Every year, the United States State Department publishes a report on the human rights situation in different countries around the world, excluding that of the United States. The recently released United States Human Rights Report 2022 offers a different perspective on the human rights debate. I’ll only emphasize a few important topics because the report on Bangladesh is fairly lengthy.
The US report noted that Rohingya refugees born in Bangladesh are neither eligible for birth registration or citizenship, nor do they have any freedom of movement. But it must be acknowledged that the Rohingya are considered forcibly displaced citizens of Myanmar by the Bangladeshi government, which does not recognize them as refugees. Bangladesh is not a signatory to either the 1967 Protocol or the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
The government is therefore not required by law to uphold the basic rights outlined in the treaty. As a result, Bangladesh is not responsible for providing the Rohingya community with possibilities for formal education, freedom of movement, or a means of subsistence. For the sake of humanity, Bangladesh has accommodated these destitute Rohingyas, and the government is determined to send these vast numbers of people back to Myanmar and their native nations for reasons of national security. One would wonder, except for the Burma Act, what other concrete steps has the US taken to protect the human rights of these displaced Rohingyas?
Additionally, according to the US report, the government is preventing alleged war criminals of the 1971 war of independence from leaving the nation. How can justice be ensured if war crimes suspects leave the nation to evade legal action and never return? Bangladesh does not have agreements with many countries to repatriate criminals. Despite numerous petitions from the government of Bangladesh, not even the United States has taken action to extradite one of the Bangabandhu murderers who is still living there.
Leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), the country’s largest Muslim political party, have been harassed by law enforcement authorities, and their constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly have been curtailed, the report said. As is well known, the High Court revoked Jamaat’s registration in 2013 because the party’s charter was contrary to the principles of the Bangladeshi constitution. In this regard, the Supreme Court is still hearing a case.
The party’s registration was canceled by the Election Commission in 2018 in accordance with the Representation of the People Order of 1972. Why should the United States, which prides itself on being the savior of democracy and human rights, be concerned about the political party that fought against Bangladesh’s independence, engaged in extremism and war crimes, and is opposed to secularism, gender equality, and democratic values?
The US report, which used Freedom House’s yearly report, claimed that corruption had grown entrenched. Transparency International (TI) figures, however, show that from 2001 to 2005, Bangladesh scored first among 180 nations in the corruption index. It gradually improved and was ranked 13th in 2009, 16th in 2013, and 17th in 2017. The TIB research states that Bangladesh has maintained its ranking in the corruption index during the past ten years. It must be noted that Bangladesh has made great economic progress recently, and many analysts think that corruption may have existed in the country’s early years of development. The government is aware of this, as can be seen by the numerous initiatives that it is taking.
The United States frequently expresses worry about the human rights situation abroad, especially in countries where the government doesn’t agree with its every utterance. However, the NamUs database states that every year in the United States, 6 million people go missing and 4,400 unidentified bodies are discovered. More than 80 draft laws restricting the right to peaceful assembly have been introduced in at least 36 states, while more than 420 measures with voting rights restrictions have been passed in 49 states in the USA. There were reports of ballot tampering and deceased people voting in the 2020 US general election.
The US’s counterterrorism response to 9/11 was viewed as violating human rights in many parts of the world. The US occasionally penalizes people and countries for violating human rights. Again, by forging an alliance with a human rights-violating regime, the nation transgresses international human rights legislation. While the US warmly supports Iranians’ demonstrations for a better life, it remains silent regarding similar demonstrations by Palestinians. The human rights reports of many countries that the US has released, according to the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, are instances of political bias and lies that point to US hegemony.
In today’s rapidly changing geopolitics, human rights can also be used as a weapon against the opposition. In many instances, the superpowers’ ambivalence frequently encouraged human rights violators. Superpowers occasionally attempt to impose their imperial agendas on the world under the guise of promoting peace and human rights. Therefore, it is important to analyze human rights in relation to society, the state of law and order, extremism, terrorism, rising intolerance, and the stability of individual nations.
Bangladesh’s recent socioeconomic improvement has received high commendation. The country has made notable progress in the fields of health and education; it has decreased poverty and the gender gap; and it has been very successful in addressing the dangers posed by climate change. Despite regional and global intrigues, Bangladesh ensured the conviction and punishment of war criminals. Bangladesh has provided refuge to more than 1 million Rohingya, highlighting its dedication to upholding human rights. The country is aware that human rights are not an extravagance and that peace and sustained development are impossible without them.
Not to appease any superpower but rather to ensure the fundamental rights, human development, and sustained socio-economic prosperity of its population, Bangladesh is committed to upholding human rights and promoting values. Therefore, constructive engagement by any country in the development of human rights can be welcomed. At the same time, it’s critical to object to any assertions that are biased and created with the intention of gaining supremacy.