US continues to closely monitor developments in case against Dr. Yunus

Not accurate if PM Hasina hints at US, says Miller on plot to establish airbase, Christian state

Not accurate if PM Hasina hints at US, says Miller on plot to establish airbase, Christian state Photo: Mushfiqul Fazal Ansarey, Just News BD

Mushfiqul Fazal Ansarey, State Department Correspondent

Regarding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent remarks that a white man offered her the ability to stay in power without any pressure if she allows a foreign country to establish an airbase in the Bay of Bengal, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said, “if it is in fact the United States, I’ll just say that they’re not accurate.”

Miller responded to State Department correspondent Mushfiqul Fazal Ansarey during a briefing on Tuesday, drawing attention to PM Sheikh Hasina’s recent remarks at a program in Dhaka on May 23. During the 14-party alliance’s meeting, the Prime Minister said, “The plot is still there. With a part of Bangladesh like East Timor [broken off from Indonesia], then Chittagong [Chittagong Hill Tracts], Myanmar will form a Christian state. A base will be built in the Bay of Bengal.”

She said that there was a conspiracy not to allow the election in Bangladesh this year. “But the holding of the election would be allowed and I would face no difficulty in retaining power if I allowed them to build a base in the Bay of Bengal. It was a proposal from a white person,” said the Prime Minister.

“Is Sheikh Hasina shooting too many arrows towards the US as you are asking for free, fair, and credible elections and rule of law and anti-corruption?” questioned Ansarey at the briefing.

In reply, Miller said, “I’m not exactly sure who those comments refer to, but if it is in fact the United States, I’ll just say that they’re not accurate.”

Ansarey also raised questions about the harassment of Nobel laureate economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus using the courts in Dhaka and quoted Yunus’ comment that he was at the worst point of his cursed life during the briefing.

“We continue to closely monitor developments in the case against Dr. Yunus. We have expressed our concern that these cases may represent a misuse of Bangladesh’s labour laws to harass and intimidate Dr. Yunus,” responded the State Department spokesperson.

In a note of warning, Matthew Miller said, “We also worry that the perceived misuse of labour and anti-corruption laws could raise questions about rule of law and dissuade foreign direct investment.”
He further said they will continue to encourage the Bangladeshi government to ensure a fair and transparent legal process for Dr. Yunus as the appeals process continues.

On June 2, after appearing before a court in Dhaka, Dr. Yunus said, “For the first time, I had to stand in an iron-cage court dock … I’ll never forget this … It is a part of this cursed life.”

Ansarey in the briefing asked if the US will consider more actions to show solidarity with the democracy-loving people of Bangladesh or if the sanctions already imposed against the immediate past army chief Aziz Ahmed and police chief Benazir Ahmed were enough to hold the regime accountable after the sham election held on January 7.

In response, Miller said he doesn’t have any actions to preview.

MR/