March 1, 2024, 5:10 pm

Diplomatic correspondent

2023-11-01 23:20:52 BdST

Political ViolenceDhaka deplores statement by UN rights body

The Government of Bangladesh is deeply shocked at the unprecedented show of violence and public disorder by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in the name of its one-point unconstitutional demand of holding the next general elections under a non-party caretaker administration.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement with reference to a press briefing note, issued by Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday (31 Oct) on Bangladesh, the response of the Government of Bangladesh as follows:

As per BNP’s request, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) gave permission to hold its rally in front of its party office on 28 October 2023 under some specific conditions.

However, BNP activists took recourse to indiscriminate street violence, arson and other forms of attacks on persons and properties. 

The main targets of such rampant violence have been the apolitical law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, innocent civilians, state institutions and public properties.

Numerous horrific images and video footages show that a member of the Police was mercilessly beaten to death – in broad daylight, on wide-open public street, dozens of other law enforcement agents were attacked and injured, a bus conductor was burned alive along with the bus, scores of other vehicles including fire service trucks were torched, the residences of the Chief Justice and other judges of the highest court of the land were vandalized, police hospital premises and ambulance were set on fire and several police stations were vandalized, reporters and camera personnel were attacked. 

Even in the face of such continued atrocities of the BNP, the Government of Bangladesh and its law enforcement forces showed utmost restraint and patience and applied minimal and optimal force to ensure public order.

The Government of Bangladesh rejects any insinuation suggesting that the ‘masked individuals’ riding on motorcycles are “thought to have been” the ruling party supporters. 

Widely circulated video footages show that the attacks on the journalists were made, and residence of Chief Justice were vandalized from the BNP rally. 

Media reports identified one person wearing protective vest and posing to be a law enforcement agent/press personnel and putting fire on vehicles as Robiul Islam Noyon, Member Secretary of Dhaka City South branch of Jubo Dal (the youth wing of the BNP). 

The injured journalists did not claim that they were attacked by ruling party members – masked or not. Moreover, the Bangladesh Federal Journalist Union (BFUJ), on a press release issued on 28 October 2023, condemned the attacks to BNP activists on the journalists.

From BNP’s activities, it is evident that it is resorting to violence, particularly arson with a clear intention to create a public nuisance, disturb life and livelihood, disrupt economy, collapse of public communication, transport and logistics and ensure total anarchy in the country. 

The BNP also resorted to misinformation in order to misguide the international community and thus gain sympathy. In a press conference in BNP Headquarters, it introduced a fake ‘adviser to the US President’. 

The motive of BNP behind terrorizing the nation and misguiding the people of Bangladesh and the international community is to disrupt the ensuing election and constitutional processes. 

Unfortunately, the OHCHR may have fallen for BNP’s misinformation campaign.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is mandated by the Member States to champion human rights globally. Its work must reflect the principles of objectivity, neutrality, impartiality and non-selectivity. 

In this context, it is advisable that the Office reviews its method of collection and verification of the information before publishing. 

The Government expects that the OHCHR will rectify its 31-October press briefing note based on authentic facts. If the OHCHR's statements are not highly objective, the Office will lose people's support, acceptability and credibility.

The Government of Bangladesh is committed to ensure people’s right to vote at any cost and to holding a free, fair, credible and peaceful election. 

For the sake of democracy, which the people of Bangladesh achieved after countless sacrifices, the Government of Bangladesh will support the independent Election Commission to hold the next general election on time as per our constitution.

The Election Commission – independent constitutional body – is regularly holding dialogue with registered political parties ahead of next general elections. The Election Commission attaches great importance to observation of the election process to ensure transparency. 

In this regard, the Election Commission invited international election observers and foreign media to observe the upcoming 12th Parliamentary Elections of Bangladesh.

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