Update March 5, 2015

Dhaka 10-08 pm, 29-May, 2020

Civil society, freedom of speech under attack in Bangladesh: UN

Sumel Sarker

UN

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein says ‘De-escalate violence, find paths of political dialogue’

05 March 2015, Nirapad News: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said he was deeply concerned at measures that restrict freedom of expression and democratic space in numerous countries, including Bangladesh.

“Civil society and freedom of speech is also under attack in Bangladesh, not only by extremists but also due to ‘heavy-handed’ official responses,” he said in his opening statement while representing High Commissioner’s annual report in Geneva on Thursday.

The UN Rights body chief urged all political leaders to de-escalate violence, find paths of political dialogue and ensure respect for human rights.

“I join the (UN) Secretary-General in appealing to all political leaders to de-escalate the violence, find paths of political dialogue and ensure respect for human rights,” he said.

In Bangladesh, the appalling attack on a freethinking blogger and his wife last week is the latest shock in an escalating atmosphere of political violence, said the UN rights body chief.

At least 80 people have been killed, including several children, in arson attacks and clashes between political parties and security forces, he added.

The High Commissioner said he was deeply concerned at measures that restrict freedom of expression and democratic space in numerous countries including Bangladesh, Armenia, Azerbaijan Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Hungary, Myanmar, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

He urged States not “to lose their grasp” of human rights principles underlying their societies in their struggle against violent extremism.

“There is real danger that in their reaction to extremist violence, opinion-leaders and decision-makers will lose their grasp of the deeper principles that underpin the system for global security which States built 70 years ago to ward off the horror of war,” the UN Human Rights Chief said.

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