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Adilur, Elan might not be as innocent as we believe

Published : Saturday, 23 September, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 354
Prof Dr Mohammad Badruzzaman Bhuiyan

Adilur, Elan might not be as innocent as we believe

Adilur, Elan might not be as innocent as we believe

Adilur Rahman Shuvro, secretary of the Human Rights Organisation, and Nasiruddin Elan, director of Odhikar, were both given two years in prison on September 14, 2023, for their roles in a made-up death list. For the first time, human rights campaigners in Bangladesh were going to jail. The United States of America (USA), Germany, France, a number of UN agencies, and 72 international organisations all denounced the sentence and urged the pair's immediate release after the verdict.

Additionally, the pair was supported by well-known Bangladeshi members of the civil society. The verdict has undoubtedly become a point of pressure for the existing regime ahead of the election as it is receiving criticism both at home and abroad for this matter. The trial allegedly picked up following RAB's punishment, according to the rights organisations, who assert that the verdict is an attempt to silence Odhikar because it was crucial in disclosing information on RAB's violation of human rights. The judiciary was forced to provide a ruling to dispel any doubts about the "much talked" hefazat'sShaplaChottor event after analysing the facts and following the legal process, which suggests that Odhikar is not guilt-free.

Obituary List of Odhikar:On May 5, 2013, Hejazat-e-Islam (HeI) coordinated an operation to seize the ShaplaChottor. An operation to stop the seizure was carried out by law enforcement officials at night. HeI claimed that the police killed 2500 of its leaders and activists during the operation just after it took place.

In order to exert pressure on the government, the claim was made up. Later, a disinformation campaign using unrelated photographs and videos was launched in social media and traditional media to further support the claim.

Following the incident and allegations of May 5th, Odhikar, a human rights NGO established by Adilur and Elan, began to independently chronicle the occurrence. Adilur served as the BNP's deputy attorney general from 2001 to 2006.

However, on June 10th, 2013, Odhikar released a report titled "Assembly of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh and Human Rights Violation." In this report, Odhikar asserted the incident resulted in the deaths of 61 persons. The story on Odhikar's website quickly gained attention from numerous foreign media outlets, including CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera.

The Case of ICT: On July 10, the government requested the list of deceased individuals pursuant to the Rights to Information Act, as is customary, but Odhikar refused to provide. On August 10, 2013, Inspector Ashraful Islam of the Detective Branch filed a General Diary (GD) regarding the situation after another month had passed. Police raided Odhikar's office based on that GD and seized three laptops and two computers used in the report's preparation. Adilur was also detained by police during the operation. Police discovered the list after conducting additional forensic examination of the seized machines. The list was further examined and various abnormalities were found. Initially, only four of the list's individuals were still alive, while seven additional names died in a different accident unrelated to the incident on May 5th. Following that, the list contained 11 names that were either made up or fictitious, and five names were repeated twice. Seven people also had inaccurate information, in total. Not to mention, there were 27 people whose mortality had not yet been confirmed.

These discrepancies demonstrated that Odhikar's list was falsified and intentionally distributed. Odhikar refused to acknowledge the issues or modify its position in relation to the report even after the probe. The investigative officer filed his report to the Dhaka CMM court in September, and because the report was made public on Odhikar's website, the GD later developed into a lawsuit under the ICT statute in the Cyber Tribunal court.

Despite increasing evidence against them, Adilur was given bail two months after the lawsuit and Elan managed advance bail. Following Adilur's application, the High Court and Supreme Court also put the litigation on hold for eight and a half years.
However, the trial finally started on October 5th, 2021-two months before the RAB sanctions-after a protracted delay. The prosecution presented 22 witnesses for testimony over the course of two years of hearings. Finally, on September 14th, the court announced its decision. Given that the trial began two months before the sanctions, which were undisclosed to anyone, it would appear that the rights groups' assertion that the trial process accelerated as a result of Odhikar's involvement with RAB sanctions may not be accurate. As a result, it appears that Odhikar, Adilur, and Elan may not be as innocent as we think. The brave work of human rights advocates is praised everywhere. However, they need to exercise more caution and be willing to acknowledge their shortcomings.

Finally, given that it is uncertain whether 61 people perished or not, it is important to acknowledge the sensitive nature of the situation before assuming Adilur and Elan are innocent purely because of their support for human rights. So, in the name of human rights, Adilur Rahman and Ilan are essentially engaged in anti-national activities. On that day, they reported as they desired to harm the nation's reputation. Unquestionably anti-national are those who are supporting them and believe they are innocent. Additionally, the international community's advocacy on behalf of the individuals found guilty of human rights crimes based on false information is unquestionably an intrusion into the internal affairs of a sovereign nation  like Bangladesh which is totally illegal.

The writer is Treasurer, University of Barishal

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