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Amnesty: Reinstate NU professor terminated over facebook post

  • Published at 03:41 pm September 26th, 2020
Amnesty-Intl

Currently in self-exile, Wahiduzzaman told Amnesty International that he has not received any letter from the university to defend himself in either his present or permanent address in Bangladesh

Amnesty International has expressed concern over the termination of AKM Wahiduzzaman, an assistant professor of Geography at the National University (NU), over a facebook post for which he was sued and arrested in 2013 under the Digital Security Act (DSA).

In a letter to President Abdul Hamid, the human rights organization also urged immediate reinstatement of AKM Wahiduzzaman to his position.

The letter said that the NU teacher was arrested and suspended from the university in 2013 for a Facebook post about Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her family. On March 3, 2014, police filed another defamation case against him under Section 57 of the ICT Act.

“Now, seven years later, the professor has been terminated from service on September 2, 2020. Not only has this decision denied AKM Wahiduzzaman his right to freedom of expression, but it is in violation of the university’s own service rules,” the letter said.

“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 AKM Wahiduzzaman his right to a fair trial,” Amnesty said.

Amnesty International also demanded immediate reversal of Wahiduzzaman’s termination and reinstatement to his position, dropping all charges against him and all those prosecuted solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, repealing 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 to respect, protect, and fulfil the right to freedom of expression and academic freedom.

On September 10, 2020, Wahiduzzaman learnt for the first time that he was being dismissed from service after the Bangladesh state-run National University issued a press release stating that he was being terminated for posting on Facebook remarks about the country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her family, the Amnesty letter said.

Currently in self-exile, Wahiduzzaman told Amnesty International that he has not received any letter from the university to defend himself in either his present or permanent address in Bangladesh.

“I was not aware that [the university authorities] framed this allegation against me and I did not get an opportunity to defend myself,” Wahiduzzaman told the human rights organization.