To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of freedom of religion and belief in Bangladesh; and if he will make a statement.
20 November 2015
The Government is concerned by the violence directed towards those expressing secular or atheist views in Bangladesh. Ministers have been unequivocal in our condemnation of the murder of five secular bloggers and publishers in Bangladesh this year, and in calling for the Bangladesh government to protect those who face threats to their lives because of the views they have expressed. My noble Friend the right hon Baroness Anelay of St Johns, our High Commissioner in Dhaka and myself, in my statement on 7 August, have all expressed shock at the appalling murders and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and free speech protected. In my 14 August blog I said that Bangladesh is a secular country, with a rich tradition of freedom and religious tolerance. That should be commended, protected and preserved.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, visited Bangladesh from 31 August to 9 September. We look forward to the release of his report at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016 and will encourage the government to consider all its recommendations carefully.