Take steps to renew commitment to democracy and human rights: UN rights chief to Bangladesh government

Take steps to renew commitment to democracy and human rights UN rights chief to Bangladesh government

On Monday, January 8, UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk urged Bangladesh’s recently elected government to move quickly to rekindle the nation’s commitment to democracy and human rights. Türk expressed concern about the violence and repression that opposition candidates and supporters were reportedly subjected to during Sunday’s poll. He also emphasized that during the pre-election phase, thousands of opposition supporters were subjected to intimidation and arbitrary detentions, which undermined the legitimacy of the electoral process.

“Thousands of supporters of the opposition have faced intimidation or arbitrary detention in the months preceding the vote. Such strategies do not support a really authentic process, according to Türk. He called on the government to uphold the principles of an inclusive democracy and guarantee that every Bangladeshi has their human rights fully considered.

According to the OHCHR statement, law enforcement officers allegedly employed tactics like blackmail, surveillance, forced disappearances, threats, and mass arrests prior to the election, which caused the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party to boycott the voting process. Political violence, including alleged opposition group arson attacks, was also mentioned in the statement.

Since October 28, 25,000 opposition supporters—including prominent party leaders—have been arrested amid the concerning circumstances. Concerns about torture or harsh conditions arose after Türk brought up the reported deaths of at least ten opposition supporters during the past two months while they were being held in custody.

The OHCHR statement emphasized the difficulties that human rights defenders encounter—many of whom are compelled to go into hiding or escape the nation. Numerous reports of alleged forced disappearances surfaced, particularly in November, underscoring the need for impartial inquiries and justice in open and transparent trials for those implicated.

In order to maintain accountability throughout the campaign and on election day, Türk underlined the significance of carefully looking into any infractions or irregularities related to the campaign. He emphasized how hard-won democracy is in Bangladesh and urged against it becoming just cosmetic. Erdogan acknowledged the importance of Bangladesh for the future of all Bangladeshis and expressed hope that Bangladesh’s status as a developmental role model would spread to the political and institutional arenas.