Asianbangla, London : The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has refused to answer questions about her country’s human rights record. She is in the UK as part of the Commonwealth Summit. This programme has been investigating the many cases of the so-called “missing” in Bangladesh who are political opponents of her government.
Alex Thomson (the reporter):
There will be a reception for the Bangladesh Prime Minister with the British Prime Minister, but across the day another reception was on the streets of London. But one thing the British Foreign Office these protesters of course and a host of human rights groups and charities are agreed and that under Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League government Bangladesh’s record on human rights in terms of torture, the disappearance of people who are politically inconvenient has deteriorated seriously. Among the hundreds demonstrating some here demonstrating for the loves one at the whisked off the streets never seen again.
Russell Sharia lays the blame squarely for that the Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina’s door.
Interview of Russell Sharia: Sheikh Hasina has 100% personal responsibilities because she is running a government in the country. Anything was missing or any sort of corruption that’s all goes to the prime minister definitely, including human rights of course.
Alex Thomson: PM arrived in this afternoon for a speech on development in central London. We were able to ask her the question so many Bangladeshis asked Prime Minister what do you say to these national NGOs who accused you of suppressing rights that a great concern. What is your position? (The presenter was not agreed to take this question)
Alex Thomson: You are not taking question from…..
Presenter: I’ve taken one question so far the Prime Minister has to go…
Alex Thomson: Your hands you answer that question… Prime Minister I’m sure .. are you refusing to let us ask the question? And that’s happening ….
So the shame of Bangladesh covers to the heart of UK…..
UK Manchester University lecturer Salman Azmi’s brother who was abducted in the Bangladeshi capital a year and a half ago.
Salman Azmi: 30 armed police…civil cloth men saying that they are from the detective branch. They came inside in a terror position and severely beat up our caretaker. It was a terrible situation and then they found him (Aman Azmi) in one of the flats and they took him blindfolded him and took in the car and since then we have absolutely no news about him.
Alex Thomson: Is he disappeared?
Salman Azmi: Completely disappeared.
Alex Thomson: You could cross Britain and find similar tales in London we caught up with Abrar Elias his father a former opposition MP disappeared almost six years ago….
Abrar Elias: There was a white van which stopped in front of our car and saw my dad getting picked up by some people. He got picked up and driver also got picked up as well and our car was left open in road in the middle of the night.
Alex Thomson: Across town and Rassel Sharia describes the last time the outside world saw his cousin another opposition activist. It was December 2013
Rassel Sharia: They were just sitting down outside a construction place in Dhaka. Suddenly the RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) in Bangladesh came and picked up from there and five others people picked up at the same time and unfortunately still we don’t know where he is.
Alex Thomson: The Bangladesh Prime Minister has a key family contact at the heart of the British Parliament, her niece is the Labour Mp for the Hampstead and Kilburn. Tulip Siddiq an MP who says she once worked unpaid for the Awami League before she was elected. She once also described herself as a spokesperson for the Awami league and said she owes her election in Britain to be Awami League. ‘Without your help, I would never have been able to stand here as a British MP’.
Alex Thomson: She told a newspaper in London constituency that she never discusses politics with her Aunt just family matters. Even though she accompanied her to meet President Putin in Moscow and here she is with her aunt on one of several visits to the commons. Labour’s Tulip Siddiq MP prides herself on being a global human rights campaigner surely she can help here.
Salman Azmi: You cannot be a champion of human rights on one occasion and completely remain silent on the other situations where you have some influence.
Alex Thomson: He is lobbied many including the Foreign Office and recently Tulip Siddiq asking her to help directly in his brother’s case….
(Something written statement to Tulip Siddiq on Alex’s voice) I am not your parliamentary constituents and I, of course, accept that ordinarily, you would only intervene in a matter on behalf of a constituent. However, I write as a plea for help, as given your relationship with the Government of Bangladesh, you are better placed than anyone to make the necessary inquiries and perhaps assist in bringing about the end and to the harrowing situation that my family and I find ourselves in.’
Alex Thomson: Russell Sharia also wrote again to the MP begging for help in his family’s case…
Russell Sharia: Her aunt is the running Prime Minister of Bangladesh and she has got very good influence over the Bangladeshi politics. So it could be I mean just a phone call ..can you please release him you know one person’s life can be saved the whole family can be relieved.
Alex Thomson: we have investigated the plight of several disappeared individuals in Bangladesh in recent months all have strong UK connections, Tulip Siddiq insists parliamentary rules means she cannot get involved and she told us she has no influences over her aunt and we believe she’s also acted contact the foreign office and not only that for the first time in these case’s she’s written back to Russel Sharia and Salman allows me openly criticising the human right situation in Bangladesh.
Tulip Siddiq to them: `I deplore the use of extra-judicial detention and any human rights abuses anywhere in the world, including in Bangladesh. I understand and have sympathy for the plight of anyone whose loved one disappears in such a way.
Alex Thomson: But there are boarder questions about the about the Labour Party generally and its links to Awami league we can reveal that in we can reveal that in recent years several years several labour MPs including shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry seen here with Tulip Siddiq in parliament have referred to the League as a sister party of labour. The labour party told this programme that was an error. The Awami League is not a sister party of Labour. The MP’s simply got in the wrong they said. They like the Foreign Office remain deeply concerned over worsening human rights in the country. Disappearances, murder, torture, intimidation and arbitrary detention all of it’s a human rights groups getting worse, not better.