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Assault on Hero Alom: Foreign envoys asked to maintain diplomatic norms

Bangladesh has conveyed its dismay to 13 envoys in Dhaka over their “undiplomatic behavior” by issuing a joint statement recently, “violating diplomatic norms.”

“We expressed our dissatisfaction. I hope that after our discussion today, they will realize that their joint statement has been presented prematurely, out of step with the flow of events, and they will refrain from such undiplomatic behavior in the future,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam told reporters at Foreign Service Academy on Wednesday afternoon.

He said they advised the diplomats to be constructive, reminding them of the Vienna Convention.

The diplomats have also been warned that bypassing the government and behaving “devoid of objectivity, neutrality and impartiality” will only create a crisis of mutual trust, Shahriar Alam said.

He said there were some fundamental flaws that Bangladesh pointed out and called for no such repetition.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the ambassadors or high commissioners of the 13 foreign missions that issued a joint statement recently after a candidate was assaulted during a by-election to the Dhaka-17 constituency.

The statement called for a full investigation and accountability for the perpetrators of the assault on independent candidate Ashraful Alom, better known as Hero Alom.

In the joint statement, the foreign missions had said, “We condemn the July 17 attack on Dhaka-17 constituency candidate Ashraful Alom, popularly known as Hero Alam. Violence has no place in the democratic process.”

“Everyone involved in the upcoming elections should ensure that they are free, fair, and peaceful,” said the diplomatic missions in Dhaka.

The joint statement was signed by the embassies/high commissions of Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and the delegation of the European Union.

Shahriar Alam said they have conveyed to the diplomats that this is an isolated incident that cannot be used to judge peaceful, fair and free elections.

Other candidates did not complain of any violence or any other irregularities, he observed.

“So only a last-minute isolated incident at a center presented by a handful of diplomats never reflects a day-long peaceful election. In giving a quick response, they did not give due importance to the objectivity of their assessment,” he said.

As soon as the incident came to light, the Election Commission and the government took prompt and legal action, said the State Minister.

“Two persons were arrested long before the diplomats’ statement. However, after taking legal measures, these diplomats were calling for legal measures which is unnecessary,” he said.

“To be honest,” Shahriar Alam said, “with the speed and importance with which they criticized the isolated incident, they did not appreciate the immediate and speedy legal action taken by the government.”

Therefore, the objectivity and purpose of the joint statement is open to speculation, the state minister for foreign affairs said.