PM appeals, warns
Friday, 27 February 2009

Dhaka, Feb 26 (— Prime minister Sheikh Hasina blended emotion with prudence in her nationwide broadcast Thursday afternoon, calling on all to exercise tolerance but not mincing words to warn of tough measures if needed.

"Please go back to barracks," the prime minister said, appealing to the BDR mutineers. "Please do not test our patience and force me to take any stern action in the interest of the nation.

"Please release all the hostages."

She said she was "deeply shocked" at the unexpected incidents.

In a seven-minute no-nonsense speech, Hasina renewed her general amnesty offer for the armed rebels but did not set any specific deadline for the mutineers to lay down arms.

She warned against provocative statements and asked all not to pay heed to rumours.

"I would like to call upon all irrespective of party, affiliation and opinion, please do not make any comments, speeches or undertake any activity that worsens the situation and threatens the safety and security of people."

She called upon the BDR, police, Ansars and the armed forces to stand guard against any attempt to disrupt stability through provocations and rumours.

"I am continuing my efforts to resolve the crisis through discussions, not through use of force," the prime minister said.

"My question is: Who would you shoot at?

"They are all your brothers. Why make your sisters widows?

"Please stop this suicidal confrontation."

The prime minister said this was no time for tit-for-tat vengeance.

"I know such losses cannot be repaired … No one knows more than I do how it feels to lose near and dear ones.

"But do not take law in your own hands … Even in such circumstances, do not resort to suicidal confrontation," she said.

"Confrontation breeds confrontation."

A second time in her short speech, she issued the warning: "I shall be forced to take any steps (necessary) in the interest of the people."

The prime minister said she had heard the mutineers' representatives "with deep attention" and assured them of meeting their just demands in due course.

"The home minister will head a high-powered committee that will look into the matter," she said.

"The unwanted incidents are taking place at a time when we are trying to take steps for the welfare of the people."

"Economic prosperity is not possible without democracy," the prime minister said.


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