Friday, May 25, 2012

UK asks Bangladesh for neutral probe into incidents of disappearance

The UK has called on Bangladesh to conduct an “impartial and transparent” investigation into the disappearance of Ilias Ali. Ali went missing in April while returning to his residence.

The UK has pressed Bangladesh for impartial and transparent investigations into the disappearance of M. Ilias Ali, a leader of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and others.

"We are concerned about the disappearance of Ilias Ali. Our high commissioner to Bangladesh and ambassadors of eight other European countries called on the Bangladesh authorities on May 9 and urged them to conduct thorough investigations into disappearances, including that of Ilias," British Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Lord Howell told the House of Lords Monday.

The Minister of State was answering a question put forward by Labor Peer Lord Harris who asked what diplomatic representations were being made about the disappearance and alleged kidnapping of Ilias and other opposition politicians.

Ali, a former lawmaker and BNP organizing secretary of Sylhet Division, went missing along with his driver while returning to his Banani residence in the early hours of April 18.

Lord Howell also said, "We support Bangladesh in its efforts to stabilize its politics, to move towards the best kind of elections at the next appropriate time and to develop and lift its people out of poverty and the appalling environmental challenges that they also face."

He further said in meetings with the officials of the Prime Minister's Office and the foreign ministry, they had urged the Bangladesh government to do everything they could to trace Ilias and investigate the matter.

However, Britain feels the drive to end this "dark atmosphere" over Bangladeshi politics must come from within.

There are allegations, too, that the crime buster Rapid Action Battalion is involved.
Lord Howell also informed the House of Lords that the EU heads of mission during visit to Bangladesh in February stated its concerns very clearly.

Besides, UK's senior ministers, including the foreign secretary, have been in direct personal contact with senior officials, including the foreign minister, of Bangladesh.

"It is a concern for the UK because it is an important nation and destination of one of DFID's largest programs, with $1.57 billion due to go to support Bangladesh development over the next four years. It is a nation that the UK wants to see stable and prosperous and to build on its economic achievements, which are beginning to show dividends," said Lord Howell.