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Dienstag, 7. Juni 2016 - Straßburg Überprüfte Ausgabe

13. Lage in Bangladesch (Aussprache)
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  Presidente. – L'ordine del giorno reca la discussione sulla dichiarazione del Vicepresidente della Commissione e Alto rappresentante dell'Unione per gli affari esteri e la politica di sicurezza sulla situazione in Bangladesh (2016/2729(RSP)).

 
  
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  Bert Koenders, President-in-Office of the Council, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, the European Union and Bangladesh are long-term partners. Our relationship has led to results that are mutually beneficial for both sides, particularly in trade, investment and development. The European Union is the first destination for Bangladesh exports. A combination of substantial EU investments in Bangladesh with EU development assistance has certainly contributed to Bangladesh economic growth and to its achievements in terms of poverty reduction and reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

The relationship is still growing. The EU and Bangladesh continue addressing together new challenges, such as contributing to the sustainability of the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry, a very important topic I think, through the Sustainability Compact and, more recently, addressing comprehensively migration and mobility.

In this context, the first European Union-Bangladesh dialogue on migration management was held in Dhaka on 5 April 2016. The most important policy objectives in Bangladesh are possibly to become a middle-income country by 2021 and therefore to continue lifting Bangladeshi people out of poverty, which I think has to be the first priority. Achieving this very ambitious target will need the involvement and determination of all Bangladeshi citizens and institutions, as well as the support of Bangladesh international partners. The worrying political evolution in Bangladesh could be very detrimental in this respect and since the controversial January 2014 elections, boycotted by the opposition and criticised by the international community, the political, human rights and security situation in the country has unfortunately steadily deteriorated.

The resolutions on Bangladesh adopted by the European Parliament in the last two years cover these 2014 elections, human rights violations and freedom of expression. High Representative Federica Mogherini, her spokespersons and the European Union Heads of Mission have also issued statements on these and other issues such as the death penalty and the recent brutal killings, even yesterday, of independent thinkers and activists. This is a very worrying situation. These resolutions and statements over the last couple of years track and summarise very well a growing collective concern in the European Union about the political evolution in Bangladesh.

We think it is important that an overall new social and political consensus will need to be built in Bangladesh for democracy, human rights, freedom of expression and political liberties to be fully restored, promoted and protected in the country. It is time to put an end to the arbitrary arrest and harassment of opposition leaders, to restore tolerance and to open spaces for public political debate. It is also time to ensure freedom of expression as a fundamental human right and to promote respect. It is also essential to ensure the protection and safety of all citizens. Especially the brutal murders and horrifying attacks on citizens must cease, and of course investigations into these killings need to take place, and those responsible have to be brought to justice. It is now time for the Government of Bangladesh and democratic political parties together to engage in real dialogue for the country’s stability, democracy and economic development.

The European Union needs a Bangladesh where core universal human rights values are upheld. I have spoken already about social-economic rights: they have to be effectively protected; but of course where institutions respect the rule of law and fully ensure protection and safety of all citizens, priority must be placed on the promotion of tolerance and freedom of expression. Of course the Government of Bangladesh has a primary role in this perspective. We will continue to follow closely the situation and address our concerns at our regular dialogue with the Government of Bangladesh. We count in this on the support of you, the Members of the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Cristian Dan Preda, în numele grupului PPE. – Domnule președinte, ca membru al Delegației pentru relațiile cu țările din Asia de Sud, sunt îngrijorat de climatul de violență și de crimele comise în Bangladesh în ultimele luni. Au fost, așa cum se știe, asasinați reprezentanți ai mai multor minorități religioase - hinduși, creștini, sufiști, călugări budiști, - dar și voci care s-au exprimat în favoarea secularismul și a pluralismului religios. Au fost asasinați, atacați sau sunt amenințați cei care apără libertatea de expresie.

La originea acestor crime se află extremiști și radicali. Reiterez, de aceea, apelul pe care Parlamentul nostru l-a făcut deja în noiembrie 2015 către autoritățile din Bangladesh pentru a investiga aceste crime în mod independent și transparent, pentru ca vinovații să fie identificați și pedepsiți. Autoritățile de la Dhaka au afirmat deja că vor avea zero toleranță față de asemenea atrocități, că vor îmbunătăți securitatea și că au început investigarea unora dintre crimele comise. Toate aceste crime trebuie anchetate și trebuie să vedem rezultate.

