Amnesty International

Amnesty International a voluntary movement for release of prisoners of conscience. It was started by a British lawyer Peter Benensen on 28 May 1961. In course of time this movement emerged to have been a vocal organisation for protection of human rights all over the world.

But the movement did not get any response from Bangladesh till Justice Syed Mohammad Hossain started activities in support of the movement in early seventies of the twentieth century. But before it could take roots in the country the activities of the movement was stranded possibly due to his elevation as a judge of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. In the early 1980s activities of the Amnesty International was resumed by a group of enthusiastic social workers in Dhaka, and this Dhaka Group was recognized on 28 June 1985 by the International Secretariat of the Amnesty International.

Subsequently, some other groups were formed, and in January 1989 Madaripur Group, in January 1990 Rajair Group and in August 1991 Kalkini Group were recognised. Thereafter some local and professional groups were formed such as Lawyers' group, Women's group, Doctors' group etc. At present, there are as many as forty local and professional groups having a total of more than one thousand members of the Bangladesh section of Amnesty International. The first biennial conference of the Bangladesh section was held on 28 August 1992 in Dhaka wherein its first executive committee was formed. The executive committee consists of a president, vice-president, a treasurer and seven members. The office of the Bangladesh section is run by a full-time director. The office is situated at 28 Kabi Jasimuddin Road, Kamalapur, Dhaka.

Bangladesh section of Amnesty International arranges workshops for training its members on human rights and the techniques for prevention of violation of such rights. It also organises meetings, seminars, rallies etc for the propagation of human rights and for prevention of their violation. It regularly observes International Women';s day on 8 March, May day on 1 May, International Human Rights day on 10 December. It works for immediate unconditional release of prisoners of conscience; fair and speedy trial of political prisoners; elimination of all sorts of oppression and torture; and abrogation of death penalty. The organisation publishes its annual report on violation of human rights in the news-media thereby highlighting such violation to the notice of the people and of the authorities for prevention and remedy. It publishes regular bulletins, leaflets and posters for achieving such goals. [Kazi Ebadul Hoque]