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EU-Bangladesh partnership is gaining positive momentum

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Joseph Borrell Fontelles has written that the EU-Bangladesh partnership is gaining positive momentum. 

Note that, on June 12, six members of the European Parliament submitted a letter to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Joseph Borrell, expressing concern about the twelfth election, human rights and the political situation in Bangladesh. The mentioned letter was written by MEPs of the European Parliament Ivan Stefanek (Slovak Republic), Michaela Sojdrova (Czech Republic), Andrey Kovatchev (EPP, Bulgaria), Karen Melchior (Denmark), Javier Nart (Spain) and Heidi Hautala (Finland).

321 expatriates from different countries living in Europe, including scientists, teachers, researchers, journalists, businessmen, employees and various professions, have expressed concern about the letter on behalf of “Bangladesh Civil Society in Europe”. They said that the letter was written on the basis of false information and was an attempt to spoil the image of Bangladesh in the outside world. These expatriates sent the letter of protest on 29th June to the mentioned six MEPs and the Vice-President of the EU Parliament, Joseph Borrell. They said that six MEPs have no experience with the politics and contemporary situation of Bangladesh. They purposefully wrote the letter to tarnish the image of Bangladesh without being a member of the EU Parliament’s delegation for relations with South Asian countries.

They said that after the killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members on August 15, 1975, the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances started by BNP founder Major General Ziaur Rahman. According to reports by the human rights organization Amnesty International, thousands of members of the military have been executed during President Zia’s five and a half years in power. His BNP government made changes to the Constitution of Bangladesh (the ‘Fifth Amendment’) which legalized all actions taken by the government between 15 August 1975 and 9 April 1979. During the BNP-Jamaat regime under Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia in 1991-1996 and 2001-2006, they have kept continuing the same fashion of torture, kidnapping, abduction and killing of opposition leaders and activists, journalists, minor community leaders including Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and the Indigenous community.


In the letter, they also said that it would be advisable to carefully verify the rule of law and human rights during the rule of BNP-Jamaat. According to the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI)’s “Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)”, Bangladesh has been the world champion in corruption five times in a row from 2001 to 2006 due to rampant corruption and money laundering by the BNP led GOVT. Bangladesh has seen the rise of deadly Islamic Militancy during BNP-Jamaat regime in 2001-2006, with the direct patronization of the ruling parties. They have created Jamatul Mujahidin (JMB).

They also stated that the law enforcement agency, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was formed on 12 July 2004 during the regime of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami.

It would be absolutely pertinent to mention that thousands of Awami League leaders and activists and members of the religious minority communities were tortured and killed by the BNP-Jamaat goons and also by the state machinery under their regime between 2001 to 2006, which was a nightmare for the people of Bangladesh.


They mentioned that the BNP-Jamaat alliance established a reign of terror in Bangladesh during the 10th National Assembly elections held in 2014 to prevent the elections. They vandalized and torched hundreds of vehicles, houses, educational institutions. As many as 200 people, including 20 law enforcers, were killed by their petrol bombs, handmade bombs and other sorts of violence. The BNP-Jamaat-led coalition participated in the 2018 11th National Assembly elections and won several seats. All other political parties participated in the elections. The allegation of ‘midnight elections’ was a work of rumor and misinformation which was never substantiated.

In response to that letter, HE Rensje Teerink, the Head of EU Delegation to Bangladesh at European External Action Service, has written on behalf of Mr. Borrel to the coordinator of “Bangladesh Civil Society in Europe” Dr. Mazharul Islam Rana. In her letter she mentioned that the concerns of the civil society of Bangladesh about the letter sent by 6 MEPs on the situation in Bangladesh had been noted duly. She has also noted the request to withdraw the letter which has tarnished the positive image of Bangladesh. However, she mentioned that it was beyond her scope to interfere with any letter sent by Members of the European Parliament, and they had the full democratic right to write letters on any subject they found necessary.

As regards the situation in Bangladesh she has reassured that the EU-Bangladesh partnership is gaining positive momentum. She further mentioned that European Union had deepened out cooperation with Bangladesh in a number of areas. On human rights and other priorities of Bangladesh, she stressed that the European Union and its Member States would continue to engage closely with the Government and civil society in Bangladesh.

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