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Ambassador Mohammad Ziauddin
Embassy of Bangladesh
3510 International Drive NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 244 0183
Fax: 202 244 2771 | 7830
Contact form: https://bit.ly/2FzcITR
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
I am concerned by the decision to dismiss A.K.M. Wahiduzzaman, an assistant professor of Geography at the National University, for a Facebook post about Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her family. In 2013, he was arrested and suspended from the university because of the Facebook post. On 3 March 2014, the police filed another defamation case against him under section 57 the country’s draconian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act. Now, seven years later, the professor was terminated from service on 2 September 2020. Not only has this decision denied A.K.M. Wahiduzzaman his right to freedom of expression, but it is in violation of the university’s own service rules. As you may be aware, university authorities cannot terminate an employee on an issue that is pending trial at the court, and without allowing them the opportunity to defend themselves. Such an action by a state institution demonstrates lack of transparency and accountability and would also deny A.K.M. Wahiduzzaman from his right to a fair trial.
I find it worrying that this is not an isolated incident. Instead, it appears to be indicative of a dangerous pattern of repression of academics in Bangladesh. As you may be aware, Morshed Hasan Khan – another professor – was recently dismissed from the University of Dhaka for publishing his opinion in a newspaper, while two other public university teachers are being accused under the draconian Digital Security Act (DSA) for sharing Facebook posts that were deemed critical of Awami League politicians.
I call on you to immediately reverse A.K.M. Wahiduzzaman’s termination and reinstate him to his position; drop all charges against him and all those prosecuted solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression; repeal the Digital Security Act unless it can be promptly amended in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Bangladesh is a state party; and respect, protect, and fulfil the right to freedom of expression and academic freedom.