The Centrist Democrat International in its resolution has called upon the European Union (EU) to slap sanctions on those law enforcement officers, government ministers and ruling party politicians who face strong allegations of committing violence against opposition activists.
In a release issued from Brussels, the global organisation of centre and centre-right parties, widely known as IDC-CDI, on April 10 also criticised the December 30 national elections in Bangladesh over widespread irregularities, saying it was marred by widespread irregularities, rigging and violence on opposition candidates across the country.’
The resolution called on the EU High Representative on Foreign Policy to ask for the release from prison of the leader of their member party Khaleda Zia given her deteriorating health in solitary isolation and the lack of specialist medical attention.
It strongly condemned the Bangladeshi authorities’ non-assistance to allow a CDI delegation to visit Khaleda in prison prior to the farcical elections, despite seeking assistance from the Bangladesh Embassy in Brussels.
It also called on the Bangladeshi authorities to return all opposition political leaders, activists and citizens of the country who have been subject to enforced disappearances.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party is the only member of the Centrist Democrat International in Bangladesh and the party’s ailing leader Khaleda Zia has been in jail since February 8, 2018.
The IDC-CDI also called on the EU High Representative on Foreign Policy to make an immediate statement on the election in Bangladesh calling for stopping human rights violations and violence on opposition representatives.
Following these farcical elections, Sheikh Hasina’s government has become tainted internationally and Bangladesh has transformed into a one-party state, observed the resolution posted on its website.
The resolution also said that the judiciary, police and senior members of the armed forces have been politicised to serve Sheikh Hasina’s regime by continuing to grossly violate human rights through intimidation, abduction, torture, extra-judicial killings, among others.
It also called the EU High Representative on Foreign Policy to review all privileges given to Bangladesh following the consistent and persistent failure of the government to adhere to the EU’s values of democracy, rule of law and human rights, preventing the country from holding free and fair elections over the last ten years.
It called to insist on the Bangladesh government to immediately suspend the Digital Security Act and create conditions for credible, transparent and inclusive elections to restore the country to democratic norms.
The IDC-CDI called on the European Union to immediately review its relations with Bangladesh at all levels other than funding projects related to health and education while condemning the Bangladeshi authorities’ violence and intimidation on thousands of garment workers to keep them away from forming trade unions.
It called on the EU Trade Commissioner to immediately send a trade mission to review relations with Bangladesh, including the EBA scheme currently in force, following the grave violation of political and labour rights.
it is noted here that Bangladesh receives the second highest development assistance from the EU just after Afghanistan, approximately 600 million Euros, including assistance for democratic governance.
(Shakhawat Hossain is Dhaka-based freelance Journalist and Political Commentator)