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Dhaka Tribune

Human rights groups urge US to ensure violence-free, secular future for Bangladesh

  • Their statement regarding the US policies on Bangladesh was sent to congress members
  • The signatories strongly support a violence-free, secular, and democratic Bangladesh
  • Congressmen urged to be informed before abruptly interfere in domestic affairs
Update : 10 Aug 2023, 01:08 PM

A group of human rights and professional organizations in a statement to 14 members of the US Congress urged to change the current course of action to ensure a violence-free, secular and democratic future for Bangladesh.

The statement regarding the US policies on Bangladesh was sent to congress members Bob Good, Scott Perry, Anna Paulina-Luna, Josh Brecheen, Ralph Norman, Andrew Clyde, Eli Crane, Cory Mills, Paul A Gosar, Doug LaMalfa, Ronny L Jackson, Randy Weber, Brian Babin and Glenn Grothman.

"Your letter demanding UN intervention in Bangladesh's election makes it seem like you are playing in the hands of Islamists and terrorists," the statement dated August 7 reads.

“The last UN intervention, based on blackmailing Bangladesh's contribution to the UN peacekeeping mission, brought a military-led government that did not solve what they are expecting to happen now,” according to the statement.

The signatory Bangladeshi-American human rights, social, professional organizations, and elected officials strongly support a violence-free, secular, and democratic Bangladesh.

"We echo your concern. But, dear Congressmen, please do your homework and kindly be informed about the people demanding free and fair elections before you abruptly interfere in the domestic affairs of a foreign country," the statement reads.

"You must have known that an American, Avijit Roy, was murdered by Ansar al Islam terrorists in 2015. Ansar al Islam is an al-Qaeda affiliate with covert operations in Bangladesh," the statement further says.

The signatories said Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami, who have been demanding free and fair elections in Bangladesh, “also have been overtly and covertly in cahoots with terrorist groups like Ansar al Islam since 2001. The groups aim to use the democratic process as an excuse to capture political power like the Muslim Brotherhood did in Egypt in 2012."

Why are they writing this letter?

The signatories wrote: “First, as US citizens, we are concerned about the repeated failure of US foreign policy to install democracy without considering the historical and socio-political dimensions in Muslim countries and regions. The vivid examples of American foreign policy failure are Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. We don't want that to happen in Bangladesh. Second, those of us advocating and fighting for a secular, violence-free, and democratic Bangladesh over the last few decades feel that our lives, like that of Avijit's, are at stake if the coalition led by BNP-Jamaat somehow takes over the political power of Bangladesh under democratic pretext. Please also note that losing Bangladesh at the hands of any form of Islamic alliance would also be a double blow to US national security interest in South Asia.

“Now going back to the past and tracking the activities of the so-called freedom warriors, you will see how the Islamists led by the BNP-Jamaat coalition almost ravaged Bangladesh during 2001-2006 and are still trying to destabilize South Asia. Bangladesh held four widely praised and well-participated elections in 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2008. But the massive terrorist incidents patronized by the BNP-Jamaat coalition between two free elections in 2001 and 2008 indicate that just having a free (and so-called fair) election in 2024 will not change the current political deadlock unless the stakeholders find a sustainable solution guaranteeing the security, safety, and post-election political participation of the minorities and political dissidents.”

“Right after the October 2001 election victory, the BNP-Jamaat led coalition unleashed an unprecedented attack against the minority Hindus and the Awami League supporters across 11 western districts of Bangladesh,” they wrote.

“The Hindus and opposition activists were targeted because they overwhelmingly voted for the Bangladesh Awami League. The violence led to massive looting and burning of Hindu houses, rape of Hindu women, and eviction of Hindus from their homes. State-patronized violence continued during the entire 2001-2006 under BNP-Jamaat rule,” the statement said.

What are their concerns?

“First, two convicts currently lead the largest opposition party, BNP. The former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is the chairperson, and Tarique Rahman, the interim chair. What type of democracy would be safe if Tarique, convicted of terrorism and other crimes, and other convicts somehow contest a ‘free election’ through the back door and win? Wasn’t Muslim Brotherhood led by Mohammed Morsi allowed to participate in a free election in Egypt in good faith in 2012?” — the signatories asks.

“Second, even after being out of political office for so long, the BNP-Jamaat coalition has not abandoned its violent ways. Most recently, on July 25-29, 2023, after being allowed to hold political rallies, the BNP-led mobs again resorted to massive destruction, burning public transport and attacking businesses. On February 28, 2013, after the War Crimes Tribunal had convicted Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee, Jamaat-Shibir cadres unleashed an unprecedented year-long countrywide violence costing hundreds of lives.

“The Jamaat-led violence cost the lives of the largest number of law enforcement officers in the country’s history. Then again, during February-March of 2015, BNP-Jamaat unleashed a massive terrorist campaign to destabilize the government by throwing petrol bombs at civilian targets,” the statement says.

"We desire strong ties between the two nations for mutual economic interests and national security interests of the United States. Therefore, we urge that you please cautiously make your statement and engage all stakeholders to ensure a violent-free, secular, democratic Bangladesh,” it adds.

The signatories are:

  1. Elected Bangladeshi-American officials: Councilman Dr. Nuran Nabi, NJ; Mayor Mahabubul Alam Tayub, PA; State Representative Abul Khan, NH;  Councilman Abu Ahmed Musa, MI and Councilman Nurul Hasan, PA.
  1. Shompriti Forum, Prof. ABM Nasir, NC. 
  1. USA Bangabandhu Parishad, Engineer Rana Hasan Mahmud, CA and Engineer Shikrity Barua, NY.
  1. Bangladesh Liberation War Veterans 1971, USA Inc. Golam Mostafa Khan Miraz, NY.
  1. California Bangabandhu Parishad, Nazrul Alam and Engineer Tasnim Salam Aslam, CA.
  1. Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee, USA, Fahim Reza Noor, NY.
  1. Michigan Bangabandhu Parishad, Engr. Ahad Ahmed, MI and Ali Ahmed Farish, MI.

     8.US Committee for Democratic and Secular Bangladesh, Zakaria Choudhury, NY.

  1. NRB Council USA, Engineer Jalil Khan, CA.
  1. Georgia Bangabandhu Parishad, Rumi Kabir and  Mahabubur Rahman Bhuiyan, GA.
  1. Bangladesh Freedom Fighters Solidarity Council, USA, Khurshid Anwar Bablu.
  1. Greater Washington DC Bangabandhu Parishad, Nasrin Munna.
  1. Muktijoddha Sangsad, Dr. Abdul Baten.
  1. Massachusetts Bangabandhu Parishad, Sofeda Basu, MA.
  1. Morshed Alam, Democratic leader, NY.
  1. Bangladesh Muktijodha Sangsad, California Command Council, Zahedul Mahmud Zami, CA.
  1. Pennsylvania Bangabandhu Parishad, Abu Taher Bir Partik, Kazi Shamim, PA.
  1. Group of Academics: Prof. Ziauddin Ahmed, PA; Prof. Mizan R Miah, IL; Prof. Jamil Talukdar, WI; Prof. Shahadat Hossain, NY.
  1. South New Jersey Bangabandhu Parishad, Nurannabi Choudhury, NJ.
  1. Bangabandhu Cultural Organization, Tawfik Soleman Tuhin, Zamiul Belal, CA.
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