Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Abduction of husband of leading environmental activist

Very shocking indeed that Abu Bakar Siddique, the husband of the country's leading environmental campaigner, Rizwana Hasan has been abducted earlier today in broad daylight.

Whilst one should not jump to conclusions, it is difficult not to suspect that the motive behind the abduction is linked to Rizwana's brave work against corporate and business interests - most recently around land-grabbing. Her work at the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association has no doubt made her many enemies - and this abduction could well be about sending her a clear message to desist. Unfortunately, in Bangladesh corporate interests are very able, if they wish, to buy off state bodies - so the involvement of law enforcement agencies cannot be discounted.

Let us hope that however that the law enforcement agencies are not involved in this incident, and they can work sincerely and speedily to find Abu Baker.

Here is the human right's organization Odhikar's statement on the abduction
Odhikar Statement on:
Abduction of Abu Bakar Siddique,

Husband of BELA Executive Director, Rizwana Hasan

Syeda Rizwana Hasan is the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyer’s Association and the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012 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". She has battled against illegal encroachment, land grabbing, industrial pollution and other illegal acts affecting the environment. Needless to say, she and her family have experienced threats from various quarters affected by her activities.

On 16 April 2014, unidentified men abducted Abu Bakar Siddique, the husband of Syeda Rizwana Hasan and a businessman, from Fatulla in Narayanganj, while he was travelling to Dhaka from Narayanganj by car. The vehicle the men were in, hit his car near Bhuiyan Filling Station in Fatulla at around 2:45pm. When Siddique and the driver of his car, Ripon, alighted to assess the damage, the men sprayed something into Ripon’s eyes, blinding him, and took Siddique away.

In recent times, human rights defenders in Bangladesh; and their family members have come under monitoring, faced threats and intimidation by agents of the state and/or other influential entities. Where human rights and fundamental freedoms are already in a deplorable condition, Odhikar considers the abduction of Abu Bakar Siddique a crime that needs immediate and urgent intervention by the local and international human rights community. Odhikar urges the government to take all measures to ensure the safe recovery of Siddique and return him to his family.

The Odhikar Team

16 April 2014