POST TIME: 6 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
5 European parliamentary teams due Feb 11
Polls, rights issues to be on agenda
Teams likely to visit Rohingya camps

Polls, rights issues to be on agenda

Five teams of members of the European Parliament (MEP) will arrive in the capital on February 11 on a visit that will feature a trip to Cox’s Bazar to experience the situation of the Rohingyas and discussions with different stakeholders relating to issues including election, human rights and governance, diplomatic sources told The Independent yesterday. The teams comprising around 15 MEPs are from the parliament’s delegation for relations with South Asia, delegation for relations with Southeast Asia and countries belonging to ASEAN of which Myanmar is a member, subcommittee on human rights, committee on foreign affairs and committee on international trade, they said.

The visit of so many teams from the European Parliament at one go is quite unprecedented and reflects the gravity of the Rohingya crisis and the international attention it has garnered, added the sources.

“I’ve never seen such a thing in my entire career,” said a source.

Having arrived in the capital on February 11, all the teams will proceed to Cox’s Bazar on the same day to have meetings with local authorities, international organisations and NGOs. On the following day, they will visit a good number of Rohingya settlements and interact with the persecuted people, who in large number had to flee Rakhine to escape from the unprecedented atrocities orchestrated by the Myanmar security forces, local Buddhist mobs and individuals from different ethnic groups.  Having stayed two nights in Cox’s Bazar, all the teams

but one will depart for Myanmar on February 13. It could not be ascertained whether they will visit the affected areas of their choice in Rakhine State.

Only the team from the delegation for South Asia will remain in the capital to hold a series of meetings with different segments of society including parliament speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on February 13 and 14.

BNP standing committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury confirmed that the BNP chief has an appointment with a European Parliament team on February 14.

The verdict of the Zia Orphanage Trust case against Khaleda Zia is set to be declared on February 8.

The delegation will not be able to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali as both of them will be on a visit to Italy during that period, the sources said, adding that there will, however, be a meeting between the team and State Minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam.

It has also been learnt that the team from delegation for South Asia is most likely to meet Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda. During the meetings, apart from Rohingya crisis, the delegations will discuss issues of mutual interest, including election, development cooperation, human rights, good governance and rule of law.

The European Union, Bangladesh’s largest export destination, did not send election observers to monitor the 10th general election held on January 5, 2014 and was critical of the election.

The powerful bloc has already hinted that they will send election observers in the upcoming poll if it is inclusive and held in a peaceful manner.

It also expressed its interest to support the Election Commission in conducting free, fair and inclusive elections.