Posts Tagged ‘Member of Parliament’

Why does MP Tulip Siddiq not want to speak out on Bangladesh?

December 5, 2017

Michael Polak, a human rights lawyer in the UK , wrote in the Guardian of 4 December 2017 “Why will Tulip Siddiq not speak out on Bangladesh’s ‘disappeared’ innocents?”. Behind this title is a serious matter. Ahmad bin Quasem is among the hundreds abducted by state forces in Bangladesh, the country of which this British MP’s  aunt happens to be the prime minister. The author points out that the excuse that the MP has “no sway over Bangladeshi politics” is far from convincing as:.. “And yet earlier this week the Bangladeshi cabinet adopted a resolution “greeting” the Hampstead and Kilburn MP for winning an award in Westminster. Siddiq accompanied the Bangladeshi prime minister during bilateral talks between Russia and Bangladesh in January 2013. Her paternal uncle is Tarique Ahmed Siddique, security adviser to the prime minister. Her mother and brother are both on the ruling party’s council and it is said that her brother is being groomed to be a future leader of Bangladesh. It is clear that Tulip Siddiq has a close relationship with various government figures in Bangladesh, including the prime minister.

Why this MP feels so reluctant to use her influence and to speak out on this and other cases is a mystery. The details of the case of Mir Ahmad bin Quasem, or Arman as he is known to friends and family, a British-trained Bangladeshi lawyer who was abducted in August 2016 by state security forces, follows below.
tulip siddiq
Tulip Siddiq. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty

Last year the family of one such victim approached me to press their case. Mir Ahmad bin Quasem, or Arman as he is known to friends and family, is a British-trained Bangladeshi lawyer who was abducted in August 2016 by state security forces. They knocked on his door and, in front of his wife and young children, dragged him away. This abduction followed the exact modus operandi of other abductions by the security forces in Bangladesh. Since this incident there has been no confirmation of his whereabouts, but we believe that he is still alive.

Mir Ahmad was on the defence team for his father, Quasem Ali, who was prosecuted by Bangladesh’s self-styled “international crimes tribunal”, set up by the ruling party in Bangladesh to try crimes committed during the country’s war of liberation against Pakistan.

The tribunal has been widely criticised internationally, including by groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the United Nations high commissioner for human rights and eminent British lawyers. Along these lines, Mir Ahmad decided to join his father’s defence team but was abducted a month before his father’s execution, while the appeal procedure was still under way.

Mir Ahmad has not been charged with any offence and his abduction and continued detention by the Bangladeshi government is contrary to the Bangladeshi constitution and the country’s obligations under international law. Forced disappearances are common in Bangladesh under the current government: more than 320 people have been disappeared since 2009.

Mir Ahmad is one of three sons of former politicians who were abducted at around the same time, one of whom has been released. In a secret recordingobtained by Swedish radio, it is claimed by a high-ranking government security officer that the fate of those seized is decided by those “high up”. Astonishingly, as reported in these pages, Sheikh Hasina recently claimed that such forced disappearances also occur in Britain and the US, saying “275,000 British citizens disappeared” in the UK each year.

Last week Channel 4 News raised the issue and put the matter to Siddiq. The interaction now has become a matter of public record. Siddiq complained that Mir Ahmad was not her constituent, that she had no sway over Bangladeshi politics and that in any case she was a British MP focusing on Britain…..Even if we are to take Siddiq at her word that she has no sway over Bangladeshi politics, what is preventing her from at least speaking out? My client may not be Siddiq’s constituent, but nor is he the constituent of Shabana Mahmood MP, who raised an official parliamentary question on the matter earlier this year.

Before and since the Channel 4 News report was aired, the family of Mir Ahmad bin Quasem have been visited by state security forces who have reportedly warned them that “if there is any such news, come next time we will not be good like this time and you will not get to see our face like today”.

Since it has come to this, I earnestly hope that Siddiq can speak out to try to help ensure that Mir Ahmad’s mother, sister, wife and two young daughters are not intimidated by the Bangladeshi security services or face enforced disappearance themselves. This is an urgent matter and I ask Tulip Siddiq, as I have done many times before, to speak to me so it can be resolved.


Alkarama human rights award 2015 for Omani MP Talib Al Ma’amari

December 3, 2015

On 8 December 2015 at 18:00, Alkarama will present its 2015 Alkarama Award for Human Rights Defenders in the Arab World to Talib Al Ma’amari a Member of the Omani Parliament who stands up for human rights.  The event will be held at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva (Switzerland). “Talib Al Mamari is a prisoner of conscience and a courageous human rights defender. By his unwavering non-violent fight against harmful environmental policies in Oman, he has become a model in the region as a dedicated militant who is genuinely close to the citizens’ concerns. Alkarama is proud to honour him,” says Mourad Dhina, Executive Director at Alkarama. The ceremony will be live-streamed on:

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Uganda anti-gay bill coming up again: MEA Laureate 2011 Kasha speaks out and faces persecution

February 8, 2013

This week or next week is it most likely that the Ugandan parliament will again take up the so-called Kill the Gays bill. It is at the Third Reading Stage which means if it passes a third committee vote  it goes for a parliamentary vote. Sadly, there is enough popular support to make its passage entirely possible. See or Gay rights activist Frank Mugisha tweeted that the bill is listed at number eight under “business to follow” on the order paper of 6 February .

Homosexuality is already illegal in the country and punishable by up to 14 years in prison, but the so-called Kill the Gays bill, sponsored by MP David Bahati and first introduced in 2009, would penalize “aggravated homosexuality”— consensual same-sex acts committed by “repeat offenders,” anyone who is in a position of power, is HIV-positive, or uses intoxicating agents in the process — with capital punishment. The lesser “offense of homosexuality,” also criminalized in the bill, encompasses anyone who engages in a same-sex sexual relationship, enters into a same-sex marriage, or conspires to commit “aggravated homosexuality”. And almost the most shocking, the bill also calls for three-year prison sentences for friends, family members and neighbors who do not turn in “known homosexuals” to the police!

Listen to the MEA laureate of 2011, Kasha, summarizing the problems she and other LGBT activists face and how external forces of fundamentalists groups incite the hatred. Some human rights defenders has taken one them to court in the US: