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Bangladesh needs to act fast to confront conspiracy of vested interest groups

Bangladesh Nationalist Party, BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami, United Nations Peacekeeping Force, UNPKF, Bangladesh, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Network for Free Election, ANFREL, Capital Punishment Justice Project, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Federation for Human Rights, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, The Advocate for Human Rights, and World Organization Against Torture, OMCT, UN, Rapid Action Battalion

Oped

Bangladesh needs to act fast to confront conspiracy of vested interest groups

For months, this newspaper has been repeatedly warning about conspiracy of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its cohort Jamaat-e-Islami on their nefarious attempts of misleading the US authorities about Bangladesh. Now the same nexus of conspirators is making frantic bids in misleading the United Nations (UN) and getting the members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) banned from participating in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNPKF).

According to media reports, twelve international human rights groups namely, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Network for Free Election (ANFREL), Capital Punishment Justice Project, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Federation for Human Rights, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, The Advocate for Human Rights, and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) have sent a joint letter to the UN Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix demanding immediate ban on  participation of the members of Rapid Action Battalion in UNPKF. In this letter, these groups have also attacked list of allegations and “evidences” against RAB.

In its press release, HRW said, “the Department of Peacekeeping Operation has yet to provide a formal response to the letter which was sent privately over two months ago on November 8, 2021”.

It further said, If Secretary General Guterres is serious about ending human rights abuses by UN peacekeepers, he will ensure that units with proven records of abuse like the Rapid Action Battalion are excluded from deployment. The evidence is clear; now it’s time for the UN to draw line”.

In the letter, the international organizations said that some members of the RAB were facing various charges including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other human rights violations. For this reason, the international organizations have demanded a ban from the UN peacekeeping mission. In a letter to the United Nations, the international community called for an investigation into allegations of extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture before appointing anyone to a UN peacekeeping mission.

Earlier, on December 10, the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) for alleged human rights abuses. The ban was imposed separately by the US Treasury Department and the State Department on International Human Rights Day.

Commenting on the implications of the November 8, 2021 letter sent by twelve rights groups, a source inside the United Nations said, following United States’ December 10 sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion and seven former and current members of the organization, there is possibility that the UN may take some actions in this regard soon.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh government has appointed lobbyist for getting the sanctions lifted although there is very slim possibility of any immediate result in this regard. A source in the Capitol Hill said, once sanction is imposed, there is no immediate or simple solution to the matter. Moreover, Bangladesh government should actually look for taking help from influential lobby in the Capitol, instead of banking on any particular lobbyist agency. It further said, while Bangladesh authorities already are trying possible channels in getting the sanction removed, Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami are now working on influencing the Biden administration in getting hundreds of Bangladeshi nationals sanctioned on allegations of possessing corruption-earned wealth and business establishments in the United States. Some BNP-Jamaat individuals are providing detailed information on various individuals including politicians and civil-military bureaucrats on the alleged wealth and business establishments as well as information on money-laundering.

Seeking anonymity, a highly-placed source said, a Bangladeshi academician with affiliation with an election monitoring group has been secretly conspiring in getting hundreds of individuals including politicians and civil-military bureaucrats from Bangladesh sanctioned by the US Department of State with the direct intervention of the Department of Treasury. This individual has been spreading rumor about thousands of Bangladesh nationals being put under sanction by the Biden administration.

The source further said, although that academician is known to be an Awami League loyalist, he has been working for BNP-Jamaat nexus in exchange for “large amount of fees”.

Commenting on a influence of that person in the US or his connections with various important figures, the source said, “he is rather an unknown entity here in the Capitol Hill. No one knows him. But all he is doing is using the name of the election monitoring group he is affiliated with and voluntarily offering information on hundreds of Bangladeshi individuals who reportedly have wealth and businesses in the US”.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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