Six members of the US Congress from the Republican Party, in a letter to President Joe Biden, have sought “stricter individual sanctions” and banning Bangladesh law enforcement and military personnel from participating in UN peacekeeping missions”.
It may be mentioned here that lobbyists and activists of pro-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are continuing numerous forms of conspiracy against Bangladesh, targeting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ruling Awami League, members of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies as well as judiciary. On May 24, 2023, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a press release titled ‘Announcement of Visa Police to Promote Democratic Elections in Bangladesh’ through the website of the State Department stating:
Today, I am announcing a new visa policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) (“3C”) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections. Under this policy, the United States will be able to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh. This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services. The United States notified the Bangladeshi government of this decision on May 3, 2023.
Actions that undermine the democratic election process include vote rigging, voter intimidation, the use of violence to prevent people from exercising their right to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from disseminating their views.
The holding of free and fair elections is the responsibility of everyone—voters, political parties, the government, the security forces, civil society, and the media. I am announcing this policy to lend our support to all those seeking to advance democracy in Bangladesh.
Following publication of the above press release, leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party are publicly expressing joy claiming this is “a result of their efforts”, although according to this newly announced visa policy, no political party in Bangladesh can onwards either oppose holding of the next general election under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina nor it can resort to terrorism and arsonism which it did during 2013-2014 killing dozens of innocent civilians and destroying public and private properties.
Meanwhile, according to documentary evidence, lobbyists and activists of BNP have been pursuing members of the US Congress, Senate as well as key officials at the State Department and Department of Treasury with propaganda materials against ruling Awami League and members of law enforcement and intelligence agencies and judiciary, with the ulterior motive of misguiding the US policymakers and officials about Bangladesh. At the frantic bids of BNP, six Republican members of the US Congress have written a letter to President Joe Biden on May 17, 2023. Signatories of this letter are: Bob Good (VA-05), Scott Perry (PA-10), Barry Moore (AL-02), Tim Burchett (TN-02), Warren Davidson (OH-08), and Keith Self (TX-03).
In the letter asking for “urgent action” these Republican members of the US Congress called upon President Biden to impose “stricter individual sanctions, banning Bangladesh law enforcement and military personnel from participating in UN peacekeeping missions”.
Below is the content of the May 17, 2023 letter:
We request urgent action to stop the human rights abuses by the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed of Bangladesh, and to give the people of Bangladesh the best possible chance for free and fair parliamentary elections to be scheduled this fall.
Various NGOs have documented hundreds of instances of human rights abuses by the government of Sheikh Hasina since she assumed power in January 2009- including reports by Amnesty International’, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and even the United Nations – that show Hasina’s government has increasingly repudiated democratic systems, perpetrated widespread abuse against its citizens, conducted torture, committed extrajudicial killings, jailed journalists, disappeared opponents, and assaulted or killed peaceful protesters. The well- documented abuses by the Hasina government are not confined to her political opponents; the government also has persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in Bangladesh.
Since Sheikh Hasina’s rise to power, the Hindu population has been halved. Looting and burning of households, destruction of temples and religious idols, murder, rape, and forced religious conversion are causing Hindus to flee Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina’s government also has persecuted Bangladesh’s minority Christian population-burning and looting places of worship, jailing pastors, and breaking up families when religious conversion occurs.
In recent months, tens of thousands of peaceful protesters have demonstrated for fair and free elections, which are the people’s only hope for a change in the Hasina government. In response, Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the major perpetrator of torture, disappearances, and extra judicial killings in Bangladesh, have arrested, intimidated, and even killed peaceful demonstrators. The RAB has been characterized as a government “Death Squad” by numerous NGO’s including Human Rights Watch.”
In a recent investigation by German state broadcaster DW and Sweden-based news agency Netra News, two whistleblowers and former members of the RAB, confessed that these incidents of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances could not be possible without the Home Minister and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s approval.
The US government designated RAB a “serious human rights abuser” more than a year ago and sanctioned several law enforcement authorities responsible for many of the killings and other atrocities. Yet, the Hasina regime has only intensified its systemic repression of the people of Bangladesh since sanctions were imposed”. The sanctions by the US have not done enough to slow the flagrant human rights violations and democratic backsliding of Sheikh Hasina’s government.
In addition to crimes against their own people. Hasina’s misconduct encourages other bad actors in South Asia to make common alliance, and hurts America’s national security interests as they gang together and draw closer to China and Russia.
We request appropriate measures to give Bangladesh their best chance for free elections, including stricter individual sanctions, banning Bangladesh law enforcement and military personnel from participating in UN peacekeeping missions.
Although contents of the above-mentioned letter are based on false reports of a number of controversial NGOs and publications, which have been running orchestrated propaganda against Bangladesh for years, according to a credible source, several members of the Republican and Democratic parties are taking preparations for introducing a bi-partisan bill in the US Congress on the above matter within the next few weeks.