WikiLeaks: Bangladesh

Discussion in 'Bangladesh Defence Forum' started by akash57, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. akash57

    akash57 FULL MEMBER

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    Please post Bangladesh related WikiLeaks stories here:

    ---------- Post added at 06:42 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:42 PM ----------

    WikiLeaks cables: US pushed for reopening of Bangladesh coal mine

    Ambassador urged country's energy adviser to approve plans, despite mine being closed in 2006 after violent protests

    US diplomats privately pressurised the Bangladeshi government into reinstating a controversial coal mine which had been closed following violent protests, a leaked diplomatic cable shows.

    The US ambassador to Dhaka, James Moriarty, last year held talks with the country's chief energy adviser, urging him to approve plans by the British company Global Coal Management (GCM) to begin open-cast coal mining in the country's Phulbari area, in the west of Bangladesh.

    GCM were forced to shut down operations in the country in 2006 after a grassroots demonstration turned violent. Three people were killed as soldiers fired at protesters, and several hundred were injured.

    But the company has continued to maintain a strong presence in the country and has continued to lobby for rights to operate the coal mine ever since. Earlier this month, Steve Bywater, GCM's chairman, said that a Bangladeshi parliamentary standing committee had recommended that the country moves towards extracting coal reserves using open-cut mining methods.

    The government of Bangladesh has not yet given any firm assurances over whether they will give the coal mine project the go-ahead. It remains a deeply contentious issue, with activists fearing the country's natural resources are due to be sold off to a string of foreign investors.

    Revelations that the US government continued to push for the Bangladeshi energy adviser to reinstate the plans are likely to cause greater anger among activists, who last month staged a "long march" from Phulbari to Dhaka to demand Asia Energy leaves the country.

    In a cable posted by WikiLeaks which was sent in July last year, Moriarty says he had urged Tawfiq Elahi Chowdhury, the prime minister's energy adviser, to authorise coal mining, saying that "open-pit mining seemed the best way forward".

    Later on in the cable, Moriarty privately noted: "Asia Energy, the company behind the Phulbari project, has sixty percent US investment. Asia Energy officials told the Ambassador they were cautiously optimistic that the project would win government approval in the coming months."

    However, in the cable Moriarty also notes that Chowdhury admitted the coal mine was "politically sensitive in the light of the impoverished, historically oppressed tribal community residing on the land". Chowdhury, according to the cable, then agrees to build support for the project through the parliamentary process.

    GCM declined to comment.

    WikiLeaks cables: US pushed for reopening of Bangladesh coal mine | World news | The Guardian

    ---------- Post added at 06:43 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:42 PM ----------

    WikiLeaks cables: UK hopes to influence Islamic education in Bangladesh

    British officials working with US to change madrasa curriculum as a 'common counter-terrorism goal', cables reveal

    British government officials have made moves towards influencing Islamic education in Bangladesh as part of regional counter-terrorism strategies.

    A leaked diplomatic cable, released on WikiLeaks, has revealed how the Department for International Development (DFID) has been working with the US to change the curriculum of thousands of madrasas as a "common counter-terrorism goal".

    In one cable discussing British and American counter-terrorism tactics for Bangladesh, the US ambassador to Dhaka, James Moriarty, notes how their plans involved asking the country's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, to develop and implement a standardised curriculum for unregulated Islamic madrassah schools.

    The moves followed a proposal for a madrasa "curriculum development programme" to the Bangladeshi government by the US government development agency, USAid.

    There are around 64,000 Islamic schools in Bangladesh. They are seen as an important part of Bangladesh's education system, often providing free schooling to children whose parents are unable to send them to conventional schools.

    However, the 15,000 or so unregulated madrasas have been a constant cause for concern for the current government, which claims the standard of education received is poorer than average.

    Some have also blamed madrasas for radicalising children, with claims emerging that they could be used to set up jihadist training camps.

    Last week, the Bangladeshi government ordered an investigation into funding for madrasas after claims that banned Islamic militant group Hizb-ut-Tahrir had been establishing bases there.

