The activity of the United States on the question of human rights in Bangladesh is quite noticeable. In this context, a lot of individuals are arguing that we are not willing to take all of the human rights lessons from the United States, regardless of who we take them from. These assertions cannot be disregarded for variety of reasons. Regardless of Bangladesh’s human rights record, it makes sense to doubt the United States’ authority to advocate for human rights.
It’s only been six months of the year, but already the number of gun shootings has broken all records in US history. Forbes says, “More than 300 mass shootings have occurred across the country this year, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, as 2023 remains on pace to become the deadliest year for mass shootings in recent history.” There are a record number of kids among the injured and dead.
The number of attackers who were detained or charged in connection with the assaults is also listed on the Gun Violence Archive website. That list is quite depressing, which is surprising. The US think tank showed in a report that instances of unlawful use of force by state agents are subject to obligations under international human rights law to investigate, bring charges, and pay damages. However, less than 99% of all killings from 2013 to 2020 were attributed to the police.
The Washington Post reports that in the United States, police kill 1,000 people on average each year. In the United States, again one of the top ten countries in the world, there were 1,944 police killings in 2022 alone. In addition, the police violence report estimates that in 2020, there will be over a million police fatalities in the United States. In spite of these awe-inspiring statistics, America suffers from anxiety over any attack in Bangladesh.
Two Bangladeshis were killed by miscreants in the United States in a span of five days. On the morning of July 23, Abul Hashim was shot dead in the Casa Grande area near Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Earlier on July 18, Bangladeshi Romim Uddin Ahmed was shot dead at a gas station on Hampton Avenue in Saint Louis, Missouri. Arif Saeed Faisal, a young man from the Bangladeshi community who was residing overseas, was shot and killed by police earlier this year in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is surprising that we have not found any statement of the United Nations, the world human rights regulatory body, anywhere in these attacks. Even, the UN has not shown the responsibility to tweet there.
In fact, those who are concerned about human rights should be concerned about any attack on human beings. Otherwise, that concern may seem biased. It should not be forgotten that elections in this region have a history of fights, killings, looting, etc. Now, it has decreased a lot. A week ago, as many as 11 people died in panchayat elections in the neighboring country of Kolkata. Incidents like attacks and looting took place. America or the United Nations have not expressed any concern about this. So, the question naturally arises: does the human rights body become alert only in Bangladesh? Those who have no security for the lives of people in their own country—for what interest, to save whom, do they want to repeatedly question a permanent and constitutional government in Bangladesh?
The character of a country like America is not to take a single step outside of its own interests. Recently, American intrigue has also played a role in the relationship between Ukraine and Russia. Incited Ukraine to go to war with Russia, but at the end of the day, Zelensky was left alone. Ordinary people died. Did the lives of those people have no value? Then why is America not playing a substantial role in stopping the war?
The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It killed millions of civilians. According to an American university, at least 184,000 to 2,700,000 civilians have died due to the American attack. The US later admitted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, killing millions of civilians.
What the US has done in Vietnam, what it has done in Afghanistan, humanity will be ashamed to see it. In the United States itself, the way black people are shot dead by the police without trial, choked to death with boots on their necks, human rights cry out: We Can’t Breathe.
America’s hands are full of blood and human rights violations. Even pouring all the perfumes of Persia cannot remove the smell of those hands. The world was shocked to see the video of what kind of sexual and brutal torture the US soldiers used on prisoners in Iraq! Even during the Bangladesh independence struggle in 1971, President Nixon broke the international rules and supplied arms to the Pakistanis, sent the Seventh Fleet to the Bay of Bengal, asked China to attack India, and even said that they would use nuclear bombs to prevent the independence of Bangladesh if necessary—all in all, Nixon was responsible for the deaths of millions of people in Bangladesh. That is, America should not have the right to preach about human rights.
From the Bush to Obama administrations, the wrong approach to the Middle East, especially the policy of occupation, has led the democratic world, including America, to lose much of its stake in the Middle East today. The way they tried to establish democracy there was proven wrong everywhere, from Egypt to Libya. Democracy must survive collectively across the globe. Bangladesh also has to work hand in hand with the democratic world. But there, the democratic world must extend a hand of cooperation to Bangladesh, not a hand of force. Because democracy is never strengthened by force.
It’s true that if the democratic world is not really strengthened, especially in human development, democratic institutions, and social forces, and above all, if politics is not strong, then in a very short time, democracy will face a serious crisis. In order to strengthen the democracy of Bangladesh, the main problems with the country’s democracy must be identified first. Strengthening democracy in any country is an ongoing process. It will be strengthened through various additions and subtractions over hundreds of years.
The problems that can be identified in Bangladesh’s democracy at the moment are roughly like this: One. People are not participating in the elections. Two: dominance of businessmen and bureaucrats in politics; three: corruption. The question of strengthening the democratic process in Bangladesh has arisen and this work must be done by both the government and the opposition parties. Because if the democratic process is not strong, democratic political power will never be strong. And without a very strong democratic political force, an argumentative society like Bangladesh can never go the way of a developed country.
In short, Bangladeshi politicians and the people of the country should strengthen this democracy by standing on reality and not on emotions and political divisions.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.