‘Bangladeshis will decide their own fate’
Thursday, 24 April 2008

Staff Correspondent

Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony BlairCherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, said Wednesday that Bangladeshis will decide for themselves how to protect their human rights and re-establish democratic practices.

Speaking at a press conference arranged at the Supreme Court Bar Association chamber of fellow barrister Ajmalul Hossain QC, Blair said the purpose of her visit was to observe judicial proceedings and the human rights situation in Bangladesh, which were her special areas of interest as a lawyer.

"I would like to observe the human rights situation in Bangladesh, because I am working with human rights worldwide." On the status of human rights amid a state of emergency, she said: "It's a political question." Human rights were in conflict wherever states of emergencies were imposed around the world, Blair acknowledged.

"But Bangladesh and its people will decide how they tackle human rights, and come back to democracy. It's not my job." Blair, who is a barrister and QC, said she was invited to Bangladesh by her friend and colleague Ajmalul Hossain and Bangladeshi barrister Rafiqul Haque. She said she was enjoying her visit Bangladesh. "I am acquainted with Bangladeshis in London. Many of them are my friends."

But this is her first visit to the country, she added. Cherie Blair was present at the Supreme Court earlier in the day, to observe appeal proceedings involving a graft case against former prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

She stayed in the courtroom throughout the morning to 1.00 pm to observe the proceedings in the government appeal against a High Court verdict that scrapped the case filed by businessman Azam J Chowdhury against Hasina. The wife of the former British premiere arrived in Bangladesh Tuesday on a three-day visit at the invitation of Ajmalul Hossain QC.

Barrister Ajmalul told bdnews24.com: "Cherie Blair was my colleague. She came to Bangladesh on a personal invitation. Her visit does not have any relation with the political case."

She is scheduled to meet with foreign adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury later in the day. She will also visit a hospital and a Brac project during her stay. Barrister Ajmalul has arranged a dinner party at the Hotel Sheraton Wednesday night in honour of Cherie Blair's visit.

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