    Dr Ghaysuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Institute in London, agreed that DFID's intervention was an attempt to prevent radicalisation of Muslim youths in South Asia. "This is a very old problem," he said. "There has been a need to look at the curriculum in unregulated madrasas for a very long time."

    DFID declined to comment.

    WikiLeaks cables: UK hopes to influence Islamic education in Bangladesh | World news | The Guardian
     
  2. akash57

    akash57 FULL MEMBER

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    WikiLeaks cables: Bangladeshi 'death squad' trained by UK government

    Rapid Action Battalion, accused of hundreds of extra-judicial killings, received training from UK officers, cables reveal

    The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad", leaked US embassy cables have revealed.

    Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in "investigative interviewing techniques" and "rules of engagement".

    Details of the training were revealed in a number of cables, released by WikiLeaks, which address the counter-terrorism objectives of the US and UK governments in Bangladesh. One cable makes clear that the US would not offer any assistance other than human rights training to the RAB – and that it would be illegal under US law to do so – because its members commit gross human rights violations with impunity.

    Since the RAB was established six years ago, it is estimated by some human rights activists to have been responsible for more than 1,000 extra-judicial killings, described euphemistically as "crossfire" deaths. In September last year the director general of the RAB said his men had killed 577 people in "crossfire". In March this year he updated the figure, saying they had killed 622 people.

    The RAB's use of torture has also been exhaustively documented by human rights organisations. In addition, officers from the paramilitary force are alleged to have been involved in kidnap and extortion, and are frequently accused of taking large bribes in return for carrying out crossfire killings.

    However, the cables reveal that both the British and the Americans, in their determination to strengthen counter-terrorism operations in Bangladesh, are in favour of bolstering the force, arguing that the "RAB enjoys a great deal of respect and admiration from a population scarred by decreasing law and order over the last decade". In one cable, the US ambassador to Dhaka, James Moriarty, expresses the view that the RAB is the "enforcement organisation best positioned to one day become a Bangladeshi version of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation".

    In another cable, Moriarty quotes British officials as saying they have been "training RAB for 18 months in areas such as investigative interviewing techniques and rules of engagement". Asked about the training assistance for the RAB, the Foreign Office said the UK government "provides a range of human rights assistance" in the country. However, the RAB's head of training, Mejbah Uddin, told the Guardian that he was unaware of any human rights training since he was appointed last summer.

    The cables make clear that British training for RAB officers began three years ago under the last Labour government.

    However, RAB officials confirmed independently of the cables that they had taken part in a series of courses and workshops as recently as October, five months after the formation of the coalition government. Asked whether ministers had approved the training programme, the Foreign Office said only that William Hague, the foreign secretary, and other ministers, had been briefed on counter-terrorism spending.

    The US ambassador explains in the cables that the US government is "constrained by RAB's alleged human rights violations, which have rendered the organisation ineligible to receive training or assistance" under laws which prohibit American funding or training for overseas military units which abuse human rights with impunity.

    Human rights organisations say the RAB cannot be reformed, noting that its human rights record has deterioriated still further in the last 12 months. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly described the RAB as a government death squad.

    Brad Adams, the organisation's Asia director, said: "RAB is a Latin American-style death squad dressed up as an anti-crime force. The British government has let its desire for a functional counter-terrorism partner in Bangladesh blind it to the risks of working with RAB, and the legitimacy that it gives to RAB inside Bangladesh. Furthermore, it is not clear that the British government has ever made it a priority at the highest levels to tell RAB that if it doesn't change, it will not co-operate with it."

    Amnesty International has also repeatedly condemned the RAB, while the Bangladeshi human rights organisation Odhikar has painstakingly documented the RAB's involvement in extra-judicial killings and torture since the creation of the force in March 2004.

    Asked to comment on the rights groups' concern about the RAB, the Foreign Office said: "We do not discuss the detail of operational counter-terrorism cooperation. Counter-terrorism assistance is fully in line with our laws and values." At least some of the British training has been conducted by serving British police officers, working under the auspices of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), which was established in 2007 to build policing capacity and standards. Recent courses for RAB have been provided by officers from West Mercia and Humberside Police.

