A total of 192 prominent Bangladesh-origin US nationals have rebutted a joint statement of six US Congressmen on Bangladesh’s human rights situation claiming the minority communities were exposed to intimidation in the South Asian country during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s incumbent government.
“We, the undersigned Bangladeshi Americans, request the Congressmen to withdraw the false information from the letter,” read the statement of the prominent Bangladeshi Americans comprising minority community leaders, academics and anti-war crimes campaigners.
They said the “wrong information” contained in the US congressmen’s letter to the President Joe Biden’s administration would not only undermine the credibility of the Congressmen’s stance on Bangladesh minority rights “but also jeopardize the security and safety of the undersigned Bangladeshi Americans”.
“The worst, all the false statements (by US congressmen) would exacerbate the plights of minorities in Bangladesh,” the statement of the 192 read.
The Bangladesh origin US nationals’ statement came after Bangladeshi Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist communities and their leaders called as “false and misleading” the Congressmen’s letter to Biden, seeking sanctions against the Bangladesh government.
The Congressmen Bob Good, Scott Perry, Barry Moore, Tim Burchett, Warren Davidson and Keith Self signed the letter claiming “since Sheikh Hasina’s rise to power; the Hindu population has been halved”.
“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 conversion occurs,” they claimed.
The Congressmen, all members of House of Representatives, requested urgent action to stop the human rights abuses by the Bangladesh government and give the people of the country the best possible chance for free and fair parliamentary elections scheduled in coming fall.
The Bangladeshi Americans, meanwhile, pointed out that the Congressmen’s statement ignored October 2001 post-parliamentary election violence “unleashed against the Hindus by the victor, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) led coalition”.
They said the Congressmen’s statement also contained fabricated information about the persecution of the Christian population in Bangladesh under the current government”.
Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council President Rana Dasgupta earlier said, “The Congressmen’s claim of halving the Hindu population under Sheikh Hasina’s rule is a mockery of truth”.
Dasgupta feared that certain vested groups responsible for minority persecution might also be trying to win the 2024 Bangladesh election by feeding wrong information to US lawmakers.
Bangladeshi Christian community’s top leader Cardinal Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario also rejected the Congressmen’s claim, saying the incumbent government had rather always supported and been with the Christian community.
Bangladesh Christian Association President Nirmal Rozario said, “The reality is that since the return of Awami League, our community has been living in harmony, with assistance from the prime minister (and) the government’s development schemes which connect the minorities as well”.
Bangladesh Buddhist Federation, in a statement, said the Congressmen’s statement did not specially mention about Bangladesh’s Buddhist community but “yet we have reasons to refuse the allegations mentioned in the letter”.
In a statement, they called the allegation “imaginary and fabricated.”
The Bangladeshi Americans, however, acknowledged that Bangladesh had witnessed persecution against religious minority communities after the 2001 elections that brought into power the BNP-led four-party alliance with Jamaat-e-Islam being its crucial partner.
“We want to stress that the same groups responsible for violence against Hindus and other minorities were also responsible for killing foreigners, bloggers, activists, and bombing campaigns across countries,” their statement said.
It added: “The agents from the same group are feeding misinformation aimed at election engineering to bring violators to political power.”
The Bangladeshi Diaspora group in the US demanded withdrawal of the “false and misleading information” from the Congressmen’s letter for the security, safety, and wellness of the Bangladesh minority and their own as they continued to fight actively “for minority rights in Bangladesh for decades”.
The signatories of the statement included – Milborne City Mayor Mahbubul Alam Taiyab, Councilmen- Dr. Nuran Nabi (MJ), Nurul Hasan (NH), State Representative- Abul Khan (NH), Professors- ABM Nasir (NC), Dr. Ziauddin Ahmed (PA), Nabendu Dutta (NY), Scientists- Dr Sufian A Khandakar, Dr Zeena Nabi (NJ), Director of International Sustainable Development- Iqbal Yusuf, CEO of Huge Network- Nizamuddin Ahmed (VA), Engineers- Rana Hasan Mahmud (CA), Ahad Ahmed (MI), Pranobondhu Chakrabarty (NY), Writers- Dr. Jyoti Prakash Dutta (FL), Dr. Purobi Bosu (FL), Activists- Safeda Basu (MA), Sabita Das (NY), Community Leaders- Gopal Sannal (NY), Dr Khondoker Mansur (NY), Shyamal Chakrabarty (NY), Parimal Karmakar (NY), Cultural Personality- Jamal Uddin Hossain (AL), Artists- Rathindra Nath Roy (NY), Gaurav Golpo (VA), Journalists- Dastagir Jahangir (VA), Sitangshu Guha (NY), Teacher- Dr. Dilip Nath (NY),Phd Student Toujiat Ahmed (NY), Businessmen- Faruqe Ahmed (NY), Syed Rashid Ahmed Karmani (NY) and others.