Dhaka, Dec 23 (UNB) - Canada has encouraged all involved in the electoral process to work together in fostering a peaceful campaign environment, enabling the people of Bangladesh to participate safely in free, fair, inclusive and credible elections.
"Canada stands by the people of Bangladesh and supports all voters in the full exercise of their democratic rights and freedoms in the context of national election on
December 30," Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Benoit Prefontaine said in a statement on Sunday.
He said peace and security are the cornerstones of democracy. "Acts of violence and intimidation undermine the legitimacy of the democratic process."
The High Commissioner said the pre-election campaign should be carried out in a calm and responsible manner by all concerned.
"This includes protection of the political and electoral rights of minority and other vulnerable groups and ensuring free space for civil society," he added.
Dhaka, Dec 22 (UNB) – Reaffirming Bangladesh's commitment to an independent Palestine state, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said Bangladesh will continue to support the cause of Palestine and always stand by its people.
She made the remarks when Grand Mufti of Al Aqsa Mosque and State of Palestine Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed Hossain met her at her official residence Ganobhaban.
PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.
Underlining the need for unity among the Muslim Ummah, the Prime Minister said if any conflict arises among them, this can be resolved through discussions.
She also recalled her meeting with late leader of Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat during a summit in Tunisia.
Mentioning that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur laid the foundation of the relations between the two brotherly countries, Hasina said, “We continue our support to Palestine following his footsteps."
She mentioned Bangabandhu's deep attachment with Yasser Arafat and his firm solidarity with the Palestinian brothers and their legitimate aspirations for an independent Palestine.
The Grand Mufti expressed satisfaction over the existing relations between Palestine and Bangladesh and described Bangladesh as their second home.
He also termed Bangabandhu as a ‘great man’.
Highly appreciating Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership, Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed expressed the belief that she will complete the unfinished tasks of Bangabandhu.
He said every Palestine feels that Bangladesh strongly supports Palestine. "Not only our President, but also all the people of Palestine invite you to visit Palestine," he said addressing the Prime Minister.
The Grand Mufti invited Sheikh Hasina to attend a conference with the theme - "Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine".
He also conducted a munajat seeking continued success of the Prime Minister and the people of Bangladesh.
Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed presented a scarf inscribed with the word, 'Palestine', to Sheikh Hasina.
PM's Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, PM's Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman, Military Secretary Major General Mia Mohammad Zainul Abedin and Palestinian Ambassador to Bangladesh Yousef SY Ramadan were present on the occasion.
Dhaka, Dec 22 (UNB) - US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller on Saturday encouraged all to participate in the democratic process peacefully saying success of democracy depends on actively participating in the political process.
“That’s why I encourage everyone to participate in the upcoming election,” the Ambassador said describing election a festive, grand and noisy occasion.
Ambassador Miller made the remarks while addressing at the inaugural session of a debate competition held at the Teacher-Student Center (TSC) auditorium of Dhaka University (DU).
Urging all political actors to avoid violence, the US envoy said violence hinders democratic process and only serves those who wish to undermine.
He said all parties should be safe and feel free to participate fully in the electoral process to express their political views and campaign throughout the country freely and peacefully.
“Young people can change the world,” said the Ambassador adding that the energetic and passionate youth can change the world.
Dhaka University Debating Society (DUDS) and Win with Peace organised the programme as part of Inter University debate competition.
Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman, moderator of DUDS Prof Mahbuba Nasreen, DUDS President SM Rakib Sirazy and General Secretary Abdullah Asad were, among others, present.
Twelve teams representing various universities are participating in the debate completion.
Dhaka, Dec 22 (UNB) - The United Kingdom has said they will continue to work with international partners to press for the creation of conditions in Rakhine allowing a voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingyas.
The UK, however, opposes the plan for relocating any Rohingya to Bhasan Char Island in Noakhali.
“We absolutely oppose plans for moving any Rohingya to Bhasan Char (Island), the Island in the Bay of Bengal,” said British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field
He said they do not feel that would be a safe or feasible place and reiterated that any location or relocation of refugees has to be safe, dignified and in accordance with international humanitarian principles, standards and laws.