    Asked whether it believed it was appropriate for British officers to be training members of an organisation condemned as "a government death squad", and whether courses in investigative interviewing techniques might not render torture more effective, an NPIA spokesman said the courses had been approved by the government and by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

    "The NPIA has given limited support to the Bangladeshi Police and the RAB in technical areas of policing such as forensic awareness, management of crime scenes and recovery of evidence. Throughout the training we have emphasised the importance of respecting the human rights of witnesses, suspects and victims."The purpose of our sanctioned engagement is to support the development and improvement of professional policing that supports democratic, human rights-based practices linked to the rule of law in countries that may have different laws, faiths and policing practices from our own."

    It is understood that there have been disagreements within the Foreign Office about the British government's involvement with the RAB. Some officials have argued that the partnership with the RAB is an essential component of the UK's counter-terrorism strategy in the region, while others have expressed concern that the relationship could prove damaging to Britain's reputation.

    Successive Bangladeshi governments have promised to end the RAB's use of murder. The current government promised in its manifesto that it would end all extra-judicial killings, but they have continued following its election two years ago.In October last year, the shipping minister, Shahjahan Khan, speaking in a discussion organised by the BBC, said: "There are incidents of trials that are not possible under the laws of the land. The government will need to continue with extra-judicial killings, commonly called crossfire, until terrorist activities and extortion are uprooted."

    In December last year the high court in Dhaka ruled that such killings must be brought to a halt following litigation by victims' familes and human rights groups, but they continue on an almost weekly basis. Most of the victims are young men, some are alleged to be petty criminals or are said to be left-wing activists, and the killings invariably take place in the middle of the night.

    In the most recent "crossfire" killings, the RAB reported that it had shot dead Mohammad Mamun, 25, in the town of Tangail, shortly after midnight on Monday, and that 90 minutes later its officers in Dhaka, 50 miles to the south, had shot dead a second man, Taku Alam, 30. Today the RAB announced it had shot dead a 45-year-old man, Anisur Rahman, said to be a member of the Communist party in the west of the country.

    WikiLeaks cables: Bangladeshi 'death squad' trained by UK government | World news | The Guardian
     
  3. akash57

    akash57 FULL MEMBER

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    US embassy cables: Ambassador said controversial paramilitary force could become 'Bangladeshi FBI'

    Wednesday, 14 January 2009, 08:15
    C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 000057
    SIPDIS
    TO S/CT'S AMBASSADOR DAILEY, SETH BAILEY AND EMILY GOLDMAN
    EO 12958 DECL: 01/14/2019
    TAGS PTER, PREL, KDEM, PGOV, IN, BG">BG
    SUBJECT: INDIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER EXPECTS CLOSER
    COUNTERTERRORISM COOPERATION WITH NEW BANGLADESH GOVERNMENT
    REF: A. 08 NEW DELHI 2830 B. 08 STATE 128554
    Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)

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    SUMMARY

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    1. (C) The Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh told Ambassador Moriarty on 1/13 India expected improved cooperation on security and other issues with the new Awami League government. Counterterrorism cooperation would be the central issue of discussion when the Indian Minister of External Affairs visits Dhaka in early February. The High Commissioner spoke favorably of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's call for a regional task force to fight terrorism, but stressed the importance of bilateral as well as multilateral cooperation. The Embassy will soon propose to the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (S/CT) a project to bring together civil society representatives and government officials from throughout South Asia to help advance regional counterterrorism cooperation.

