Bachelet raised no concern over country’s human rights condition: Anisul Haque
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in her latest report did not express any particular concern over the human rights situation in Bangladesh and related issues, Law Minister Anisul Haque claimed today. The minister said this to journalists after attending a programme at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BISS) at the capital's Eskaton. The UN rights chief was invited by the minister in March this year when they met at Geneva after she expressed her interest to visit the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, he said. Following the invitation, she visited Bangladesh and its Rohingya camps this month. During her visit Bechelet met with different human rights organisation and representatives of civil society. Also read: Act now on climate front, listen to countries like Bangladesh: Bachelet “She made a statement after her visit, during which she met all kinds of representatives of different organisations specialising in different aspects of human rights, but nothing negative came out in her statement - which due to all her meetings must be taken as a deeply rooted and considered statement,” said Anisul Haque. The law minister seems to think that since the ex-Chilean president is leaving her post at the end of August after 4 years, she can no longer exercise any authority. But her findings will of course be retained as part of her office and passed on to her successor. Also read: Don’t abandon Rohingyas, scale up supports: Bachelet urges int’l community
Int'l community urged to intensify pressure on Myanmar military to stop violence against its people
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has urged the international community to intensify pressure on the military to stop its campaign of violence against the people of Myanmar. She also urged the international community to insist on prompt restoration of civilian rule, and accountability for violations committed by security forces. "We continue to document gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law on a daily basis, including repression against protesters and attacks against civilians that may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes," said Bachelet during a press conference in Geneva on Thursday. Read: I can understand PM Hasina’s pains: Bachelet August 25 marked five years since more than 700,000 Rohingya women, children and men were forced to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh – and Myanmar’s human rights catastrophe continues to worsen, with the military (the Tatmadaw) maintaining military operations in Kayah and Kayin in the southeast; Chin state in the northwest; and Sagaing and Magway regions in the Bamar heartland. The use of air power and artillery against villages and residential areas has intensified, she said. "Recent spikes in violence in Rakhine State also seemed to indicate that the last fairly stable area of the country may not avoid a resurgence of armed conflict," said the UN rights chief. She said Rohingya communities have frequently been caught between the Tatmadaw and Arakan Army fighters or have been targeted directly in operations.
Human Rights Violation: BNP wants impendent probe under UN supervision
In tune with UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, BNP on Thursday demanded an independent investigation into the incidents of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, under the supervision of the UN. “More than 600 political leaders and activists, civil society members and labour leaders have been subjected to enforced disappearance. Most of them were not found…enforced disappearance is a crime against humanity. Making a person disappear by the state is a grievous offence. It can’t be accepted. So, this type of crime should be investigated,” said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir. Talking to reporters at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office, he said the UN Human Rights Commissioner rightly said a fair, neutral and independent inquiry must be carried out into the incidents and those involved in such crimes will have to be brought to justice. Also read: BNP meets UN Human Rights Commission's Asia-Pacific chief The BNP leader said Bachelet also talked about the Rapid Action Battalion’s involvement with such incidents. “We want an independent investigation under the supervision of the UN into the incidents to reveal the truth and take action against all those to be found involved (with the human rights violations),” he said. Fakhrul said the UN rights chief's statements on enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and the human rights situations in Bangladesh have proved the truth of what the BNP has long been saying about the matters. “We’ve long been saying that the enforced disappearances, killings and extrajudicial killings have been taking place with state patron. It’s a big problem,” he said. Stating that people in Bangladesh were not known to the world of enforced disappearance, Fakhrul said it was Awami League which introduced enforced disappearance in the country after returning to power in 2008. Referring to Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader’s remark that the United Nations has no jurisdiction to investigate any incidents of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Bangladesh, Fakhrul said the ruling party leader ostensibly admitted that these incidents happened here through his comment. Earlier at a press conference on Wednesday, UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet voiced deep concerns over the allegations of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture in Bangladesh. Also read: BNP renews call for Khaleda’s unconditional release She also spoke of a neutral, independent and transparent investigation into the allegations, saying her office is ready to provide advice on how such a mechanism could be designed in line with international standards. Replying to a question, Fakhrul said there is no atmosphere in the country to engage in talks with the ruling party over the country's political crisis. “The political crisis here can't be resolved until our chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia is released, the cases (filed against our leaders and activists) are withdrawn and until this government resigns handing over power to a neutral caretaker government and dissolving Parliament,” he said. Trashing some media reports on BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s worsening health condition, Fakhrul said she is now doing well and all the parameters of her health are good. “I've talked to doctors they said she has no new major problem. Basically, she is ill with various health complications. But nothing new happened to take her to a hospital. Her condition has deteriorated further," he said.
