The European Parliament has urged the BNP to cut ties with Jamaat and Hefajat and firmly said the political parties associated with “terrorist acts” in Bangladesh should be banned.
“[The European Parliament] urges the BNP to unequivocally distance itself from Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefajat-e Islam”, according to a resolution adopted at its debate chamber in Strasbourg, France, on Thursday.
Pointing finger at Jamaat, the EP stressed “parties which turn to terrorist acts should be banned”.
It acknowledged that the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) has played an important role in providing redress and closure for victims of and those affected by the Bangladeshi war of independence.
The resolution, which was put forward by six political groups on recent elections in Bangladesh, observed that “The opposition BNP is continuing to cooperate with Jamaat-e-Islami and the splinter group Hefajat-e Islam, which are regarded as the main instigators of the violence.”
Immediately after the pronouncement of a verdict on February 28 last year sentencing Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee to death on war crimes charges, Jamaat-Shibir activists had unleashed unprecedented violence in many parts of the country.
In the violent protest that continued for more than a week, armed cadres of Jamaat-Shibir clashed with law enforcers leaving more than 70 people, including eight policemen, dead.
Jamaat-Shibir men continued their violent activities round the year. And after the announcement of the election schedule on November 25, they again unleashed violence to enforce the BNP-led alliance's hartal and blockades to resist the January 5 election. More than 140 people were killed in the violence in around last two months.
The European Parliament said during and after the polls, thousands of citizens belonging to vulnerable minority groups, particularly Hindus, have been violently attacked and chased from their homes, reportedly mainly by Jamaat-e-Islami militants, for reasons partly linked to the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) trials, as many of the prosecution witnesses are Hindus.
The joint motion of resolution, moved by the MEPs on behalf of the PPE, S&D, ALDE, Verts/ALE, ECR and GUE/NGL groups, focused on fundamental freedoms, human rights and democracy in general in Bangladesh.
POLITICS AND ELECTION
The European Parliament in its 11-point strongly worded resolution condemned the widespread violence which erupted in the run-up to the January elections and express concern at the paralysis of every-day life in Bangladesh.
The EP urged that prompt, independent and transparent investigations be carried out into the recent cases of violent deaths before and after the elections, and that the perpetrators, including those in the security services, be brought to justice.
It calls on Dhaka to immediately halt all repressive methods used by the security forces, including indiscriminate firing with live ammunition and torture in custody.
"The opposition politicians, subject to arbitrary arrest, should be released, parties having a democratic reputation need to develop a culture of mutual respect, and parties which turn to terrorist acts should be banned," it said.
It said the EU should use every means available to assist a process seeking "a compromise which would give the Bangladeshi people a chance to express their democratic choice in a representative way.
It believes that all options should be considered, including “an early election if all legitimate political parties are willing to stand and offer voters a choice” the resolution said.
Regretting failure of the Bangladeshi Parliament and the political parties to reach on an inclusive mechanism for the elections, the EU also calls on the government and the opposition to put the best interests of Bangladesh first as a matter of urgency and to find a compromise which would give the Bangladeshi people a chance to express their democratic choice.
Underlining Bangladesh's reputation as a tolerant society within a secular state, the EP calls on the Bangladeshi authorities to provide increased protection for ethnic and religious minorities at risk and to ensure effective prosecution of all instigators of intercommunal violence.
'ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY'
The EP expressed concern at the increasing number of people on death row in Bangladesh, besides the six individuals sentenced by the ICT, and in particular at the sentencing to death of 152 erstwhile BDR soldiers over a bloody mutiny in 2009.
The EP calls on Dhaka to abolish the death penalty and to commute all death sentences; calls also on the authorities to urgently set up an effective mechanism to protect witnesses in cases before the ICT.
The resolution also called on the government “to revise the Information and Communication Technology Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act, which were made more stringent under the last government and can lead to the arbitrary criminalisation of citizens.”