E adevărat, pe de altă parte, așa cum ministrul a spus-o mai devreme, că în Bangalesh avem o situație specială din punct de vedere politic, dat fiind faptul că, la ultimele alegeri, opoziția nu a participat. Asta inflamează spiritele. Vă amintesc că misiunea electorală pe care ar fi trebuit să o trimitem acolo a fost anulată. Repet, boicotul acestor alegeri e sursa multor tensiuni. Altfel, suntem cu toții conștienți de importanța pe care Bangladesh o are ca partener, inclusiv ca partener comercial. Trebuie să avem în vedere lucrul acesta și să cerem partenerilor noștri de la Dhaka o semnificativă îmbunătățire a climatului politic și public în general.

 
  
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  Neena Gill, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, at least ten secular liberal activists have been murdered in cold blood since the start of 2016 alone. Daesh and al—Qaeda claimed many of these attacks, yet Bangladeshi authorities systematically refuse to acknowledge their presence, opting to use these atrocious killings for electoral purposes instead of protecting activists and vulnerable groups like LGBTI.

The blatant failure of the Bangladesh international crimes tribunal to meet fair trial standards is fuelling more violence and extremism. We cannot afford to let Bangladesh descend into full—blown violence. We need to do the following: set up projects to counter violent extremism, with India as a bridgehead, which will help us gain a foothold and stop the country from becoming a regional stronghold for terrorism.

Second, the focus of all sides in Bangladesh – government and opposition – should be on genuine accountability for the crimes today and for those committed in 1972. Extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests have to stop.

I call upon the High Representative to take a lead in the UN on further steps implementing sanctions against those responsible for abusive policies on all sides and supporting an internationally—supervised judicial mechanism to ensure justice is served.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, Bangladesh is a secular South Asian democracy and it is a political model that I strongly support. Its championing of religious tolerance, freedom of expression, women’s rights and education, are values that we would recognise and celebrate here in Europe. Such values are, however, threatened in Bangladesh right now – but not by the government, as some in this Chamber will seek to argue this evening, but by Islamist extremists. In 1971 Jamaat-e-Islami was rightly banned in Bangladesh, not only for the atrocities committed during the civil war, but also for its continued ideological campaign and terrorist activities against the secular state. Since the lifting of this ban in 1979, Jamaat continues along this path, with reported links to extremist jihadist groups.

I urge tonight the opposition party, the BMP, to end and denounce its links with them so that it can fulfil its proper secular democratic role in opposition. Only today was the body of a Hindu priest found near to his temple, the killing clearly motivated by his religion. He joins the many others that have been murdered in similar attacks: academics, gay rights activists, secular bloggers and journalists, as well as other individuals from religious minorities such as Christian, Buddhist or Ahmadi. Bangladesh, as one of the poorest countries in the world, does not enjoy the luxuries of established and properly trained and sophisticated security services as we do here in the West. As we in the European Union battle against our own extremist insurgencies, we must offer more support and sympathy to Bangladesh’s Government and less words of criticism and condemnation.

 
  
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  Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, I want to focus today on the extreme violence against human rights defenders, LGBT activists, journalists, bloggers and religious minorities. Too many innocent victims have been killed and the debate today is long overdue. The pace of outrageous incidents still increases, and as recently as today, a Hindu priest was hacked to death. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families and loved ones. It is widely believed that violent Islamist terror militia are behind these despicable acts, and clearly liberal voices and religious minorities are the targets.

It is important that the government does all it can to prevent more horrendous bloodshed and, while we see that the authorities have launched new actions against terrorist groups, concerns remain that more could have been done to protect people and also that point blank killings of suspects are not a proportionate and adequate response – and not as just or as impactful as a fair trial to bring people to justice.

Given the long list of many people killed by Islamist militia since 2013, it is surprising, and actually quite disappointing, that EU leadership has not been stronger and that we have not been more vocal. You rightfully pointed out the important ties and the relations we have in the form of trade and development. We leveraged it before when factories collapsed and we should leverage it again, with stronger words offering assistance to tackle terrorism, but in an appropriate manner. So I wanted to ask you, Minister, why we have not seen more statements, or could you share more about the actual steps that EU leaders and the External Action Service and High Representative Mogherini have taken in reaching out to the Bangladeshi authorities? What will be the real consequences if there is a lack of adequate response to these outrageous murders? What is happening on the part of the EU Member States delegations on the ground in Bangladesh?

