Debate on BD: UK Parliament calls for pol consensus

The House of Commons, the lower house of the British Parliament, held a debate on the situation in Bangladesh on Thursday.Taking part in the debate, the Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed disappointment at the situation in Bangladesh and expressed hope that some solutions and way forward could be found even at this late stage.The debate, which lasted for two hours, was the first item of main business on the day and was opened by Anne Main while the Co-Sponsor Simon Danczuk also took part in the debate. Various issues related to elections and Bangladesh politics dominated the debate.Anne Main said, “We could not possibly look at the current political situation and sense of instability in Bangladesh without briefly revisiting what has happened in the past, which has helped form the situation”.”I honestly hope that those who are watching this debate-some of whom are very close to us-have taken on board our earnest hope that they will go back and say: “Put your differences aside,” she said, adding, “The two-lady solution that was being talked about in 2006 would have been a disaster because there can be no way to run a country through violence.”Anne Main also said, “We want Bangladesh’s political leaders to keep their arguments and debates within their Chamber, and to allow their electorate to come forward freely with a strong voice and say who they would like to represent them. The people should then be able to hold them to account. That is what this House does. We hold the government of the day to account.” Anne Main said, Every government who are in power must feel that they have to deal with the issues and that they cannot just keep looking back and blaming the opposition, saying, “It all happened then.” She said, let us end on that note of consensus-don’t spoil it. We can look back at the history, but if people focus only on that and lose sight of the bigger picture, to which we have all alluded, it will be a tragedy for Bangladesh.During the debate, she also said, “Our government, I’m proud to say, continue to urge all parties to work together and to strengthen democratic accountability, but unfortunately it is not bearing a lot of fruit. The parliamentary model over there does not reflect ours.””Bangladesh is a secular country that has many Muslim believers, but other religions as well. In 1971, it had the proud aim that it would remain secular. It is also a proud member of the Commonwealth. It is a disservice to that country that people from minority religions now feel so oppressed with their temples being daubed and disrupted,” Main said.Participating in the debate, Rushanara Ali MP said, according to Human Rights Watch, some 300 people have lost their lives since last February in the political violence in Bangladesh. The people of Bangladesh and those who have family connections with it live in fear and with a sense of perpetual frustration at the situation in their country. The Member for St Albans highlighted extremely well the history of the turbulence that the country has suffered since its birth.She said, “Free and fair elections are an essential component of a functional democracy, and when they do not happen it is a disgrace, not least for Bangladesh, which has such a proud history. According to various reports, some 18 people died as a result of election day violence.” According to Human Rights Watch, many innocent civilians, including young children, were caught up in the crossfire of violence in the run-up to the elections and on election day.We need the government and opposition parties of Bangladesh to recognise that patience is running out. They need to work together to find a solution that respects the interests of the people of Bangladesh, she added.Richard Fuller MP said, many members have rightly observed that we should look at the actions of both political parties and should not take sides. That is fair, but only up to a point. I believe that a particular responsibility lies with the governing party of the day. As I list these steps, I think it will become clear, in the case of each of them, that there were decisions to be made, that those decisions were made by the governing party and that, as a result, that governing party is accountable for them.Mark Field MP said, All of us who have Bangladesh close to our hearts are deeply worried by the situation, over the past seven years. There seems to be a sense that that country is again plummeting towards the prospect of some military takeover and martial law. Does she agree that while one inevitably has to look at the history, going back as far as partition in 1971, it is also important that there is a responsibility in the hands of today’s Bangladeshi politicians to draw a line under the past and look with a firm eye to the future?Nick de Bois MP said, during our visit to investigate the collapse of the Rana Plaza, was not the clear message from those businesses that perform to ethically high standards that, unless the infrastructure, stability and future of Bangladesh were secure, they could not pledge their continuing support?Jonathan Ashworth MP said, I think, statistically, that Bangladesh has the second-largest Hindu population in the world. We are all supporters of Bangladesh-I have a huge Bengali community-but the message we should send from this Chamber is that it must respect the human rights of religious minorities.