Bangladesh demands US withdraw Rab sanctions citing ‘no deaths in last 3 months’
Foreign Minister Abdul Momen has said during the visit of US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland on March 20, Bangladesh strongly demanded that the US withdraw the sanctions, detailing the remedial measures Dhaka have taken to improve Rapid Action Battalion's (Rab) performance.
"There were no deaths in the last three months. They (the US) are very happy. We said we are taking remedial measures. In fact, we have inbuilt measures. We have a judicial process. Sometimes it did not work right. Earlier, we did not say these strongly. Now we are saying," Momen said while addressing reporters at the foreign ministry on the BIMSTEC Summit in Sri Lanka on March 30 where the prime minister is expected to join virtually.
He said democracy has been running smoothly in Bangladesh in the last 13 to 14 years – a situation that was not there earlier.
"Now, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we have democratic environment. We have voter ID with photos. The vote rigging has come down. We told them (Nuland) that our people are mentally very democratic. About 70-80 percent of people vote in our elections."
However, he said, to make democracy participatory, all parties have to take part in the elections.
"We believe in fairness and justice. We don't discriminate. We are free of discrimination. So, there are potentials to deepen our relations with the US much more in the coming days," Momen said.
Bangladesh has a sweet relationship with the US, said AK Abdul Momen.
"They are number one in terms of trade and investment. They are with us both on good and bad days. The relations will deepen because we have shared values of democracy," he told reporters.
Bangladesh exports annually more than $7 billion worth of products, mostly readymade garments to the US. It so far provided the highest amount of humanitarian assistance for the Rohingyas. The US also donated more than 61 million Covid-19 doses of vaccines and is expected to send millions more.
Momen made this comment in response to a question on what he will be discussing when he meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on April 4, the day of 50 years of diplomatic relationship between the two countries and the updates on the US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue held on March 20 in Dhaka.
The dialogue was held three months after the US imposed sanctions on RAB and seven of its current and former officials for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and dropped Bangladesh from Biden's Democracy Summit – decisions that upset Bangladesh.
Earlier in 2013, the US suspended GSP, the trade benefit, following the Rana Plaza collapse.