Nine international human rights organisations have urged the Bangladesh government to protect the right to freedom of speech and end human rights violation.
The organisations said that the government should respect peaceful rallies and demonstrations demanding justice for writer Mushtaq Ahmed's death in prison on 25 February.
They said this in a joint statement on Friday.
The rights organisations are the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Eleos Justice-Monash University, FIDH: International Federation for Human Rights, OMCT: World Organisation Against Torture and Robert F Kennedy Human Rights.
The statement read that author Mushtaq Ahmed, 53, was arrested in May 2020 in a case filed under the Digital Security Act.
He used to give posts on different issues on Facebook and other social media, which the government considered as criticisms.
The death of Mushtaq in prison had raised serious concerns about the fundamental right to life, individual liberty and the right to freedom of speech, said the statement.
The joint statement further said cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, 45, was also arrested in a case filed under the Digital Security Act like writer Mushtaq Ahmed.
He was released on bail on 4 March after spending 10 months in jail.
There are valid reasons to believe that Ahmed Kabir Kishore was tortured in the custody of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), according to the statement.
Ahmed Kabir Kishore is suffering from hearing loss in his right ear. He is having walking difficulty due to pain in his left knee and ankle. Ahmed Kabir's diabetes was uncontrollable while in captivity.
He was at the risk of vision loss if emergency treatment was not provided, read the statement.
In this context, the human rights organisations urged the government to conduct a speedy, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the death of Mushtaq Ahmed and the alleged torture of cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore.
They said that those who were responsible must be identified and brought to justice.
They also demanded the unconditional and permanent release of Ahmed Kabir Kishore. They called for an end to unfair treatment of people and their detention before trials in order to exercise freedom of speech.
The statement further said that more than a hundred people like Mushtaq Ahmed and Ahmed Kabir Kishore had been detained under the Digital Security Act in Bangladesh.
The rights organisations urged the government to repeal the Act.
The joint statement read that all digital and cyber security laws must comply with international human rights law.
It expressed concern over police brutality on peaceful protesters demanding justice for Mushtaq Ahmed.
They urged the government to withdraw all charges against the protesters and release them unconditionally