European Parliament presses for political dialogue’ in Bangladesh
Shakhawat Hossain
13 Jun,2016

European Parliament (EP) members have expressed their grave concern over the recent killings, and the prevailing political ‘stalemate’, labour and human rights situation in Bangladesh. 

At a debate held in the European Parliament (EP) on Bangladesh situation on Wednesday, the EU MPs have also raised several specific issues including human rights, murder of bloggers and rise of violent extremism at international level and called for an impartial investigation into all the cases of blogger and minority killings.

EP members also called upon the Bangladesh political parties should hold real dialogues for establishing democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and political liberty in the country.
EU pressure on ‘dialogue’

Expressing his concern on Bangladesh, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders has urged the government and democratic political parties to engage in ‘real dialogue’ for the country’s stability, democratic and economic development.

While delivering opening statement at a debate in the European Parliament (EP), the Dutch politician said since January 2014 “controversial” elections boycotted by opposition and criticised by the international community, the political, human rights and security situation has unfortunately deteriorated in the country.

“It’s now time for the government of Bangladesh and democratic parties together to engage in real dialogue....” said Koenders, also Dutch Presidency for the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Security Policy and Vice President of the EC.

Describing the recent killings as worrying, the Dutch politician said an overall new political and social consensus will need to be built in Bangladesh so that democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and political liberty can fully be promoted and protected in the country.

“It’s time to put an end to arbitrary arrest and harassment of opposition leaders to restore tolerance, open spaces for public and political debate,” Koenders said.

He said it is also essential to ensure protection and safety of all citizens specially and sought investigations into the brutal murders and horrifying attacks and those responsible have to be brought to justice.

Observing that the relations between Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) are growing, the politician said the EU wants to see a Bangladesh where core values of human rights are upheld.
Laying emphasis on protection and safety of all citizens in Bangladesh, he said they will continue following the situation closely and be addressing their concerns through regular dialogue with Bangladesh government.

Stressing the need for a political dialogue in Bangladesh, British Lawmaker Amjad Bashir said: “We have to condemn the violence and simultaneously put more pressure on Bangladesh political parties to hold a real dialogue as there are political reasons behind the recent incidents.”

Poll under a CTG can help

“Only a general election under a neutral caretaker government could help Bangladesh get out of the current crisis,” he observed. 

He also urged the European Union Parliament to force the Bangladesh government to hold the next general polls in a free and fair manner.

Jean Lambert, who led a four-member EP delegation to Bangladesh, observed that very recently the wife of a police officer was killed. The Bangladesh society should not be divided and it is necessary to have an effective police and judiciary system there, she added.

Stressing the need for presence of a very strong civil society in Bangladesh, she also referred the name of Odhikar while painting a gloomy picture of repression on the human rights defenders.
Worried at the freedom of press situation in Bangladesh, Jean Lambert has categorically said: “We have noticed that a good number of journalists have been forced to go to jail in Bangladesh.” 

Vice-Chair of EP Subcommittee on Human Rights Cristian Dan Preda said: “I am really worried over the incidents occurred in the last few weeks in Bangladesh and in most of the cases, the victims are minority people and free-thinkers.” He appealed the EU parliamentarians to urge the Bangladesh government to impartial investigation into all the killing cases.

Josef Weidenholzer, a member of a Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Union, has expressed his worry over the current situation in Bangladesh as he feared a civil-war like situation in the country.

“The situation in Bangladesh is extremely alarming and we can’t outright reject the possibility of a looming dangerous civil war in Bangladesh in future as the country’s two major political camps are fighting against each other. As a result, the country’s democratic institutions are becoming fragile, violence are growing day by day and on the other hand, others are taking the chance, out of such a chaotic situation,” viewed Weidenholzer.