 
  
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  Lola Sánchez Caldentey, en nombre del Grupo GUE/NGL. – Señor Presidente. Señor Ministro, tras la tragedia del Rana Plaza, la que era Alta Representante, la señora Ashton, y el Comisario De Gucht, pidieron a las empresas europeas que promoviesen mejores estándares de salud y seguridad en las fábricas en Bangladés. Se basaron para ello en las directrices sobre responsabilidad social corporativa. Habían muerto más de mil personas en una fábrica que forma parte de la cadena de valor de las empresas europeas y ustedes seguían pidiendo el cumplimiento de unas recomendaciones que dependen de la voluntad de las empresas: eso es como poner al zorro a cuidar de las gallinas.

Señores de la Comisión, ¿podemos seguir hablando de responsabilidad social corporativa cuando empresas como Benetton o Inditex se niegan a indemnizar a las víctimas? Hay que cambiar la normativa. Necesitamos urgentemente un mecanismo vinculante para que esta responsabilidad sea formal y punible por vía civil y por vía penal. Ya está en marcha un mecanismo así en la ONU, a pesar de que la Unión Europea —su representante allí— quiso bloquear el proceso. En octubre, este grupo de trabajo se vuelve a reunir y la Unión Europea debería ser parte del cambio y no un obstáculo, porque tenemos mucha responsabilidad en el cumplimiento de los derechos humanos en Bangladés.

 
  
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  Jean Lambert, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I should say at this point that I speak in my capacity as chair of the Delegation for relations with countries with South Asia, which includes Bangladesh. As others have said, an overwhelming majority of Bangladeshis are extremely proud of the fact that they are able to live as a whole range of different faiths and communities, but we are seeing this gradual escalation from those claiming to be from Islamic State or from spin-offs of al—Qaeda attacking a range of people, as we have heard: from a shopkeeper to gay rights activists, and indeed the murder recently of Mahmuda Akter, the wife of an anti-terrorist police officer.

It is certainly time for very strong signals from the government that society is not going to be divided. I think we should be pleased to see the statement from 100 000 clerics and their fatwa for peace, which will be fully published on 18 June 2016. But a strong civil society is absolutely essential, and to provide grassroots resilience and a sense of community rather than seeing – as we sometimes feel at the moment – that the government sees those grassroots as a problem. We really should be upholding the work of human rights defenders, such as the organisation ‘Odhikar’, and indeed press freedom. We are seeing far too many journalists going to jail. We also need to see effective policing and a judicial system where people really do feel that there is equality before the law. As others have said, we are seeing an extremely worrying situation there. We really need to be supporting the government in its efforts, but making sure but that it also acts in the best interests of all Bangladeshis.

 
  
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  Fabio Massimo Castaldo, a nome del gruppo EFDD. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, stiamo assistendo a una escalation in Bangladesh estremamente preoccupante. Viene da chiederci perché, perché un paese che si era distinto da sempre per il sincretismo, per la tolleranza della maggioranza musulmana, in questo momento vede questa recrudescenza. Il motivo è anche e soprattutto nella povertà. Sappiamo bene quanto le multinazionali europee sfruttino, soprattutto per quanto riguarda il riso nell'agricoltura, e il tessile ancor di più, i lavoratori in Bangladesh. Questo predispone in qualche modo e facilita il lavoro di Daesh, di Al Qaeda, di quei gruppi estremisti che stanno penetrando sempre di più in questa società civile del Bangladesh, un tempo invece più forte e più immune a questo rischio, e la stanno portando alla radicalizzazione.

Come Europa dobbiamo spingere per riforme in campo giudiziario, sul funzionamento della polizia, e ancor di più dobbiamo pretendere passi in avanti sulla democrazia e sulla libertà di stampa. Ma prima dobbiamo fare i conti con le nostre stesse azioni. La stabilità economica e sociale del paese è il pilastro fondamentale per prevenire la radicalizzazione e il terrorismo. Non dimentichiamocene e pretendiamo azioni coerenti da parte delle nostre multinazionali.

 
  
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  Fernando Ruas (PPE). – Senhor Presidente, como é sabido o Rana Plaza colapsou matando 1100 pessoas e ferindo mais de 2500. O Bangladesh é o segundo maior exportador de vestuário do mundo, sendo que 60% da sua produção é exportada para aqui, para a União Europeia.

Tal catástrofe constituiu uma terrível chamada de atenção para a necessidade de ação concreta no que diz respeito à melhoria da segurança dos edifícios, também às condições gerais de trabalho não só deste país, mas também de outros fornecedores da União. Três anos após a assinatura do Pacto de Sustentabilidade nós consideramos alguns compromissos assumidos pelo Governo do Bangladesh como positivos. No entanto, é necessário, na nossa opinião, fazer muito mais.

