Back on May 5, 2013, when tens of thousands of radical supporters laid a siege, unleashed an unprecedented carnage on the streets in the capital, and took regular life to a halt, the entire city turned anxiously at the government, led by Sheikh Hasina, for a return to normalcy. On that day, an alert was also issued around the upscale neighborhoods that accommodate most of the western embassies by deploying additional security forces to keep those foreign officials safe. Amid such mayhem by those radicals, backed by the BNP-Jamaat combine, a special drive was carried out to flush out those fanatics. With the drive becoming a success as they vacated the place shortly, the spree of violence stopped for good.
But instead of complementing the efforts came a shocking attempt to glorify those radicals, who even raised the demand for not allowing girls in the workplace. Using the façade of human rights, controversial organization Odhikar made a report, led by Adilur Rahman Shuvro, purportedly defending those violent protesters by blowing the causality report out of proportion and blaming law enforcers. The one-sided track record of Odhikar did not end here, rather the list is long. Let’s revisit those records one by one.
Faulty report on Hefazat mayhem riddled with disinformation
Odhikar’s fact-finding report, “Assembly of Hefazat-e Islam Bangladesh and Human Rights Violation”, is a composition of half-truths, biased and one-sided presentation of what happened on May 5 and in the early hours of May 6 in the capital, according to an analysis by a leading daily.
Replete with imaginary death figures, the report drew flak with all the leading national outlets exposing those while one daily termed it as “filled with imaginary figures” while some cited as “missing activists” were found giving quotes to media.
Even the report has altered the geography as independent investigations found no village called Nimai Kachari in Bagmara where Odhikar claimed to have found “dead people”.
But there is no scope to excuse this devilish attempt as a gaffe in haste rather it was crafted with the following purposes
– Mislead the world about the violent faces of his client parties—the BNP Jamaat alliance
– Help rioters evade justice
– Run a promotional campaign to cover up the real face of BNP Jamaat
– Blowing death figures out of proportion to mount pressure on the very law enforcement agencies that saved the city from a further spate of violence
– Encourage the rioters to create violence in future
Let’s take a look at the profile of Adilur Rahman.
A hard-core BNP Jamaat activist
Unlike any seasoned rights activist, Adilur in his student life chose to join the student front of the same party floated by the country’s first military dictator that acts as a springboard for anti-liberation fundamentalists namely Jamaat. Later Adilur later served the role as Deputy Attorney General during the last regime ruled by BNP and Jamaat. That regime had been marred by an unabated scale of the attack on minorities. With the rise of extremists under the direct patronage of Tarique Rahman, son of then Prime Minister Begum Zia, a grisly grenade attack was launched back in 2004 to wipe out Sheikh Hasina while several eminent secular writers and AL leaders were murdered back then. But instead of standing in favour of the oppressed, Adilur conveniently kept a mum over those horrendous crimes, perpetrated under state patronage, even after his retirement from the rank of attorney general.
Only after Awami League came to power back in 2009, his zeal for serving humanity seemed to grow out. Then he chose to become the secretary of Odhikar and started a one-sided portrayal in favour of BNP Jamaat activists that met a wave of criticism not only from the government but also from independent and impartial rights activists who voiced their concerns involving those lies. Interestingly, Odhikar was founded in 1994 when the BNP Jamaat regime was in power.
Why Odhikar license has been scraped
Days back the NGO Affairs announced the cancellation of the license of Odhikar, which had a long track record for peddling several biased reports to shield pro-BNP Jamaat radical activists. There is not a single country on earth where NGOs are allowed to operate without complying with necessary rules. Following is a list of violations by Odhikar:
– Failed to submit the increased registration fee and VAT
– Didn’t submit necessary documents
– Didn’t reply/explain the objections raised on eight audit reports of the projects funded by foreign donors
– Didn’t provide a satisfactory response regarding discrepancies in three of their projects
– Didn’t provide approval letters for budget reforms with more than a 10% increase
– Didn’t submit NOC from NGO Affairs regarding foreign trips
The US acting as a lobbyist for Odhikar
Following the cancellation, the US embassy in Dhaka posted a tweet claiming it as an assault on civil society. But in reality, there are hundreds of NGOs currently operating and complying with the same procedures that Odhikar dared to violate. On the other hand, the same embassy kept mum on previous instances when media outlets exposed a pack of lies spread by Odhikar to side with the Jamaat activists. Moreover, this tweet exposes the double standard of the country and evokes memories of the country’s blatant support for the bloodthirsty Pakistan army during the nine-month liberation war back in 1971. Ironically, on August 15, 1975, when Bangabandhu was gunned down with most of his family members, it is the same US that welcomed successive military autocrats who ruled this country and tore the secular polity, one of the bedrocks of the country’s foundation.