Pay attention to Palestine, Myanmar, Hasan to UNHRC
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud on Thursday said the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) should pay attention to Palestine and Myanmar. He said it would have been better if the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet during her recent visit to Bangladesh heard from the victim families of the arson violence unleashed in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in the country. Dr Hasan, also a joint general secretary of Awami League, was addressing a discussion organised by Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU) Alumni Association on the occasion of the National Mourning Day at Krishibid Institute Auditorium here. Also read: Election period in Bangladesh to be important time to maximise civic, political space: Bachelet He said when children in Palestine threw stones at Israeli soldiers, they (Palestinians) are killed by firing a hail of bullets in response. Pointing at Michelle Bachelet, the Information and Broadcasting Minister said it is not enough to appreciate Bangladesh visiting the Rohingya camp only. But she will also have to visit Myanmar and ensure their repatriation, he said. “The United Nations Human Rights Council should pay attention to these countries where human rights are grossly violated,” he added. Criticising the BNP, Dr Hasan said Zia and his party (BNP) are the biggest violators of human rights in Bangladesh. Ziaur Rahman turned the Indemnity Ordinance into law to prevent the trial of Bangabandhu murder and he also rehabilitated the killers. And in 2013, 2014 and 2015, hundreds of innocent people were burnt to death through petrol bombs in the name of strike-blockade by BNP and their ally Jamaat, he said. Also read: Bachelet didn’t express any concern over Bangladesh situation: Law Minister About the remarks of Michelle Bachelet over the Digital Security Act, Hasan said that this law was enacted to ensure digital security for every citizen of the country. “Those who raise questions about our law, I will tell them to look at the laws in Australia and Singapore where there are stricter provisions in the laws than ours,” he said adding that India and Pakistan also have similar provisions in their laws. A framework law was enacted in the European Union to provide digital security and the EU member countries have made their laws in light of the Framework law. But, no remark about these is seen, he added. "Yes, we are careful to ensure that this law is not misused, and we are working to ensure that no one is oppressed," said the Minister. Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim, AL joint general secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim, SAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Shahidur Rashid Bhuiyan the SAU alumni association secretary general and also Youth and Sports Secretary Mesbah Uddin also spoke at the discussion presided over by the association president Prof Dr Kamal Uddin Ahamed.
