Vol. 5 Num 315 Sat. April 16, 2005  
Front Page

European Parliament Adopts Resolution
Allow int'l probe into bomb attacks, ensure free EC, caretaker govt

The European Parliament in a resolution on Bangladesh has condemned repeated bomb attacks in the country and urged the government to ensure full access of 'international investigators assisting local intelligence forces' to all evidence regarding the incidents in accordance with the government's promises.

The resolution was adopted on Thursday with 92 votes in favour, two against and three abstentions, according to the European Parliament's official website

It also urged the government to publish the investigation reports in full.

The European Parliament said that in view of the parliamentary elections scheduled for late 2006/early 2007, systematic reforms were necessary to re-establish the principles of good governance so that the election commission and the caretaker government could operate independently.

"A coordinated approach by all donors worldwide will be necessary to support such reforms," it noted.

The European Parliament called upon all sides to refrain from undemocratic practices and to enter into an all-party dialogue through full participation in the democratic process in parliament.

It called, in particular, upon the opposition parties to end the boycott of parliamentary activity, since agitation and violence caused suffering to the people of Bangladesh, the resolution said.

The European Parliament highlighted, among other issues, the need for putting an end to anti-crime operations by the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), trial of the war criminals of 1971 and ensuring the rights of religious minorities.

The resolution came on the same day when Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman, back from an international roundtable in Sweden, told newsman that overall impression about Bangladesh was now excellent across the world. Referring to his meetings with European parliamentarians, Saifur said they had showed a very positive attitude towards Bangladesh's development.

In an instant reaction to the resolution, Law Minister Moudud Ahmed last night told BBC radio that its contents were not 'against us, rather these are about us'.

The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) called upon the government to respect the instructions given by the High Court to avoid abuse of legal instruments in detaining opposition demonstrators and to refrain from repressing peaceful political protests through detention and torture.

Blaming the Rab for 'extra-judicial' killings, the MEPs urged the government to put an end to the anti-crime operations by the 'paramilitary force'. They referred to the figures provided by a Bangladeshi human rights organisation -- Odhikar-- to say there that were 90 publicly reported custodial deaths due to torture in 2004.

The MEPs reiterated their support for the demand that those known to have participated in the massacre of Bangladeshi citizens and other war crimes during the Liberation War in 1971 be brought to trial.

The resolution expressed support for the principled steps which the European Union (EU) representatives had taken last year in defence of the rights of religious minorities in Bangladesh, such as physical presence of the Ahmadiyya Muslims at a complex in October 2004, when fundamentalists had prepared to stage a mass assault on it.

It called for a review of the application of the human rights and democracy clause of the EU-Bangladesh Cooperation Agreement and to ascertain whether the Government of Bangladesh is making sufficiently strong efforts to fundamentally improve the human rights situation.

The European Parliament noted that recent modest steps taken by the government to improve the political situation would help establish a situation respectful of law and order, and would support any substantial progress on issues like good governance, freedom of press, the fight against corruption and respect for human rights.

The MEPs encouraged the government to enable the population to participate in traditional cultural events and to provide security measures so that these events, which reflect a tradition of tolerance and secularism, could be implemented safely, the resolution said.

It also called upon the government to take preventive steps against what said is the Muslim paramilitary groups that have spread violence and intimidation in rural areas of Bangladesh.

In his reaction, Moudud told BBC radio that many such resolutions were adopted on various non-developed nations in the past.

He said he did not mind if they (European Parliament) express concern as a well wishes of Bangladesh. But they would commit a mistake in thinking that Bangladesh would act as per their desires.

On reforms and caretaker issue, the law minister said it was not the Europeans' business. "Caretaker government is our achievement and we'll look into it."

Turning to human rights, Moudud wonderd why they focus so much on the poor nations' human rights situation said while there are human rights problems also in the developed countries.