Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka to London: Look in the mirror before advising Bangladesh

The foreign minister also says the acting British envoy in Dhaka has acknowledged that their report should be objective

Update : 12 Jul 2021, 07:11 PM

Pointing at the United Kingdom, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Monday said they should see their “own face” in the mirror before giving advice to Bangladesh with inaccurate information.

“This is not acceptable. They should stop this practice,” he told a small group of journalists while reacting to the UK report’s some parts and US issues.

Momen said BNP chief Khaleda Zia is not under house arrest and their information in the report is not correct.

The Human Rights and Democracy Report 2020 was released by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on Thursday.

Referring to rape cases, the foreign minister said highest 9,000 rape cases in Bangladesh may take place annually while 733,000 rape cases were recorded in the UK last year even though the UK’s population is less than half of Bangladesh’s population.

“It’s good for us if they provide an informative report, otherwise it’ll appear as a motivated one,” he said, adding that they should look in the mirror first before talking about others.

Similarly, Momen said there were 85,000 rape cases in the US last year and they come to give advice to Bangladesh. “This isn’t acceptable.”

He said the acting British high commissioner in Dhaka acknowledged that their report should be objective.

"You start writing reports about them. None is an angel. But, blaming someone is not a good mentality. If it is accurate, we will try to correct it," Momen said.

The issues and the protest

On Sunday, Bangladesh made a protest to the UK that it was "grossly misleading" to use the words "house arrest" in reference to the current situation of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.

The Foreign Ministry summoned the acting British high commissioner, Javed Patel, to convey the government's views and disappointment with certain issues mentioned in the Bangladesh chapter of the Human Rights and Democracy Report 2020.

It was clarified to Patel that on the application of Khaleda’s brother, the government had - as per the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 - suspended her prison sentence and “released” her in March 2020 on condition that she would receive medical treatment at home and would not travel abroad.

The government pointed out that the suspension of her sentence and release from prison, applicable for an initial six-month period, were subsequently extended twice in September 2020 and March 2021.

Patel was told that it would be advisable to consult the authorities concerned of the government in case of any confusion over such legal issues.

It was further suggested that any official document of the UK government also refrain from using any form of insinuating and misleading statements about the government of Bangladesh or the ruling party, Awami League.

From the government side, concerns were also raised over the use of the number of Rohingyas now temporarily sheltered in Bangladesh.

Message received

The Foreign Ministry officials reiterated the government's position on certain terminologies used in the report in reference to Bangladesh that is either not internationally agreed upon or not recognised by Bangladesh's own laws.

Javed Patel took note of the government's views and assured of conveying those to FCDO authorities.

He said the UK valued its diversified partnership with Bangladesh and wished to continue a constructive dialogue on human rights and governance issues through the established mechanisms.

He recognised Bangladesh as a “maturing democracy” and said that the UK government did not take sides with or against any political party of the country.

The officials on both sides agreed on the importance of using authentic sources of information for citations in official documents or reports.

From the Foreign Office, the director general (West Europe and EU) interacted with the British High Commission officials.

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