to commend the Government of Bangladesh for putting in motion a process that is leading to a peaceful legal outcome about boundaries, and that will lay the groundwork for the next steps to be taken.
MODERATOR: For the American side, CNN, Jill Doherty, please.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, there now are reported 22 disappearances in Bangladesh, apparently political disappearances, harassment of the opposition. Is Bangladesh moving, spiraling toward serious political violence? And what are you telling both sides – or what do you plan to tell both sides to help to bring this to some type of control? And then also, is there any update on Mr. Chen from Beijing?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well first, let me say that we discussed these issues. We discussed the recent killing of Mr. Islam, the labor organizer. We discussed the recent disappearance of Mr. Ali, the political organizer and the need for thorough, independent investigations. The minister stated very clearly that it was this government’s policy to conduct such investigations and that there was no room for impunity. The democracy that Bangladesh has developed depends upon the rule of law, it depends upon political actors of any and every political party being committed to the rule of law to transparency. We urge all political actors in Bangladesh to work together for the good of the country regardless of differences in viewpoints on any policy matter.
In a strong democracy, everybody has to be rowing in the same direction because you’re all in the same boat. You’re going to make progress together or you’re going to run into very turbulent waters. And it’s important that in this country, which has such unlimited potential and has proven its ability to sustain the democratic path – the elections of 2008 were free, fair, credible, recognized as such around the world – that everybody take seriously any disappearance, any violence against activists, any oppression of civil society, any intimidation of the press. That is just what’s required in the 21st century if democracy is sustainable.
So I am very clear in my hopes for the continuing action on the part of this government of civil society or political actors, because ultimately, it is up to the people of Bangladesh who are the beneficiaries of a healthy, functioning democracy. Violent demonstrations like the recent hartals during which five lives were tragically lost exact a heavy toll, especially on Bangladesh’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. They also send a negative signal to the international community about the investment climate here. So we continue to support democracy in Bangladesh and the freedoms that every Bangladeshi is entitled to of speech and expression and the right to peacefully assemble. And we strongly urge all sides to settle differences through constructive political dialogue, including parliamentary debate.
We want to see Bangladesh succeed. This is personal for me. I’ve been following Bangladesh now closely for 17 years. I remember the faces of the women and children and men that I met