Urgent Action: Professor Terminated for Facebook Post (Bangladesh: UA 149.20)

September 25, 2020

A.K.M. Wahiduzzaman, an assistant professor at Bangladesh’s National University, was arbitrarily dismissed from service on 2 September 2020 on grounds of posting on Facebook “offensive” and “indecent” remarks about Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina and her family. The professor has been in self-exile since May 2016 in fear of persecution after Bangladesh’s police filed a case against him under section 57 of the country’s draconian Information and Communication Technology Act because of the Facebook post. If convicted, he could face seven years in jail.

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TAKE ACTION:

  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  2. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 149.20. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Mr. Md. Abdul Hamid
President, People’s Republic of Bangladesh
President’s Office
Bangabhaban, Dhaka-1000
Fax: +88-02-9585502
Email: [email protected] [email protected]
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

SAMPLE LETTER

Your Excellency,

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.

Yours sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES