The US bans Bangladeshi visas, preventing fair elections.

By MNN Desk Report
Published Fri, May 26, 2023 3:17 AM

The United States on Wednesday announced a new visa policy to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections, restricting visas for any Bangladeshi individuals undermining the democratic election process.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller revealed the announcement at the Department of State’s daily briefing in Washington.

The US notified the Bangladesh government of this decision on May 3," he told the briefing.

‘Under this policy, the United States will be able to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individuals believed to be responsible for or complicit in undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh,’ he said, quoting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

He mentioned that current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services would come under the restriction.

‘Actions that undermine the democratic election process include vote rigging, voter intimidation, the use of violence to prevent people from exercising their right to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from disseminating their views,’ Miller said.

‘The holding of free and fair elections is the responsibility of everyone—voters, political parties, the government, the security forces, civil society, and the media. I am announcing this policy to lend our support to all those seeking to advance democracy in Bangladesh,’ he added.




Secretary Antony Blinken tweet on Bangladesh's new visa policy

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, however, told United News of Bangladesh that the new visa policy announced by the US government ‘does not bother’ the government of Bangladesh.

He said the authorities are ‘committed’ to holding a free and fair election.

‘It’s not a sanction. BNP should be worried as violence before or during elections is another criterion that will trigger visa restrictions,’ he told the news agency.

Responding to a question, the US State Department spokesperson said that the restriction would also include the immediate family members of such persons.

In response to another question, he said that no such restrictions had been imposed yet.

‘The United States is committed to building a solid partnership with the government of Bangladesh grounded in democracy and human rights. We welcome the prime minister’s expressed commitment to holding free and fair elections.

In response to another question, he said the restrictions were not directed at the Bangladesh government or the Awami League.

‘The United States does not support any particular political party. Restrictions under this new policy target individuals engaging in behavior that undermines the democratic election process, regardless of affiliation,’ the spokesperson said.

Asked if this announcement was in retaliation for the Bangladesh government’s May 14 decision to curtail Ambassador Haas’s security, Miller said, ‘Given our close cooperation with the Government of Bangladesh, we informed it of this policy decision on May 3.’

Responding to a question about why the US cared so much about Bangladesh’s elections, he said, ‘The United States supports free and fair elections everywhere. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government have committed to supporting free and fair elections in Bangladesh. This policy is designed to support these efforts and the Bangladeshi people, so they may hold elections to choose their leaders.’

Earlier on December 10, 2021, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Bangladesh’s elite paramilitary force, the Rapid Action Battalion, and seven of its officers due to serious human rights violations.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her cabinet members recently heavily criticized the US administration.