The Daily Star : Dhaka: Sunday, April 2, 2017.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon the IPU leaders to work together against all social disparities and the vices of militancy and terrorism to make the world an abode of mutual compassion and fraternity.
"The world, no doubt, is moving forward, and visible progress has also been made in hunger situation. But, nearly 800 million people still suffer from malnutrition," she said.
She said this while inaugurating the 136th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) at the South Plaza of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.
As the prime minister of a nation affected by climate change, Hasina urged the top polluting nations to fulfil, without delay, their commitments on carbon offsetting made in different forums.
She said a large number of children of the developing nations suffer from stunted growth owing to malnutrition. They are deprived of healthcare and schooling. But the earth has enough resources for the survival of mankind. A little sympathy, support, mutual compassion and fraternity could easily make the globe hunger-free, she said.
Terming terrorism and militancy the new vices for humanity, she said, "We have to fight this menace together; otherwise, we would be pushed back to the Dark Age." She called for a united fight against terrorism and militancy.
After joining the IPU in 1972, Bangladesh is for the first time hosting the IPU assembly. About 1,400 delegates, including 53 speakers, deputy speakers and 209 women parliamentarians from 120 countries are taking part.
The five-day assembly is being held with the theme: “Redressing inequalities: Delivering on dignity and well-being for all."
Nobel Peace prize winner and children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi would present the keynote paper of the conference.
Welcoming the delegates of the conference, Hasina said she was deeply honoured by the opportunity to inaugurate the conference.
"It is indeed a matter of pride for us. This is also a testimony by the honourable members of parliaments across the world towards our commitment to democratic practices and values."
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, IPU President Saber Hossain Chowdhury, and Secretary General Martin Chungong also spoke on the occasion. UN Assistant Secretary General Mirsolav Jenca read out a message from the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The prime minister said democracy is viewed as a way “to ensure prosperity and security for our people”. However, the journey for establishing democracy in Bangladesh was not smooth.
Hasina said thousands of leaders and workers of her party had sacrificed their lives for establishing the rights to food and vote. At least 19 attempts were made on her life including the most gruesome one on August 21, 2004, which claimed the lives of 22 people, she said.
She said the struggles did not deter them from the path of democracy.
Highlighting Bangladesh's democratic progress during her government, the prime minister said her government has been working relentlessly to build a nation free from poverty and hunger based on equality and non-communal democratic values.
She said all democratic institutions, including parliament and local government bodies of Bangladesh were strengthened. Every tier of the local government bodies, including union councils, upazila councils, municipalities, city corporations and district councils, are run by elected representatives.
Independent mass media, she said, flourished over the last few years playing the role of watchdog. The Right to Information (RTI) Act has been enacted and an information commission was established to protect the people's right to information.
Hasina hoped that the recommendations of the 136th IPU conference would produce good results.
The chief justice, cabinet members, speakers of parliaments of the IPU countries, parliament members, diplomats, civil society members and senior journalists were present.
Meanwhile, members of the executive committee of the IPU, led by IPU President Saber Hossain Chowdhury, met Hasina at the Gono Bhaban yesterday evening, UNB adds.
At the meeting, the delegation members highly appreciated Bangladesh for the successful arrangement of such a large event in Dhaka, and expressed their gratitude to the prime minister for the heartiest hospitality extended to them.