‘We don’t think we did anything wrong’
The list is not big, says the state minister
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Friday said that they were not worried about the US visa restrictions.
“We are not worried about it. We don’t think we did anything wrong,” he said in a press briefing at his residence in Dhaka’s Gulshan following the US announcement that it started applying visa policy ahead of Bangladesh’s national polls.
The state minister said the US side communicated with the government about the new announcement a couple of days ago.
“Yesterday (Thursday) they had a good meeting with the prime minister,” he said as US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya met the prime minister on the margins of the UN General Assembly.
When asked about the names of the individuals who faced the restriction, the state minister said: “If they (US) don’t say specifically, then we cannot say.”
He, however, said the number or list is not big and includes members of the opposition parties as well.
“As we responded in the beginning, we would expect it to be done judicially, not arbitrarily,” he said.
He added that the government would take up the individual visa issue to the discussion table if it hampers the official activities.
“We will talk on that particular issue,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs successfully dealt with three cases in the last 10 years when there was no visa policy.
“We have also seen some strategic changes among the opposition parties after the visa policy. If someone checks, maybe it (visa policy) has something to do with it,” he said, adding that in the past they have created an anarchic situation before the elections in Bangladesh.
“They (US) said that the opposition political party leaders are being brought under the visa policy. We don’t want any state or agency to interfere in our internal affairs. It’s loud and clear. But they announced it, we see it in good spirits,” he said.
Replying to a question, the state minister said also there is no reason to see further sanctions from the US before the elections.
“Did any such incident take place recently?” he asked back as journalists kept asking about further sanctions.
He said the government had addressed the concerns related to RAB after the US sanctions.
The US Department of State said it is taking steps to impose visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.
These individuals include members of law enforcement agencies, the ruling party, and the political opposition, the US State Department said in a statement on Friday.
It, however, did not disclose the names of those individuals.
“The United States is committed to supporting free and fair elections in Bangladesh that are carried out in a peaceful manner.
“These persons and members of their immediate family may be found ineligible for entry into the United States.”
“Additional persons found to have been responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh may also be found ineligible for US visas under this policy in the future. This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of opposition and ruling political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services,” the statement adds.
“Our actions today reflect the continued commitment of the United States to supporting Bangladesh’s goal of peacefully holding free and fair national elections, and to support those seeking to advance democracy globally,” the statement reads.
On May 24, the US announced that it would be able to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.
This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services.
The US notified the Bangladeshi government of this decision on May 3.
Source: Dhaka Tribune.