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    INDIA STRESSES THE IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVED CT COOPERATION

    --------------------------------------------- -----------

    2. (C) Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty expressed pleasure over the December 29 Parliamentary election landslide victory by the Awami League, which traditionally had warm relations with New Delhi. He told Ambassador Moriarty that improving security cooperation would be the top Indian priority with the new Bangladeshi government. Indian Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee planned to visit Dhaka on February 8 for talks that would center primarily on counterterrorism issues. Pinak said the Minister would welcome Hasina's call for a joint task force on counterterrorism. Although India would prefer a primarily bilateral engagement, India understood that Bangladesh might insist on a regional task force to provide Hasina political cover from allegations she was too close to India. Either way, the High Commissioner stressed the importance that the task force be action-oriented and not become yet another regional talk shop. (Note: India frequently argues that international Islamic terrorists use Bangladesh as a safe haven and often cross its porous border into India for bombing and other attacks. New Delhi also says Dhaka should do more to uproot Indian domestic extremist groups, including the United Liberation Front of Assam, that use Bangladesh as a safe haven. End note.)

    3. (C) Ambassador Moriarty said the U.S. Government understood the need for regional counterterrorism cooperation and was considering "Track Two" programs in which civil society would promote closer coordination among South Asian nations. Pinak said such programs were "always welcome." The High Commissioner also responded positively when the Ambassador suggested Hasina should consider appointing a counterterrorism czar whose job would be to improve coordination among the many Bangladeshi agencies with security responsibilities. Pinak also agreed when the Ambassador argued the Hasina government should not disband the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). (Note: The RAB has emerged as the country's premier counterterrorism force but is viewed with suspicion by some Awami League leaders because it was established by the rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party. End note.) The Ambassador stressed that the USG had started human rights training for RAB. He added that the RAB was the enforcement organization best positioned to one day become a Bangladeshi version of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    --------------------------------------------- --

    TRANSPORTATION, ENERGY AND ECONOMIC COOPERATION

    --------------------------------------------- --

    4. (SBU) Pinak recounted that in a meeting with Sheikh Hasina immediately after the elections she expressed a desire to invest heavily in Bangladesh's moribund railway system. This included reconnecting the Bangladeshi railroad system to Agartala, the capital of the bordering Indian state of Tripura. Pinak noted he had also met the new Water Resources Minister, Romesh Chandra Sen, on 12/13. (Note: Bangladeshi media reported the following day that the Bangladesh-India Joint Rivers Commission would likely meet soon to try and resolve simmering disputes over sharing the water of rivers that flow from India into Bangladesh. End note.) The High Commissioner also said India would offer to sell up to 250

    DHAKA 00000057 002 OF 002

    megawatts of power from a new 750-megawatt plant near Agartala to Bangladesh, which suffers from chronic energy shortages. He acknowledged, however, the cost of the electricity had yet to be negotiated, and Bangladesh would have to build costly infrastructure to connect the plant with its national power grid. Pinak predicted Indian companies would be interested in investing in Bangladesh under the new Awami League government. Investment from information technology firms would depend in part on their ability to train local employees and Bangladeshi government support through activities such as the creation of technology centers.

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    COMMENT: BRIGHTER DAYS FOR AN OFTEN ROCKY RELATIONSHIP

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    5. (C) The Awami League victory augers well for a bilateral relationship that often founders on New Delhi's charges that Bangladesh does not do enough to fight terrorists who target India. Sheikh Hasina's immediate call for a regional counterterrorism task force and India's initial positive response suggest a strong possibility of enhanced cooperation on this issue of huge importance to U.S. interests. It also creates a better environment for the USG to encourage counterterrorism cooperation in South Asia in accordance with the goals set by the Regional Security Initiative conference held in New Delhi in August 2008 (Reftel A). To build on this momentum, Embassy Dhaka will propose to S/CT the use of Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Projects funds for a program to bring together South Asian civil society representatives and government officials to encourage security cooperation (Reftel B). MORIARTY

    US embassy cables: Ambassador said controversial paramilitary force could become 'Bangladeshi FBI' | World news | guardian.co.uk
     
  4. akash57

    akash57 FULL MEMBER

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    US embassy cables: UK police trained Bangladeshi paramilitaries condemned for human rights abuses

