Due to the impending general election, foreign diplomats are now increasingly active in Bangladesh. One after another, a few US politicians are interfering openly in the politics of Bangladesh with aggressive remarks. They have been continuously writing disparaging letters about Bangladesh to the US Congress, occasionally the US President, and occasionally the UN. Following this, Bob Good, a US congressman, and 13 of his colleagues wrote a letter to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, expressing their apprehension regarding the violence perpetrated by the Bangladeshi government against peaceful demonstrators.
The suspension of Bangladesh’s participation in the UN Human Rights Council has been demanded in the letter. Additionally, they demanded that Bangladesh’s free elections be conducted by the UN. The letter, however, has come under fire for its “biased” content. It is perceived as a further attempt by outsiders to cast doubt on the democratic process, the human rights situation, and the impending elections in Bangladesh.
Recent events suggest that Congressman Bob Good is more worried about a free, fair, and transparent national election than Bangladesh’s opposition lawmakers. He represents Virginia’s Fifth District in the House of Representatives as a Republican politician. The Center for Research and Information’s Senior Analyst, Barrister Shah Ali Farhad, claims that Bob Good is being used as a political pawn by a powerful lobbying organization in the US. Good appears to be taking sides in a political squabble within Bangladesh by repeating the talking points of this partisan party.
On May 25, six members of Congress wrote to US President Joe Biden. Bob Goode also led there. Also leading was Bob Goode. In that letter, a request was made to take action against Bangladesh by making baseless accusations of reducing the number of minorities in Bangladesh and violating human rights. However, 192 American Bangladeshis who dwell in the nation wrote to President Biden, pleading with him to retract the information concerning the decline in the number of minorities in Bangladesh, as it was wholly untrue, overstated, and biased. They said that those politicians misrepresented history and provided false information without numbers under the influence of lobbyists.
In addition, a number of well-known representatives of minority communities, such as Advocate Rana Dasgupta and Archbishop Emeritus Patrick D’Rozario, as well as academics and anti-war crimes activists, criticized the letter from six US congressmen for being an “absolutely false projection” of the situation facing minorities in Bangladesh. It was referred to as a “threat to the existing communal harmony in Bangladesh.” The assertions stated in the letter about the Hindu community in Bangladesh were refuted by Rana Dasgupta. According to Cardinal Archbishop Patrick de Rosario, the government of Bangladesh has consistently defended the Christian community against extremists.
Contents of the latest Letter
In the latest letter, which has yet to be verified, Congressman Good and his colleagues called for the immediate suspension of Bangladesh’s membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council. He emphasized that such a suspension should be in place pending an impartial and transparent investigation into the alleged acts of violence committed by the Bangladeshi government against journalists and political opponents.
Additionally, they called for the “UN Department of Peace Operations to temporarily prevent any member of RAB from participating in UN peacekeeping operations until comprehensive and transparent investigations into their human rights abuses have been completed,” in reference to the US sanctions on RAB. It is alleged that RAB is still torturing, killing, and disappearing.
Claiming that Bangladesh has a history of rigging, violence, and intimidation in elections, the letter says, “We are skeptical that the upcoming elections will be free and transparent.” Furthermore, Congressman Good demanded that the UN, in cooperation with impartial governments from around the world, play a supervisory role in conducting free and fair elections in Bangladesh. In this regard, it has been suggested to deploy UN peacekeepers in Bangladesh.
Merit of the demands
The contents of the letter have been labeled biased’ by many. Eminent rights activists and critics have highlighted that the demands put forth in the statement lack rationality, much like a previous one that was exposed earlier. One of the major points of contention is the first demand, which calls for the suspension of Bangladesh from the UN Human Rights Council. Critics argue that this demand completely disregards the overwhelming support Bangladesh received during the last election held in October 2022. Bangladesh managed to secure 160 out of 189 votes, earning its membership in the UNHRC for the term 2023–2025. This significant majority of votes clearly reflects the international community’s endorsement of Bangladesh’s position in the Council.
In the letter, it was claimed that RAB was still torturing, killing, and going missing. This claim is made in denial of the truth. Contrary to what is said in the letter, the situation is entirely different in reality. Extrajudicial executions have significantly decreased in Bangladesh compared to prior years, according to the annual report on human rights published by the U.S. State Department in 2022. Bangladesh has seen a sharp decline in the number of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, according to Human Rights Watch’s annual report. Donald Lu, the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs, also mentioned that Bangladesh’s RAB has made “tremendous progress” in lowering extrajudicial murders.
The letter also discredits the assistance provided by law enforcement officials, military personnel, and other professionals who take part in international peacekeeping missions. Bangladeshi peacekeepers, who have a total of 7,436 peacekeepers deployed on UN missions or assignments in 14 countries, are currently the top troop contributors in the world thanks to their operational prowess and broad public support. 188,558 Bangladeshi soldiers have so far successfully completed 63 UN missions or assignments in about 40 countries, with 169 of them giving their lives in the line of duty. These congressmen ought to recognize the crucial role Bangladeshi peacekeepers play in preserving global efforts for peace, stability, and reconciliation.
Analysts describe the most recent letter as a purposeful interference in Bangladesh’s internal affairs. No significant political party appears to have requested assistance from the UN to conduct the impending 12th National Assembly elections in a free, fair, and impartial way. Therefore, requesting that the UN take part in arranging and overseeing elections in Bangladesh with other “neutral” states is both out of diplomatic norms and a dictatorial approach. Because this is not common in other nations. Additionally, they express dissatisfaction about the inaccurate information that the world is being given about Bangladesh.
Influential Westerners frequently speak in front of the media and publish numerous pieces on the internal affairs of other nations as a result of lobbying. In such countries, it is permitted under the law to accept lobbying money. However, both accepting and paying such money are prohibited by Bangladesh’s legal system. It is unethical to accept such fees, regardless of what the country’s laws may indicate. When it comes to accepting money from lobbyists, people who frequently discuss ethics have their ethics eyes blindfolded.
Bangladesh is collaborating with the US to achieve its declared goals of battling terrorism and fostering world peace. However, some of their public representatives, businesses, and government officials are occasionally moved by the unethical services provided by anti-national people and institutions in Bangladesh and are purposefully aiding the conspirators against Bangladesh by believing some shaky information—which is very regrettable.
Our military forces are trained, apolitical, intelligent, well-educated, and professional forces that contribute to world peace. Our armed forces are a strength for our country and a role-modeling organization to be proud of. The RAB of Bangladesh is taking on a special responsibility in policing public safety, preventing drug use, and battling militancy. Bangladesh’s democracy ranking has risen two places as of 2022. We want all who have signed this letter or statement to gather and read all available information on Bangladesh.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.