British Parliamentarians laud Bangladesh’s humanitarian efforts
Ansar Ahmed Ullah
Contributing Editor, Shottobani
London: The Study Circle London, Chaired by Syed Mozammel Ali, organised an event entitled ‘Democracy and Human Rights in Bangladesh’ in the House of Lords’ Atlee and Reid Room on Monday, 18 September. The event was chaired by Lord Daniel Hannan of Kingsclere, who described himself as a “twin of Bangladesh” and spoke of the many trade opportunities offered by the nation.
Speakers included Dr Mizanur Rahman, former Chair of the Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, Dr Gowher Rizvi, International Affairs Advisor to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Martyn Day MP and Barrister Tapos.
Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to the UK, Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, emphasised the strong trade relationship between the UK and Bangladesh, saying, “We are pursuing the same values, fostering secular and inclusive societies. This battle is between secular and non-secular forces.”
While speakers underlined the secular aspiration of Bangladesh’s founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the efforts undertaken by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to protect minorities, they acknowledged that this harmony was threatened by the actions of some Islamist groups in the country to stoke communalist tensions and that there was a need to remain vigilant.
Keynote speaker Dr Mizanur Rahman, former Chair of the Human Rights Commission in Bangladesh, said, “When opportunistic foreign powers bring extremism into the mainstream, that puts our democracy in peril. Let us join hands to prevent democracy from dying. Tell the people of Bangladesh that I come back home to say the United Kingdom is with us and stands by us.”
Dr Gowher Rizvi, International Affairs Advisor to the Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina said, “I want to issue a reminder that there is a lot still wanting, but we are trying to achieve democracy and development. It is not one or the other.”
A cross-party group of leading politicians, as well as diplomats and community leaders attended the talk. The event was also attended by Timothy Loughton MP, representatives from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and Jamal Ahmed Khan Study Circle London.