The rate of seeking political asylum by Bangladeshis in overseas doubled in last five years due to repressive political environment and violation of basic rights in the country, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) said today.
Citing recent data of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Forum said about 160,737 Bangladeshis since 2014 applied for political asylum in various countries, including the USA, Canada, UK, Italy, Japan and South Africa.
It means, on average 88 people -- including political opposition leaders, secularist, writers and publishers -- sought the asylum every day during the timeframe, which is alarming, it said in a press statement.
The Forum -- a coalition of 81 rights organisations in Asia -- termed the rate of seeking asylum as a “mass escalation” and expressed deep concern over the situation.
It urged Bangladesh government to respect and protect rights of all citizens, including political opposition, rights advocates and dissenting voices in the country.
The coalition also called upon the government to take necessary and affirmative actions to neutralise the situation and guarantee its citizens freedom of expression, which will help to reduce the “alarming surge” of asylum seekers.
About reasons of seeking the asylum, the Forum said most of the applicants cited political persecution and turmoil, repression of opposition leaders and activists, threats and harassment of secularists, writers and publishers.
“Asylum seekers often quote repressive political environment and violations of basic civil and political rights in the country as reasons that have forced them to migrate to safer places,” it said in the statement.
“FORUM-ASIA believes that urgent measures must be taken to ensure all civil and political rights for its citizen,” it added.