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Democracy Crisis in Bangladesh

Edit Date:7/22/2010 12:00:00 AM


WASHINGTONJuly 22 /PRNewswire- USNewswire/ -- A coalition of faith leaders and human right activists (The Coalition for Freedom and Democracy inBangladesh) is calling upon members of congress and the state department to express their disapproval of the series of arrests and political crackdown against the political opposition to the Awami League (AL), the ruling political party in Bangladesh. The AL came to power in December 2008 after two years of military rule. Bangladesh often referred to as a moderate "democratic developing" country is the home of ten percent of the world Muslim population.
This coalition is concerned that the current Awami League government is suppressing free speech and the right of dissent in that nation. Over the last eighteen months, the AL has closed down newspapers and a television station, neutered an independent judiciary, and unjustly arrested many opposition leaders and students. On June 29th, 2010, the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General of the Bangladesh Jamat Islami (BJI), the largest democratic Islamic party and part of the political opposition, were arrested on what many human rights groups have categorized as frivolous charges.
A member of the coalition, Reverend Grayland Hagler, stated that "our government must not betray the values of democracy and open governance for the people of Bangladesh. The support for autocratic regime betrays our values as Americans and citizens of the world. As people of faith we must be advocates for global justice."
Also, the American Muslim Task Force for Civil Rights and Elections, a national Muslim umbrella organization, expressed concern that these crackdowns both jeopardize the rule of law in Bangladesh and increase the volatility that already exist in the region.
A Bengali dissent living in Washington D.C. area, who asks not to be identified by name for fear of family reprisal, said that "If a great country like America continues to support this government's repressive policies, it will alienate the majority of the Bangladeshi people who embrace pluralism, democracy and political change through peaceful means."  
The coalition describes itself as a human rights and democracy advocacy campaign for the people of Bangladesh, and stated that the primary goal of the campaign is to call the American people and government to adopt new policies in support of democracy and human rights in Bangladesh.  The group also calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council to launch an investigation into human right abuses in that nation.
SOURCE The Coalition for Freedom and Democracy in Bangladesh
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