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‘US visa policy’ under discussion throughout the year

by Afonso
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The strained relationship between the Bangladesh government and the US began in December 2021. On December 10 of that year, the United States Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and some of its top officials around the International Human Rights Day. Allegations – Some RAB officers have committed serious human rights violations.

After that, the ban on RAB was said to be lifted several times, but no progress was seen. There was a kind of suppressed tension between Bangladesh and the country about this. Although Bangladesh was repeatedly saying that America is our friend. There was no decline in the relationship with them.

relationship with discomfort

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised questions about America’s democracy in the parliament session on April 10 this year. On the same day, however, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen met with US Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken in Washington. The human rights situation in Bangladesh and the upcoming 12th National Parliament elections were discussed there.

It can be said that the tension between the two countries has increased since April this year. America started talking directly about the election of Bangladesh. Although the country has been saying since the beginning, they want a fair and acceptable election in Bangladesh.

Prime Minister the interview

In an interview given by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in May, the strained relations with America came to light. In that interview given to BBC, Sheikh Hasina expressed her opinion and said, ‘America may not want me as the head of the government.’

The RAB topic also came up in that interview. Sheikh Hasina said, ‘RAB was formed on the advice of America in 2004. America has also provided various equipments starting from training RAB officers. Now they come and talk about this organization.’

visa policy

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller added fuel to the fire at this tense time. On May 24 of this year, he announced that America is going to apply the visa policy for Bangladesh. America will not give visa to those who will obstruct the democratic election process of Bangladesh or cooperate in this work. This visa policy can be read by anyone from the current-former-government-opposition party of the country. There will also be members of the law enforcement agencies, members of the judiciary.

After this announcement, many top leaders of the ruling Awami League and the BNP outside the parliament started talking at each other. ‘Visaneethi’ takes the full light of the stage. From the intelligentsia of the country to the common people—everyone started discussing it with some kind of anxiety and excitement. Political parties started pointing fingers at each other.

Prime MinisterBiden Selfie And temporary relief

A selfie of US President Joe Biden with Sheikh Hasina and her daughter Saima Wazed doll as Matthew Miller poured ghee on the fire. The most talked about selfie at the G20 summit in the capital of neighboring India, New Delhi, attracted the attention of international media and world leaders. Many described it as a sign of thawing relations with America.

But this selfie could not reduce the tension. America started applying visa policy to Bangladesh. In a circular signed by Matthew Miller on September 22, it is said that America has started applying the visa policy announced with the upcoming elections in Bangladesh.

At that time, the spokesperson of the US Embassy in Dhaka, Brian Schiller, told reporters, ‘We will not disclose the names or numbers of people who come under the visa restrictions. Visa records are strictly confidential under US law. However, since the announcement of this policy, the US government has been monitoring all developments. After careful review of the relevant evidence, we have imposed visa restrictions on members of law enforcement, government and opposition parties.’

Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam told reporters that the list of persons under the visa ban is not very large. The government is not concerned about this visa policy. The people will decide who will be in power. No such action and no further US sanctions will come before the election.’

However, after this statement of State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, no new restrictions came. But the suppressed tension continues. Many people fear that America will implement another new visa policy before the elections in Bangladesh.

Matthew Miller, Vedanta Patel are always in discussion about the elections in Bangladesh. In their regular press conferences, they are repeatedly asked questions about the Bangladesh elections and they repeatedly say that they want a fair and acceptable election in Bangladesh.

in discussion peter smile

Amidst all this, questions were raised against Peter D Haas, the US ambassador to Bangladesh, about his one-eyed behavior and his nose about the internal politics of Bangladesh. He was also called ‘Avatar’ by BNP. And Awami League has been repeatedly saying that America is working on behalf of BNP. Awami League leaders and activists at various levels even threatened to kill Peter Haas.

Although Peter Haas has always said, ‘America is not on the side of any political party in Bangladesh’s upcoming parliamentary elections.’

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter D. Haas.  Photo: Collected

Donald the lure the letter

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu also wrote to Awami League, BNP and Jatiya Party for dialogue ahead of November elections. However, Awami League rejected that proposal saying ‘no time’.

When the situation is like this, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal announced the schedule of the 12th National Assembly elections on November 15, fixing the polling day on January 7. The next day on November 16, Peter Haas suddenly left Dhaka for Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Rumors started with this. However, it was reported from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Peter went out of the country after informing the government.

in the scene of Russia entry

In the meantime, Russia opened its mouth about the interference of Peter Haas in the politics of Bangladesh on November 23.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova claimed in a post on social media X (formerly Twitter) that America is interfering in the internal affairs of the country (Bangladesh) under the guise of demanding transparent and participatory elections in Bangladesh. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas has even planned to organize an anti-government program by meeting with opposition party leaders. Russia has repeatedly warned against such US efforts.

After Russia’s statement, America explained its position. Besides, BNP made a statement referring to this statement of Russia as ‘misinterpretation’.

peter smile return

Meanwhile, after Russia’s statement, Peter Haas returned to Dhaka after his visit to Colombo on November 27. On his return to the country, Peter had a meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding his leave and return to Dhaka. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was a normal meeting. Since then, Peter Haas has not been seen speaking publicly about the politics of Bangladesh.

Peter Haas held a meeting with the officials of Biman Bangladesh Airlines on December 5. According to the news published in the media about the meeting, Peter Haas proposed to buy Dreamliner Boeing 787-9 and 787-10 aircraft.

After Peter’s proposal to buy Boeing, many people think that Bangladesh-US relations are going to be normal again.

Finally, in a special briefing held at the Foreign Press Center of the United States on December 6, John Kirby, Coordinator of Strategic Communications of the US National Security Council, said that the allegations made by Russia about the US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Peter Haas, are completely false and Russia itself knows it.

Kirby said, ‘We believe in a free and fair election in Bangladesh and we will continue to work towards that goal.’

Kirby also said, ‘We do not take any side in any election outside the country and this policy will not change in the case of Bangladesh. We support a free and fair election. We will do whatever we can to support that fundamental aspiration of the people of Bangladesh, and that is what the ambassador and his team will do.’


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