Foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen yesterday (12 July 2021) said Dhaka did not “accept” numbers of issues about Bangladesh, mentioned in a UK’s human rights report released by its Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), as those were not “factual”.
“If the report was fact based, it would have helpful for us. But, when it is fake, then it could be seemed purposeful … this is not good,” he said while approached by reporters to make comments on the report which tended to mean that BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia is now under “house arrest”, misinterpreting her current status.
The foreign minister’s comments came the day after the foreign ministry summoned the British Acting High Commissioner (AHC) here Javed Patel to convey Dhaka’s disappointment over the report on Bangladesh chapter of “Human Rights and Democracy Report 2020” released on last Thursday.
The foreign ministry clarified to the envoy that the government suspended her prison term and “released” her in March 2020 on condition that she would receive medical treatment at home and would not travel abroad.
Dr Momen said Khaleda Zia is not ‘house arrest”, the fact is she was initially freed for six months and the timeline of her release was subsequently extended twice.
Through the British envoy, the foreign minister said, Dhaka urged the UK government to consult with the authorities concerned of Bangladesh government in case of any confusion over such legal issues.
Momen said the UK’s HR report also mentioned other issues over Bangladesh those are not factual while he particularly mentioned about the UK’s report’s concern over the numbers of rape case in Bangladesh.
Giving a comparative data, he said, Bangladesh reported around 9000 rape cases last year whereas nearly 7,33,000 such cases were filed in the UK in 2020.
Pointing that population of the UK is half of Bangladesh, the foreign minister suggested Britain to improve their own situation first before advising Dhaka regarding this.
Dr Momen said the British acting high commissioner assured that he would relay Dhaka’s disappointment to his government while he also agreed that any human right report should be factual.
West Europe and EU wing’s director general Faiyaz Murshid Kazi interacted with the envoy as he was called to the ministry on Sunday.
After summoning Patel, the foreign ministry in a statement said, any official document of the UK government should also refrain from using “any form of insinuating and misleading” statements about Bangladesh government or the ruling Awami League party.
According to the statement Dhaka also expressed concerns about the number of temporarily sheltered Rohingyas, which was quoted in the UK’s report.
The officials on both sides agreed on the importance of using authentic sources of information for citations in official documents or reports.
The British Acting High Commissioner also wished to continue a constructive dialogue on human rights and governance issues through the established mechanisms, said the foreign ministry’s release.
Recognizing Bangladesh as a ‘maturing democracy’, Patel said that the UK government did not take sides with or against any political party of the country, it added.