Bangladesh: human rights and forthcoming elections
Delivered in Plenary - 21 November 2013
For the past five years Bangladesh has enjoyed a period of relative stability, under a democratically elected government, practically unprecedented in its 42-year history. The foundation of this stability was the last general election, which I witnessed as this Parliament’s election observation leader, and it went very well.
In 2008, the secular Awami League decisively defeated the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist Jamaat allies. In many ways Bangladesh has shown since then how a majority Muslim country can thrive on secular governance. The War Crimes Tribunal, albeit controversial, has held extremists to account for their crimes. I welcome that, for in the 1971 war of independence atrocities were clearly committed on an industrial scale. The Tribunal has also helped the country undergo closure on historical wounds.
In January 2014, Bangladeshis go to the polls again and I call on all parties, particularly the BNP, to participate in this election. It is their choice, not ours, but I hope that Bangladesh chooses a future based on stability, human rights, justice and equality.