US concerned over political violence



The US has expressed concern about reports of intimidation, political violence, police harassment, arrests of opposition party members and restrictions on the ability of the opposition parties to meet and hold peaceful rallies.

“We call on the government to respect and to protect the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” Ned Price, spokesman for the US state department, told a press briefing in Washington DC on Tuesday.

Price went on to call on all parties in Bangladesh to respect the rule of law and to refrain from violence, harassment and intimidation.

“We call on the government of Bangladesh to ensure that no party or candidate threatens, incites, or conducts violence against another party or candidate.”

Genuine elections require the ability of all candidates to engage voters free from violence, harassment and intimidation, he said.

“We encourage the government authorities to investigate these reports of violence thoroughly, transparently, and impartially, and to hold the perpetrators to account,” Price added.

Meanwhile, Gwyn Lewis, the United Nations resident coordinator in Bangladesh, issued a similar statement yesterday, emphasising the need for “free expression, media freedom and peaceful assembly”.

“As Bangladesh is coming closer to its national election next year, we remind Bangladesh of its commitments, as a UN member state, to free expression, media freedom and peaceful assembly among others written in the Declaration.”

The Declaration says that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

“Ours is a shared humanity rooted in universal values. A threat to the rights of one person is a threat to the whole of society,” she said in the statement ahead of International Human Rights Day on December 10.

The UN in solidarity with all Bangladeshis recommits itself to upholding the core values of dignity, equality and liberty, including thought and conscience, she added.

Lewis’s statement comes a day after 15 foreign missions in Bangladesh sent in an extraordinary joint statement ahead of International Human Rights Day, a day when the opposition political party BNP announced a rally in Dhaka.

The signatories to the joint statement are the missions of Australia, the UK, Canada, Denmark, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.

They highlighted the fundamental role democracy plays in protecting human rights and promoting development in Bangladesh and reaffirmed the importance of free, fair, inclusive and peaceful electoral processes in the spirit of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

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