Harassment by Bangladesh Authorities against Odhikar Continues
A key human rights NGO, Odhikar, was subject to accusations of money laundering by the authorities of Bangladesh. The NGO has been under attack by the government especially since 2013.
In May, the authorities of Bangladesh questioned the Secretary of Odhikar, Adilur Rahman Khan. The questioning concentrated on the remittances received by Odhikar and the NGO was accused of money laundering. Odhikar however proved the sums being legit funding by the EU for Odhikar to implement a 3-year project related on the Convention against Torture.
The Asian Human Rights Commission stated that the government of Bangladesh should stop the reprisals against Odhikar. In addition, Frontline Defenders stated that the government of Bangladesh should ensure an enabling environment for human rights organizations.
On June 20th the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bangladesh announced that the allegations have not been proved and therefore that case is resolved. International human rights organizations see these investigations as a method of harassment towards Odhikar.
The human rights record of Bangladesh has worsened during last years, especially regarding democracy and freedom of expression. Since 2009, Odhikar have documented 200 enforced disappearances and 1200 extrajudicial killings.
In addition, since 2013 militant Islamists have committed over 40 murders, targeting especially secular bloggers, LGBTI rights activists, academics and members of the Hindu minority. However, an attack committed in June can be seen as targeted towards authorities, as the movement killed the wife of the police official in Chittagong, the second largest city of Bangladesh.
Before the attack targeting police official’s family, authorities’ investigations have been inefficient. In contrast, authorities have warned that secular and LGBTI-bloggers may hurt religious Bangladeshis feelings. However, after the latest attack, the police force started a massive operation, in which, according to New Age, over 10 000 people had been arrested in only four days.