The long-standing reputation of Bangladesh’s peacekeepers: Why are being targeted?

On 25 April 2024 the Prime Minister of Bangladesh delivered an important speech at the 80th session of the United Nations ESCAP held in Bangkok. Through this speech, Bangladesh’s anti-war stance was highlighted more clearly. Although she gave this speech to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), she addressed the entire world. A few points are clear in the Prime Minister’s speech. First, she very clearly and emphatically said ‘no’ to war. Because war means destruction, violence, and aggression. The world has reached an extreme crisis through this war. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has rightly taken a stand against war and has given a strong statement against war. 

She has been constantly speaking in various international forums in favor of world peace and order for the past decade. In two important speeches at the United Nations in the past two years, she directly called for an end to the war in Ukraine. She has even given speeches in many forums this year mentioning the negative effects of war.   Considering the horrors of war, the arms race due to war, the global economic crisis, the downfall of humanity, and the mistrust and animosity created by war, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been speaking in favor of peace in various forums. The Government of Bangladesh has made a special contribution to the establishment of world peace. This contribution of Bangladesh is recognized worldwide. Note that the Bangladesh Peacekeeping Force (1988-2024) has been working under the UN for more than 36 years and has been playing an important role. Currently, around 7,000 members of the armed and police forces are serving in 9 peacekeeping missions around the world. The United Nations has a reputation for being

the largest contributor of peacekeepers to peacekeeping deployments. In 1973, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sent a medical mission to war-torn Syria to maintain peace. The United Nations recognized Bangladesh’s peacekeeping efforts in 1974. When the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observation Group (UNIMOG) mission was established in 1988, Bangladesh sent 15 military observers to the operation. In 1993-1994, the Bangladesh Army attracted the attention of the world by demonstrating its strength and capabilities in the most talked about peacekeeping missions in Rwanda, Somalia, and Bosnia. A brigade group of the Bangladesh Army was stationed in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. About 800,000 people died in the nearly 100-day civil war. When civil war broke out in that mission, the Afro-European battalions, including the Belgians, quickly left and suspended their operations. But the Bangladeshi soldiers bravely remained in the mission area. As a result, the death rate in genocide was significantly lower. Everyone was amazed by the bravery and skill of the Bangladeshi soldiers. When US troops withdrew the UN peacekeeping mission from Somalia, they asked Bangladeshi troops to stay with them until the last of their personnel left Somalia. In addition, the security forces of Bangladesh have made outstanding contributions in numerous significant missions. Contributions that cannot be fully covered in this single write up. Bangladesh’s foreign policy is ‘friendship to all, malice to none’. Because we are a country that values peace and security. Sierra Leone adopts Bengali as one of the official languages of their nation. Because they recognized the importance and contribution of Bangladeshi soldiers. Bangladeshi peacekeepers are now seen as heroes in many countries. Bangladeshi peacekeepers are having a major economic impact on Bangladesh.  Bringing peace to war-torn countries is gaining the respect of the people of those nations. Bangladesh’s position in the world has improved due to its unique commitment to UN activities and multinational forces.

Despite all these achievements and contributions, on May 21, the German-based media Deutsche Welle (DW) published a report titled ‘Human Rights Abusers Go on UN Missions’ aimed at the Bangladesh Army and RAB. DW’s report begins with some videos of the Bangladeshi army and police training for the UN mission. The documentary features Meenakshi Ganguly, deputy Asia director of the controversial US human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW), saying, ‘Officers accused of human rights abuses should not be sent to UN peacekeeping forces.’ They are said to be suspended from their UN peacekeeping mission due to Shavendra Silva, accused of human rights violations at the time, being made the country’s army chief. But everyone must understand that the situation in Bangladesh is not like that of Sri Lanka. How can a documentary say that UN peacekeeping missions should not be sent to those concerned? It is not appropriate to refer to any decision in an international standard report or documentary. So can’t it be assumed that the documentary has been made with a special purpose at the instigation of a special circle? Considering these aspects of the matter, it can be clearly understood that the documentary is trying to bring forward the issue of stopping the sending of Bangladeshi soldiers on peacekeeping missions.

As mentioned above, Bangladesh continues to work in the UN Mission with reputation and efficiency. They have worldwide acclaim. Bangladesh has a long history of bravery and sacrifice while performing mission duties. There is information that a total of 166 Bangladeshis have been killed in peacekeeping missions so far.

Despite all the positives, there is a big question about the purpose of DW and Netra news. 

The conspiracy of not taking people from Bangladesh in the UN peacekeeping force started long ago. Especially after all the conspiracies focused on the elections have failed, they have indulged in such negative political conspiracies. It can be called a kind of silent diplomacy of the United States.

In June last year, DDB released another documentary about the RAB and tried to encourage its members to leave the UN mission. Besides, they were seen in a report titled ‘All Prime Minister’s Men’ by Doha-based Al-Jazeera. It published fanciful news about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the army. With the economic progress due to the innovative thinking and visionary leadership of the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, humanitarian Bangladesh is now in the world court with a new status. Her humanitarian policy on the Rohingya issue has also created a new paradigm in the history of Bangladesh’s foreign policy. When Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina highlighted Bangladesh’s humanitarian culture on the Rohingya issue, the importance of the issue increased in world politics and Bangladesh. In her speech, Sheikh Hasina repeatedly called for establishing peace and stability, stopping the Russia-Ukraine war, solving the Rohingya problem, confronting the impact of climate change, and ensuring food and health security. Still, the questioning of the security forces of Bangladesh in any media can be said to be motivated without a doubt. Today, the Indo-Pacific region has gained new importance. No matter how we consider the current world crisis as economic, political, environmental or military, Asian countries have a big role to play? In this regard, the role of Bangladesh is different compared to any other Asian country. Due to these reasons, efforts are being made to incite controversy about the peacekeeping forces of Bangladesh to put pressure on Bangladesh. It can be assumed that a new conspiracy has been created to question the long-standing reputation of Bangladesh’s peacekeepers and security forces in the world.

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