Pinaki Bhattacharja faces harassment back in Bangladesh

Netra News: Pinaki Bhattacharja is an online human rights and political activist who writes critically about the current Bangladesh Awami League government. He was forced to leave Bangladesh in 2018 fearing detention by the military intelligence agency Directorate General Forces Intelligence and he now lives in France where he is a refugee. He has written an article for Netra News about the censorship of a book he wrote critical of the country’s independence leader.

Earlier today he wrote a Facebook status concerning harassment which his family is facing in Bangladesh

With Pinaki’s permission, we are publishing his Facebook

Yesterday, a group of policemen went to my father’s residence in Bogura and interrogated my old mother and uncle. In Dhaka, another group of police, who said that they were from Mirpur Model Police Station, landed in our residence. After they failed to find my wife at home, one police officer called her up on her mobile yesterday and interrogated her.

During the interrogation in Bogura, the policemen sought to know if I own any property there, what I do in France, how I earn my living, or support my life, among other queries. They also took the contact details of many of my relatives.

The police officer, who called up my wife, asked her in which clinics or hospitals she worked as a doctor and if and how she maintained communication with me. The officer also said to my wife that he wanted to get some more info about me from her. However, because of poor connectivity the mobile conversation was disconnected halfway. I am sure, police will get back in touch with my wife again very soon and attempt to harass her.

I understand that the Bangladesh Police is trying to catch hold of me. But, why would they interrogate or harass the members of my family for that? I would like to tell the authorities, including the police, that if they want to get info about me they indeed have ways to reach me while I am in France. You may send a message to my Facebook inbox. Your embassy in France can reach me if you want. You may even contact the French government.

If you feel troubled with my activism, you may act against me, if you want. But my family members are in no way connected to my activism? Why are you harassing them? Are the family members of any activist harassed anywhere in the world the way as you are doing in Bangladesh? During the armed struggle, just before Bangladesh was born, the barbaric Pakistani forces kept the family members of the main leader of the Liberation War Sheikh Mujib safe.

I am a political refugee in France. I felt unsafe in Bangladesh and I left my country being scared of my life. I indeed have the right to raise my voice against enforced disappearances, cross-fire killings and other human rights violations perpetrated by the Awami League-led government. I have the political right to speak against the authoritarian rule of Sheikh Hasina. My voting rights have been robbed in Bangladesh- I have the right to be vocal against this. You have no right to stifle my voice. All my activities are in the interest of human rights. You are putting pressure on my family members in a mischievous manner to force me away from activism. This is persecution. This is unethical.

I hope the international community, including the human rights groups, will intervene to help my family stay safe in Bangladesh.

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