The European Parliament yesterday passed a resolution requesting the European Union to initiate a process seeking a compromise which would give the Bangladeshi people a chance to express their democratic choice in a representative way.
The resolution also called for an immediate halt to repression in Bangladesh, according to the EP website.
The members of the EP condemned the widespread violence which erupted in the run-up to the January 5 elections and expressed concern at the paralysis of everyday life in Bangladesh.
“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,” said the MEPs.
Earlier, the motion was moved for discussion at the EP on the January 5 election of Bangladesh at its debate chamber in Strasbourg, France.
The debate focused on fundamental freedoms, human rights and democracy in general in Bangladesh.
DEBATE IN UK PARLIAMENT
Meanwhile, MPs yesterday debated in Britain's House of Commons on the situation in Bangladesh. It was scheduled by the Backbench Business Committee following representations from Simon Danczuk and Anne Main.
The debate, the first item of yesterday's main business, was opened by Anne Main, with Simon Danczuk taking part in it. Various issues related to elections and Bangladesh politics dominated the debate.
“We could not possibly look at the current political situation and sense of instability in Bangladesh without briefly revisiting what has happened in the past, which has helped to form the situation,” Anne Main said.
During the debate, she also said, “Our government, I am proud to say, continue to urge all parties to work together and to strengthen democratic accountability, but unfortunately it is not bearing a lot of fruit. The parliamentary model over there does not reflect ours.”
“Bangladesh is a secular country that has many Muslim believers, but many other religions as well. In 1971, it had the proud aim that it would remain secular. It is also a proud member of the Commonwealth. It is a disservice to that country that people from minority religions now feel so oppressed and intimated, with their temples being daubed and disrupted,” Main said.
Anne Main added there was not full voter participation in the January 5 election. To put it mildly it was about 30 percent and there was non-participation by the leading opposition.
“I am sorry to say that the democratic process improved nothing between 2006 and the latest election in 2014. That is deeply disappointing given the amount of the British aid budget that goes into supporting the strengthening of democracy in Bangladesh, such as the training of civil servants,” she added.
Taking part in the debate, Martin Horwood said the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and other opposition parties have to tread carefully too. “Boycotting elections, abandoning the democratic high ground of participation and calling for the overthrow of elected governments is a dangerous path to tread.”
He said opposition groups and activists have clearly been involved in violence, and there have been accusations, particularly against some of the most controversial members of the opposition, including Jamaat-e-Islami, of violence against Christian and Hindu minorities, which is particularly concerning.
Rushanara Ali said, “It is scandalous and unforgivable that those in positions of power, of whichever political party, cannot put their differences behind them and focus on the interests, both economic and social, of the country and its people.
On violence, she said the point is that that cycle of violence must stop.
Turning to the election, she said many have complained that the “election process was not, by any standards, free and fair.”
She added that it was a matter of great frustration that the leaders of the major political parties in Bangladesh were not able to reach a compromise that would have led to free and fair elections.