Erdoğan urges Bangladesh to halt execution of opposition leader

Erdoğan urges Bangladesh to halt execution of opposition leader

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seen speaking at the AK Party group meeting in January 2012. (Photo: Today’s Zaman)

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged his Bangladeshi counterpart to halt the execution of the country’s opposition leader, hours after Bangladesh’s Supreme Court cleared the way for the execution of Abdul Quader Mollah, a convicted war criminal.

The execution of Mollah, which had been postponed on Tuesday night, is likely to usher in a new wave of political violence ahead of national elections next month. His Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, an ally of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has warned of “dire consequences” if Mollah is executed.

Erdoğan called Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday, asking her to halt the opposition leader’s execution.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal for an exchange of views on the execution.

Davutoğlu also contacted some of his Western counterparts, including US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, in an effort to prevent the execution of the opposition leader and to discuss ways to maintain stability in Bangladesh.

The Foreign Ministry, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said it has followed the developments in Bangladesh closely, as Turkey has deep-rooted relations with the country, and expressed its concerns about the possibility of the execution being carried out.

“We are concerned that this execution will cause increased tension in Bangladesh. Turkey believes that the sorrows of the past will not be healed by these kinds of acts, and neither will reconciliation be ensured in this way,” the statement reads.

The statement further urged all parts of Bangladesh to act with common sense, taking careful steps to decrease the tension and enable reconciliation. It also expressed Turkey’s support for Bangladesh, which it called a “brother and friend.”

“Turkey is closely following the situation in Bangladesh, and Davutoğlu has contacted his counterparts to exchange views on how stability can be maintained in the country. Our biggest concern is the emergence of an unstable situation in Bangladesh. Our embassy in Dhaka is also following developments and staying in touch with its Bangladeshi contacts,” said a senior Turkish diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mollah, now 65 years old, was convicted of war crimes committed during the nation’s war of independence against Pakistan in 1971. His lawyers tried to convince the Supreme Court, which began hearing the case on Wednesday, to rule against the death sentence.

If it occurs, Mollah’s execution will be the first ruled on by the special trials begun by Prime Minister Hasina in 2010 for people suspected of crimes committed during the war of independence. The government says that Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the nine-month war.

Source: Today’s Zaman