Foreign minister talks about questioning ‘Mayer Kanna’

US ambassador in Dhaka Peter D Haas visits the home of BNP leader Sajedul Islam, who has gone missing for over a decade, in capital’s Shaheenbagh on 14 December 2022.
Prothom Alo

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen has said the practice of handing out memorandums to ambassadors randomly never existed in Bangladesh. He said why did the organisation ‘Mayer Kanna’ not contact the US Embassy and sent a memorandum to them? The organisation must answer.

The foreign minister said this in response to questions from media on Monday evening.

Asked if the government is encouraging this or not, Abdul Momen said, “No, we believe in following due process and encourage to follow the same. We do not encourage such manner to hand over memorandums.”

US Ambassador Peter Haas visited the residence of missing BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) leader Sajedul Islam in Shaheen Bagh in the capital on 14 December morning. The family has not been able to find Sajedul for almost a decade.

Sajedul’s sister is the coordinator of ‘Mayer Dak’, an organisation of relatives of missing persons. When the ambassador went to talk to the relatives of the missing victims in that house, the leaders of an organisation ‘Mayer Kanna’ gathered in front of that house. Mayer Kanna is an organisation of family and relatives of the members of the Army and Air Force who were executed on 2 October, 1977.

The ambassador shortened his meeting and came out of the house on the advice of security personnel due to the position of the leaders and workers of this organisation. The activists of ‘Mayer Kanna’ approached Peter Hass but he managed to leave the place with the help of security personnel. After the incident, he went to the ministry of foreign affairs and met the minister and expressed his concern.

The US State Department has expressed its concern at the highest level of the Bangladesh government in this incident.

In response to the question why the ‘Mayer Kanna’ were allowed to go to the place where US ambassador Peter Haas visited in Shaheen Bagh, the foreign minister said, “We did not know that he had gone there.”

There is no apprehension of deterioration of relation with the US, thinks the foreign minister. He said, “This is a small incident. Our relation with them is far wider and deeper.”

Pressed on about the diplomat’s security, the foreign minister mentioned the incident of bomb attack on the UK High Commissioner Anwar Chowdhury in Sylhet in 2004. “There is no incident of direct attack on a diplomat in Bangladesh except the tenure of the BNP government.”

When asked whether the western nations have been campaigning against the incumbent government, Abdul Momen said, “Actually, this is an ingrained habit of them. They issue different observations whenever any poor or developing country goes into elections.”

Regarding this, the foreign minister further said, “Firstly, many people disbelieve, how Bangladesh did so well? (Since) they are doing good, overpower them. To overpower them, you have to create some problems there, have to create some chaos. Wherever there was chaos, that country has been destroyed. Look at Libya. They were so well-off that they would not take loans. Everything has been destroyed due to the unrest. Many of those countries saw Bangladesh doing good, so they want to stop it. This problem is deep-rooted. This is nothing new, this is their old habit.”

Who are doing this with Bangladesh? To this question, the foreign minister said, “The countries that are strong and intelligent do this. Some local people join them and dig their own grave. They do have some purposes. Another thing is, they have some ideas and think other countries will follow those ideas. We often say at the United Nations, one model is not acceptable to everywhere. There is variation of models at different countries. They think, their model is perfect and they want to impose that.”

There is no longer the situation that anything can be imposed on Bangladesh, remarked Abdul Momen. He said, “They put pressure on us more since we no longer are in a position to be subservient. They put pressure with the help of some of our own people. They have a model, which is alright. But we did not ask for it. There are advantages and disadvantages of their model, in fact, every model has that. That’s why most of the times they want their model …”

Asked whether there is any tension with the US, Abdul Momen said, “No, there is none. We have a close relation with the US. Our relation with them is very good. That’s why they can say many things to us.”