Franco-German Human Rights Award (27/2/2018)
Speech by HE Mrs Marie-Annick Bourdin, Ambassador of France,
Handing over to Mr. Adilur Rahman of the Franco-German Human Rights Award (27/2/2018)
Dear Adilur, dear Thomas, dear guests, dear friends,
I would like to thank you all for accepting our joint invitation to this ceremony in honor of Adilur Rahman and Odhikar, as well as his outstanding work in defending and promoting Human Rights in Bangladesh.
As you may know already, he is one of the fifteen laureates who were awarded the 2017 Franco-German prize for human rights, by the French and German Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Jean-Yves le Drian and his counterpart Hon. Sigmar Gabriel. The announcement was made on the 4th of December 2017. In April 2016, our Governments decided to establish a “universal” joint Prize for Human Rights. I am glad to recall that it was already awarded as a local initiative by some French and German Embassies.
Our 2 countries are committed to the promotion and defense of Human Rights, being parties to all UN and regional major Human Rights Conventions, founding members of the Council of Europe where the European Convention for Human Rights is enforced through an European Human Rights Court, to which was entrusted the power to sanction each of the 47 Member-States of the Council of Europe, and order it to amend its laws or judicial practices. It is a long and arduous process, but our citizens see the rule of law and their human rights upheld. We have gone a long way in that construction.
In line with the broader Europe’s ideal (47 MS), the European Union (28 Member-States) has adopted its own Charter of Human Rights and a dedicated policy in support of Human Rights Defenders. The EU is constant in its support to the HR defenders, knowing the great and rare moral qualities, among which are courage and dedication, but also great risks they are facing) around the world, we all know various forms of persecutions (intimidation, HR violations of all sorts, torture I’ll stop there).
Last year’s Franco-German Human Rights Prize went to Tahmima Rahman, for her work at the helm of Article 19, defending the freedom of expression. This year, We are proud to remit it to Adilur Rahman. Those who know him, know that courage and dedication do characterize him. I could illustrate this with his unyielding commitment against torture, or his tireless efforts to fight, through consolidated facts and figures, against extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. But I will take two different examples, perhaps less known.
While a lawyer at the Supreme Court, you were, Adilur, one of the most ardent defenders of the rights of ethnic minorities. May I recall that you obtained the release of 300 Jummas from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, who then were held in jail.
Most recently, the NGO Odhikar, of which you are the soul, has patiently collected more than 100 testimonies from Rohingya refugees about the atrocities suffered in Rakhine. These valuable documents were handed over to the Facts Finding Mission set up by the Human Rights Council in Geneva, which, being prevented from traveling to Burma, has accepted them very gratefully.
Let’s together have a thought for the Rohingyas who suffered brutal persecutions in
Myanmar and found shelter in Bangladesh, whose generosity we salute here, as well as for those who are attempting to flee the persecutions they are currently subjected to in Rakhine.
Since I arrived only recently, I would like to thank Thomas and the first Counsellor to the French Embassy, M. Jean-Pierre Poncet, who worked on the presentation of Adilur’s work which allowed for his being granted the Franco-German Human Rights Award,
Thank you to Adilur and Odhikar for their commitment, thank you all for coming,
Allow me to now give the floor to my colleague Thomas.