Phil Bennion and Midlands Lib Dem MPs Lorely Burt and John Hemming have backed calls at a conference in Birmingham for urgent international action to help resolve violence and disorder sweeping across Bangladesh.
The event at Birmingham Council House, organised by the Coalition of Bangladeshi Organisations in the Midlands, saw 300 people hear how the country is being brought to a standstill by protests over unfair proceedings and death sentences handed down by a government-backed tribunal prosecuting alleged war crimes.
Delegates unanimously backed a motion condemning the violence (blamed for causing up to 180 deaths) and urging the ruling Awami League to enter all-party dialogue to resolve the issue and re-constitute the 'International Crimes Tribunal' into a body with genuine international backing to guarantee a fair trial.
West Midlands MEP Phil Bennion has highlighted the need for UN involvement in the European Parliament.
He said: “John Hemming, Lorely Burt and I are appalled by the violence and chaos in Bangladesh, which is a matter of grave concern to all friends of the country as well as to the diaspora community in the United Kingdom.
"I am extremely disappointed by the approach being taken by the Awami League government on this issue. We appeal to them to listen to the calls from across the political divide to take action to defuse the crisis through dialogue and confidence-building measures.
“It is plain that wider society has lost all trust and confidence in this tribunal and its decisions, due to the scale of reported violations of legal due process.
"The shocking extent of political interference, enforced disappearance and allegations of torture, all connected to the workings of a tribunal whose main goal was supposed to be reconciliation, cannot be ignored.
“As Liberals and Democrats, we urge the Government of Bangladesh to request international support to explore the scope for the United Nations to create a special international Criminal Tribunal to ensure that all alleged suspects can receive fair trials and that all sections of society in Bangladesh can have absolute confidence that the process is fair and just."
Bangladesh Crisis Action Committee organiser Nozmul Hussain said: "I would like to thank Dr Bennion, Lorely Burt and John Hemming for their support.
"The situation in Bangladesh is deteriorating by the day. We are urging all friends of Bangladesh to help in every capacity possible to influence change in Bangladesh from the present civil unrest and violence to a more stable, safe and secure country.
"The Bangladesh Crisis Action Committee, the organising body behind the conference, will be seeking to have further meetings with relevant people in authority who can help with this objective. Our first priority is to raise greater awareness amongst politicians and secure their support to bring about a positive change in Bangladesh."
The motion below was passed unanimously by around 300 delegates who attended and is supported by Dr Bennion, Lorely Burt MP and John Hemming MP.
BANGLADESH CRISIS CONFERENCE MOTION 24 MARCH 2013
Conference notes the representation and reports concerning the current crisis in Bangladesh by numerous agencies, including Amnesty International, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, Human Rights Watch, the International Bar Association and the Economist, in particular its highlighting of human rights violations, serious shortcomings in the judicial process and the legislative framework, and the lack of fair and transparent proceedings of the International Crimes Tribunal.
Conference condemns the escalating violence and civil disorder across Bangladesh and the killing of 180 people to date by state security forces, following the capital punishment verdict against prominent opposition leaders given by the 'Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal.'
Conference therefore urges the Bangladesh government to:
1. Urgently enter into dialogue with all key political parties, including the main opposition parties, to agree an amicable solution to end the escalating violence and deaths in the country.
2. Reconstitute the International Crimes Tribunal to agreed international standards, without government involvement in the judicial process and conduct fair trails of all individuals, irrespective of party affiliation, involved with war crimes.
3. Establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help heal the country and bring about a reconciliation of its people by uncovering the truth about human rights violations that had occurred during and immediately after the 1971 war of independence.
4. Re-establish the interim Caretaker Government arrangement to ensure a free and fair general election and allow freedom for all political parties to meet, organise and hold peaceful rallies in preparation for the next general election, without government and police intrusion or harassment.
Conference also urges the British government to:
1. Use its influence as the largest grant donor to Bangladesh to get assurance from the Bangladesh government to not undertake any action that will antagonise the situation further.
2. Reassess the advice issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for British national travelling to Bangladesh, as it is not reflective of the safety and security risks posed by the hartals (strikes) which has now spread across all major towns and cities.