Cherie Blair roots for Hasina’s release from jail

April 25th, 2008 - 4:10 pm ICT by admin  


Dhaka, April 25 (IANS) Urging Bangladesh’s military-backed government not to “walk the Myanmar path”, former British premier Tony Blair’s wife Cherie Blair appealed that ailing former prime minister Sheikh Hasina be released from jail and sent abroad for medical treatment. Hasina’s supporters have engaged Blair, who is a lawyer, as a consultant. Her appeal Thursday came even as Hasina fell sick in the courtroom yet again, requiring the adjournment of one of her graft cases.

Before that, however, Blair was permitted to witness court proceedings and also have a one-to-one discussion with Hasina for 23 minutes, the New Age newspaper said.

“It seems to me that her health is not good… She is suffering both physically and mentally by her detention,” Blair said.

Winding up her three-day visit, Blair told reporters: “I am aware that Bangladesh borders with Burma (Myanmar), a country which is not known as supporter of rule of law… In Burma, another woman leader of a political party is being detained. And I would not like to think Bangladesh was going along that route.”

Britain has been supporting Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained for the past many years, and has been advocating sanctions against the military junta in Yangon.

Bangladesh has cordial relations with the military regime and is set to import 100,000 tonnes of rice from the country.

Blair said: “I am sure that the government and the people of Bangladesh seem to be upholding the human rights and rule of law. They will not want to see Sheikh Hasina brought to such a situation that her right to life is being undermined by such inhuman and degrading treatment.”

Blair, who met Foreign Affairs Advisor Iftikhar Ahmed Chowdhury Wednesday, said: “I would hope, even now, that they (the government and the people) would see that it is the best interest to release her so that she can go to America and undertake emergency treatment which she needs and deserves.”

Asked if Hasina’s trial under the Emergency Power Rules, which have been challenged before the Supreme Court, was contradictory to human rights, she said: “The lawyers are debating the matter at the court with the judge who will make his decision… I am advising her legal team as to how the arguments relate to the international framework of human rights.”

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