Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islam Bangladesh have appointed a total of eight lobbyist firms in the United States aiming to carry out anti-state activities internationally against the country.
“With the lobbyist firms appointment, BNP-Jamaat had tried to influence the US government in order to enforce financial embargo on Bangladesh,” Foreign Affairs Minister AK Abdul Momen told the House on Wednesday.
The minister said this while making statement under section 300 of rules of procedure of the parliament at the Jatiya Sangsad on Wednesday morning.
In his statement, the foreign minister said many countries in the world appoint lobbyist on behalf of their countries and it is not illegal under the US law, adding that “lobbyist appointment is not unfair but it is important why the lobbyists have been appointed.”
In 2014, Jamaat-e-Islami had appointed a lobbyist to suspend the trial against the war criminals in Bangladesh at a cost of 1.50 lakh US $. Along with other lobbyist farms, the Jamaat also appointed another lobbyist farm---Peace and Justice-- at a cost of 1.32lakh US$, he informed the House.
“The main objective of the lobbyist appointment is to suspend the International Crime Tribunal (ICT of Bangladesh),” he told the parliament.
Turning to lobbyist appointment by the BNP, Momen said the BNP has appointed three lobbyist farms from February 2015 to April 2017, at a cost of 27 lakh US$ (retainer of 1.20 lakh US$, per month).
Referring to an appointment of Jews attorney Toby Cadman by the BNP-Jamaat,the foreign minister said the main activities of Toby Cadman was to lobby with different US officials and different political parties and persons aiming to suspend the ICT in Bangladesh and spread propaganda against Bangladesh.
Even the lawyer Toby Cadman also wrote an article in the newspaper in the name of BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and the article had urged to stop economic assistance to Bangladesh.
Regarding government’s lobbyist appointment, he said the government similarly had appointed a lobbyist farm BGR group in the United States during the year of 2014-15 countering with fabricated information spread internationally against the government by the BNP-Jamaat.
“For the welfare of the people, the government will take all the necessary efforts against the anti-state propaganda spreading by the BNP-Jamaat,” AK Momen added.
Criticizing the top BNP leaders for taking resort to such heinous activities, the foreign minister said some BNP leaders had send a letter to the UN secretary general to declare the parliament of Bangladesh as illegal.
Although there would be difference in opinion between among us, but how the BNP and Jamaat leaders could committing such heinous anti-state activities internationally, Momen asked the BNP leaders.
“The common people including the BNP mid-level leaders and activists will hate the BNP top leaders as how their lobbyist firms had carried out anti-state activities against Bangladesh,” he added.
About US sanction on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the foreign minister said the US government imposed the sanction on the paramilitary forces without providing any prior notice.
Praising the paramilitary force, he said the RAB has already done significant activities in curbing terrorism, human trafficking and drugs in line with the global policy of the US government, he said.
The minister, however, told the house that “the government has taken programme to hold a series of dialogue with the US state department as the US sanction could be withdrawn from the RAB. “The process to lift the US sanction will not happen overnight, it will take time, “ he said.
Over the Bangladeshi soldiers recruiting for the UN peace keeping mission, he said some twelve international NGOs had written a letter to the UN under secretary for not allowing Bangladeshi soldiers for UN peace keeping mission accusing that the RAB is being engaged in various human right violation activities in Bangladesh on November last year.
“The decision for recruiting soldiers from any countries usually taken after rigorous verification, said the minister quoting an UN official, adding that so, these fabricated propaganda against Bangladesh will not make any affect on recruiting Bangladeshi forces to the UN peace keeping mission.”
Earlier, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shariar Alam presented some documented evidences on evil works done by BNP-Jamaat alliance while speaking on thanksgiving motion on president’s address in the parliament on January 17.
Later, BNP lawmakers Harunur Rashid of Chapai Nawabganj-3 and Rumeen Farhana of women reserve seat presented some information on US lobbyist appointment by the BNP on January 20.
Then, Jatiya Party lawmaker Mujibul Huq Chunnu of Kishoreganj-3 urged the government to make the aspects of lobbyist appointment clear before the nation on the same day.