The UK minister made the remark in a debate on December 20 at the House of Commons on Rohingya crisis.
British MP (Bethnal Green and Bow) Rushanara Ali moved the issue saying the House is deeply concerned by the ongoing humanitarian crisis facing Rohingyas.
She said the House agrees with the findings of the UN fact-finding mission that genocide and war crimes have been carried out against the Rohingya by senior Myanmar military figures.
“This is not the first time that the House has debated the Rohingya refugee crisis, and it won’t be the last. This is one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time,” said Rushanara.
She mentioned that the United Nations fact-finding mission concluded that the Burmese military were responsible for “consistent patterns of serious human rights violations and abuses…in addition to serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
It made concrete recommendations that the Myanmar military “should be investigated and prosecuted in an international criminal tribunal for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
“And yet so little has been done in practical terms to solve the crisis, provide safety and security for the Rohingya people and bring those responsible to justice,” she said.
Minister Mark Field said the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar were preparing to start Rohingya repatriation on November 15. “I spoke as a matter of urgency by telephone with Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister and I spoke with both the Bangladeshi State Minister of Foreign Affairs and Burma’s Minister for International Cooperation in advance of that day.”
He said he was absolutely clear with each of them that the UK government shared the assessment of the UN Refugee Agency: that insufficient progress had been made to enable safe returns to northern Rakhine.
The UK minister welcomed the Bangladesh government’s subsequent reaffirmation of their commitment to exclusively voluntary returns.
“I can reassure Members that the UK will continue to play a full part in supporting Rohingya refugees as a leading donor to the international humanitarian response, to which we’ve so far donated £129 million,” he said.
The House members shared the plight of the Rohingya people during the debate. Several Members, including the UK Minister, have made the journey to camps in Bangladesh to meet Rohingyas and heard their distressing testimony for themselves.
“When I travelled to Cox’s Bazar in June, I could see the immense scale of the suffering. The refugee situation is heartbreaking, notwithstanding the immense generosity being shown to them by the government of Bangladesh which has given shelter to nearly 1 million people,” said the UK minister.
He said the UK government will continue to work with international partners to press for the creation of conditions in Rakhine allowing for a voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingyas. “However, there’s clearly no appetite for such a return at the moment.”
Dhaka, Dec 22 (UNB) - The United Kingdom has condemned recent political violence in Bangladesh and laid emphasis on a democratic election as the national election is scheduled to be held on December 30.
“We urge all in Bangladesh to refrain from further violence,” said British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field MP in a statement.
He also urged all to deliver a democratic election, give Bangladeshis a properly representative Parliament that can propel their country to greater economic prosperity.
He expressed concerns that some civil society organisations in Bangladesh are being “prevented” from observing the election.
“Independent domestic and international observers have a crucial role in helping to support a free and transparent process for the elections,” Mark Field said in a statement that he shared on Twitter.
The British High Commission in Dhaka also shared the statement on its verified Facebook page.
The United States, meanwhile, has expressed disappointment over Bangladesh government’s "inability" to grant credentials and issue visas within the timeframe necessary to conduct a credible international monitoring mission to the majority of international election monitors here.
The observers are from the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), which the United States funded through the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
"As a result, ANFREL was forced to cancel its observation mission for the December 30 national election," said Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson at the US Department of State in a statement on Friday.
The US encouraged the government of Bangladesh to uphold its commitment to a democratic process by ensuring all Bangladeshis are free to peacefully express themselves and participate in December 30 election.
The lack of an international observation mission makes it even more important for the government of Bangladesh to complete the accreditation of all the local NGOs that constitute the Election Working Group, which includes some funded by USAID, so they can conduct the vital work of monitoring the election, Palladino said.
"In the lead up to any democratic election there must be space for peaceful expression and assembly; for independent media to do its job covering electoral developments; for participants to have access to information; and for all individuals to be able to partake in the electoral process without harassment, intimidation, or violence," the statement reads.