UN rights chief condemns `shocking` Bangladesh poll unrest

United Nations rights chief Navi Pillay on Sunday said she was deeply worried by the "shocking" pre-election violence rocking Bangladesh before the January 5 polls.

AFP| Updated: Dec 02, 2013, 01:06 AM IST

Geneva: United Nations rights chief Navi Pillay on Sunday said she was deeply worried by the "shocking" pre-election violence rocking Bangladesh, urging parties on both sides to peacefully resolve their differences over the January 5 polls.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also voiced concern about the detention of key opposition leaders in the unrest, which has killed 50 people since late October when the government first announced the date of the general elections.

"Whatever their differences, political leaders on both sides must halt their destructive brinkmanship, which is pushing Bangladesh dangerously close to a major crisis," Pillay said in a statement.

"Instead, they must fulfil their responsibility and use their influence to bring this violence to an immediate halt and seek a solution to this crisis through dialogue."

In the latest incidents, one demonstrator in Bangladesh was shot dead by officers yesterday and another died late Friday as police used live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters.

Opposition groups led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) as well as its Islamist allies are demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina resign and make way for elections under a neutral caretaker government.

Hasina has rejected their demand and is sticking to her January poll plans.

Pillay said the clashes between supporters of rival parties and with security forces have also left hundreds injured and caused extensive destruction of property.

"In the past week, we have seen acts as extreme as protesters throwing molotov cocktails onto public buses without allowing the occupants to escape, leaving women and children with horrific burns," she said.

"Such levels of violence are deeply shocking for the Bangladeshi people, the vast majority of whom want - and deserve - a peaceful and inclusive election."