Humanists Shahriar Kabir and Muntassir Mamoons Must be Released! Bangladesh Government Impunity must End!
The International Humanist and Ethical Union denounces the Government of Bangladesh’s efforts to continue to detain well known journalist and respected Human Rights activist Shahriyar Kabir, and his colleague teacher-activist Prof. Muntassir Mamoons, in defiance of a High Court judgement which declared that their arrest and detention was illegal. Suffering from hypertension, the detainees have been denied basic medical facilities and have complained to the court that they were tortured and that they have not even been given proper drinking water.
“The government of Bangladesh must take steps to restore confidence in the minds of the international community that it is committed to the rule of law and Human Rights. Previous shameful episodes have included the banning of books by Humanist and feminist author Taslima Nasreen. Many intellectuals are being arrested, many dissidents are being silenced. The incidence of custodial deaths is increasing and now the government is planning to give the Army and Police immunity against prosecution for violating citizens rights The international community is aghast at this continued violation of the basic rights of Bangladeshi citizens. Shahriyar Kabir is a peace lover who has never advocated violence. He loves the people of Bangladesh and works for their freedoms. His own freedom of expression and liberty are now at stake; they need to be protected”, said Babu Gogineni, Executive Director, International Humanist and Ethical Union .
Shahriyar Kabir was first arrested by the Government of Bangladesh headed by Begum Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh National Party in November 2001, when the Government charged him with sedition and accused him of tarnishing the image of the government because he was investigating murderous attacks on the Hindu minority and was recording evidence given by survivors. He was later released on bail. He was arrested again December 2002. Shahriyar Kabir heads the Nirmul Committee which demands the trial and punishment of those accused of genocide during the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971, likely to implicate many fundamentalist Islamic partners of the present government.
Defying the High Court judgement of 4 January 2003 which declared that Shahriyar Kabir’s second arrest was illegal (under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which allows the police to detain people without an arrest warrant), the government has now extended his detention by 90 days using the much misused draconian Special Powers Act. Similar ploys are being used to deprive Prof. Muntassir Mamoons of his liberty.
Shahriyar Kabir visited the IHEU Headquarters in 2002 when he travelled to Europe to research at the International Institute for Social History. When Babu Gogineni asked if he felt safe going back to Bangladesh, he responded: “Yes, it has been suggested I should not return to Bangladesh and that I should bring my immediate family out of the country. But what about my family of millions of Bangladeshis who are in the country and suffering?”.
Shahriyar Kabir’s family of Human Rights activists and liberal thinkers world-wide, will need to step forward to expose the impunity and illegality of the Government of Bangladesh. IHEU will take up the matter of Shahriyar Kabir and Muntassir Mamoons through its International Representatives at the UN, UNESCO and the Council of Europe.
Please send letters of protest to (with a copy to IHEU via email)
Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia
Sher-e Bangla Nagar
Fax: + 880 2 811 3243