Por exemplo, o governo tem de respeitar a Convenção 87 da OIT, tem de estender a aplicação da totalidade da Lei do Trabalho às zonas francas industriais para exportação e tem também, obviamente, de prosseguir com a luta contra a corrupção e a fiscalização do cumprimento das normas laborais.

E termino, Sr. Presidente, esperando que este Pacto, resultante do empenho e da boa vontade de muitas instituições internacionais, europeias, países independentes e empresas do próprio Bangladesh, possa vir a servir de exemplo para a melhoria das condições de trabalho noutros países e para uma ação da comunidade internacional mais eficaz e também mais coordenada.

 
  
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  Josef Weidenholzer (S&D). –Herr Präsident! Die Situation in Bangladesch ist sehr besorgniserregend, und die Gefahr eines Bürgerkrieges ist nicht mehr auszuschließen. Zwei Lager stehen sich seit Jahren unversöhnlich gegenüber, und das hat zur Lähmung der demokratischen Institutionen geführt, die Gewalt nimmt ständig zu, und die IS-Terroristen machen sich diese Situation zunutze.

Unter solchen Umständen ist die Arbeit von Menschenrechtsaktivisten unerlässlich, sie wird leider systematisch eingeschränkt. Organisationen wie ODHIKAR werden eingeschüchtert, ihre Existenz bedroht, und oft kommt es zu grausamer Gewaltanwendung wie am Sonntag, als ein Christ zu Tode gehackt wurde. Das gleiche geschah im April mit einem LGBT-Aktivisten der Boys of Bangladesh. Noch ist es möglich, diesen teuflischen Kreislauf zu stoppen. Europa kann eine wichtige Rolle dabei spielen. Die Stimme Europas wird in Bangladesch auch gehört, also versuchen wir, das noch abzuwenden.

 
  
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  Mark Demesmaeker (ECR). – Mevrouw de hoge vertegenwoordiger, er is reden te over om bezorgd te zijn over Bangladesh: een overheid die hoe langs zo meer repressief optreedt tegen media, middenveld, mensenrechtenbeschermers en oppositie en anderzijds de uitbraak van religieus geïnspireerd geweld dat aantoont dat een fundamentalistische stroming binnen de islam probeert voet aan de grond te krijgen. Velen hebben het gevoel dat de overheid te weinig doet om geweld te bestraffen en extremisme een halt toe te roepen. Als Bangladesh verder afglijdt en een antwoord zoekt in religieuze retoriek, kan dat dramatische gevolgen hebben.

Ik ben het eens met de klemtonen en prioriteiten die u legt. De EU heeft hefbomen. We zijn de grootste handelspartner en de belangrijkste afnemer van textiel dankzij intensieve samenwerking. Bangladesh kan gebruik maken van het EU-initiatief ‘Alles behalve Wapens’, waarbij het zonder importtarief naar de EU kan exporteren. Dat mag niet vanzelfsprekend en onvoorwaardelijk blijven. In de nasleep van de ramp in textielfabriek Rana Plaza hebben we bewezen dat we zaken kunnen doen bewegen. Gebruik de hefbomen consequent om een gezonde democratische cultuur en politieke stabiliteit te ondersteunen.

 
  
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  Thomas Mann (PPE). – Herr Präsident! Als Mitglied der Südasien-Delegation teile ich die Bedenken zur humanitären Lage in Bangladesch. Das politische Leben ist gekennzeichnet vom permanenten Konflikt zwischen der Awami League und der BNP. Der Graben, etwa die Rivalität zwischen Scheich Hasina und Khaleda Zia, scheint unüberbrückbar. Hinzu kommt, dass zahlreiche Morde offenbar auf das Konto von radikalen Fanatikern gehen.

Der brutale Kampf gegen religiöse Minderheiten, gegen säkulare Blogger, gegen Ausländer erfährt ständig neue Dimensionen. Das Justizsystem, das die Gräueltaten der vergangenen Jahre aufarbeiten sollte, ist derart politisiert, dass es immer wieder zu gravierenden Fehlentscheidungen kommt. Es muss endlich wieder eine Situation der Rechtsstaatlichkeit, der öffentlichen Debatten und der Pressefreiheit entstehen. Machen wir unseren Einfluss geltend, dass die Parteien endlich wieder an einen Tisch kommen. Um der Menschen Willen dürfen wir diese Hoffnung nicht aufgeben.

