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Odhikar calls for ‘restoring’ voting rights
Monday, 12 December 2016

Local human rights watchdog Odhikar has called upon the people of Bangladesh to restore their voting rights.

Odhikar also called on human rights defenders as well as the families of victims to stand against rights violation in one voice.

The day is observed every year on 10 December worldwide after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone\'s rights!

“The day is being observed when human rights violations have escalated in different countries of the world and the situation of human rights in Bangladesh has worsened,” read an Odhikar release.

The rights body alleged that the Awami League-led alliance resumed power “unilaterally through controversial and farcical parliamentary elections” on 5 January 2014 without a large majority of the people’s vote.

“As a result,” it went on saying, “the present government has become very repressive due to absence of an accountable governance system, where democratic and fundamental human rights of the citizens and the rule of law have become victims of such repression.”

Odhikar alleged that incidents of enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killing and torture by security forces continue unabated. “Furthermore, instances of violence against women and attacks on citizens belonging to religious and ethnic minority communities continue.”

The human rights watchdog also accused the government of “ordering attacks and arrests and taking away the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association; without any inclination to resolve the extended political crisis.”

Furthermore, it added, the government is suppressing people by imposing repressive laws and filing sedition cases against them.

Odhikar was very critical of ruling party’s student and youth bodies for their engagement in criminal activities.

“Due to political patronisation and shelter such cases are not investigated effectively by the police and the perpetrators get away with impunity. As a result of this reluctance, the tendency to commit more crimes has increased,” it added.

It said instances of putting pressure on the media, intimidation, filing cases and attacks on journalists continue.

“As a result, the rights to freedom of speech and expression and of the media are also being violated.”

Odhikar alleged people are largely dependent on social media for sharing information, as the electronic media are controlled by the government.

“But the government is monitoring all social networking media and mobile messaging and internet applications on the pretext of ‘security’ in the country.”

The rights body said the publication of the daily Amar Desh, operations of Diganta TV, Islamic TV and Channel 1 are still barred.

“Odhikar believes that a democratic state needs to be constituted based on equality, human dignity and social justice which were the main perceptions of the liberation war of Bangladesh; and there is no alternative way other than people’s mobilisation and fight against injustice,” read the Odhikar release.