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Dhaka Tribune

Gen Aziz: US sanctions are of no use

‘Such a decision by the world's top country is truly surprising, especially after three years of my retirement from service. I am surprised, I am shocked’

Update : 22 May 2024, 08:26 PM

"Such a decision by the world's top country is truly surprising, especially after three years of my retirement from service." I'm surprised, I'm shocked. These restrictions are of no use. There are no results. The goal is to inform everyone about the situation. I have not told anyone that I will not talk.” This was the reaction of former chief of the Bangladesh Army General (Retd) Aziz Ahmed regarding the US sanctions against him.

Talking to Bangla Tribune on Tuesday, he said: "The two allegations that they have brought are nothing new. ‘All the Prime Minister's Men', which was aired on Al Jazeera, showed the same thing. Allegations are the same. Instead, they (Al Jazeera) tried to spread more propaganda, adding extra spice. But they (the US) did not mention any names and briefly wrote two sentences. They copied a lot from the Al Jazeera documentary. Now my point is that none of the allegations are true.”

On February 1, 2021, Al-Jazeera aired a documentary titled “All the Prime Minister's Men”. At the time, Gen Aziz was the sitting chief of army staff. The Bangladesh Army rejected the claims and allegations made in the documentary.

On February 17 of the same year, the High Court ordered the government to remove the documentary from all online and communication media. The order came following a hearing on a writ petition. Gen Aziz retired on June 24 of the same year. 

The State Department on Monday announced the public designation of Gen Aziz, previously chief of the Bangladesh Army Staff, due to what it says was his involvement in "significant corruption".

In a written statement, the US Department of State said: "Aziz Ahmed engaged in significant corruption by interfering in public processes while helping his brother evade accountability for criminal activity in Bangladesh."

Gen Aziz also worked closely with his brother to ensure the improper awarding of military contracts and accepted bribes in exchange for government appointments for his benefit, it claimed.

"This designation reaffirms the US commitment to strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law in Bangladesh," said the US government.

In response to queries, Gen Aziz said: "I was the director general of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) for four years. I was army chief for three years. No one can say that I gave a contract to any of my brothers. It is unquestionable that I accepted bribes from my brother by awarding him a military purchase contract.

“These are lies. I have not signed contracts with any of my brothers. I have expressed all these views publicly. What the US is saying about the military contract is an attempt to align with their previous statements on Al Jazeera, albeit with some additional embellishments. The allegations are completely false.”

He said: "My brother has been out of the country since 2002. He went out of the country with valid documents. The allegations that I assisted him in my official capacity to leave the country, disregarding the prevailing customs of the country, are unfounded.

Asked about the next course of action, Gen Aziz said: "What else should I do! Many journalists came and wanted to know about the situation. I presented my statements. I gave my statement to everyone. This is what needs to be done. It is very unfortunate if they are targeting Aziz as an individual. The world's number-one country is targeting a retired officer!

“This decision was made after three years of my retirement. I'm not into politics or anything. I am shocked and surprised by such a decision. It's a kind of rumor. The second point is that implementing these restrictions will not yield any results. There are no results. This was done in a bid to inform everyone,” he added.

Asked what might be the purpose of the ban, General Aziz Ahmed said: “I am not even a politician. I am not an analyst. I am a retired person. But it is very unfortunate.”

In response to the question of whether it was done to humiliate the government, he said: "Maybe. Since I'm no longer involved, I don't want to involve anyone else. Everyone can understand the matter. Anyone with awareness can comprehend the target and the motivation behind this action.

In another interview with private television channel Ekattor TV on Tuesday, Gen Aziz said if the US State Department could prove the information that his brothers or any of his close relatives had received a contract from the BGB or Bangladesh Army while he was in charge, then he would accept all their allegations.

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