Alert: Afghanistan one year on: open season on the defence of human rights
Bangladesh
24.11.16
Urgent Interventions

Mahmudur Rahman finally freed after more than three years in arbitrary detention

Paris-Geneva-Hong-Kong,November 24, 2016 - After 1,322 days in arbitrary detention, journalist Mr.Mahmudur Rahman has been finally released on bail this afternoon. TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) and theAsian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) welcome his long-overdue release, and urgeauthorities to drop all pending charges against him.

Acting editorof the Daily Amar Desh, a national daily newspaper in Bangladesh, Mr.Mahmudur Rahman was detained since April 11, 2013, when the police raided andshut down the offices of Daily Amar Desh, and charged Mr. Rahman withsedition. Over the past three and half years, Mr. Rahman was charged in 74separate politically motivated cases. He was repeatedly granted bail by theCourts, but each time he was about to be released the police presented a newcriminal case against him in order to keep him in jail.[1] On November 3, 2016, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Courtfinally upheld Mr. Rahman’s release on bail in the last case to be filedagainst him, but the judiciary and police took three weeks to actually releasehim.

We welcome MahmudurRahman’s release, after more than three years in arbitrary detention for simplyexercising his rights to free expression. The authorities must stop this typeof harassment and repression of defenders and journalists in Bangladesh,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

Despite hisrelease on bail, Mr. Rahman is still facing prosecution under 74 differentcriminal cases. These cases are case widely regarded to be fabricated andpolitically motivated, in several instances accusing Mr. Rahman of involvementin crimes that took place while he was already under police custody. It is notyet known when he will be summoned to Court for trial in these cases.

The cases mountedagainst Mahmudur Rahman are a clear example of judicial harassment and must beclosed. Our organisations urge the authorities to drop all charges against him,” added AHRC Representative Md. Ashrafuzzaman Zaman.

Upon hisrelease Mr. Rahman was admitted to United Hospital in Dhaka, as his health hadseverely deteriorated while in detention. Mr. Rahman, now 64 years old, wassubjected to several types of ill-treament and denied medical care while injail. Doctors at United Hospital today diagnosed him with the followingconditions caused by his treatment during detention: Hypertension; Malnutrition;Severe weakness and urinary problems due to dehydration; Severe Irritable BowelSyndrome; Vertigo; Severe back pain causing insomnia and difficulties walking. Mr.Rahman is still in hospital for further medical examinations and treatment.

We strongly condemn the judicial harassment that led to the prolongedarbitrary detention of Mahmudur Rahman and the ill-treatment he suffered inthis framework. We call upon the authorities of Bangladesh toorder an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation intothe above-mentioned facts, and to stop criminalising human rightsdefenders with the clear aim to muzzle them”, concluded OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) wascreated in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). Theobjective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations ofrepression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union HumanRights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

The AsianHuman Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking andfundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promotehuman rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation isa Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award 2014.

[1] For more information see Observatory Urgent Appeal BGD 001/0516/OBS 037,published on May 4, 2016.

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