 
  
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  Maria Arena (S&D). – Monsieur le Président, la situation des droits de l'homme au Bangladesh est effectivement une situation préoccupante et les rapports des ONG nous montrent à quel point elle est alarmante.

Si les autorités ont la responsabilité de faire respecter les droits fondamentaux et les droits de l'homme, nous avons aussi la responsabilité de faire respecter à nos entreprises européennes le travail décent ainsi que le respect des droits de l'homme, quand elles sont donneuses d'ordre dans ces pays.

Nous nous sommes tous indignés après le Rana Plaza, effectivement, mais qu'avons-nous fait pour changer les choses? Pas grand-chose: pas d'initiatives législatives ni de la part de la Commission, ni de la part du Conseil qui permettraient de garantir le respect des droits de l'homme par ces entreprises.

Pas d'initiatives réglementaires non plus par rapport à la réparation qui devrait être faite par les entreprises.

Pas d'initiatives parlementaires sur l'obligation de la responsabilité de ces entreprises.

Nous parlons beaucoup des crimes politiques, et c'est important; je pense que nous devons mettre à l'ordre du jour les crimes économiques et là, nous avons la possibilité de décider.

 
  
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  Bas Belder (ECR). – Stel, je zou op dit moment christen zijn in Bangladesh of deel uitmaken van een andere religieuze minderheidsgroep in het land, je zou steeds meer vrezen voor je leven, want de aanvallen van extremistische moslims op christenen en andere religieuze minderheidsgroepen nemen de laatste maanden toe in Bangladesh. De grondwettelijk gegarandeerde godsdienstvrijheid mondt zo uit in geloofsvervolging. Een christelijke zegsman in Bangladesh die ik vandaag sprak, uitte duidelijke woorden. Ik citeer: "Officieel is er ruimte voor christenen om hun geloof te belijden. Maar in de praktijk is er steeds meer sprake van vervolging en discriminatie en worden rechten van minderheden niet gerespecteerd. Ook de media spelen een rol en zetten christenen regelmatig in een kwaad daglicht." Einde citaat.

En passant ontkent de regering de evidente aanwezigheid en activiteiten van salafistische terreurorganisaties als Al Qaida en IS op eigen grondgebied. Vorig jaar spendeerde de EU 800 000 euro aan mensenrechtenprojecten in Bangladesh. Mijn vraag is: kwam een deel van het geld ook de precaire positie van religieuze minderheden ten goede? Wellicht kan de Raad in de persoon van minister Koenders daarover opheldering verschaffen.

 
  
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  Eduard Kukan (PPE). – Mr President, I am seriously concerned by the unprecedented violence against members of religious and ethnic minorities, civil society activists, journalists and bloggers that has swept Bangladesh recently. There seems to be no clear end to the tragic news. These brutal attacks have not only targeted anyone opposing mainstream views, but have seriously infringed freedom of expression in the country. We have to press on the Bangladeshi Government to properly investigate these crimes. Citizens need to be assured that their freedoms are respected, impunity is ended and the rule of law is re-established, otherwise a carte blanche for radical behaviour and unpunished violence will endanger the stability of Bangladesh, with potential implications for the entire region of South-East Asia.

 
  
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  Ana Gomes (S&D). – Senhor Presidente, Taslima Nasreen, Prémio Sakharov 1994, ainda há dias aqui no Parlamento Europeu, com outros laureados Sakharov, denunciou a espiral de radicalização e violência que assola o seu país, a que não pode voltar por ameaças de morte.

Repetem-se assassinatos brutais sem que ninguém esteja a salvo. Membros de ordens religiosas, de minorias sexuais, religiosas e étnicas, bloggers, académicos, jornalistas, elementos da oposição e cidadãos estrangeiros são eliminados sem que investigações sejam conduzidas para identificar os autores de tais hediondos crimes.

Por outro lado, multiplicam-se raptos, detenções arbitrárias e assassinatos por parte de forças de segurança. Temos instituído diálogo com o Bangladesh através de um acordo de cooperação. Depois da tragédia do Rana Plaza, é inadmissível que direitos humanos sejam relegados para segundo plano.

As autoridades europeias têm de deixar claro ao governo do Bangladesh que não tem adesão à realidade a sua persistente negação de que grupos terroristas como o Daesh e a Al—Qaeda não estão ativos no país, ao mesmo tempo que culpam a oposição e grupos de ativistas locais pela violência.

