Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said she was very proud of Bangladesh’s democratic heritage, at the inaugural event of the five-day 136th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) at the South Plaza of the Parliament.
“We never see democracy as a system, as we term democracy as the carrier of human prosperity and ensuring security,” the prime minister said adding that Bangladesh has strengthened democratic institutions, including the national parliament and local government bodies.
During her speech, Hasina urged the global community to stand up against terrorism and militancy as it is an alarming global phenomenon.
“We will have to fight these menaces (terrorism and militancy) together. Militancy is not a country specific problem but a global phenomenon.”
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina releases a commemorate stamp at the inauguration of the 136th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) at the Parliament building on Saturday BSS
Speaking on climate change the prime minister emphasised Bangladesh’s vulnerability to the effects of global warming.
“I hope the commitments made at different forums for offsetting the adverse effects of climate change will be met without delay,” she said.
She further elaborated on the history of Bangladesh’s struggle for independence and the road to democracy, saying: “The road was not a smooth one.”
Talking about her own experience in fighting for democracy, Hasina said she had to face numerous obstacles including imprisonment, house arrest, and repeated attempts on her life.
“At least 19 attempts, including that of the August 21 gruesome grenade attack in 2004, were made on my life.”
Hasina also described the long journey of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s fight to realise his dream of giving people their right to democracy in Bangladesh.
As the media plays a pivotal role in any democracy, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her speech
emphasised this role, saying: ““There has been huge expansion of mass media in Bangladesh over the last few years to ensure the freedom of expression. People’s right to information has also been ensured through the enactment of Right to Information Act and establishment of Information Commission.”
Speaking on ending world hunger, Hasina urged the global community to help find a solution to the nearly 800 million people still suffering from malnutrition and stunted growth in developing nations.
In her speech she spoke of the enormous progress Bangladesh has made, citing that poverty has come down from 31.5% in 2010 to 22.4% in 2016 with the per capita income now at $1466 and increase in life expectancy to 71 years.
“Bangladesh has already been recognised as a lower middle-income country. Our target is to make Bangladesh a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed and prosperous nation by 2041.”
A total of 1,348 delegates, including 53 speakers, deputy speakers and 209 women parliamentarians, of 120 countries are joining the assembly.
The IPU, established in 1889 with its headquarters in Switzerland, is the focal point for global parliamentary dialogues for peace, development, and cooperation among peoples, and for the safeguard of representative democracy.
Parliamentarians, including 53 speakers of parliament, will make concrete proposals on a range of issues, from bringing an end to the growing inequality to promoting women’s access to financing, during the Assembly.
The Prime Minister also released a commemorative stamp and inaugurated the IPU web TV.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres sent a special message on the occasion.
Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament and Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury delivered the welcome speech. IPU President Saber Hossain Chowdhury and its Secretary General Martin Chungong also spoke on the occasion.