Statement on the Attack on Hero Alam

13 Mission Heads Summoned to MOFA

Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has summoned the heads of 13 missions for giving a statement regarding the attack on independent candidate Ashraful Alam (Hero Alam) in the Dhaka-17 by-election. Ministry sources confirmed this information to Bonik Barta.

Diplomatic sources said government displeasure will be expressed to the Mission chiefs. They will be informed that Bangladesh does not like the idea of that joint statement. The mission heads also might share their reactions.

Meanwhile, some of the former ambassadors of Bangladesh have expressed mixed reactions to the summons. Some said that the joint release of the statement without knowing the true picture of the attack and without directly discussing it with the government was a clear violation of the Vienna Convention. So it is fair and proper to summon them in this regard. Although Bangladesh has always been flexible with foreign ambassadors and heads of missions, the government's firmness has been shown by summoning them. Others said that the government needs to be aware of the timing and issues of assertiveness.

Some of the diplomats think that the Bangladesh government needs to take some things into consideration. For example, ambassadors make statements as representatives of their countries and with the consent of their governments. Countries that have made statements are organized countries. Their diplomacy is much more organized. Communication between their headquarters and missions is quite active. They can be taken to mean that the statement has the support of their respective countries.

When asked, former ambassador Munsi Faiz Ahmed said, "The joint statement of the ambassadors is very humiliating and defamatory for us, it is against the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, they must be stopped. There is no point for a joint statement. They are also prohibited from making uniform public statements on internal matters of a state. They at best can advise us. They can tell us if they think we've done something wrong, but they have to follow the protocols. They have to express their opinion through the channels that are available in diplomatic manners. The government should show more firmness in such incidents. The government has not shown enough firmness in the past few days. Many times foreign ambassadors have taken advantage of that.''

Dhaka-17 by-election was held on July 17. Hero Alam was thrashed outside a polling station in Banani shortly before the end of polling. Gwen Lewis, Bangladesh's United Nations Resident Coordinator, tweeted on July 18 expressing concern over the incident. Later, the heads of 11 missions, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union in Dhaka, strongly condemned the incident.

The signatories to the statement are Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union delegations in Bangladesh. The statement said, we strongly condemn the attack on Ashraful Alam, the candidate of Dhaka-17 seat on July 17. Violence has no place in the democratic process. We demand full investigation and accountability of the culprits. We call on all concerned to ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair and peaceful.

It should be noted that US Ambassador Peter Haas, British High Commissioner Sarah Cook, Canadian High Commissioner Lily Nicholas, Danish Ambassador Winnie Strupp Petersen, French Ambassador Marie Masdupui, German Ambassador Achim Troster, Italian Ambassador Enrico Nunziata, Netherlands Ambassador Anne Van Leeuwen, Norwegian Ambassador Espen Ricketer Vendsen, Spanish Ambassador Francisco de Assiter are the Heads of Mission in Dhaka. So Benitez Salas, Ambassador of Sweden Alexandra Berg von Linde, Ambassador of Switzerland Reto Rengli, and Ambassador of the European Union Charles Whiteley are representing the respective missions.

UN Resident Representative Gwen Lewis was summoned on July 20 amid the diplomats' response. Acting Chief and UNICEF Country Director Sheldon Yate appeared on behalf of Gwen Lewis at the Foreign Service Academy. Asad Alam Siam, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed dissatisfaction on behalf of the government.

Before summoning Gwen Lewis on July 19, Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen expressed his displeasure to the journalists about the statement of the embassies. He said, 'I want to question our activist diplomats, do they ever give a statement when people are killed in New York, USA? Has the UN ever given a statement? Why do people die in America? Faisal, a Bengali boy died, it's been so long. What did they say, what did the UN say, how far is the investigation going? Did ambassadors give statements in unison? Why don't you ask? How many people die every day in different countries, then why they do not give a statement? When anything happens in Bangladesh they make all that hue and cry. Is it a Magher Mulluk? That's not acceptable.'

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