In a joint statement issued by 20 prominent Bangladeshi American or Bangladesh expatriate living in the USA from a coalition of human rights and professional organizations has expressed concerns and sought the attention of 14 U.S. Congressmen regarding their recent letter to the UN Ambassador of the USA. The statement emphasizes the need for a balanced and nuanced approach that respects Bangladesh’s sovereignty while addressing critical human rights issues.
The Statement in Full
Kind Attn: Rep Bob Good, Rep Scott Perry, Rep Anna Paulina, Rep Ralph Norman, Rep_Clyde, Rep Brecheen, Rep Eli Crane, Rep Cory Mills, Rep La Malfa, Rep Ronny Jackson, Rep Randy, Rep Brian Babin, Rep Grothman
Your letter demanding the UN intervention in Bangladesh’s Election seems like you are playing in the hands of the Islamists and terrorists. The last UN intervention based on blackmailing Bangladesh’s contribution to the UN Peace Keeping mission brought a military-led government that did not solve what you are expecting to happen now.
The undersigned Bangladesh-American human rights, social, professional organizations, and elected officials strongly support a violence-free, secular, and democratic Bangladesh. And we echo your concern. But, dear Congressmen, please do your homework and kindly be informed about the people demanding free and fair elections before you abruptly interfere with the domestic affairs of a foreign country. You must have known that an American, Avijit Roy, was murdered by Ansar al. Islam on February 15, 2015 (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-56082108). Ansar al. Islam is an Al Qaeda affiliate with covert operations in Bangladesh. Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-I-Islami, who have been demanding free and fair elections in Bangladesh, also have been overtly and covertly in cahoots with terrorist groups like Ansar al. Islam, Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami of Bangladesh since 2001. The groups aim to use the democratic process as an excuse to capture political power like the Muslim Brotherhood did in Egypt in 2012.
Why are we writing this letter to you? First, as U.S. citizens, we are concerned about the repeated failure of U.S. foreign policy to install democracy without considering the historical and socio-political dimensions in Muslim countries and regions. The vivid examples of American foreign policy failure are Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. We don’t want that to happen in Bangladesh. Second, those of us advocating and fighting for a secular, violence-free, and democratic Bangladesh over the last few decades feel that our lives, like that of Avijit’s, are at stake if the Islamic coalition led by BNP-Jamaat somehow takes over the political power of Bangladesh under democratic pretext. Please also note that losing Bangladesh at the hands of any form of Islamic alliance would also be a double blow to U.S. national security interest in South Asia.
Now going back to the past and tracking the activities of the so-called freedom warriors, you shall see not only how the Islamists led by the BNP-Jamaat coalition almost ravaged Bangladesh during 2001-2006 and are still trying to destabilize South Asia. Bangladesh held four widely praised and well-participated elections in 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2008. But the massive terrorist incidences patronized by the BNP-Jamaat coalition between two free elections in 2001 and 2008 indicate that just having a free (and so-called fair) election in 2024 will not change the current political deadlock unless the stakeholders find a sustainable solution guaranteeing the security, safety, and post-election political participation of the minorities and political dissidents.
Right after the October 2001 election victory, the BNP-Jamaat-led Islamic coalition unleashed an unprecedented attack against the Hindus and the Awami League supporters across 11 Western Districts of Bangladesh. The Hindus and opposition activists were targeted because they overwhelmingly voted for Bangladesh Awami League. The violence led to massive looting and burning of Hindu houses, raping Hindu women, and evicting Hindus from their homes. State-patronized violence continued during the entire 2001-2006 under BNP-Jamaat rule. The table below shows a few major incidences of violence during 2001-2006 by terrorist networks under the direct patronage of the BNP-Jamaat coalition leaders.
