Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen on Wednesday (October 11, 2023) said a certain foreign country claiming to be friend of Bangladesh is imposing unilateral visa restrictions on Bangladeshi people. Without naming the country the ambassador said they keep talking about human rights, democracy and free and fair elections in Bangladesh. Read: China to provide large-scale anti-dengue aid in a few days: Ambassador Yao His comments came amid controversy centering the US decision to impose visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals. Washington, however, said it will not release the names or numbers of people in Bangladesh subject to the visa restrictions. Ambassador Yao reiterated that China does not meddle with the internal affairs pf other countries. “China never intervenes in internal affairs of other countries. Instead, we want to help Bangladesh make greater economic success and improve the livelihood of local people,” he told reporters after attending a programme, noting that a friend in need is a friend indeed. Read: Momen attending COM meeting of IORA in Colombo “Who is the genuine friend of Bangladesh? The people have the say?” said the Chinese ambassador. The Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh handed over 700 sets of dengue kits to Enam Medical College and Hospital, which would meet the demand of tests for over 18,000 people. Ambassador Yao said that President Xi Jinping and the Chinese government are "deeply concerned" on the dengue epidemic in Bangladesh and announced that China will provide 25 million RMB (USD 3.5 million) anti-dengue aid to Bangladesh. This marks only a starting point, and there will be more anti-dengue aid in larger scale coming from China in a few days, said the ambassador. "With our joint effort in mitigating the current dengue surge, the bond of friendship between the two countries and peoples would be further enhanced," said the ambassador. As a time-tested friend and strategic partner of Bangladesh, the envoy said, China is committed to working with Dhaka in addressing public health challenges, which was manifested by their joint fight against the Covid-19 pandemic over the past three years. Read: Padma Bridge Rail Link a landmark project under China's BRI: Ambassador Yao State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief, Dr Md. Enamur Rahman, and Chief Executive Officer of Enam Medical College and Hospital, Dr. Anawarul Quader Nazim, among others, were present.
French Ambassador to Bangladesh Marie Masdupuy has dismissed the claim of a section that ten senior journalists’ visa requests have been refused. The ambassador described the claim as a "lie and disinformation." French Ambassador Marie Masdupuy visits Cosmos Atelier 71 “Sport is essential in life. Some play football, some tennis, others badminton or squash. @ABhuttow’s daily sport is lie and #Disinformation. His latest record can be watched hereunder,” the French ambassador replied to a comment on X (formerly Twitter). An individual named Abdur Rab Bhuttow claimed that 10 “pro-government” senior journalists were refused visa to travel to France. Boosting cooperation with Bangladesh on political, economic, climate fronts priorities for France: Ambassador Marie Masdupuy Talking to UNB, the French ambassador said this is “totally false.” The journalists did not apply in time, for visa, for an event they were planning to attend, said an official. They will get their visas, though the event will already have taken place, said the official.
The United States has reiterated that it does not support any particular party and does not want to influence the outcome of the election in Bangladesh. The US only wants to ensure that the people of Bangladesh can freely choose their leaders. “So, let me restate or state in slightly different language what I said last week, which is the United States wants what the Bangladeshis themselves want: free and fair elections that are conducted in a peaceful manner,” US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a regular media briefing in Washington on October 2. He, however, once again refrained from mentioning visa restrictions on media. US Ambassador in Dhaka, Peter Haas, during a recent TV interview had mentioned possible visa restrictions on media. Read more: Eminent citizens voice disappointment over US ambassador’s remarks on visa restrictions against media During the US State Department briefing, a questioner said that radical groups that advocate “Taliban-style rule” in Bangladesh along with opposition leaders, have hailed the US ambassador’s remark on including media under the visa restrictions, and have already threatened media persons, circulating a list of journalists who have been critical of radical views. On the other hand, rights activists, anti-war crimes campaigners, editors, writers, minority community leaders found the statement by the US ambassador on possible visa curbs on media to be an “affront to freedom of press” that has been pivotal to the fight against terror, the questioner added. He asked the State Department spokesperson whether the US supports the statement of the ambassador and denies the concerns raised by such a large group of liberals. Miller did not give a direct response, but said that the government, political parties, civil society, and the media in Bangladesh have all expressed their desire that the upcoming national election be free and fair and conducted in a peaceful manner – “as we want.” Read more: No discussion held on visa policy with US Assistant Secretary Bitter: Acting FS “The visa restriction policy that we’ve announced supports this objective and the desire of the people of Bangladesh to freely choose their leaders,” he said.
Though US Ambassador Peter Haas mentioned inclusion of media in the visa restriction policy for Bangladesh, the United States Department of State refrained from mentioning media. “I will say that, as we noted when we announced these new visa restrictions on Friday, they include – they include both members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition,” US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a regular media briefing on September 25. He also said when the US Secretary of State announced the new visa policy in May, the purpose was not to take a side, but to ensure or to support free, fair, and peaceful national election in Bangladesh. Chief Justice rails against US visa policy on last working day Responding to a question specifically on the inclusion of media in the visa restrictions, the State Department spokesperson said: “I think what we have said, and we – so we have not announced because visa records are confidential – we have not announced the specific members or the specific individuals to which this will apply, but it made clear that they will apply to members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition.” Clarifying the issue after US Ambassador Peter Haas’ remarks, the US Embassy in a Facebook post on Monday said, “We are applying the [visa restriction] policy in a balanced way against anyone [undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh] – regardless of being pro-government, opposition party, members of law enforcement agencies, members of the judiciary, or media persons.” Image of police won’t be affected due to US Visa policy: IGP US Embassy Spokesperson Bryan Schiller said the visa restriction policy can be applied to anyone “found to be undermining” democratic elections in Bangladesh. “This could include vote rigging, intimidating voters, use of violence to prevent people from exercising their rights to freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from participating in the electoral process or expressing their views,” he told UNB while responding to a question. Responding to a question on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s release and treatment abroad, US State Department Spokesperson Miller said, “I just don’t have any comment on that.” What could be the possible reasons to apply US visa restrictions against someone?
The United States has said its visa restriction policy can be applied to anyone "found to be undermining" democratic elections in Bangladesh. “This could include vote rigging, intimidating voters, use of violence to prevent people from exercising their rights to freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from participating in the electoral process or expressing their views,” US Embassy Spokesperson Bryan Schiller told UNB while responding to a question. Read: US Sen. Bob Menendez charged with corruption-related offenses for the second time in 10 years He came up with the remark when asked whether journalists may also come under visa restrictions. Clarifying the issue further, the US Embassy in Facebook post said, “We are applying the [visa restriction] policy in a balanced way against anyone [undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh] - regardless of being pro-government, opposition party, members of law enforcement agencies, members of the judiciary, or media persons.” The embassy spokesperson said the US Department of State relies on extensive, well-resourced, and fact-checked case-by-case review of credible information about those undermining the democratic process in Bangladesh to determine whether to apply visa restrictions. Read: Haas raises eyebrows by saying members of media may face visa restrictions US announces in-person interview waivers for certain visa applicants throughout 2023 The United States has said it will not release the names or numbers of people in Bangladesh subjected to the visa restrictions. "Visa records are confidential under US law," US Embassy Spokesperson Bryan Schiller told UNB earlier. But, he said, the US government has looked very closely at incidents since they announced this policy. "After a careful review of the evidence, we have imposed visa restrictions on members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition,” said Bryan Schiller. Read: 'Smart Bangladesh' needs to harness full potential of women In May this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the new visa policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) (“3C”) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections. Under this policy, the United States will restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh. The United States notified the Bangladesh government of this decision on May 3, 2023. The Department of State on Friday said they are taking steps to impose visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh. Read: European Film Festival presents a true cultural collaboration between Bangladesh, EU: Dutch Ambassador "Our actions today reflect the continued commitment of the United States to supporting Bangladesh’s goal of peacefully holding free and fair national elections, and to support those seeking to advance democracy globally," said its Spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement. These individuals include members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition, he said. "The United States is committed to supporting free and fair elections in Bangladesh that are carried out in a peaceful manner," Miller said. These persons and members of their immediate family may be found ineligible for entry into the United States. Additional persons found to have been responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh may also be found ineligible for US visas under this policy in the future, according to the US Department of State. This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of opposition and ruling political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services, Miller said.
