Bangladesh’s embattled opposition party BNP has accused the government of repeated violations of human rights in the country, as it grows ‘desperate to cling to power’.
“We know the government has now become desperate to cling to power. That’s why it is least bothered about rules and ethics and the Constitution. It is only trying to perpetuate power by repeatedly violating human rights,” the BNP alleged, in remarks Thursday by secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
Speaking at a roundtable discussion, he called on the international community to look into the human rights situation in Bangladesh.
BNP arranged the programme at a Gulshan hotel on Bangladesh’s prevailing human rights situation. A 15-minute documentary titled ‘Right to Life: A Far Cry in Bangladesh’, cataloguing various incidents of human rights violations in the country from 2009 to 2018 in the country, was screened at the programme.
Fakhrul said BNP is a democratic party, and as such believes in democracy and elections. “We think no election will be accepted by the people without BNP’s participation.”
Stating the government’s various repressive acts against BNP leaders and activists, he said 500 leaders of the party have become victims of enforced disappearances over this period of nearly a decade, while 10,000 others have been killed.
At the same time, 78,000 political cases have been filed bringing accusations against a whopping 1.8 million (18 lakh) opposition leaders and activists, Fakhrul informed.
The BNP leader, who served a stint as state minister for education in the last BNP-led government, also touched upon the mechanism making use of state agencies (such as the police), whereby elections have become controlled exercises in rubberstamping the status quo. “Voters now can’t exercise their right to franchise, while opposition candidates can’t field polling agents in the various polling stations.”
He said the widespread irregularities, rigging and vote frauds in the recent elections to local government bodies have demonstrated further that fair and credible polls are not possible under the current regime.
Fakhrul alleged that the government has kept their party chief Khaleda Zia in solitary confinement in jail after convicting her in a ‘false and fabricated’ case. “She’s been deprived of her due rights in jail.”
BNP standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain and Moudud Ahmed, vice chairman Khandker Mahbub Hossain, party chairperson’s adviser Reaz Rahman, ex-governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, human rights activist Elina Khan and senior journalist Mahfuzullah, among others, spoke at the programme.
US Embassy’s human rights affairs secretary Mike Cramer, France Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission Jean-Pierre Poncet, and diplomats from some other countries, including India, Canada, Sweden, Pakistan, Iran, the EU, and the a UN resident representative, joined the programme.