No scope to see Shaheenbagh incident as security threat: Foreign Secretary

Foreign secretary Masud Bin MomenFile photo

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen has said that the situation the US Ambassador Peter Haas faced cannot be seen as a security threat.

“There is no scope to see it as a security threat,” he told newspersons at the Foreign Service Academy on Thursday evening, noting that the incident will have no impact on the 50-year-long relations between Dhaka and Washington.

Ambassador Haas visited the residence of Sanjida Islam, coordinator of Mayer Daak, an organisation of the relatives of the victims of enforced disappearance, at Shaheenbagh in the capital city on Wednesday morning.

Sanjida is the sister of BNP leader Sajedul Islam Sumon, who was reportedly disappeared in 2013.

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Peter Haas was intercepted and confronted by members of another organisation, Maayer Kanna - a platform of family members of victims of earlier regimes, specifically the administration of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman.

The US Ambassador met Foreign Minister Momen on emergency basis at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs right after the incident.

The foreign secretary said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen tried to explain the situation on Wednesday.

“I told him that it is our responsibility to ensure security for you and your people. I asked him (Haas) whether anybody attacked him or on his people. He replied, no,” the foreign minister told newspersons, adding that they will provide the ambassador additional security if he wants.

The ambassador’s security escort asked him to leave the place as soon as possible fearing blockade by people there.

“Due to security reasons he left quickly. He is very unhappy with that incident. He is a bit worried,” Momen said.

The US Ambassador and embassy staff concluded the meeting early on 14 December due to “security concerns”.

The US side said they have raised their “concerns” about this matter at the “highest levels” of the Bangladesh government.