UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged the Bangladesh political leaders on both sides to stop political violence and their ‘destructive brinkmanship’.
“Whatever their differences, political leaders on both sides must halt their destructive brinkmanship, which is pushing Bangladesh dangerously close to a major crisis,” Pillay said in a statement issued from Geneva on Sunday.
Instead, she said, they (political leaders) must fulfill their responsibility and use their influence to bring this violence to an immediate halt and seek a solution to this crisis through dialogue.
The statement came at a time when the major parties — Awami League and BNP — failed to reach a political consensus to resolve their differences over election oversight.
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, said the statement.
“In the past week, we’ve 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 ongoing 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.
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.