribunal conducted the case impartially and diligently, relying only on factual evidence and strictly following the applicable laws.

BJSA President AHM Habibur Rahman Bhuiya and Secretary General Mojibur Rahman in a statement said, the proposal adopted by the European Parliament on September 14 is an attempt to interfere with the judicial system of an independent sovereign country, which is undesirable.
They said that since November 1, 2007, it is important to emphasize that the judicial department of Bangladesh is working with complete independence after being separated from the executive department. There is no correlation between judicial proceedings and executive functions. We view this resolution as a clear interference in our judicial work and unequivocally condemn it.

We find it contradictory because, on the one hand, the judiciary is criticized for tying up cases, while on the other hand, it is condemned for settling an old case through due process of law.
The statement also said, "We reject the sudden and outpouring of condemnation of the Bangladesh judiciary by the European Parliament."