I can understand PM Hasina’s pains: Bachelet
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said she understands the pains of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as they both went through similar situations back in 1974 and 1975.“I can understand her pains as well, you know, because if we live situations that are similar in that sense,” she said, noting that her father died in 1974 while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lost her father in 1975.Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was brutally assassinated by a group of conspiring army officers on August 15 in 1975. Bangabandhu's wife, sons, daughters-in-law and other relatives were also killed in the massacre, one of the most heinous in world history.On the other hand, General Alberto Bachelet was arrested and tortured for opposing the military coup led by Gen Augusto Pinochet. He died in 1974 of a heart attack caused by the torture inflicted on him.During her four-day visit to Bangladesh, Bachelet met PM Hasina on Wednesday apart from her meetings with four ministers, civil society members and other stakeholders.Her visit coincided with an important day of national mourning, commemorating the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.She said it was a day which naturally lent itself to reflections on the history of Bangladesh – its painful past, a people’s struggle for independence and for their human rights, millions of whom had been forced to flee in 1971.“I also share with them my experiences as a former head of state of federal government, and my own experience in Chile,” said the UN rights chief who was elected President of Chile on two occasions (2006 – 2010 and 2014 – 2018).Bachelet, who also was the first female president of Chile, laid emphasis on acknowledging the existence of problems, to address them and make the investigation. Read: Myanmar’s people deserve return to democracy ending systemic discrimination: Bachelet “I always felt that when I receive any allegation of any kind….what if it's true, because it might not be my policy, but maybe some things are happening. And if I know that I'm having....I can do something about it. So that's the kind of conversation we had,” she told reporters before leaving Dhaka on Wednesday evening.The UN rights chief said the allegations might not be true but if she hears something, she always says, “Let's analyze it, let's investigate and see if it's true or if it's not true. If you come to know it's not true, things are clear.”But if it is found to be true, she said, how they remedy and how they take the measures. “So that's the kind of conversation that we had.”Responding to a question, the UN rights chief said she is happy to have come to the right location because she thinks it was an important opportunity for her to visit this beautiful country that has a lot of challenges – not just human rights but also on economic, social, cultural and climate change fronts.Warmly thanking the government of Bangladesh for its invitation, she said, “I hope my visit will build on the government’s engagement with the UN’s human rights mechanisms and help deepen cooperation with us, furthering the promotion and protection of human rights in Bangladesh.”
Act now on climate front, listen to countries like Bangladesh: Bachelet
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said the international community “must heed” the voice of specially affected countries like Bangladesh and act to deploy every possible resource to make the human right to a healthy environment a reality for all. “Now is the time for action. We have spoken a lot, and we must walk the talk,” she said hours before wrapping up her four-day visit to Bangladesh on Wednesday, urging the international community to listen to countries like Bangladesh and act with "unity, purpose and solidarity". Bachelet said they know what they need to do, the challenge is moving their political leaders at international level to the point where they realise that the costs of inaction are far higher than those of doing the right thing. She hoped that in the next steps and at the international level, including at the end of the year in the discussion of the post-2020 biodiversity framework, that the international community will take steps to walk the talk and not to just discuss in closed rooms about this. “So as I said, we know what we need to do. We need political will to move forward on this.” Also read: Election period in Bangladesh to be important time to maximise civic, political space: Bachelet While speaking at a programme titled “New Frontiers of Human Rights: Climate Justice in Perspective” organized by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) at the BIISS auditorium the UN rights chief said, “So, we need to draw a new way of living, working and reaching our individual, collective potential in peace with each other and with our planet.” She said Bangladesh is very much at the frontline of this issue, both in terms of the effects of climate change on the country, but also due to its vital role as an actor for change. The World Bank estimates that Bangladesh may have almost 20 million internal climate migrants by 2050 – corresponding to roughly 12 % of the entire population of Bangladesh or the entire population of her own home country, Chile. Specifically, with a projected 50 cm rise in sea level, as mentioned before, Bangladesh may lose approximately 11% of its land by then, and that would mean up to 18 million people may have to migrate because of sea-level rise alone. “Climate change impacts access to food more broadly. Rising temperatures and heat stress are already affecting rice production in parts of Bangladesh,” Bachelet said. She said Bangladesh has made important progress in meeting the SDGs on poverty and education. “I commend Bangladesh on its ambitious vision for economic development and with a view to graduating from “Least Developed Country” status in 2026.” Bachelet said at the same time, stronger efforts are needed to meet SDG 5 on gender equality and SDG 10 on reducing inequality. This includes working towards eliminating child marriage, tackling gender-based violence, ensuring the right of every child to education, and enacting both short- and long-term special measures to reduce income inequality, among other steps, she said. Also read: Civil society needs 'space, enabling conditions': Bachelet In addition, Bachelet said, Bangladesh’s sustainable development efforts should occur in line with SDG 16 by promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. This includes strengthening the national human rights commission, the elections commission, the judiciary, expanding civic space for public debate (both on and offline) and ensuring civil society participation in the design and implementation of economic and social development plans, she mentioned.
