Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite force of Bangladesh Police which has been showing tremendous success in combating militancy and terrorism in particular is repeatedly being targeted through nefarious propaganda run by agents of militants, terrorists, drug traffickers and crime rackets. These evil nexuses have been running vile propaganda against RAB for years, while in the recent years, pro-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and pro-militancy Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) are spending millions of dollars in influencing Western policymakers, particularly the US administration against RAB through lobbyists – both declared and undeclared. Due to such insane propaganda and frantic lobbyist bids, in December 2021, the US Department of Treasury had imposed sanctions on several officers of this elite force, by bringing allegations of “serious human rights violations”.
It may be mentioned here that the United States has been supporting RAB’s anti-terrorist activities since its inception, while it has also been considered as one of the key partners in America’s war on terror.
According to various media reports, intensive public relations by anti-government Bangladeshi communities living in the United States with senators and congressmen and dubious propaganda by various international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI), played an important role in establishing allegations of so-called serious human rights violations against the RAB and changing US attitudes towards this elite force. Due to such notorious activities, 10 US senators on October 27, 2020, in a letter written to then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin, requested the imposition of ‘targeted sanctions’ against RAB’s senior commanders.
After the imposition of sanctions, Bangladesh also protested the unreasonable sanctions of the United States and said that they would stand by their position. The United States has softened its tone after a long year of controversy over the ban on RAB. During January 2023 Bangladesh visit, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu said, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has made “tremendous” progress showing that it is able to carry out its function respecting human rights.
“This is amazing work. It shows the RAB is able to carry out important counterterrorism and law enforcement functions while respecting human rights”, he said.
It may be mentioned here that, on May 21, 2011, Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Security Adviser Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique said, some elements within the country in collaboration with international non-government organizations are conspiring to get an important force like RAB disbanded. He said, “I affirm that international NGOs along with different groups, organizations and individuals within the country are hatching a conspiracy to show RAB a failure and also to get an important force disbanded”.
During that press conference the Security Adviser said the government in a survey, conducted after a human rights body published its report, found 95 percent people in Bangladesh consider RAB a friendly force and feel its necessity.
On propaganda against RAB, Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique said: “The writing against RAB is part of a conspiracy. We have information and evidence that the writers have involvement with militancy”.
He further said, “A national newspaper editor is assisting militants. We have evidence that the editor held a meeting with militants. The matter is under advanced investigation.
“We have enough evidence to bring the editor to justice any moment now. But we are not doing so as the prime minister does not believe in harassing journalists”.
Citing RAB’s success in combating militancy, Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique said the immediate past BNP-Jamaat-led government did not engage RAB in counterterrorism.
“During that time, I was in DGFI [Directorate General of Forces Intelligence]. I’ve seen the BNP government supporting militants. Militants asked the government for support promising not to carry out any subversive activities inside the country. But later, they carried out terrorist attacks one after another inside the country”, said Major General (retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique.
Misconception about RAB
Recently we have seen, when a transgender woman opened fire at a school in the United States, dozens of the members of law enforcement agencies crashed into the spot with bodycam, where they had to eliminate the culprit, and “neutralize” her. Wasn’t it possible for the American law enforcement agencies to arrest the culprit instead of “neutralizing” her? Absolutely not! Because, it was essential for the sake of saving lives of other innocent people, including members of the law enforcement agencies. Such cases of “neutralizing” take place almost on a regular basis in the United States. Can someone term those incidents as human rights violations? When US forces eliminated Al Qaeda kingpins Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri – can’t those eliminations be avoided by arresting those notorious militants? Absolutely not! In both the cases, US administration has openly boasted of their successes while presidents of the United States had appeared on broadcast networks giving this news of successful operations and eliminations of Laden or Al-Zawahiri. Were those human rights violations? Certainly not!
In this case, can someone ask – why does the US administration consider similar successful operations of the Rapid Action Battalion as human rights violation? In my opinion – America needs to make one point very clear. Are they still sincere about war on terror or this has already been abandoned?
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