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Political brinkmanship driving Bangladesh to the edge: UN Human Rights Chief

GENEVA (1 December 2013) -- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Sunday she was deeply worried by the rising levels of political violence in Bangladesh as the major parties fail to resolve their differences over the conduct of elections.  

In recent weeks, supporters of both parties have been clashing with each other and with the security forces. Scores of people have been killed, hundreds injured, and there has been extensive destruction of property.  

“In the past week, we have seen acts as extreme as protestors throwing molotov cocktails onto public buses without allowing the occupants to escape, leaving women and children with horrific burns,” the High Commissioner said.  “Such levels of violence are deeply shocking for the Bangladeshi people, the vast majority of whom want -- and deserve -- a peaceful and inclusive election.”

The High Commissioner also expressed concern about the on-going arrest and detention of key opposition leaders by the law enforcement agencies.  “This can further inflame the situation and rule out any possibility for engagement and dialogue between the main political parties,” she said.

“Whatever their differences, political leaders on both sides must halt their destructive brinkmanship, which is pushing Bangladesh dangerously close to a major crisis. Instead, they must fulfil their responsibility and use their influence to bring this violence to an immediate halt and seek a solution to this crisis through dialogue,” Pillay said.  

The High Commissioner pointed out that Bangladesh is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  

“In other situations, we have seen cases of political or election related violence where the perpetrators of such acts - including political leadership - have faced prosecution,” she said.  

ENDS

For further information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+ 41 79 506 10 88 /    rcolville@ohchr.org   ); or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 79 201 01 15/   rshamdasani@ohchr.org  )
 
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