Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will “not bend down to any external pressure” to derail the nation from its constitutional path towards democracy and fundamental freedom, state minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Sunday said, asking foreign missions in Dhaka to abide by diplomatic norms.
He also said that developing countries like Bangladesh are being “targeted for undue pressure by a handful of countries from the North”.
“Bangladesh will prosper against all odds, as we are only committed and accountable to the people,” he said.
The state minister made the assertion while presenting the keynote paper at foreign ministry organised event on the Human Rights Day with the presence of Foreign Minister Dr. A K Abdul Momen, and Minister for Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs Anisul Huq.
He said the source of Prime Minister Hasina government’s power is the “mass people of this country; and the people will determine who will rule this nation”.
“Neither any external power nor any internal conspiracy will be able to determine this. We will never give up our fight to protect democracy, human dignity and fundamental freedom on this soil,” he said, after saying that a joint statement by 15 diplomatic missions in Dhaka issued before the International Human Rights Day has come to the government’s attention.
“I would call upon the concerned foreign Missions in Dhaka to abide by diplomatic norms and etiquette that they themselves expect from foreign missions in their country to practice. The Government of Bangladesh is patient and cordial to our foreign guests and is sincerely willing to maintain friendly relations to all nations, but we do have some red lines,” he said.
“Bangladesh Awami League, the Party that has led the birth of this nation, has the glorious history of life-long struggle of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and other great leaders, against authoritarian regimes of Pakistan and later Bangladesh.”
“In our perspective, the human rights agenda continues to remain as the most neglected domain in the works of the UN, principally due to the impasse created by the politicisation of the human rights agenda by a handful of countries,” he said.
“Targeting developing countries with undue political pressure has so far been their core agenda, including through a number of politically motivated civil society organisations. Thus, the multilateral intergovernmental nature of the UN Human Rights Mechanism is seriously being undermined.
“Due to this, many important thematic and country-specific situations that need immediate attention of the global community are being sidelined for years. Alarmingly, we are witnessing a further intensification of this scenario due to the current geo-political scenario in the world.”
The United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has published records of more than 59,000 cases of “enforced disappearances” across 110 countries since 1980.
The state minister said the list includes countries who claim themselves to be the torchbearers of human rights.
“There are countries to which thousands of such cases were referred by the Working Group, whereas to many other countries, hundreds of such cases were communicated by the Group. Only 76 cases of so-called “Enforced Disappearances” were communicated to Bangladesh by the Working Group.
“In this list, there exists a case, which is as old as 28 years, when my Government was not even in power. No other government took the initiative to engage with the Working Group.
“We have initiated constructive engagement with the Working Group and we regularly share information on these cases to the Working Group. Already 10 people have reappeared, reducing the list to 66 cases only.
“Out of remaining 66, Police found that 28 had cases filed against them at the court/Police station including murder cases.
“These 28 disappearance cases are absconding cases. Out of the rest of the 38, the Police did not receive any feedback from the relatives of 10, who were requested to provide help to investigate and find the whereabouts.
“The police continue searching for them. And the other 28 cases are under investigation. Apart from its ongoing sincere efforts to ensure all human rights for its citizens, Bangladesh as a responsible and responsive Member States of the United Nations is continuing to maintain close engagement with UN Human Rights Mechanism.”
He said Bangladesh has been elected as a Member of the UN Human Rights Council for the tenure 2023-2025 from the Asia-Pacific region, securing highest 160 votes.
“This is clearly a manifestation of the international community’s confidence in Bangladesh in promoting and protecting human rights. In fact, this would be the fifth and all possible terms that Bangladesh would be a Member of the UN Human Rights Council,” he said.
“Bangladesh is continuing to cooperate with the UN Human Rights mechanism through visits of special mandate holders as well as through Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and treaty bodies reporting. The UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar has visited Bangladesh five times since 2018, in absence of his access to Myanmar.
“This year, apart from the maiden visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, three special procedure mandate holders have visited Bangladesh (SR on HR and Climate Change, IE on Rights of Older Persons and SR on HR of Trafficking in Persons).
“Three more visits of special rapporteurs are already scheduled next year. Government is at present in a rigorous multi-stakeholder process for the implementation of the recommendations received during our third cycle of UPR review in 2018, which saw participation of 105 states and garnered appreciation for Bangladesh’s ongoing endeavors to the promotion and protection of human rights.
“We are also preparing a national report for the fourth cycle of UPR review scheduled next year. This year, we have participated in the review of our initial report to the Committee for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and now are in a process to submit our next periodic report on ICCPR in the first half of next year. Our missions in Geneva and New York are in close touch with the concerned UN offices on all human rights related issues,” he said.
The state minister quoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and said, “Unfortunately, after 74 years of its adoption, the spirit of brotherhood is markedly absent in global discourse on human rights issues.”
“Developing countries like Bangladesh are being targeted for undue pressure by a handful of countries from the North.
However, against all conspiracies, the Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina firmly remains committed to maintaining democratic norms and environment in the country.
“Bangladesh will prosper against all odds, as we are only committed and accountable to the people.
“The Government remains determined to go forward with its commitment to the people to ensure full enjoyment of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
“Government is determined, against all provocations and misinformation, to ensure that the law-and-order situation remains stable, and the safety and security of the citizens remains intact.
“With the support of the people of the soil and of our friends abroad, the Government is determined to take the country forward towards the ongoing path of economic development, safety and security and ensuring the well-being of the citizens.
“We will also continue our robust cooperation with the UN and our international partners, including in the field of human rights, based on the spirit of mutual respect, trust and cooperation,” he said.