 
  
 

(La seduta è sospesa per qualche istante)

 
  
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  Amjad Bashir (ECR). – Mr President, tragically for the people of Bangladesh, recent barbaric murders remind us of the country’s lengthy history of political instability and wanton violence.

While we must do our utmost not to meddle in the affairs of sovereign nations, we have a responsibility to condemn violence while encouraging and fostering political dialogue. To this end, the only viable way for Bangladesh to get itself back on track is for the country’s leading political parties to show real leadership to get the country out of this impasse. One cannot ignore the toxic effect of the ruling coalition’s blatant electoral manoeuvring in the run up to the previous elections. It created a climate of great institutional mistrust and has only added fuel to the fire of violence that we are witnessing now.

On the other hand, the opposition would do well to distance itself from extremist groups, developing real policies for their countries instead. Ultimately, the only way to guarantee a fresh start for Bangladesh and its people is for new elections to be called under a caretaker government as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, la situazione in Bangladesh descrive tutti i sintomi del pessimo stato di salute delle libertà e segnala i rischi di disgregazione del paese. La repressione e l'uccisione di numerosi attivisti testimoniano la gravità del momento, e credo che non possiamo assolutamente girare la testa da un'altra parte. Il governo fa troppo poco, e questo rischia – noi lo dobbiamo sottolineare – rischia oggettivamente di rappresentare una copertura delle azioni criminali fatte da gruppi estremisti. Sarebbe opportuno che l'Unione europea, al di là delle parole, eserciti tutte le pressioni necessarie perché le autorità del Bangladesh intervengano con maggiore determinazione. Noi dobbiamo usare tutti gli strumenti che abbiamo a disposizione. Io voglio richiamare qui la posizione espressa dal Parlamento europeo nel novembre scorso e chiedo che si faccia tutto per porre fine alla violenza e all'intimidazione verso i difensori dei diritti umani e che si ponga al centro, anche in Bangladesh, la questione dei diritti.

 
  
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  Agnes Jongerius (S&D). – Het klopt dat sociaaleconomische rechten ook onderdeel vormen van de mensenrechten. Daarop wilde ik mij concentreren. Het is nu drie jaar na de ramp bij Rana Plaza en eigenlijk moeten we zeggen dat er nog niet heel veel veranderd is, terwijl er zoveel winst te boeken zou zijn als wij vakbonden in staat zouden stellen om zelf verbeteringen af te dwingen. Maar de regering werkt niet mee. In de arbeidswetgeving van Bangladesh zijn er hoge wettelijke drempels waardoor het voor werkgevers gemakkelijk is om werknemers te intimideren, te ontslaan en zelfs – we weten ook van zaken – te mishandelen.

Daarnaast vallen de exportproductiezones niet onder het bestaande arbeidsrecht. Dat zou moeten veranderen, want het garanderen van een fatsoenlijk leven voor mannen en vrouwen die onze kleding maken, dat zou ons wat waard moeten zijn. Vakbonden vormen daarvoor een belangrijke sleutel.

 
  
 

Procedura "catch-the-eye"

 
  
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  Νότης Μαριάς ( ECR). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, όπως αποδείχθηκε από τη συζήτηση, η κατάσταση στο Μπανγκλαντές πραγματικά είναι εκρηκτική. Υπάρχει μια συνεχής παραβίαση των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων. Οι χριστιανικοί πληθυσμοί και οι άλλες θρησκευτικές μειονότητες υφίστανται διώξεις. Ταυτόχρονα, αναπτύσσεται ένα επικίνδυνο ισλαμιστικό κίνημα, το οποίο επιτίθεται σε δημοσιογράφους και σε μπλόγκερ. Σε κοινωνικό επίπεδο –το έχουμε ξαναπεί– υπάρχει μια συνεχής παραβίαση εργασιακών δικαιωμάτων, κυρίως στα εργοστάσια, και από ’κει και πέρα δεν τηρούνται ούτε οι κανόνες ασφαλείας. Είναι δεδομένο ότι το Μπανγκλαντές αποτελεί σημαντικό εταίρο της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης, μια και εξάγει στην Ευρώπη κυρίως προϊόντα κλωστοϋφαντουργίας. Επομένως υπάρχει δυνατότητα από πλευράς Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης να ασκηθεί επιρροή, πίεση, ούτως ώστε να τηρηθούν τα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, το κράτος δικαίου, ο σεβασμός συνολικά της διαφάνειας και της δημοκρατίας.