Timeline of major violence incidences during 2001-2006 under BNP-Jamaat patronage
|Date||Incidence||Conviction and dates|
|May 24, 2004||Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami of Bangladesh alias Huji conducted a massive grenade attack on the then British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury, killing three and injuring  50 including the High Commissioner. ||Mufti Hannan and two other received death sentences on December 23, 2008.|
|August 21, 2004||The grenade attack, the worst terrorist incidence in Bangladesh’s history perpetrated by Huji, on the Bangladesh Awami League’s anti-terrorism rally killed 24 and injured 500 hundred people, including the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Not only did the BNP-Jamaat coalition failed to ensure justice, but staged a drama falsely implicating a poor Joj Mia and an Awami League activist, Shaibal Saha Partha. Both were tortured to confess about the heinous crime they had no idea about. Later under the Caretaker and Awami League governments, Huji leader Mufti Abdul Hannan confessed to be the leader behind the attack and implicated Tarique Zia, the current interim Chairman of BNP, Lutfozzaman Babar, then State Minister of Home Affairs, Abdus Salam Pintu, then deputy minister as principle conspirators.||On October 10, 2018, based on confessional statement of Mufti Hannan, Hannan, Tarique Zia, Babar, Pintu and others were convicted with Hannan, Babar and 17 other receiving death sentences and Tarique and 18 other receiving life sentences.|
|August 17, 2005||Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMJB) carried out massive bombing campaign by blasting 459 bombs across 64 districts simultaneously, killing two people and injuring around 100 . The mastermind behind the attack was the Shaykh Abdur Rahman and Siddikul Islam popularly known as Bangla Bhai. Bangla Bhai was a former Islami Chhatra Shibir (a student organization of Jamaat-e-Islami) when in college. JMJB and Huji also carried out numerous attacks against institutions, individuals, and cultural activists under the patronage of the top leaders of ruling BNP-Jamaat coalition. A June 21, 2007 Daily Star report mentioned that “Tarique Rahman [Zia] and several ex-BNP ministers [Barrister Aminul Haque, Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu, Nadim Mostafa, all MPs of BNP)] directly patronized the outrageous operations of the JMB (Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh) in Rajshahi with the full knowledge of former prime minister Khaleda Zia.”||On March 30, 2007, Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam, Bangla Bhai were executed.|
|December 24, 2004||Professor Yunus of Rajshahi University while survived several attacks by Jamaat-Shibir cadres eventually had to succumb to brutal attack by the same group belonging to the coalition government.||Convicted, life imprisonment, February 24, 2016.|
What are our concerns:
First, two convicts currently lead the largest opposition party-BNP. The former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is Chairperson, and Tarique Zia, the interim chair. What type of democracy would be safe if Tarique Zia, convicted of terrorism and other crimes, and other convicts somehow contest a free election through the back door and win? Was not Muslim Brotherhood led by Mohammed Morsi allowed to participate in a free election in Egypt in good faith in 2012? Second, even after being out of political office for so long, the BNP-Jamaat coalition has not abandoned its violent path. Most recently, on July 25-29, 2023, after being allowed to hold political rallies, the BNP-led mobs again resorted to massive destruction, burning public
transportation and attacking businesses. On February 28, 2013, after the War Crime Tribunal had convicted Jamaat-e-Islami leader Delwar Hossain Sayedee of War Crimes, Jamaat-Shibir cadres unleashed an unprecedented year-long countrywide violence costing hundreds of lives. The Jamaat-led violence cost the lives of the largest number of law enforcement officers in the country’s history. Then again, during February-March of 2015, BNP-Jamaat unleashed a massive terrorist campaign to destabilize the government by throwing petrol bombs at civilian targets. The bombing campaign killed more than 60 people while injuring hundreds. A January 25, 2015 report by Amnesty International harshly criticized the BNP-led campaign by saying, “…the manner in which the BNP-led protests are being carried out clearly shows a repeated pattern of violence being used for a political purpose.”
Dear Congressman, please note that the US-Bangladesh relationship has been friendly for over 50 years. We desire strong ties between the two nations for the mutual economic interests and national security interests of the United States. Therefore, we urge that you please cautiously make your statement and engage all stakeholders to ensure a violent-free, secular, democratic Bangladesh.
If you would like, we can present with facts our concerns about why the current trajectory of U.S. foreign policy is destabilizing. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, at its current core, is led by convicts and terrorists. The BNP coalition’s penchant for violence and its alliance with religious extremists will only repeat the most violent years of 2001-2006 if they somehow manage to ascend to political power.
We humbly urge you to change the current course of action to ensure a violence-free secular democratic future for Bangladesh.
- Elected Bangladeshi-American officials: Councilman Dr. Nuran Nabi, NJ; Mayor Mahabubul Alam Tayub, PA; State Representative Abul Khan, NH; Councilman Abu Ahmed Musa, MI and Councilman Nurul Hasan, PA.
- Shompriti Forum, Prof. ABM Nasir, NC
- USA Bangabandhu Parishad, Engineer Rana Hasan Mahmud, CA and Engineer Shikrity Barua, NY
- Bangladesh Liberation War Veterans 1971, USA Inc. Golam Mostafa Khan Miraz, NY
- California Bangabandhu Parishad, Nazrul Alam and Engineer Tasnim Salam Aslam, CA
- Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Committee, USA, Fahim Reza Noor, NY
- Michigan Bangabandhu Parishad, Engr. Ahad Ahmed, MI and Ali Ahmed Farish, MI
- USA Committee for Democratic and Secular Bangladesh, Zakaria Choudhury, NY
- NRB Council USA, Engineer Jalil Khan, CA
- Georgia Bangabandhu Parishad, Rumi Kabir and Mahabubur Rahman Bhuiyan, GA
- Bangladesh Freedom Fighters Solidarity Council, USA, Khurshid Anwar Bablu.
- Greater Washington DC Bangabandhu Parishad, Nasrin Munna.
- Muktijoddha Sangsad, Dr. Abdul Baten.
- Massachusetts Bangabandhu Parishad, Sofeda Basu, MA
- Morshed Alam, Democratic leader, NY
- Bangladesh Muktijodha Sangsad, California Command Council, Zahedul Mahmud Zami, CA
- Pennsylvania Bangabandhu Parishad, Abu Taher Bir Partik, Kazi Shamim, PA
- Group of Academics: Prof. Ziauddin Ahmed, PA; Prof. Mizan R Miah, IL; Prof. Jamil Talukdar, WI; Prof. Shahadat Hossain, NY
- South New Jersey Bangabandhu Parishad, Nurannabi Choudhury, NJ
 Fazal, Tanweer (2013). Minority Nationalisms in South Asia. Routledge. p. 133. ISBN 9781317966470.