US, EU reminds Bangladesh of the importance of democracy ahead of rally

Dhaka, Dec 6 (EFE).- Over a dozen countries, including the United States and the European Union, on Tuesday reminded Bangladesh of the importance of fair and peaceful democratic processes, days ahead of a mass opposition rally in the capital city of Dhaka.

Identifying themselves as “friends and partners of Bangladesh,” the countries, which also include the United Kingdom and Spain, issued a statement underlining the fundamental role of democracy in protecting human rights and promoting development.

“As we approach Human Rights Day on December 10, we would like to highlight the fundamental role democracy plays in protecting human rights and promoting development,” the Bangladesh mission and embassies of the countries said in a joint statement.

“We celebrate the freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirm the importance of all UN member states adhering to their commitments to free expression, peaceful assembly, and elections, among others outlined (in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights),” the statement added.

It further underlined the importance of democratic governance “as a set of values and principles” for “meaningful participation, equality, security, and inclusive human and economic development.”

Other countries to sign the joint statement were Canada, Demnark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Netherlands and Switzerland.

The statement comes days before the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalists Party’s (BNP) planned mass rally in the capital city of Dhaka on Dec.10, coinciding with Human Rights Day.

In a press statement on Tuesday, BNP accused the government of resorting to arrests and intimidation to foil its rally.

“The ruling Awami League government is implementing its blueprint to create obstacles to the peaceful mass rally of a big political party like the BNP,” the party’s senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said at a press conference in the capital.

He said that since Nov.30, 1,315 of their leaders and activists had been arrested as a part of the government crackdown.

The BNP has been holding mass rallies at the divisional headquarters since October protesting against the abnormal increase in the prices of daily commodities, including fuel, and the killing of party leaders and activists.

The demands of the party also include the unconditional release of party chairperson Khaleda Zia and parliamentary elections under a non-party neutral government.

The government released Zia and suspended her jail sentences in two graft cases in March 2020 but barred her from leaving the country.

In October, New York-based nonprofit Human Rights Watch, in a statement, urged the Bangladesh government to end its crackdown on the opposition and protect the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly.

The Awami League and BNP have ruled Bangladesh since 1991, except for a brief quasi-military rule in 2007-08. EFE


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