A UK Minister has said that the British government does not agree with the Bangladesh government's explanation over the recent violent attacks and brutal killings of secular writers, bloggers, intellectuals, LGBT people and members of religious minorities.
“There is a disagreement: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina blames the opposition parties for trying to destabilise the country and the victims for insulting Islam; we think the problem goes beyond that,” said UK Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire in parliament.
During Tuesday's session in the UK parliament, several British MPs expressed their concerns over the extra-judicial killings, disappearances of political opponents, violence towards LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people and human rights situation in Bangladesh.
British lawmaker Simon Danczuk asked the minister whether it was time “to start applying some form of sanctions to try to get Sheikh Hasina to hold a proper general election as soon as possible.”
Hugo Swire said, “I was absolutely appalled by the senseless murders of the LGBT activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Tonoy, and we call on the Bangladeshi Government to bring those responsible for the killings to justice.”
He further said extremist-related murders of members of minority religious groups and those whose views and lifestyles are contrary to Islam have increased in Bangladesh since February 2015, and they were “discussing this regularly with the Government of that country.”
Referring to the gruesome murder of Xulhaz on April 25 in Dhaka, another British MP Alex Cunningham questioned whether Swire thinks that “Government are taking sufficient steps to tackle the issue of violence against LGBT people?”
“Clearly I do not. We have a certain amount of leverage in Bangladesh -- we are the largest grant aid donor, giving £162 million in 2015-16 -- so our voice has some influence there,” the British minister replied.
“In the past year, UK's human rights and democracy programme has provided safety training for bloggers, and they have also funded a project promoting the rights of LGBT groups in Bangladesh, but there is a huge amount more to do,” he said.
Swire said the UK was not “shy of pushing” the Bangladesh government “in the right direction.”