Bangladesh unrest: Kerry slams attacks on civilians

Dhaka, Feb 20: US Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the targeting of innocent civilians in the ongoing political violence in Bangladesh and called for an immediate end to such attacks.

Kerry, following his meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali in Washington on Thursday, stated that there could be "no tolerance" for tactics that target innocent citizens or "inhibit political expression" in a democratic Bangladesh, according to a report.

john kerry

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies have enforced a non-stop nationwide blockade since Jan 6, demanding fresh parliamentary polls under a non-party caretaker government system, having boycotted the general elections held Jan 5 last year.

More than 100 people have been killed so far in the ensuing political violence, and most of them have been killed after firebomb attacks on public vehicles. Numerous strikes have crippled normal life in the country.

Kerry called for government action to end the political strife peacefully, and underscored the Bangladesh government's role in ensuring peaceful political expression for all parties.

He also emphasised the need for a free and fair media that plays a constructive role in ensuring human rights.

"He (Kerry) condemned the targeting of civilians by political parties and stressed the need for opposition parties to cease such attacks immediately," according to a spokesperson for the US state department.

The US secretary of state reiterated US support to help achieve a political solution that returns Bangladesh to its democratic foundations.

He conveyed his "appreciation" for the close relationship that the US shared with Bangladesh.

The two leaders also discussed a range of bilateral and global issues and Kerry noted the "increasing" strategic importance of Bangladesh in the region and underscored the need to protect Bangladesh's fundamental freedoms.

The Bangladesh foreign minister also requested Kerry to expedite the repatriation of Rashed Chowdhury, one of the convicted killers of Bangladesh's founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.


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