The Bangladesh government’s decision to arrest Khaleda Zia, the leader of the opposition Bangladesh National Party, threatens to destabilise the country more than at any time for a generation. Ms Zia has been under effective house arrest; more than 100 people have died this year in protests demanding that the Awami League government hold new inclusive elections. Using the Bangladeshi legal system to stamp out political opposition will not work. Calm can only be brought about through peaceful talks between the parties and respect for democratic principles. As international human rights lawyers, and friends of democracy in Bangladesh, we urge the government to come back from the brink, rescind the warrant for Khaleda Zia and begin a genuine dialogue with the opposition.
Lord Carlile QC, Steven Kay QC and Toby Cadman, 9 Bedford Row, London WC1, UK
Niccolò A Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General, No Peace Without Justice