A six-member delegation of the European Parliament (EP) has met BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia in her Gulshan office amid the ongoing transport blockade and frequent strikes that has left dozens killed and hundreds injured across the country.
The EP delegation, led by the vice-chairperson of European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Cristian Dan Preda, met Khaleda on Tuesday evening..
Neither the EP delegation nor the BNP officially issued press statements after the meeting.
But BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan, who was at the meeting, later told journalists over phone that they have provided the delegation with detailed information of human rights violations across the country.
Khan blamed the government for unleashing a ‘reign of terror’ to suppress the Opposition.
“We have told them (EP delegation) in no uncertain terms that the BNP is against violence and we want those involved with violent actions to be punished. But we have said the government is now engaged in total suppression of democratic rights,” Khan told journalists.
Khan entered Khaleda’s office through the police barricade an hour before the EP delegation arrived there.
He is the first important BNP leader to have entered Khaleda’s Gulshan office in the past one week after the arrest of Mossadeq Ali last week.
The Special Branch (SB) has so far regulated the movement to and from Khaleda’s Gulshan office, thoroughly screening all visitors there.
The EP delegation entered Khaleda’s office at 6pm after arriving in a car flying the EU flag.
After they crossed the office gate, they were received by Khaleda’s Special Assistant Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas.
Nazrul Islam Khan and Abdul Qayum, member of BNP chairperson’s advisory committee, joined Khaleda in discussions with the EP delegation.
A resolution has been placed in the European Parliament expressing concern over the human rights situation in Bangladesh and the rise in extra-judicial killings there.
The EP delegation’s visit is aimed at securing a first hand assessment of the human rights situation in Bangladesh.
During their visit that began on Monday, the EP delegation will also hold discussions with the government.
Before the EP delegation’s visit, the BNP sent to all foreign diplomatic missions a list of its leaders and activists who they alleged have been killed in fake encounters.
According to that list, 43 of the 78 people killed in violence since the start of the transport blockade on Jan 5 are leaders or activists of the BNP-led 20 party alliance.
The BNP says that in the last one month, 18,000 of their leaders and activists have been arrested and nearly 700,000 of them have been framed on trumped-up charges.
Nazrul Islam Khan said extra-judicial killings and disappearances, human rights and labour rights violations and the political situation in Bangladesh came up for discussion with the EP delegation.
He said the BNP presented the EP delegation with detailed evidence of government oppression.
British High Commissioner Robert Gibson and Turkish Ambassador Hussein Mofduglu are the other foreign diplomats who have met Khaleda in her Gulshan office since the blockade started on Jan 5.