Sunday, January 30, 2011

Report on meeting with Sheikh Hasina in New Age

Stern action against those responsible for extrajudicial killing: PM

Lord Eric L Avebury, chairman of the standing committee on human rights in the UK House of Lords, calls on the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, at her hotel suite in London on Sunday. — PID photo

Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . London

The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has categorically said her government would take stern actions against those found responsible for extrajudicial killing in Bangladesh.

‘If anyone found guilty after investigation for extra judicial killing, we will take action against the persons as we believe that all citizens have the right to get justice,’ she said.

The prime minister said this when chairman, Standing Committee of Human Rights of House of Lords, Lord Abury, director Asia chapter of Amnesty International Abbas Faiz and director HR Caucus, New York Prague Adams paid a courtesy call on her at her hotel suite in London on Sunday.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting the foreign minister, Dipu Moni,

said the human rights leaders expressed satisfaction over the existing human rights condition in Bangladesh.

They also lauded Hasina for her relentless efforts for improving the country’s human rights condition and establishing democracy in Bangladesh.

The prime minister said her government had already taken steps to stop extrajudicial killing in Bangladesh and said human rights were protected in the country after assumption of office by her government.

Hasina requested them to provide information if any, to the government regarding violation of human rights in Bangladesh. ‘You can help us to take action against human right violators by providing information..,’ she added.

Mentioning her government’s efforts to protect human rights across the country, she said it had taken fresh measurers to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty signed during the previous tenure of her government in 1997.

‘We have signed the treaty to establish peace in the troubled-torn Chittagong Hill Tracts...But, the BNP-Jamaat government did not take any initiatives to implement the accord,’ she said.

The prime minister said with the signing of the treaty, peace had been restored in the CHT region when a large number of programmes were undertaken for the development of the region by her previous government.

Later, the BNP-Jamaat government suspended many of the development projects and delayed for implementing the peace accord, she pointed out.

In this context, Hasina said as part of ongoing development programmes, her government had taken a plan to set up a modern university in Rangamati especially for ensuring higher education for the hill students.

The prime minister expressed her gratitude to the human rights leaders for extending their all-out support in restoring democracy and human rights in Bangladesh and for playing a vital role to raise mass awareness against the repression and atrocities on innocent people after the country’s 2001 general elections.

Dipu Moni, principal secretary to the prime minister MA Karim and Bangladesh high commissioner to the UK Sayeedur Rahman Khan were present on the occasion.

Besides, leaders of different organisations, social bodies and eminent personalities of expatriate Bangladeshis met Hasina at her hotel suite Sunday.

Note: I don't know how New Age got the idea that I am chairman of the 'standing committee on human rights in the House of Lords. I am vice-chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, which includes members of both Houses. Issues raised with the Prime Minister included: the restrictions the Ministry of CHT Affairs proposed on future work by the International CHT Commission; treatment of Moshrefa Mishu, President of the Garment Workers' Union; improvements in the legislation on the war crimes trials, and extrajudicial killings by RAB, on which we were grateful for Sheikh Hasina's reassurances.

Meeting this morning with Sheikh Hasina

Monday, January 31, 2011
All measures taken to stop extra-judicial killings: PM
Unb, London
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said yesterday that her government has taken all measures to stop extra-judicial killings and improve the human rights situation in the country.
The premier made the remarks when Standing Committee Chairman on Human Rights of House of Lord Eric Avebury, Amnesty International Director Abbas Fayez and Human Rights watch Director Brad Adams met her at her Hotel suit.
They discussed how people's rights can be protected as well as the issues related to the CHT Peace Accord, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told journalists after the meeting.
Hasina lauded their roles in building public opinion against BNP-Jamaat led alliance government's torture on people during their tenure.
The right body's leaders appreciated the role of Sheikh Hasina in ensuring good governance and improving human rights situation in Bangladesh.
They assured the premier of providing utmost supports to further improving human rights condition in Bangladesh.
Principal Secretary to the PM Abdul Karim and Bangladesh Ambassador Sayeedur Rahman Khan were present.
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Isabella helps to fix the Skype sound
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Thursday evening, we had a celebration of the achievements of the Kashmir International Relief Fund, in the first 25 years of its existence. I have been privileged to be the Patron of the KIRF since its inception, and I have great admiration for Ishfaq Ahmed, the CEO. He has done amazing work on a shoestring, and at the hospital the KIRF has built, they are now delivering care to hundreds of mothers and infants. Its an inspiring record, and I do hope KIRF will be able to spread the message to the whole of Azad Kashmir. Maternal and infant mortality is still worse than in many states of sub-Saharan Africe, but there could be immediate reductions, given the political will and a modest increase in resources. Sending volunteers of Kashmiri origin to work at the hospital is a brilliant idea, and the pilot was a terrific success.

