14 congress members write to US envoy to UN on Bangladesh

A total of 14 congress members of the United States called for a free and fair election in Bangladesh under the supervision of the United Nations. They also urged the UN to act immediately to suspend Bangladesh’s membership at the United Nations.

The congress members sent the letter to the US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Virginia’s Republican congressman Bob Good posted a tweet regarding the letter on Thursday.

“The people of Bangladesh deserve free and fair elections. I sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to the UN with 13 of my colleagues, expressing concern over violence by the Bangladeshi government against peaceful demonstrators,” reads Bob Good’s tweet.

A spokesperson of congressman Bob Good confirmed the matter on Friday when Prothom Alo made a phone call to his office. A spokesperson of the US state department also confirmed Prothom Alo about receiving the letter.

“We write to you today to express our concern with Sheikh Hasina’s government in Bangladesh, and her government’s reported terrorizing, torturing, and even murdering of Bangladeshi citizens. A large number of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and Reporters Without Borders, have documented human rights abuses by Sheikh Hasina’s government in Bangladesh, including intimidation, assault, false imprisonment, torture, disappearances, and even extra-judicial killings.”

In addition, UN human rights experts have repeatedly warned that Bangladesh is guilty of protracted prosecution of journalists and human rights defenders. The particularly egregious alleged abuses by the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) also include torture, enforced disappearances, and extra-judicial killings; demanding immediate condemnation.

The United States in 2021 sanctioned seven current and former officials of the RAB, including the then police chief, Benazir Ahmed. Those sanctions, however, have not slowed the government’s reported reign of terrors, as the alleged government-instituted intimidation and violence has only increased.

Thousands of peaceful and courageous protesters have demonstrated in support of free and fair elections over the past six to eight months. These demonstrations have often been met by violence, tear gas, and brutal assault by police, other state actors, and supporters of Sheikh Hasina. 

In the letter, the congressmen said, “Given its history of election fraud, violence, and intimidation; we are highly skeptical that the Sheikh Hasina government will permit fair and transparent elections.” 

For these reasons, and many other claims of corruption, tyranny, violence, and abuse, they urged following actions –

  • that the UN act immediately to suspend Bangladesh’s membership on the United Nations Rights Council, pending an impartial and transparent investigation into the various acts of violence Sheikh Hasina’s government has alleged to have committed against journalists and political opponents. 

  • that the UN department of peace operations temporarily prevent any member of Bangladesh’s RAB from deploying in UN peacekeeping operations until full and transparent investigations into their record on human rights abuses have concluded. 

  • That the UN, in combination with impartial governments around the world, participate in supervising and conducting free and fair elections in Bangladesh. THis should include the provision of peacekeeping forces to prevent intimidation, harassment, or assault of voters. 

The letter ended with a note that they stand with the people of Bangladesh who seek free and fair election and an end to the violence perpetrated by state authorities.

Other 13 congress members who signed the letter are -- Scott Perry, Anna Paulina-Luna, Josh Brecheen, Ralph Norman, Andrew Clyde, Eli Crane, Cory Mills, Paul A Gosar, Doug LaMalfa, Ronny L Jackson, Randy Weber, Brian Babin and Glenn Grothman. All the signatories are Congress members of Republican Party.