 
  
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  Kateřina Konečná (GUE/NGL). – Pane předsedající, ve svém vystoupení bych se ráda věnovala nebezpečné situaci, ve které se nachází značné množství bangladéšských pracovníků v oděvním průmyslu. Na výrobě oděvů je závislých takřka 20 milionů obyvatel. V zemi operuje více než 5 400 dodavatelských továren, které zaměstnávají téměř 3,6 milionu pracujících. Bangladéšští pracující ale patří k těm nejhůře placeným na světě, přičemž minimální mzda nepokryje ani jejich základní potřeby. Nízká cena lidské práce společně s takřka nevymáhatelným právem nabízí nadnárodním společnostem podstatně beztrestnost a ideální možnost přesunu všech představitelných rizik na samotné pracující. K tomu ještě přidejme nebezpečné pracovní prostředí, které často buď vzplane, či se zcela sesype na bezbranného zaměstnance. Doufám, že vysoká představitelka toto téma při jednání s bangladéšskou stranou neopomíjí a vyslovuje se pro silnější roli odborů v této oblasti a skončení s tím, aby byli vykořisťováni pracující.

 
  
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  Csaba Sógor (PPE). – Mr President, Bangladesh seems to be on a course departing from democracy and leaning towards insecurity. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seems to be determined to destroy the position of the Bangladesh National Party before the next election in 2018. This continues an already authoritarian course of eliminating any opposition, via banning political parties and changing laws that normally guarantee the integrity of elections. Also five different Islamist extremist attacks in the past year have been targeting minorities, activists and intellectuals. No one has been punished for any of these crimes; instead Hasina blames the BNP for the attacks, giving justification for further persecuting and discrediting them in the name of national security.

On an issue where all other powers, China, India and the United States, have failed to raise any alarm, the EU needs to put pressure on the Bangladeshi Government to respect the fundamental principles of democracy, those of free and fair elections, the right to political opposition and the responsibility of a government to protect its citizens from violence.

 
  
 

(Fine della procedura "catch-the-eye")

 
  
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  Bert Koenders, President-in-Office of the Council, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, let me start also by joining with the Members who have expressed their outrage at the killing of the Hindu priest, who was hacked to death. On behalf of the Council, I would like to offer my condolences to the families and to the next of kin. Obviously for us it is also extremely important that those who are responsible for this are brought to justice.

Let me say a few words about the input that you have brought to the debate tonight. I think we are all quite conscious of the fact that Bangladesh is an enormously complex and extremely vulnerable country; in terms of environmental issues it is the most vulnerable country in the world. It is the most densely populated country in the world, and it is a country that has different aspects.

On the one hand, it has made some progress in reaching the sustainable development goals, which is actually amazing. If you look at the rise of civil society in Bangladesh we have seen that, through very important progress made through civil society in cooperation with the government, enrolment in primary education is now close to 100%. At the same time, we see a reduction in poverty, and maternal mortality has declined by 40% in nine years. That is the positive news. But at the same time, the Council joins you today in looking at some of the very negative developments that we have seen.

First of all, I think the shrinking space for the democratic and secular opposition comes at a par with all the issues that you have mentioned – the multiplication of terrorist attacks, targeting bloggers, religious minorities – including Christians, I would say – foreigners and law enforcement officers. The most brutal murders included a student, a professor, two LGTBI activists, a policeman and a security guard, a Hindu tailor, the wife of a police officer, a Christian grocer and a Buddhist monk.

We are talking about a rise in these kinds of very violent human rights violations, and we see at the same time a limiting of political space for political opposition, as well as for civil society. It obviously worries the Council, as it does you, and I want to say that beyond all kinds of declarations we give out regularly – and I can give you most of the statements that we have given out in the last couple of months – it is not enough to make statements. All these statements refer to the facts that you have been putting forward, including the violence and the need for justice.

It is also important that we work on countering, first of all, the issues that are behind this, including projects to counter violent extremism and to assist in deradicalisation. We will continue, and I will come back to that in a second, this important element in our human rights instruments. We are very worried about the rise of that. It is also very important for the Government of Bangladesh to acknowledge the risks of this radicalism, including possibly the risks posed by ISIS. Therefore, and this was also in answer to some of the questions, the dialogue in the context of the United Nations that some of you have mentioned is extremely important. It is also important that our delegations reach out not only through projects in these areas, but also in the bilateral meeting at the ASEM Summit, to the Government of Bangladesh on these very disturbing developments.

