Deeply worried by rising levels of violence in Bangladesh, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay today urged the country's political leaders to set their differences aside, immediately halt “destructive brinkmanship” and use their influence to ease the unrest.
According to a press release issued by Ms. Pillay's Office, in recent weeks, as the major parties in Bangladesh have failed to resolve their differences over the conduct of elections, supporters of both parties have been clashing with each other and with the security forces. Scores of people have been killed, hundreds injured, and there has been extensive destruction of property.
“In the past week, we have seen acts as extreme as protestors throwing molotov cocktails onto public buses without allowing the occupants to escape, leaving women and children with horrific burns,” the High Commissioner said. “Such levels of violence are deeply shocking for the Bangladeshi people, the vast majority of whom want -- and deserve -- a peaceful and inclusive election.”
The High Commissioner also expressed concern about the on-going arrest and detention of key opposition leaders by the law enforcement agencies. “This can further inflame the situation and rule out any possibility for engagement and dialogue between the main political parties,” she said.
“Whatever their differences, political leaders on both sides must halt their destructive brinkmanship, which is pushing Bangladesh dangerously close to a major crisis. Instead, they must fulfil their responsibility and use their influence to bring this violence to an immediate halt and seek a solution to this crisis through dialogue,” Pillay said.
The High Commissioner pointed out that Bangladesh is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
“In other situations, we have seen cases of political or election related violence where the perpetrators of such acts - including political leadership - have faced prosecution,” she said.