Right activists in the US have raised concern over the extra-judicial killing and alleged repression of political opposition. Two members of the US House of Representatives also expressed their concern in a statement pm the issue though they were not present in the discussion organised by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Thursday.
The lawmakers are co-chairmen of the commission.
They did, however, praise the Bangladesh government for providing shelter to more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees.
Former US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat, and British lawyer Toby Cadman, who has represented Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, attended the discussion titled Election and Human Rights in Bangladesh. Mohammad Ziauddin, the Bangladesh envoy to Washington, DC, Bangladesh Deputy High-Commissioner Mahbub Hassan Saleh and a few leaders from the US branch of the Awami League also attended the discussion.
Human Rights Watch Advocacy Director in Asia John Sifton criticised the Bangladesh government.
“The government is harassing the opposition with politically motivated cases. Extra-judicial killings are taking place by law enforcement agents. The opposition party members are unable to run their election campaign. They are all scared of the special forces,” he said.
He raised the issue of extra-judicial killings by RAB and called for an end to them.
“The fear has spread to the media too. Therefore journalists are unable to work properly. It seems Bangladesh is heading towards single-party rule,” he said.
Sifton also mentioned the arrest of photographer Shahidul Islam. He urged the US Congress to play a role in alleviating the situation in Bangladesh with the election looming.
The HRW official tacitly raised a demand to ban Bangladeshis from the UN peacekeeping work.
“Those who are connected with the everyday violation of human rights should not take part in global peacekeeping,” he said.
Another discussant Waris Husain, policy analyst at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom highly praised the Bangladesh government for providing shelter to the Rohingyas.
“It is praiseworthy that Bangladesh has provided shelter to the Rohingyas when other neighbouring countries did not. The benevolence shown by a small country with a huge population of 160 million through providing shelter to more than a million Rohingyas definitely deserve applause,” he said.
“We have focused on our independent observations to provide congress with information,” he said adding the US administration and policy makers have no connection to the discussion or their opinions.