India has suspended issuance of visas to Canadian citizens "till further notice.” BLS International — a private service provider hired for initial scrutiny of visa applications — published a notice on its website saying the visa services have been suspended till further notice “due to operational reasons,” reports NDTV. Also read: How India’s relations with Canada hit rock bottom This comes as India and Canada are locked in a diplomatic row over Ottawa's claim that it has "credible” evidence linking New Delhi to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan Sikh separatist. Also read: India asks citizens to be careful if traveling to Canada as rift widens over Sikh leader’s death The Indian foreign ministry has rejected the allegation as "absurd" and "motivated". It is not yet clear if the suspension of visas is linked to that row, according to NDTV. Also read: Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Sikh activist whose killing has divided Canada and India?
Bangladeshi passengers on stopovers will be able to perform Umrah with transit visa, said Saudi Arabia's Minister of Hajj and Umrah Affairs Dr Tawfiq bin Fawzan Ar-Rabiah on Wednesday (August 23, 2023). He disclosed the information while talking to reporters after a meeting with State Minister for Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan at the Secretariat in the afternoon. Read: Biman's last hajj flight arrives in Dhaka with 358 pilgrims Minister Md Faridul Haque said Bangladeshis will be allowed to perform Umrah even in transit. “Passengers will avail this benefit only if they use Saudi carriers. The transit visa will be valid for four days.” Read: KSA to allow over 127,000 Bangladeshis to perform hajj in 2024 Besides, the validity of Umrah visa has been extended from 1 month to 3 months. Bangladeshi passengers can also travel the country on this visa, he added. The state minister also said that discussions were held on increasing the Hajj quota and reducing the Hajj cost for Bangladeshis. Read: 117 Bangladeshi hajj pilgrims died in Saudi Arabia till July 27: Ministry
US announces visa restrictions on Chinese officials over ‘forcible assimilation’ of Tibetan children
The United States has announced visa restrictions on Chinese officials for their alleged involvement in “forcible assimilation of more than one million Tibetan children” in government-run boarding schools. The US state department made the announcement on Tuesday without providing any details or naming any officials. Also read: China says PM Hasina's remarks against sanctions reflect a ‘large part of int'l community's mind’ “These coercive policies (forcible assimilation) seek to eliminate Tibet’s distinct linguistic, cultural, and religious traditions among younger generations of Tibetans,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. Also read: BRICS Summit 2023 unveils potential geopolitical paradigm shift: Modern Diplomacy He urged the Chinese government to cease “repressive assimilation policies”, both in Tibet and other parts of the country. “We will continue to work with our allies and partners to highlight these actions and promote accountability,” Secretary of State Blinken said.
