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Future Of Bangladesh

A boy watches on as devotees take part in Friday prayers during the Biswa Ijtema in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Jan. 24, 2014.

Country's moderate secular democracy is one that the United States values and supports.

Bangladesh is of strategic importance to the United States. As the seventh-largest country by population and third-largest Muslim-majority nation, its moderate secular democracy is one that the United States values and supports, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal.

Future Of Bangladesh
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The United States is a partner in Bangladesh’s development and promotes its economic success. The United States and Bangladesh cooperate closely on security issues such as countering terrorism and violent extremism; combatting trafficking in persons, drugs, and arms; strengthening maritime security; and mitigating disasters.

However, Assistant Secretary Biswal noted, “Bangladesh faces a worrisome political situation. On January 5th the government held a deeply flawed election in which one of the two major political parties did not participate. As a result, over half of the 300 members of parliament were elected unopposed, and most of the rest faced only token opposition. The election did not credibly express the will of the Bangladeshi people. This could have serious ramifications for stability in Bangladesh and the region.”

The United States has urged the leaders of the major parties to have dialogue immediately to find a way forward as soon as possible to free, fair and credible elections that reflect the will of the Bangladeshi people.

The United States has stressed repeatedly that violence is unacceptable and not part of the democratic process. “We are disturbed,” said Assistant Secretary Biswal, “by political parties’ use of violence, inflammatory rhetoric, and intimidation, and by violence against minority communities. ... We are also concerned by recent reports of continuing extrajudicial killings and disappearances allegedly committed by security forces. These abuses must stop immediately.”

The United States also remains committed to strengthening respect for labor rights and improving workplace safety in Bangladesh. The United States is committed to working with the Bangladeshi government and international community to help ensure the country never again experiences another Tazreen Factory Fire or Rana Plaza collapse.

The United States urges Bangladesh’s leaders to support the democratic process and drive transformation of the apparel sector so worker safety and workers’ right to freely associate and organize are fully respected. Bangladesh has come too far and has too much to lose for Bangladesh to come up short on democracy and workers’ rights.