The European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) on Wednesday called for genuine dialogue to strengthen democracy in Bangladesh refraining from violence, while the United States joined hands urging all sides to refrain from acts of violence.
The EU said actions to restore peace and stability should not be at the expense of freedoms of assembly, movement and speech.
The US, the UK and the EU also expressed shock and concern at attack on former Foreign Secretary Reaz Rahman and urged the government to track down and hold accountable those responsible for the attack.
They also expressed shock and concern on continuing reports of violence from across Bangladesh, including reports of an arson attack against a bus in Rangpur district this (Wednesday) morning that resulted in the deaths of a number of passengers and many injuries.
In a press statement, Deputy Department Spokesperson of the US Department of State, Marie Harf said, “The United States is shocked and saddened by the attack against former Foreign Secretary Reaz Rahman, and hope for his speedy recovery.”
There is no justification for such outrageous and cowardly acts in a democratic Bangladesh, Harf said condemning the use of violence for political objectives. “We urge the government of Bangladesh to investigate, track down, and hold accountable those responsible for these acts,” said the Deputy Spokesperson.
Harf urged all sides to refrain from acts of violence and called on all parties to exercise restraint and eschew violence and
intimidation. “We urge the government to ensure people can freely exercise their right to peaceful political expression.”
In another message, the US said, “We’re saddened by reports of deaths and injuries across the country. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of those who have suffered.”
The United States also condemned violence from all sides, the statement added.
In a separate statement, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Gibson expressed his deep sadness and concern at the attack on Reaz Rahman, and continuing reports of violence from across Bangladesh, including reports of an arson attack against a bus in Rangpur district this morning that resulted in the deaths of a number of passengers and many injuries.
“I deplore the horrific attack against the former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Reaz Rahman, and am deeply saddened by the news of the attack on a bus in Rangpur, which resulted in tragic loss of life and injury. I send my deepest sympathies to the victims and their families,” he said.
Gibson urged the government of Bangladesh to investigate these crimes, and to bring those responsible to justice. “The UK continues to call for all parties to exercise restraint and moderation and respect the rule of law, and to come together in a dialogue to break the cycle of violence and disruption,” he added.
Meanwhile, Heads of Mission of the European Union (EU) resident in Bangladesh today expressed concern over the current political situation and called for genuine dialogue to strengthen democracy.
They further advocated that refraining from violence and engaging in genuine dialogue between all stakeholders would open the way forward to strengthen democracy.
The diplomats, led by EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon, met Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at State Guesthouse Padma and shared their concerns regarding the current situation in Bangladesh with the minister.
The diplomats regretted the ongoing violence and disruption in thecountry, which has resulted in several deaths, hundreds of casualties and the destruction of property, according to a message issued by the Delegation of European Union to Bangladesh.
The statement also mentioned the ‘aggression’ perpetrated on Tuesday against the former State Minister for Foreign Affairs Reaz Rahman as well as the horrific attack against the passengers of a bus in Rangpur on January 14.
The Heads of Mission expressed concern on the shrinking democratic space. “Actions to restore peace and stability should not be at the expense of freedoms of assembly, movement and speech.”
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali also expressed his sadness at the shooting of BNP Chairperson’s Adviser and Ambassador Reaz Rahman by miscreants.
He said the government would ensure a thorough investigation into the incident and has already instructed the Dhaka Metropolitan Police to remain seized with the matter.
The Foreign Minister also informed that since neither Rahman nor members of his family agreed to file a case, the police on its own volition filed a case in this regard.
The issue was discussed while he was briefing Ambassadors of the European Union countries and the Head of Delegation of the European Union in Bangladesh on the current political situation in the country.
The briefing was organised as part of the Foreign Minister’s regular consultations with the Ambassadors and Heads of Mission based in Dhaka.
The Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union expressed concerns over the ongoing violence, particularly loss of lives and property.
The Foreign Minister urged the need for containing such violence in a manner that it should not impinge on the democratic space and freedom of assembly, expression and media.
He referred to the European Parliament Resolutions on Bangladesh of 16 January and 18 September 2014 condemning such violence and terrorist acts, and their call for ban on political parties resorting to such acts.
European Parliament resolution on 16 January 2014 states: “Whereas the BNP opposition is continuing to cooperate with Jamaat-e-Islami and the splinter group Hafezat-e-Islam, which are regarded as the main instigators of the violence”.
Mahmood Ali referred to the recent High Court division order asking the government to prohibit the publication or broadcast of any statements and messages by the BNP Senior Vice-Chairman TariqueRahman as long as he remained a fugitive in the eyes of law.
He also referred to the recent media reports regarding a telephone call made by the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Amit Shah, to Begum Khaleda Zia, and a statement issued by six US congressmen expressing their concern over the recent political situation in Bangladesh, and said that upon inquiry both have been found to be absolutely false.
He said this has established beyond any doubt that the BNP-Jamaat alliance took refuge in falsehood in their attempts of ‘Goebbelsian Hypocrisy’.
Avert violence, engage in genuine dialogue: Int’l community
The EU Head of Delegation said that Bangladesh had the EU’s abiding support in combating terrorism.
They expressed their collective resolve to further strengthen, enlarge and reinforce the partnership between Bangladesh and the EU.
Foreign Minister assured the EU and other European Ambassadors of continued cooperation and sought their sustained support in delivering development mandates of the Government, to which the Envoys responded positively.
The Foreign Minister later briefed the Ambassadors of other European States- Russia, Norway, the Holy See and Switzerland along similar lines.
During the briefing, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam and Foreign Secretary M ShahidulHaque were present.
Unidentified people shot BNP chairperson's adviser Reaz Rahman and then torched his car at the capital's Gulshan-2 on Tuesday night.
Two bullets hit the 74-year-old in the left leg and two below his waist, but the bullets did not cause major injuries to his internal organs, according to doctors.