Jatiya Party chairman Ghulam Muhammad Quader on Tuesday said that the new US visa policy for Bangladesh will be helpful in holding the next general election in a free, fair and credible manner. "The United States expects free, fair and neutral elections in Bangladesh. What is said in the visa policy, all goes in favour Bangladesh and its people", Quader, also the deputy opposition leader in parliament told reporters at the circuit house in the town before attending the bi-annual conference of Sherpur district unit of the party. Also Read: Fair election not possible in current system: GM Quader "We can’t expect a free, fair and impartial election under the current government. This needs to be changed. But we need consensus on the kind of change through discussion with all parties. So we (Jatiya Party) support the US visa policy," he added. GM Quader said everyone wants free and fair elections. "We haven't received any proposal regarding the election-time government from anywhere yet. However, we are working for the welfare of the people of the country. How we will participate in the next election will be discussed later and decided," he added. Also Read: People have no confidence in country’s electoral system: GM Quader Central leaders, including Jatiya Party Co-Chairman ABM Ruhul Amin Howladar, Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu, Member of Parliament Kazi Firoz Rashid, Presidium Member Mostafa Al Mahmud, were also present. Later, GM Quader and Jatiya Party leaders addressed the bi-annual conference of the district Jatiya Party at Shaheed Minar premises in the Chawkbazar center of the town. Also Read: Assault on on-duty journalists an unpardonable crime: GM Quader
Dangling threat of visa sanctions in Bangladesh’s case, US silent on undeclared martial law situation in Pakistan: Geostrategist Chellaney
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's announcement to withhold visas from individuals "responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process" in Bangladesh is hardly conducive to the promotion of this aim, says Professor Emeritus of Strategic Studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, Brahma Chellaney. "If anything, it is likely to prove counterproductive," he wrote in an article published by Nikkei Asia on Monday. Also read: New US visa policy declared targeting next Bangladesh polls Chellaney is a former adviser to India's National Security Council, and has authored nine books, including "Water: Asia's New Battleground". US President Joe Biden’s administration “has made Bangladesh a focus of its democracy promotion efforts by dangling the threat of visa sanctions against officials who undermine free elections while staying silent on the undeclared martial law situation in Pakistan, where mass arrests, disappearances and torture have become political weapons,” writes the professor. Also read: US govt’s new visa policy does not bother Bangladesh government: Shahriar Alam "The short answer is that US promotion of democratic rights has long been selective, with geopolitical considerations often dominant. The pursuit of moral legitimacy for the cause of democracy promotion has also contributed to making sanctions the tool of choice for US policymakers," Prof Chellaney says. In the case of Bangladesh, he thinks, the Biden administration is seeking to leverage two other factors: that close relatives of many Bangladeshi politicians live in the US or Britain, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's son who holds an American green card; and that the bulk of Bangladesh's exports go to the West, with the US being the top destination. Also read: Bangladesh expects new US visa policy will not be applied arbitrarily in non-objective manner "In fact, bullying the world's seventh-most populous country, far from helping to promote a free and fair election, is more likely to revive painful memories of how the US looked the other way in 1971 as the Pakistani military brutally resisted Bangladesh's efforts to achieve independence from Islamabad, slaughtering up to 3 million people. What is Washington really after now?" — the professor questions. Bangladesh's impressive growth trajectory stands in stark contrast to the chronic political and economic turmoil seen in Pakistan, which today is teetering on the brink of default. Yet while Bangladesh was excluded from the Summits for Democracy convened in 2021 and earlier this year by Biden, Pakistan was invited both times though it did not attend either, the article reads. Also read: US eyeing enhanced cooperation with Bangladesh in security and trade While continuing to reward Pakistan by prioritizing short-term geopolitical considerations, the Biden administration has been criticizing democratic backsliding in Bangladesh. Blinken's wielding of the “visa-sanctions stick” is clearly aimed at members of PM Hasina's government, including law enforcement and other security officials, although the announcement of the new policy also mentioned members of opposition parties, Prof Chellaney writes. Also read: US consistent on the need for free, fair election in Bangladesh: White House "But sanctioning foreign officials usually serves no more than a symbolic purpose while hampering diplomacy. It can also have unintended consequences," he adds. The professor observed that the new hardline towards Dhaka makes little sense. "The Hasina government could be a significant partner in the US war on terror and in improving Asian security. Instead, bilateral relations are under strain. No one from the Biden administration even met with Hasina when she visited Washington last month for discussions with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund." "While in Singapore this month, (US Defense Secretary Lloyd) Austin declared that America ‘will not flinch in the face of bullying or coercion’ from China. But bullying and coercion are also unlikely to advance US interests in Bangladesh," the article reads. Also read: Exaggeration, inconsistency in Congressmen’s letter: Shahriar Alam