The United Nations (UN), the United States (US) and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) have expressed grave concern at the ongoing deadly mayhem in Bangladesh. The UN and the US state department officials addressing daily press briefing at the respective headquarters on Friday also called upon all rival groups to stop violence and respect the rule of law.
In a separate statement on Friday the HRW called upon Jamaat-e-Islami to stop what it said unacceptable attacks against law enforcement officers and those who support the verdicts of the war crimes trials.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recognises Bangladesh war crime tribunal a national issue and calls on all to stop the violence and to express their views peacefully, according to one of his spokesman.
Deputy Spokesperson of UN Secretary General, Mr Eduardo Del Buey said so while addressing a daily press briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Asked about reports that journalists were being harassed in Bangladesh, the Deputy Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had repeatedly affirmed the right of journalists everywhere to go about their work without interference.
Meanwhile US State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said in a daily press briefing in Washington, DC on Friday that the US supports war crime trials in Bangladesh.
However the US feels that the trial should be fair and transparent, Mr. Ventrell said.
“We believe it’s important to bring justice to those who have committed war crimes and atrocities,” the acting deputy spokesman told the press briefing.
“We (also) believe it is very important for these trials to be free, fair, transparent, and consistent with Bangladesh’s obligations under the international covenant for civil and political rights,” said Mr. Ventrell.
“We’re saddened by the loss of life during protests across Bangladesh. Also we saw reports of attacks on a Hindu temple. So, while engaging in a peaceful protest is a fundamental democratic right, we believe violence is never the answer,” the deputy spokesman told the briefing.
The US encourages all Bangladeshis to peacefully express their views, and welcomes peaceful efforts by the government of Bangladesh to help calm the situation, he said.
The Bangladeshi government and the Jamaat-e-Islami need to act urgently to ensure that security forces and party supporters do not engage in further acts of violence, said HRW Asia Director Brad Adams in a statement.
“The leadership of Jamaat should immediately issue public statements to its followers to stop these violent, unacceptable attacks against law enforcement officers and those who support the verdicts of the war crimes trials,” said Brad Adams.
The government should instruct the security forces to strictly observe its obligation to use maximum restraint and avoid lethal force unless necessary to protect their lives or those of others, Mr Adams said.
“At the same time, the government should instruct the security forces to strictly observe its obligation to use maximum restraint and avoid lethal force unless necessary to protect their lives or those of others. If cool heads don’t prevail, Dhaka could dissolve into uncontrolled violence,” the HRW statement said.
“If cool heads don’t prevail, Dhaka could dissolve into uncontrolled violence,” the Asia director of the New York-based global rights watchdog said.
The violence broke out on Thursday after the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), convicted Jamaate-Islami Vice President Delwar Hossain Sayedee and sentenced him to death, for his alleged atrocities committed during the country’s 1971 liberation war.
“The police in Dhaka and other places used live ammunition against protesters. Media reports suggest that most deaths were at the hands of police, but supporters of the ruling Awami League party have also engaged in vandalism and violence,” the HRW statement said.
The initial information received by HRW suggests that the police were responding to attacks by Jamaat members and supporters that resulted in police and civilian deaths after the party called for protests against the verdict, the statement said.
Nearly 50 people including policemen have been killed and 500 others injured during sporadic violence over the last three days since Thursday. Scores of vehicles were either burned or vandalized and several party offices, homes and prayer houses were damaged during the violence.