Election period in Bangladesh to be important time to maximise civic, political space: Bachelet
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday said the election period will be an important time for Bangladesh to maximise civic and political space. She also mentioned that freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly of political activists, human rights defenders, opposition parties and journalists are important. "There needs to be space for more dialogue among political parties and with a wide range of civil society actors to prevent grievances from building and erupting in social unrest," Bachelet told reporters at a crowded press conference at a city hotel. She said it is also important to ensure that law enforcement forces have the necessary training to manage protests without resorting to the excessive use of force. Bachelet said the voices of women, religious minorities and indigenous peoples, and especially young people need to be heard. She thanked the government of Bangladesh for inviting her to visit the country, the first by a High Commissioner for Human Rights. "I hope my visit will build on the government’s engagement with the UN’s human rights mechanisms and help deepen cooperation with us, furthering the promotion and protection of human rights in Bangladesh," Bachelet said. During the visit she met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and several ministers - foreign, home, law, and education - and other government officials. She also met with the National Human Rights Commission and representatives of civil society, as well as members of the diplomatic community and academics. Bachelet interacted with students at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies on climate change and human rights. She said civil society members are important resources that governments need to tap into. "Critical voices can help to identify the problems, to acknowledge them, to dive deep into the causes and discuss solutions," she said, adding that acknowledging the challenges is always the first step to overcoming them. "My exchanges with civil society representatives were rich and insightful – this was not surprising as Bangladesh has historically had a wealth of civil society expertise in various fields," she said. Bachelet said democratic and civic space, as well as effective checks and balances and accountability are essential as Bangladesh aims for the next levels of development.
Michelle Bachelet visits Rohingya camps
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet visited the Rohingya camps of Cox’s Bazar on Tuesday. During the visit, the High Commissioner for human rights and her team visited some key services and facilities for Rohingya refugees including registration. Michelle Bachelet also met and talked to refugee women, youth, and religious leaders. Read: UN envoy travels to strife-torn Myanmar for the first time
UN HR chief pays homage to Bangabandhu
Visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum on Monday. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam received her at Dhanmondi-32. The UN rights chief placed a wreath at the portrait of Bangabandhu and signed visitors' book there. She also took a tour to the whole museum and was briefed by the State Minister. Bachelet, who was an elected president of Chile on two occasions (2006 – 2010 and 2014 – 2018), is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday morning.
Bachelet to pay homage to Bangabandhu Monday
Visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will pay homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum on Monday. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam will receive her at Dhanmondi-32 at 12pm, said a senior official. Bachelet, who was an elected president of Chile on two occasions (2006 – 2010 and 2014 – 2018), is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday morning. Bachelet will also join an interactive session on “New Frontiers of Human Rights: Climate Justice in Perspective” with young scholars at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies on Wednesday after her meeting with PM Hasina. Also read: Ideals of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Can Inspire the Young Generation She held meetings with the Cabinet members of the government including Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Sunday. The top executive of the UN Human Rights body will also have the opportunity to interact with the forcibly displaced Rohingya people during her trip to Cox’s Bazar, through which she would be equipped with concrete information to press hard the agenda for their repatriation to the ancestral homeland - Rakhine State of Myanmar, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also read: Nation set to observe National Mourning Day Monday Bachelet will make a statement on Wednesday at the end of her visit, said her office. She is scheduled to interact with the National Human Rights Commission, youth representatives, leaders of the civil society organizations (CSOs) and the academia during her stay in Dhaka. Bachelet arrived here on Sunday morning on a four-day visit as Bangladesh continues “constructive dialogue” with her for the promotion and protection of human rights.