Urgent Appeal: Act for BELA’s Syeda Rizwana Hasan’s husband, by The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in
Bangladesh.

urgent appeal

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed with great concern about the abduction of Mr. Abu
Bakar Siddique, the husband of Ms. Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Executive Director of the
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyer’s Association (BELA).

According to the information received, on April 16, 2014, unidentified men abducted
Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique, a businessman, from Fatulla in Narayanganj, while he was
travelling to Dhaka from Narayanganj by car. The vehicle with the unidentified men
hit Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique's car near Bhuiyan Filling Station in Fatulla at around
2:45pm. When Mr. Siddique and the driver of his car, Ripon, exited the car to assess
the damage, the unidentified men sprayed something into Ripon’s eyes, blinding him,
and took Mr. Siddique away.

The Observatory strongly condemns Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique’s abduction, and fears that
it merely aims at sanctioning the human rights activities of his wife, Ms. Syeda
Rizwana Hasan.

In the past, Ms. Syeda Rizwana Hasan and her relatives have been subjected to
threats because of her human rights activities against illegal encroachment, land
grabbing, industrial pollution and other illegal acts affecting the environment. In
2012, she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for her "uncompromising courage and
impassioned leadership in a campaign of judicial activism in Bangladesh that affirms
the people’s right to a good environment as nothing less than their right to dignity
and life".

The Observatory fears for Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique’s physical and psychological
integrity, and calls upon the authorities of Bangladesh to take prompt action in
order to disclose his whereabouts and to guarantee in all circumstances his physical
and psychological integrity.

More generally, the Observatory is greatly concerned by acts of reprisals against
relatives of human rights defenders in Bangladesh, as those acts seem to merely aim
at silencing their human rights activities, and calls upon the authorities of
Bangladesh to ensure in all circumstances that defenders are able to carry out their
legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.

Action requested:

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

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr.
Abu Bakar Siddique, Ms. Syeda Rizwana Hasan and her relatives, as well as of all
human rights defenders in Bangladesh;

ii. Take prompt action in order to disclose the whereabouts of Mr. Abu Bakar Siddique;

iii. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the
above-mentioned facts, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify
all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial civil tribunal
and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iv. Put an end to any kind of harassment against all human rights defenders in
Bangladesh and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their
legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,
adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998,
especially:
-       its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and
in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and
realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and
international levels”, as well as
-       its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary
measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone,
individually and 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 his or her
rights”;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in
accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments
ratified by Bangladesh.

Addresses:

·       Ms. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, Gona
Bhaban, Old Sangsad Bhaban, Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Fax: +880 2 8113243, Email:
pm@pmo.gov.bd<mailto:pm@pmo.gov.bd>
·       Professor Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Adviser to the Prime Minister (International
Affairs), Old Sangsad Bhaban, Tejgaon, Dhaka 1215, Bangladesh. Fax: +880 2 9111312.
Email: advinternational@pmo.gov.bd<mailto:advinternational@pmo.gov.bd>
·       Mr. Asaduzzaman Khan, State Minister for Home Affairs, Ministry of Home
Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat Building 8, 1st and 3rd florr, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Fax: +880 2 9515541. Email:
stateminister@mha.gov.bd<mailto:stateminister@mha.gov.bd>
·       Mr. Anisul Huq, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs,
Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka,
Bangladesh. Fax: +880 2 7168557. Email: minoflaw@law.com<mailto:minoflaw@law.com>
·       Md. Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Segun Bagicha, Dhaka
1000, Bangladesh. Fax: +880 2 9562188. Email: fm@mofa.gov.bd<mailto:fm@mofa.gov.bd>
·       Mr. Mahbubey Alam, Attorney General for Bangladesh, Attorney General's
Office, Supreme Court Premises, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Email:
adv_mahbubey@yahoo.com<mailto:adv_mahbubey@yahoo.com>
·       H.E. Mr. Abdul Hannan, Ambassador, 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<mailto: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@skynet.be<mailto: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, April 17, 2014

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

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

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
·       E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org<mailto:Appeals@fidh-omct.org>
·       Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
·       Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
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