State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has said the government is not worried about the US Visa restriction as Washington started imposing it on Bangladeshi individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the country’s democratic election process.
“We have nothing to lose, we are not worried about it because we are not doing anything wrong,” he told reporters at a briefing at his residence in Gulshan tonight hours after the US State Department made the announcement, reports BSS.
He, however, called the development “not a pleasing experience” but added “we have to go through it”.
State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller issued the statement saying Bangladeshi individuals which include members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition, would come under the purview of the restriction.
“Today, the Department of State is taking steps to impose visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh,” read the statement.
Alam said Washington has informed Dhaka regarding their decision under the new US policy which the US said was aimed to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections.
Asked if Dhaka had approached the US to enforce the policy after the Bangladesh elections, Alam replied in the negative saying Dhaka never approached to Washington with any such request.
“Earlier, some political parties tried to establish that the (US) visa restriction will be imposed on only ruling political party, but the US has again made it clear that the new policy is applicable to both the ruling and opposition political parties,” he said.
Alam said the government expected that the US government would implement the new visa restriction policy after properly reviewing facts and figures in a fair way.
“If it appears that are facing troubles in carrying out our (government) works for imposition of visa restriction on any particular individual, Dhaka will discuss such kind of cases with Washington,” he said.
The state minister said the Washington gave Dhaka idea that how many individuals came under its visa restrictions and “what I can tell you that the number is small”.
The state minister said the government believed that members of BNP-Jamaat appeared more vulnerable to the US visa restriction as they were involved in acts to foil the next election.
On the other hand, he said, the government remained committed to hold a free fair and violence free election under the existing constitutional provisions.
In May this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced this new visa policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) (“3C”) of their Immigration and Nationality Act to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections.
The US state department spokesperson said on Friday the US visa restriction included current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of opposition and ruling political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services.
These persons and members of their immediate family may be found ineligible for entry into the United States, he said.
Miller said additional persons found to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh might also be treated ineligible for US visas in future.
“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,” the US official said.