EU forum expresses concern over Bangladesh’s human rights situation

June 13th, 2008 - 2:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, June 13 (IANS) A special forum at the European Parliament (EP) has expressed grave concern over the deteriorating human rights situations in Bangladesh which has been run by a military-backed government since January 2007. Speakers at the forum titled “SOS Bangladesh” held at the EP here Thursday held the caretaker government - backed by the “corrupt” military - responsible for the worsening of the human rights situation in the country, EuAsiaNews reported.

Speaking at the forum, Abdual Gaffar Chowdhury, a London-based Bangladeshi writer and journalist, described the present caretaker government in Bangladesh as a “puppet regime” because the real power lies in the hands of the corrupt military.

Over the last 16 months, more than half a million people have been arrested in the country and many of them are being held under emergency power rules, Chowdhury said.

Similar views and sentiments were expressed by other speakers at the forum organised by two Belgian members of the EP, Johan Van Hecke and Bart Staes.

Van Hecke, who belongs to the Liberals’ group in the European Parliament, said the event was organised to enable people to express their concerns.

The eurodeputy stressed that he was not linked to or favoured any political party in Bangladesh.

Bazlur Rashid Bulu, co-organiser of the event, said the activities of the caretaker government “are causing huge political and financial problems in Bangladesh”.

Bulu, who owns a restaurant called Darjeeling in Brussels, said he was grateful for the keen attention shown by the EU Parliament to the issue of human rights in Bangladesh.

Paul Manik of the Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) called for an end to what he said were human rights abuses that continue to be perpetrated against the religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous people of Bangladesh.

He urged the 27-nation bloc to take “effective steps” to protect the rights of minorities in his country.

The forum focussed on three topics: violations of human rights in Bangladesh, the deficit of democracy and rule of law, and environmental problems and the humanitarian situation in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s envoy to Brussels, Abu Humayun Mohammad Moniruzzaman, said he was “very surprised” to hear the the human rights situation in his country was alarming.

He defended the reforms of the caretaker government and stressed that its main task was to conduct free and fair elections by the end of December.

“We always had a very good human rights record,” said the diplomat and referred to a recent EP resolution on Bangladesh.

The forum recommended that pressure must be put on the “military backed government to show respect to the people’s expectations and to expedite the election process”.

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