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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Foreign Ministry: Bangladesh HR situation not discussed in US Congress

  • The Congress went to recess on July 28
  • A virtual briefing session via zoom hosted on August 15 
  • Organizers failed to include Bangladesh government, civil society representatives as panelist
  • Virtual attendance was allowed upon registration
Update : 20 Aug 2023, 05:58 PM

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday said that the US Congress did not discuss Bangladesh's human rights situation on August 15 as reported by the media.

"Our attention has been drawn to some recent media reports stating that Bangladesh’s human rights situation was discussed in the US Congress on August 15, 2023," the foreign ministry said in a press note.

"When checked, it was found that no such discussion took place in the US Congress, neither in the House of Representatives nor in the Senate or in any of the relevant committees of the Congress. As per 2023 Congressional Calendar, the Congress (both the Senate and the House of Representatives) went to recess on July 28.”

"The senate session will start on September 5 after the recess and the House of Representatives will be reconvened on September 12. Most of the Senators and Congressmen visit their constituencies during the recess.”

"However, on August 15, 2023, a virtual briefing session via zoom was hosted by ‘Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’ in which four panelists from (a) Asian Human Rights Commission & Asian Legal Resource Centre, (b) Robert F Kennedy Human Rights (c) Human Rights Watch and (d) International Republican Institute presented written statements. Panelists were supposed to offer recommendations for the Congress.”

Although the event was said to be hosted by the Tom Lantos Commission, no member of the US Congress made their appearance or made any statement, comment, or observation, said the statement. 

The organizers failed to include Bangladesh government and civil society representatives as panelists. 

Virtual attendance was allowed upon registration, it said. 

"A number of questions were sent to the moderator seeking clarifications and contesting the panelists’ views. Unfortunately, those were not entertained, and the moderator and the panelists responded to comments and questions of their choice.”

"There are reasons to believe that a few panelists used the platform to offer unsubstantiated information about the human rights situation in Bangladesh and made deliberate attempts to malign the image of the Bangladesh government.”

"It was held on August 15, on the National Mourning Day of Bangladesh - the very black day when the worst human rights violation took place with the brutal assassination of Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 18 members of his family.”

"The insensitivity of a few panelists about the day was deplorable. It was not understood why the organizers chose this very day for such a discussion. The government requests everyone to remain alert against any deliberate attempt to propagate misinformation to mislead friends of Bangladesh," read the statement.

It may be mentioned that the Tom Lantos Commission is a bi-partisan entity established by the US House of Representatives to raise awareness of human rights issues among the members of Congress and encourage them to actively engage in human rights matters.

It has no legislative authority or no jurisdiction over the legislation, the foreign ministry said.

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