Sunday, October 21, 2007

Action Plan Proposed at London

Source: Mukto Mona Yahoo Group

6 points Action Plan urged upon Caretaker Govt at a seminar at House of Commons. Call for immediate release of political prisoners and fair trials for those detained.

A six points action plan was endorsed by at a seminar held yesterday evening at the British House of Commons organised by Liberation. Liberation has operated for over 50 years dedicated to campaigning against human rights abuse worldwide and against injustice and repression in developing countries. The seminar was chaired by the Chair of Liberation, British Labour Member of Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn. Over 50 people attended this seminar, which included representatives of the UK Awami League, UK Bangladesh Nationalist Party, local community representatives and local Councillors. The main Panel speakers were Baroness Pola Uddin, member of the Upper House of Lords and a representative from Amnesty International. Contributions from the floor included representatives from both the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. At the conclusion of the seminar, the meeting endorsed unanimously a six point action plan. Urging the military backed Caretaker government to:

Immediate lifting of the state of emergency;
Withdrawal on ban on outdoor politics, noting the decision of the Caretaker government of the artial lifting of ban on indoor politics;
Immediate release of all political prisoners, including senior leaders of all major political parties such as Sheikh Hasina & Mrs.Zia;
Fair trial with proper independent legal advice for those detained under special emergency rules. The meeting urged the Caretaker government to give detainees access to independent Lawyers; Holding the parliamentary elections by February 2008 latest;

Sending an All Party Parliamentary delegation to Bangladesh before the end of the year to assess the political situation and investigate complaints of human rights abuse.

Opening the seminar, the Chair, Jeremy Corbyn,MP expressed concerns on the recent deterioration of political situation in Bangladesh, particularly the student unrests and protests against military rule. He was concerned about the large numbers of people taken into custody and the temporary imposition of curfew. While welcoming the announcement by the Caretaker government on the road map to democracy with a pledge to hold elections by the end of December 2008, he reminded the audience of the concerns expressed by the Commonwealth Secretary General, Don McKinnon that Bangladesh’s caretaker government “is playing with
fire by delaying elections until the end of next year.” He agreed with the Commonwealth Secretary General that the CG administration was pushing the constitutional issue to an absolute extreme by overstaying its term of office beyond three months. Mr.Corbyn was also expressed concerned about the detention of 200,000 people since the state of emergency came into effect and the detention of 20,000 of the administration’s political opponents.

Baroness Pola Uddin stated that she has had discussions with the Caretaker administration’s representatives and had raised concerns about the alleged human rights abuses but urged patience and for the community not to be carried away through emotional sentiments. The CG had implemented a series of popular reforming measures, which had widespread public support, particularly rooting out corruption and corrupt practices. She will urge the British Government to send an All Party delegation to Bangladesh to review the situation and also a delegation through the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

A representative from Amnesty International informed the seminar that AI had voiced concerns to the Caretaker government that since it took office, more than 200,000 of its opponents had been taken into detention and majority are being tried under the Special Powers act 1974, which allows them to prosecute them through Special Tribunals. Amnesty was also concerned about grave violation of human rights as the judicial system does not have the independence to over rule and was also concerned about detention orders for long periods, as the Government can detain people arbitrarily.

Ex-diplomat, Mr.Waliur Rahman also addressed the seminar briefly and was happy to note that both main parties were talking the same language. He outlined the grave political situation that existed in the country before the State of emergency was imposed and the commitment by the Caretaker government to hand over power to a democratically elected government before the end of December 2008. The Election Commission had been strengthened and a voters ID list with photos was being prepared. A number of other reform measures were being implemented. He has gave a vivid pictures on the attack of religious minorities after October 2001 election.

Representatives of both the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party deplored the conduct of the Caretaker government in harassing and intimidating its senior leaders and criticised the heavy handed approach in arresting its senior leaders – both ex-Prime Ministers. Charges levied against them but not proved had been fabricated to ensure that they were barred from contesting the next elections. The administration had tried unsuccessfully to send both the leaders into exile against their will, and this was confirmed most recently by the Law and Information spokesperson for the administration. The meeting urged MP’s to put pressure upon the British government to urge the Caretaker administration to exercise restraint and to treat them with dignity.

Some participants urged British MP’s to have the British High Commissioner recalled, particularly as his term of office had expired following his adverse comments expressed publicly after the student protests and riots in August.

Maggie Bowden, General Secretary of Liberation promised to campaign for the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh and on the violation of human rights against ordinary citizens based on the six points Action Plan unanimously endorsed. Liberation will hold another public conference in November nearer the time of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting and will lobby British MP’s, MEP’s and Members of the House of Lords to raise these concerns in Parliament.

No comments: