Rescind ban on publications
Civil society bodies ask govt in legal notice
Four civil society organisations yesterday served a legal notice on the government for issuing a press release banning wholesale and without notice the publications of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Bangladesh.
The notice was signed by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) Director and Supreme Court Advocate Faustina Pereira on behalf of her clients the ASK, a human-rights and legal aid organisation, Sammilito Samajik Andolon, a civil society movement, and Naripokkho and Mahila Parishad, womens rights organisations.
The notice, addressed to the secretaries of ministries of home affairs and religious affairs and to the inspector general of police, asked the government to withdraw the order immediately. On failure to do so we are instructed to take appropriate legal proceedings, it warned.
The government imposed the ban last Thursday in view of what it said was objectionable materials in the Ahmadiyya publications that hurt or might hurt the sentiments of the majority Muslims of Bangladesh.
The ban that followed a campaign by religious bigots against the Ahmadiyyas is viewed as the first step towards declaring Ahmadiyyas non-Muslims.
The legal notice quoted the four organisations as maintaining that the purported government decision to ban the Ahmadiyya publications is without any lawful authority and of no legal effect inasmuch as it is wholly arbitrary, being vague and without any particulars or reason and having no basis in any law.
The four organisations also said the ban is unconstitutional and void inasmuch as it is in gross violation of the fundamental rights of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat to equality, non-discrimination and equal protection of law as guaranteed under articles 27, 28 and 31 of the constitution.
They also found the government decision as gross violation of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion as guaranteed under articles 39 and 41 of the constitution.
The notice said the decision to ban the publications is in contravention of several important international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Bangladesh is a signatory. It is also against the spirit and content of the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, adopted by consensus in the UN General Assembly on 25 November 1981.
The notice finally asked the government to take immediate steps to confirm that the press release was issued without any order having been passed under any law or to furnish us a copy of any order passed in this matter, and to rescind and withdraw it immediately.