Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 25th April 2013.

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Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock Labour, Lewisham, Deptford

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the government of Bangladesh on recent attacks on ethnic minorities by Islamic extremists in that country.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We are concerned about the recent violence and deaths in Bangladesh, many as a result of force by law enforcement agencies. The promotion of human rights is at the very heart of this Government's foreign policy. We strongly condemn any instances of violence and discrimination against individuals or groups. We continue to raise our concerns over attacks on minorities. The Senior Minister of State, my noble Friend, Baroness Warsi, raised these issues directly with the Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, during her visit to Bangladesh in February.

Our high commissioner in Dhaka also called for the Bangladesh Government to ensure a transparent investigation into the violence is conducted in a meeting with the Dr Dipu Moni, on 7 March. On 13 March Baroness Warsi issued a statement expressing the UK's concerns and urged all sides to exercise restraint, moderation and respect for rule of law.

The British Government respects the right for all citizens to hold their government to account including through legitimate and peaceful protests. But, as Baroness Warsi said during her visit to Bangladeshi in February, we are clear that violence and vandalism have no place in legitimate protests. The economic and social cost of strikes and other forms of disruption is damaging to individuals, business, and the nation. We hope therefore that parties can resolve differences through dialogue and discussion, and that citizens are able to freely raise their concerns or grievances through peaceful means, without fear of retaliation or attack.

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