When we talk about human rights, we should talk about the fact that the human rights situation is steadily deteriorating, mainly at the expense of the most vulnerable segments of the population of Bangladesh. Your appeal should be communicated; the response by law enforcement agencies seems at best too slow and inadequate, for example in the most important and iconic cases, the horrible rape and assassination of a 19-year-old female student in the military cantonment of Comilla, which still remains unexplained.

I wanted to mention, in the context of this complex situation in Bangladesh, the Sustainability Compact, especially in Bangladesh, but also in other countries. We have to talk about human rights in the broader sense of the word, including the social-economic rights and the role of unions and so on and so forth. Following the Rana Plaza collapse where everybody was extremely horrified – and this was already more than three years ago – over 1 100 people were killed and thousands injured. The Sustainability Compact was agreed between the government and the European Union, the United States and the ILO, with commitments on three interlinked pillars in the ready-made garment industry. I would like to support all of you who have said that this is not only a compact that should remain on paper, but needs operationalisation and implementation, as well as the responsiblisation of the business sector in order to ensure that it actually works.

It requires some elements. First, respect for labour rights, in particular freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; I think that includes the important role of the unions. Second, the structural integrity of factory buildings and occupational safety and health; I think we should also support where we can – bilaterally but also in the context of the European Union – the Government of Bangladesh and others in ensuring this. Then, of course, responsible business conduct is absolutely important. The donors fund the ready-made garment industry programme in the context of remediation measures. That goes up to USD 200 million, so it is not small fry, so to speak. Canada has recently also joined as a partner. We recognise the progress made by Bangladesh, but of course, and I think that was correctly mentioned, the need is there for the government to facilitate trade unions’ registration, to upgrade the directorate of labour with additional staff and resources, and to ensure that the legal framework is also applicable in the export processing zones, protecting freedom of association and collective bargaining.

I think these are important points. What do we have as instruments? First of all, we have the dialogue with the Government of Bangladesh, and I think it should focus especially on these areas. Continuing progress in the SDGs, at the same time making it apparent that we are worried about a deterioration in the political space and the degradation of the security situation. We must also see where we can assist, because this is a major issue. It is the responsibility of all actors, including the government first and foremost, but also other actors – terrorist groups, responsible and irresponsible political parties – to play their role in ensuring that this political degradation does not continue. Certainly, through our European Union assistance –and we have development assistance on the DCI up to EUR 690 million to ensure that our programmes are up to date as regards the present situation and developments.

There was one question on sanctions. I am not such a great fan of sanctions towards Bangladesh at this point, speaking obviously also on behalf of the European Council. I think we have three lines of action now in the context of what I have just said regarding the SDGs, the human rights dialogue and political dialogue on the critical issue we just discussed, and the Compact. That would be better than formally suspending trade cooperation negotiations. That would most likely be detrimental and hardly facilitate any improvement in the political, human rights and security situation in Bangladesh.

 
  
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  Presidente. – La discussione è chiusa.

Dichiarazioni scritte (articolo 162)

 
  
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  Urmas Paet (ALDE), kirjalikult. – Julgeolekuolukord Bangladeshis on äärmiselt murettekitav. Aina suurenev süütult hukkunute arv, sealhulgas blogijad, usuvähemused, inimõiguslased, õpetajad ja välismaalased, on seadnud tõsiselt ohtu inimõigused ning väljendus- ja usuvabaduse Bangladeshis. Bangladeshi valitsus peab tunnistama ekstremistlike jõudude olemasolu riigis, tegelema enam ekstremismi väljajuurimisega ning tooma kurjategijad kohtu ette ning tagama inimeste kaitse. Samas ei tohi ektremismiga võitlemise ettekäänet kasutada rahumeelse opositsiooni ründamiseks.

 
  
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  Ivan Štefanec (PPE), písomne. – Bangladéš je krajina, ktorá má všetky predpoklady na rozvoj obojstranne výhodných obchodných vzťahov s Európskou úniou. Pri obchodných aktivitách však musíme vždy brať do úvahy aj otázky demokracie, slobody slova a dodržiavania ľudských práv. Apelujeme na politickú reprezentáciu krajiny, aby urobila všetko na zastavenie náboženského a etnického násilia, ktoré zvyšuje počet utečencov vo svete, a prestala s trestaním aktivistov a nezávislých novinárov.

 
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