Please, no more sanctions on Bangladesh’s RAB
Posted on January 27th, 2022

Hafizur Talukdar

A total of 12 human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have written to the UN calling for the removal of RAB from UN peacekeeping missions. In December, the United States imposed sanctions on the Bangladesh Police Special Forces Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and a total of six former and current officers for alleged involvement in “grave human rights abuses.”

Twelve international non-governmental organizations have recently written a letter to the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations peacekeeping mission. Different types of propaganda and speculation are going to be noticed here. They said that the RAB of Bangladesh is violating various human rights. In their language, RAB of Bangladesh is engaged in various misdeeds, violating human rights. For this, they have requested the RAB of Bangladesh not to take them in peace keeping. They wrote the letter on November 7. It’s been two months since the UN received it.

The letter was sent two months ago, on November 8, 2021, and was released today (Thursday), according to Human Rights Watch. A letter to UN Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacon called for all members of the RAB to be barred from peacekeeping operations.

According to the media reports, the letter was signed by Amnesty International, Asian Federation against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), Capital Punishment Justice Project, CIVICUS, World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, The Advocates for Human Rights, and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT).

On the other hand, a member of the European Parliament has written to the European Union (EU) imposing sanctions against the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). He said in a letter against the RAB that the force was involved in a number of extrajudicial killings and disappearances.

According to sources, EU Member of Parliament Ivan Stefanek wrote a letter to Joseph Borel, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on January 20. In the letter, he said the situation of human rights, freedom of speech, civil and political rights in Bangladesh is deteriorating. He also mentioned the US sanctions against the RAB and seven of its current and former officials. “In view of these incidents, my request is that you use the power you have to enforce the ban against the Rapid Action Battalion,” he said in the letter.

But they should know that Bangladesh is at the forefront of sending law enforcement personnel to UN peacekeeping missions. In 2012, Bangladesh sent the highest number of peacekeeping personnel to different countries, with 6,631 members from different forces. Human rights groups allege that officers were sent to peacekeeping missions as a reward for serious human rights abuses inside the country, especially RAB members, many of whom have been charged with extrajudicial killings, torture and disappearances.

Bangladesh has been playing a great role in the peace process of Africa. Bangladesh played an important role in Haiti, East Timor, Middle Eastern countries for promoting peace and harmony. International community should remember, consider and understand this.

However, everyone knows the role of Bangladesh peace keepers to establish peace in Africa. Bangladesh Army, Navy, Air Force, Police have served in UN peacekeeping missions (Africa Mission) with considerable reputation. At that time, in 1993-94, the most talked about peace missions in Rwanda, Somalia and Bosnia, the Bangladesh Army came to the center of the discussion.

Bangladesh has a huge contribution and role in the peace process of Africa. According to UNO and Bangladesh army, Currently Bangladesh is one of the leading troop contributors with 6,582 peacekeepers mostly in Africa. Being a country committed to peace, Bangladesh has always been keen in contributing for peace across the globe. Bangladeshi peacekeepers are currently deployed in eight out of 13 peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Western Sahara, Mali, Central African Republic, Yemen and Lebanon.

RAB has played a commendable role in controlling drug-terrorism and militancy in Bangladesh. That is why we have been able to deal effectively with drug-terrorism and militancy in Bangladesh as compared to many developed countries. According to the media, we know the role of RAB in combating maritime threats in the strategic Bay of Bengal. Combating maritime threats is one of the agendas of US-Western lead ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’. On the other hand, Bangladesh’s RAB has played a great role in maintaining peace, harmony, law and order in the Rohingya camps. RAB has been relentlessly working to implement the government’s zero tolerance policy against terrorism in line with US agenda of War on Terror

Meanwhile, EU Ambassador to Dhaka Charles Whiteley has said that the EU has nothing to do with the letter from a member of the European Union (EU) Parliament to remove the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from the UN peacekeeping mission.

“I don’t want to comment on the US sanctions on the RAB,” he said. I do not have accurate information about this. However, the letter from a member of the EU parliament was his personal opinion. The EU has nothing to do with it. “

The EU ambassador made the remarks at a ‘Meet the Reporters’ event at the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) Nasrul Hamid auditorium at 10:30 am on January 26.

On the other hand, according to a media report, a spokesman for the UN told the media: “Every time the UN hires a person for peacekeeping, they give it a go.’ The letter was given for the purpose of propaganda against Bangladesh. We believe that these propaganda and malicious acts are against the people of Bangladesh.

The comments made by the EU ambassador to Bangladesh are fully right in this regard. As a promoter of peace, law and order (EU as an organization), the EU can’t do it. Before taking any decisions in this regard, the authorities of the EU and UN should consult with the Bangladesh government. On the other hand, the decision may be treated as politically biased, motivated.

There might have been some isolated crossfire that occurred during RAB’s operations against criminal activity. But compared to its success, such incidents occur in many national law enforcement agencies around the world. On the other hand, when Bangladesh is trying to resolve the issue with the US authority diplomatically, such a proposal to the UN and EU is very inappropriate. Sanctions are not the only permanent solution. Discussion, negotiations, reformation, corrections can be some kind of tools. Thus, the international community should investigate the matter before reaching a final decision against the RAB.

The Bangladesh government should take it seriously regarding the matters. They should make the UNO understand that some politically biased and motivated organizations and persons are trying to defame Bangladesh in the international arena and propagating against Bangladesh. When the economic rise of Bangladesh in South Asia is confirmed amongst the internal community, some vested groups motivated by mere human rights issues or any geopolitical interest are trying to serve their vested interest. Their ill motives are clear now. The positive image of Bangladesh is now their target. If any kind of doubt arises in this regard, the international community can work together with Bangladesh. Obviously, Bangladesh will work with the international community. Again, before taking any decisions in this regard, the authorities of the EU and UN should consult with the Bangladesh government. Please, no more sanctions on RAB.

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