Thursday, July 19, 2012

Diplomatic Catastrophe Awaits Bangladesh

United Nations Human Rights Commission [UNHRC] will be sending delegation to Bangladesh soon to investigate the cases of disappearances, secret killing and gross violation of human rights. The independent human rights experts of the United Nations have examined 13 reported cases of enforced disappearance under its urgent action procedure, as well as information on more than 200 cases in 33 countries, including in Bangladesh. According to UN News Agency, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances during its 97th session, that took place in Geneva from July 9 to 13, also reviewed the newly-submitted cases and the previously accepted ones. Bangladesh topped the list of the UNHRC committee following alarming rise in enforced or involuntary disappearances of numerous people, including Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader and former MP Ilias Ali as well as the secret killing of Saudi diplomat Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali who was found dead only 30 metres from his home in Dhaka's diplomatic enclave named Gulshan. He had bullet wounds to his chest and was taken to a hospital. Though Bangladeshi police confirmed that the murder was "pre-planned" and professional killers were used in it, the case has not been investigated in proper manner yet and the culprits are yet to be traced by the Bangladeshi intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The 5-member investigation team from UNHRC will be arriving in Bangladesh during first week of August. It is anticipated that current government in Bangladesh may face severe diplomatic catastrophe once the investigation team convincingly finds the facts about enforced disappearance of various individuals particularly the case enforced disappearance of Ilias Ali as well as murder of Saudi diplomat Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali, garment trade unionist Aminul Islam, journo couple Sagor Sarwar and Meherun Runi, it will submit report with the United Nations, which may ultimately result in sending back of Bangladeshi troops from the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces. United Nations may even recommend punitive measures against the Bangladeshi government for gross violation of human rights and extreme expression of press. While signals of imminent diplomatic catastrophe for the current government is already prominent, the Bangladeshi foreign minister Dr. Dipu Moni and entire team are totally ignorant as well as reluctant in taking any immediate measures in resolving the issue without further delay. 

The foreign minister even did not send any emergency note to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, briefing her of the possible outcome of the investigation of the UNHRC team.

Since assuming power in January 2009, the current government led by Bangladesh Awami League has been facing serious diplomatic setbacks internationally as the government and particularly the foreign minister is completely depending on New Delhi's protection and blessings, while she is continuing to ignore the importance of the international community. Dr. Dipu Moni's series of failures has already caused severe crisis to country's manpower exports to various countries including the Middle East, while in recent times, there are signs that US buyers of Bangladeshi textile products are already moving to other countries seeing unending repression of garment workers including the murder of trade unionist Aminul Islam. The US ambassador in Bangladesh, Dan Mozena had already warned the government that large buyers in his country may refrain from buying textile products from Bangladesh due to recent murder of the trade unionist as well as numerous forms of repressive actions of the readymade garment workers in the country. According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, there had already been significant decline in export of textile products to United States and the European nations. It expressed grave concern at such scenario stating, further decline in orders from the United States in particular may force the owners of the garment factories in either suspending productions or cutting off the work forces. If the readymade garment industry owners will go for slicing down the number of their workers, it will surely create a huge employment crisis in Bangladesh, which would be added to already trouble manpower export sector. It may be mentioned here that, a few million female workers are employed in readymade garment factories in Bangladesh as the country is still one of the major producers of textile products in the world.

Following the enforced disappearance of Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader M Ilias Ali, the Prime Minister, home minister and most of the important figures in the government gave assurances to the family of the missing politician that the government would do everything possible in finding out the facts behind this case. There had also been numerous blank promises from the government of finding the missing opposition leader, though now the hope has already started fading out. According to newspaper reports, M Ilias Ali was picked up during late hours of the night by plain-clothe members of an intelligence agency.

Similarly, the current government gave fullest assurances to the Saudi authorities in identifying the murderers of Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali, which also has now been proven to be another blank promise of the ruling party. The murder of Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali and subsequent reluctance of Bangladeshi Awami League led government in investigating the case has already caused dissatisfaction and anger into the minds of the Saudi policymakers as well it also has generated serious doubts about good governance and rule of law in Bangladesh.

United Nations and the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces were already concerned following statements of the ruling party saying a significant segment of the members of Bangladesh Armed Forces were belonging to radical Islamic ideology. Current Prime Minister's son wrote a research-based paper in Harvard journal giving further details of his accusation of madrassa-educated radical Jihadists inside Bangladesh Army. The paper was further supported by statement from Bangladesh Army few months back, following a foiled coup attempt, where claims were made that radical Islamists inside Bangladesh Army were conspiring to stage coup against the current government in the country. Such statements and claims had generated serious concern within United Nations Peace Keeping Forces, who were raising eyebrows thinking, if it was safe to recruit such radical Jihadists or Islamists in the peace keeping force.

BY :  Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.