6 US congressmen call for not deploying BD military in UN peacekeeping missions

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Hill Voice, 30 May 2023, International Desk: Six Congressmen of the United States of America have called on President Joe Biden to take appropriate measures to prevent the deployment of Bangladesh military forces in peacekeeping missions of the United Nations to give best chance for forthcoming free and fair elections of Bangladesh.

It is learnt that on May 25, 2023, the six congressmen sent a letter urging President Biden on the matter. The six Congressmen are Scott Perry, Barry Moore, Warren Davidson, Bob Good, Tim Walberg and Keith Self.

Below is the letter written by six Congressmen to Joe Biden:

“We request urgent action to stop the human rights abuses by the government of prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed of Bangladesh and to give the people of Bangladesh the best possible chance for free and fair parliamentary election to be scheduled this fall.

Various NGOs have documented hundreds of instances of human rights abuses by the government of Sheikh Hasina since she assumed power in January 2009 including reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and even the United Nations, that show Hasina’s government has increasingly repudiated democratic systems, perpetrated widespread abuse against its citizens, conducted torture, committed extra-judicial killing, jailed journalists, disappeared opponents, and assaulted or killed peaceful protesters.

The well documented abuses by the Hasina government are not confined to her political opponents, the government has also persecuted ethnic and religious minorities in Bangladesh.

Since Sheikh Hasina’s rise to power the Hindu population has been halved, lootting and burning of households, destruction of temples and religious idols, murder, rape and forced religious conversation are causing Hindus to flee Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina’s government also has persecuted Bangladesh’s minority Christian population. burning and looting places of worship, jailing Pastors and breaking up families when religious conversation occurs.

In recent months, tens of thousands of peaceful protesters have demonstrated for fair and free elections, which are the people’s only hope for a change in the Hasina government.

In response, Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the major perpetrator of torture, disappearances, and extra-judicial killings in Bangladesh, have arrested, intimidated, and even killed peaceful demonstrators. The RAB has been characterized as a government Death Squad by numerous NGO’s including Human Rights Watch.

In a recent investigation by German state broadcaster DW and Sweden based news agency Netra News, two whistleblowers and former members of the RAB, confessed that these incidents of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances could not be possible without the Home Minister and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s approval.

The US government designated RAB a “serious human rights abuser” more than a year ago and sanctioned several law enforcement authorities responsible for many of the killing and other atrocities.

Yet the Hasina regime has only intensified its systematic repression of the people of Bangladesh since sanctions were imposed. The sanctions by the US have not done enough to slow the flagrant human rights violations and democratic back sliding of Sheikh Hasina’s government.

In addition to crimes against their own people, Hasina’s misconduct encourages other bad actors in South Asia to make common alliance, and hurts America’s national security interests as they gang together and draw closer to China and Russia.

We request appropriate measures to give Bangladesh their best chance for free elections, including stricter individual sanctions, banning Bangladesh law enforcement and military personnel from participating in UN peacekeeping missions.”

In a YouTube video, Barrister Rumeen Farhana, Member of Parliament of BNP, sad that not only that, in view of Bangladesh becoming a developing country from a less developed country, recently EU’s Charles Wattle said that Bangladesh will not have GSP benefits from 2029. But there will be a facility called GSP Plus. There are 32 conditions in the GSP Plus, the first and foremost of which is holding free and fair elections.

Priti Bindu Chakma of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) said that in the letter sent to President Joe Biden, six congressmen rightly point out that the military is persecuting ethnic minorities like the indigenous Jumma people of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). The CHT region is the most militarized region in the world. The indigenous Jumma people are the most victims of torture by the military forces of Bangladesh. Since the independence of Bangladesh till date, the Jumma people have been under brutal military rule.

Mr. Chakma also added that for this reason, PCJSS representatives called the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations for not deployment of Bangladesh army in the UN peacekeeping missions due to human rights violations against the indigenous Jumma people of CHT in the session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations under the UN Human Rights Commission in 2000 and in the session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Affairs under the Economic and Social Council in 2011. In view of this, in 2011, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Affairs session adopted a recommendation to screen the human rights record of the members of the Bangladesh army before being appointed to the UN peacekeeping mission. Recently, in the 22nd session of the Permanent Forum held on 17-28 April 2023, the representatives of PCJSS also called for the implementation of the said recommendation.