UK minister ‘concerned’

Alistair Burt, UK Foreign Office Minister for South Asia, yesterday expressed concern over the extrajudicial killings and disappearances in Bangladesh, and called for full investigations into the incidents.

Referring to the disappearance of BNP leader M Elias Ali, he said the matter came up in the British House of Commons last week. He was speaking at a press conference at the British High Commission Club in the capital.

"We would wish to see that the government makes it clear to ensure that there is a full investigation to try and find Mr Elias Ali to see what has happened to him," the British minister told reporters.

The worrying thing is that nobody knows what has happened to Elias Ali, he said, adding Bangladesh had made some progress in ensuring human rights, but some aspects are still a matter of concern.

On the last day of a three-day visit to Bangladesh, Burt said the UK wanted all political parties of Bangladesh to sit for dialogues to resolve their differences as a step forward for 2014 parliamentary elections to be free and fair with their participation.

Referring to his meeting with the prime minister, the foreign minister, members of civil society and the leader of the opposition, he said all of them who he had met were looking forward to free and fair polls in which all political parties would participate.

"Each has their particular view on how it should be," he added.

The UK will support free, fair and credible elections that will further strengthen political and economic stability and democracy in Bangladesh but no foreign country would prescribe the formula on how it should be done, the British MP for North East Bedfordshire said.

About his talks with civil society members, he said they were expecting the parties to talk to each other, find a way to hold the next general elections, "because that is the guarantee for Bangladesh for the future."

Asked what would happen if the political parties do not hold any dialogue, he said, "I have no reason to believe that Bangladesh will not be able to achieve it."

On the recent police attacks on journalists, the UK minister said these were the issues that should be investigated first, and that no foreign government would put the blame on someone before a probe.

He said the press in Bangladesh is active and vibrant. "Free press is the guarantee of freedom of all of us. Journalists have to be free from intimidation."

News Source: 
The Daily Star