Seven rights groups, including Amensty International, have expressed concern over the recent threats to Sultana Kamal, a prominent lawyer and human rights defender in Bangladesh.
Sultana received the threats from Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam, a coalition of teachers and students of Quami Madrasa, after expressing her opinion on a talk show.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Front Line Defenders, Amnesty International, South Asians for Human Rights, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Association for Progressive Communications and International Service for Human Rights urged the government to conduct a credible investigation into the threats and ensure her protection.
On 28 May, a local news channel invited Sultana Kamal along with Awami League Parliament Member Apu Ukil, Garanajagaran Mancha spokesperson Imran H Sarker and Hefazat representative Mufti Sakhawat Hossain to discuss removal of the lady justice sculpture from the Supreme Court premises.
Also Read- What Sultana Kamal said in the talk show
Hefazat and other Islamist grounds had insisted the statue needed to be dismantled on 26 May arguing that instituting the statue would lead to idol worshiping which went against the tenets of Islam.
During the talk show, the Hefazat leader remarked that the statue was a religious object and as such should not be placed on Supreme Court premises.
Sultana responded with hypothetical argument that if no religious structure is permitted, then no mosques should be on the premises either.
Hefazat demanded her arrest within 24 hours. The group's Vice President Junayed Al-Habib threatened to break Sultana's bones.
Triggered by the threat made by Hefazat, Sultana received various other threats, including on social media. One person posted a photo of Sultana which was edited to make it look like she was being hanged.
In a statement on Tuesday, the organisations urged the government to take necessary steps to guarantee the physical and psychosocial security of Sultana, her family and fellow rights defenders.
“Ensure an enabling environment for human rights defenders to carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities, including expressing their opinion freely, without any fear of reprisals, harassment or intimidation from state and non-state actors,” the statement added.