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Global recognition for Bangladeshi human rights defender

Global recognition for persecuted Bangladeshi human rights defender

Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, a renowned human rights defender, who has been relentlessly persecuted by the incumbent regime in Bangladesh, has been recognized for his courage by the global human rights community.

Adilur has been awarded the 2014 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, which he will share with Mothers of Khavaran from Iran. The award will be presented in a public function held in Gwangju, South Korea, on 18 May 2014.

And, in another announcement released yesterday, Adilur has been selected as one of the three recipients, alongside Cao Shunli and Alejandra Ancheita, for the 2014 Martin Ennals Human Rights Award, which will be presented in a formal ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland, on 7 October 2014.

This recognition, in relation to two prestigious awards, brings further limelight to Adilur's work, to his uncompromising stand against forces of impunity in Bangladesh.

A former Deputy Attorney General of Bangladesh, Adilur has been active in the promotion of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, and in highlighting the extrajudicial killings and disappearances that vex Bangladesh. His association with Odhikar, a reputed national human rights organisation, as its Secretary, has placed Adilur on a persecution list prepared by the Bangladesh government.

Last year, for 62 days, from 10 August to 11 October, Adilur was detained by the government without warrant. The ostensible reason for persecution of Adilur and Odhikar is the publishing of a report that documents 61 extrajudicial executions undertaken by security forces during demonstrations against the incumbent regime. Odhikar has continued to face threat of forced closure. Its staff has been hounded and intimidated with threats of fabricated criminal charges. Yet, Adilur has continued his work, risking life and freedom.

The Gwangju Prize for Human Rights promotes the spirit of the May 18 Democratic Uprising, wherein the people of Gwangju, South Korea, resisted brutal military forces to help establish democracy and human rights in the country in 1980. The prize is awarded annually to an individual or organization that has struggled for or contributed to the improvement and advancement of human rights, democracy, and peace in their community and country. Former laureates include some of the most prominent persons in Asia who represents the spirit of freedom, human rights, dignity and democracy, like Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão (East Timor), Mr. W. J. Basil Fernando (Sri Lanka), Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma), Mrs. Angkhana Neelaphaijit (Thailand), Mr. Munir Malik (Pakistan), Ms. Irom Sharmila Chanu (India), and Mr. Sushil Pyakurel (Nepal).

The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is a unique collaboration of ten of the world's leading human rights organizations to support and protect human rights defenders worldwide, namely: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line Defenders, International Commission of Jurists, EWDE Germany, International Service for Human Rights, and HURIDOCS.

The awards are a warning to dictatorial regimes seeking to smother the spirit of freedom, dignity, and human rights, and should serve as an inspiration to all activists, defenders, and citizens, doing their part to lift humanity to its true potential.

The Asian Human Rights Commission, along with all of its partner organisations in Asia and across the globe, congratulates Adilur and the Mothers of Khavaran for their effort, and also salutes the work of Cao Shunli and Alejandra Ancheita.
Ends

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