At the party given by Nick Clegg on Wednesday. The first time I'd been invited to Downing Street since March 1970, when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A long gap between postings, caused partly by late nights on the Constituencies etc Bill. Last week there were all-night sittings on Monday and Wednesday, though I knocked off shortly after midnight both days. Last night there was another all-nighter and again I sat until midnight. We heard this morning that Tom McNally, who has been leading on the Bill for the Government, was taken ill in the chamber and was taken to St Thomas's Hospital. I do wonder if the stress of having to be constantly on his toes over such long periods of time had anything to do with this sad event.

Yesterday morning I chaired a meeting of the International Bangladesh Foundation in Committee Room 3, to discuss the current state of affairs in Bangladesh. Speakers covered the boycott of the Parliament by the opposition BNP; the slow pace of implementing the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997; widespread corruption; the extrajudicial killings by the notorious RAB; the war crimes trials and the treatment of alleged war crimes perpetrators. Speakers included: Dr Gower Rizvi, International Affairs adviser to the Prome Minister Sheikh Hasina; Profesor David Lewis of LSE; Brad Adans, from Human Rights Watch; Ann Main MP; Alhaj Kamal Uddin of the BNP; Charles Tannock MEP, Abbas Faiz from Amnesty International, Sabir Hussain Chaudhury MP; Jim Fitzpatrick MP, and Abdul Matin Khasru MP

Friday, January 21, 2011

The week

Monday I recorded a piece for Radio 4 on the persecution of the Ahmadis worldwide, and rge threat posed here in the UK by the religious hatred organisation, the Khatme Nabuwwat (KN). They have a single objective, which is to eradicate the religious beliefs of the Ahmadis, if necessary by murdering them. They say that the Ahmadis are 'wajib ul Qatl', worthy to be killed, because of the Ahmadi belief that the founder if their religion was the Messiah, predicted both in the Bible and the Qur'an. The KN say this contradicts the doctrine of the finality of the prophethood, asserted by Mohammed himself. Presumably they agree that the Messiah will arrive one of these days, but they don't explain how he is to be distinguished from a mere prophet.

Then on Monday evening we had a meeting to review the position on caste in the Equality Act. When the Bill was going through the Lords we held a very lively meeting of all the organisations that want caste to be included in the 'protected characteristics' defined in the Act, and the Minister in charge of the Bill, Glenys Thornton, was convinced to the extent that the Government supported an amendment I moved, allowing a Minister to make an Order for that purpose. The Labour Government asked the National Institute for Economic and Social Research to conduct research in whether caste-based discrimination was occurring in Britain, and their answer, now placed before the Coalition, was a resounding 'Yes'. We had assumed that whatever Government came to power in the general election, their policy would be to follow through by activating the Order, but it appeared from Lynn Featherstone's brief remarks that the Coalition was looking for a way to justify doing nothing.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission

Thursday and Friday the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission held a meeting in 1 Abbey Gardens. After three years work, progress is agonisingly slow, particularly on the crucial matter of resolving the conflicting systems of land tenure in the CHT, and reaching fair solutions where the same land is claimed by different people under the two systems. But the official policy of Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League party is to imlement the 1997 Peace Accord in full before the end of the current Parliament

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Christmas at the coast, 40 miles from Auckland

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Maurice and his motorbike club

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With Lulu and Sarah

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Lulu, daughter Sarah, Ahmed Kadleye

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At Victoria's, December 30

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New Year's Day 2011

No new year's resolutions, but I'd like to persuade the Government to

(1) activate S 9(5) of the Equality Act 2010, effectively making caste a protected characteristic along with gender, race, sexual orientation etc

(2) review the countries listed as 'safe' in S 94(4) of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act, particularly those deemed safe for men but not for women, with a view to restoring the right of appeal against refusal of an asylum application based on sexual orientation

(3) preserve the requirement that local authorities should grant planning permission for Gypsy sites in accordance with the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments, so as to eliminate unauthorised encampments.