Protect freedoms as core value of democracy: UK Minister

Protect freedoms as core value of democracy: UK Minister

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Dhaka – The United Kingdom has urged Bangladesh, as a vibrant, modern and rapidly growing democracy, to protect and promote freedom of expression as one of its core values and rights of all citizens, Unb news agency reported.
Addressing a debate on current situation in Bangladesh in the Westminster Hall on Tuesday, Hugo Swire, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly extolled the secular, tolerant nature of Bangladesh.
“Her Government must be unequivocal about protecting the rights of all citizens, including those who express different views or lead different lifestyles. The victims themselves should not be blamed,” the British minister said.British independent MP Simon Danczuk sponsored the debate and said democracy has now ‘broken down’ in Bangladesh and there is ‘irrefutable evidence’.
Describing the relationship between the UK and Bangladesh is strong, the British minister said the relationship is enhanced, and British society as a whole is enriched, by the diaspora community.
“As a close friend of Bangladesh and fellow members of the Commonwealth, we care deeply about what happens there, both now and in future,” he said adding that they want Bangladesh to develop into an economically successful country that maintains its Bengali tradition of respect and tolerance for people of all faiths and backgrounds.
In June last year, the House debated Bangladesh against the backdrop of political unrest, the brutal murders of bloggers, and allegations of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
Since then, Swire said, there have been more attacks against minority groups and those who hold views counter to traditional values and beliefs.
“As has been pointed out, there has also been pressure on opposition parties, including the Bangladesh Nationalist party, and on dissenting voices in the media and civil society,” the UK minister observed.
He said the UK will continue to engage constructively with all parties in Bangladesh, and with international partners, to work towards that end. It is generally recognised that a shrinking of
space for democratic challenge and debate can push some towards extremist alternatives.
” I am deeply concerned that the recent appalling spate of murders is becoming an all-too-common occurrence. ”
He welcomed the commitment by the Government of Bangladesh to bring those responsible for recent extremist attacks to justice. “We have also made it clear, in public and in private, that justice must be done in a manner that fully respects the international human rights standards.”
He said mass arrests and suspicious ‘crossfire’ deaths at the hands of the police undermine confidence in the judicial system.
Investigations must be conducted transparently and impartially, irrespective of the identity of the victim or the alleged perpetrator.
“Anyone arrested should be treated in full accordance with due process and Bangladeshi law. It is also important to explore the root causes of the attacks involving international links.”
In his remark, Danczuk said the current situation in Bangladesh has some relationship to the war for independence in 1971, but it is also very much the result of the seriously flawed general election on January 5, 2014.
In debating the current situation in Bangladesh, he talked about what has been happening recently what they should anticipate happening next in Bangladesh.

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