M Mushfiqul Fazal from State Department
The United States has urged the Bangladesh government to create a safe environment for people to peacefully assemble and voice their concerns, and relatedly, for opposition parties to campaign without facing intimidation and repression.
US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price made the remarks at a briefing on Monday in response to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s threat to send former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia in jail.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently in a programme warned BNP that its chairperson Khaleda Zia would be sent back to jail if the party crosses the line in the name of movement.
Ned Price said, “We urge the strengthening of democratic process and political institutions, adherence to the rule of law, and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout Bangladesh for all Bangladeshis.”
Pointing at Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s threat to send opposition leader Khaleda Zia in jail, State Department correspondent M Mushfiqul Fazal asked, “Millions of people of Bangladesh gathering in rallies in various parts of the country and demanding voting rights, under a neutral caretaker government. Ruling Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina warned the opposition if the BNP went superfluous in the name of anti-government movement, then opposition leader Khaleda Zia would be sent to jail again as 77-years-old former prime minister, staying at her house with limited access. And according to State Department reports, her imprisonment is a political ploy to remove her from the political process. So, will you urge for the release of the opposition leader of Bangladesh? And what is your comment on that?”
In response to the question, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said, “We put, as you know, democracy and human rights at the center of our relationships around the world, at the center of our foreign policy. We as such regularly raise these issues with governments around the world, including the Government of Bangladesh. We do so both publicly, as I’ve done from this room, a number of times. We do so in our private engagements.”
About the next general election in Bangladesh, the spokesperson said, “With respect to the political process and the next election in Bangladesh, we hope for a robust civic participation, and the people of Bangladesh ultimately will be able to choose their own government through free and fair elections.”
“That is our hope; that is what we continue to support,” he added.