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I can understand PM Hasina’s pains, says Unhr commissioner

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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has said she understands the pains of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as they both went through similar situations back in 1974 and 1975.

“I can understand her pains as well, you know, because if we live situations that are similar in that sense,” she said, noting that her father died in 1974 while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lost her father in 1975.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was brutally assassinated by a group of conspiring army officers on August 15 in 1975. Bangabandhu's wife, sons, daughters-in-law and other relatives were also killed in the massacre, one of the most heinous in world history.

On the other hand, General Alberto Bachelet was arrested and tortured for opposing the military coup led by Gen Augusto Pinochet. He died in 1974 of a heart attack caused by the torture inflicted on him.

During her four-day visit to Bangladesh, Bachelet met PM Hasina on Wednesday apart from her meetings with four ministers, civil society members and other stakeholders.

Her visit coincided with an important day of national mourning, commemorating the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

She said it was a day which naturally lent itself to reflections on the history of Bangladesh – its painful past, a people’s struggle for independence and for their human rights, millions of whom had been forced to flee in 1971.

“I also share with them my experiences as a former head of state of federal government, and my own experience in Chile,” said the UN rights chief who was elected President of Chile on two occasions (2006 – 2010 and 2014 – 2018).

Bachelet, who also was the first female president of Chile, laid emphasis on acknowledging the existence of problems, to address them and make the investigation.

“I always felt that when I receive any allegation of any kind….what if it's true, because it might not be my policy, but maybe some things are happening. And if I know that I'm having....I can do something about it. So that's the kind of conversation we had,” she told reporters before leaving Dhaka on Wednesday evening.

The UN rights chief said the allegations might not be true but if she hears something, she always says, “Let's analyze it, let's investigate and see if it's true or if it's not true. If you come to know it's not true, things are clear.”

But if it is found to be true, she said, how they remedy and how they take the measures. “So that's the kind of conversation that we had.”

Responding to a question, the UN rights chief said she is happy to have come to the right location because she thinks it was an important opportunity for her to visit this beautiful country that has a lot of challenges – not just human rights but also on economic, social, cultural and climate change fronts.

Warmly thanking the government of Bangladesh for its invitation, she said, “I hope my visit will build on the government’s engagement with the UN’s human rights mechanisms and help deepen cooperation with us, furthering the promotion and protection of human rights in Bangladesh.”

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