British PM raises rights issues on Bangladesh anniversary

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Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain should not be scared of raising human rights issues with Bangladesh as it marks the 40th anniversary of its independence Friday.

Rushanara Ali, the first person of Bangladeshi origin elected to the British legislature, paid tribute Wednesday in the lower House of Commons to the contribution that the parliament made in supporting Bangladesh in its 1971 fight for secession from Pakistan.

She asked Cameron if, given low-lying Bangladesh's vulnerability to climate change, it was now more important than ever to protect developing countries from its effects.

"I absolutely agree with the honourable lady and I think the whole house should recognise what she's done in raising this issue at this time as Bangladesh approaches this important anniversary," Cameron replied.

"Britain can be proud of the fact that we have very good relations with Bangladesh and our aid programme in Bangladesh is now one of the leading ones from anywhere in the world into that country.

"We're spending specific money on helping them with climate change, meeting all the promises that we have.

"I've met myself with the prime minister of Bangladesh. One of the issues we do have to raise though, is that there are human rights issues in Bangladesh and we shouldn't be scared of raising them with the authorities in the proper way."

Bangladesh is a fellow member of the Commonwealth. Britain was the colonial power before 1947.

© 2011 AFP

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