What’s in Momen’s letter to Blinken?
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said it is amusing that the US, where around a 1,000 people are killed by police every year, slapped human rights-related sanctions on Rab and its seven current and former officials as "400 people were killed in 10 years in Bangladesh".
Momen made the remark when he was briefing media on the letter he wrote to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, requesting to reconsider the sanctions.
The foreign minister said that in the letter, he wrote 1,000 people are killed by police in the USA every year.
"You term those 'killed in the line of duty'. When it happens in our country, local newspapers refer to those as 'extrajudicial killings'. Both are extra-judicial killings… because you (USA) also don't follow legal procedure. People are killed by law enforcers both here and there. Police kill 1,000 people in your country every year… And you're saying that 400 people were killed in 10 years here (Bangladesh). This is funny… This is what we wrote in the letter," Momen said.
In the letter, Momen told Blinken that Bangladesh is committed to democracy and human rights.
"We had written the letter following my telephone conversation with Blinken on December 15, 2021. Then of course there was Christmas holidays. I told them (Bangladesh embassy in Washington) to hand over the letter in person so they take the issue seriously," Momen said to journalists following a programme in Sylhet today.
A foreign ministry official said the letter was sent to Bangladesh embassy on December 31 and the embassy is scheduled to hand it over to Blinken's office.
Momen, in the letter, said the US and Bangladesh have 50 years of strong relationship.
"We have various dialogues with the US. So, the sanction was unexpected. I said Rab is a very credible organisation. They fight drug trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism -- issues that are also of US concerns," he said.
He said there is a scope for discussion on the allegations based on which the sanction was imposed.
During the conversation between Momen and Blinken on December 15, Blinken said the Biden administration's mandates are democracy and human rights.
"We said Bangladesh was born out of a demand for democracy. Democracy is not new in Bangladesh… In your country you say it is a good election when voter turnout is 26 percent. In our country, 70 and 80 percent turnout is normal."
"We said, we make no compromise on human rights. When Rab did anything illegal, they were punished," Momen said.
On December 10, the United States imposed the sanctions on Rab and seven current and former top officials of the agency, including Benazir Ahmed (now inspector general of police)