    Thursday, 14 May 2009, 08:08
    C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 000482
    SIPDIS
    DEPARTMENT FOR H
    EO 12958 DECL: 05/13/2019
    TAGS PTER, PGOV, PREL, HYMPSK, MARR, KPAO, UK, BG">BG
    SUBJECT: FINDING COMMON GROUND ON COUNTERRORISM WORKING
    WITH THE UK
    Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)

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    SUMMARY

    -------

    1. (C) The U.S. and the United Kingdom share common counterterrorism goals in Bangladesh and we have worked together on specific issues in the past. Embassy Dhaka and the British High Commission reviewed our efforts and agreed on several areas of cooperation at an inaugural counterterrorism quarterly meeting. Specifically, we agreed trying to arrange a visit to London and Washington for senior Bangladeshi officials to view both countries' national security systems. The missions also agreed to work closely on human rights training for the paramilitary Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and on promoting curriculum reform at Bangladesh's unregulated madrassas. The missions identified several other areas in which coordinated action could promote badly needed security sector reform in Bangladesh.

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    COMMON CT GOAL: PROMOTE SECURITY SECTOR REFORM

    --------------------------------------------- -

    2. (SBU) British High Commissioner Stephen Evans and Ambassador Moriarty led an inaugural counterterrorism quarterly meeting between our two missions on May 13. Although members of the two missions have met individually to discuss counterterrorism issues and work together on specific projects, this forum provided an opoprtunity to discuss broad goals and develop strategies to work collaboratively. Several common areas of interest quickly emerged, most prominently the desire to promote security sector reform in Bangladesh. Evans said this would be the center of discussion at an inaugural Joint Working Group meeting on counterterrorism between Britain and Bangladesh, led by British Security Minister Lord West, in late June, and promised a quick read-out of the results to the Embassy.

    3. (SBU) Perhaps the key element of security sector reform is building a healthier civil-military relationship. The dysfunctional relationship dates from the numerous coups in Bangladesh's early years and was recently exacerbated by the February 25-26 border guard mutiny against army officers. The Ambassador detailed Post's plans to invite senior Bangladeshi officials to participate in an Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies workshop in November to exchange views on civil-military relations and national security systems. The two missions agreed the workshop would be most effective if a Bangladeshi delegation of military, government and Parliament representatives first visited the U.S. and the United Kingdom to learn about our national security structures. The missions will seek a visit in September; Post will work with SCA to ensure the Washington leg includes visits to Capitol Hill, the Department of Defense, the State Department and the National Security Council.

    4. (C) We agreed to jointly engage Bangladesh's newly formed National Committee on Militancy Resistance and Prevention, a high-level group led by Home Affairs State Minister Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj, who has worked closely with the Embassy on security issues. Local media has reported the committee will focus in part on anti-extremism messaging, an area in which both missions already are actively engaged and can work more cooperatively. The U.S. and United Kingdom also agreed to jointly sound out the Government of Bangladesh on its post-mutiny reorganization plans for the Bangladesh Rifles and then work together to help make it a more effective border patrol force.

    -------------------------------------------

    COMMON CT GOAL: PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS IN RAB

    -------------------------------------------

    5. (SBU) The U.S. and UK representatives reviewed our ongoing training to make the RAB a more transparent, accountable and human-rights compliant paramilitary force. The British have been training RAB for 18 months in areas such as investigative interviewing techniques and rules of engagement. They said that the training had been widely disseminated within RAB and that they were undertaking an assessment of its effectiveness. The Embassy described plans

    DHAKA 00000482 002 OF 002

    to imbed two U.S. marshals within RAB for three months to help set up internal affairs, use of force and rules of engagement systems. High Commissioner Evans suggested the marshals stop in London on the way to Bangladesh to meet with British police who have delivered human rights training to RAB. He said the visit would ensure maximum coordination between the U.S. and British programs; the Ambassador enthusiastically supported the proposal.


    --------------------------------------------- -------

    MARITIME SECURITY, POLICING, AIRPORT SAFETY AND MORE

    --------------------------------------------- -------

    6. (C) Evans promised to send the Embassy a "lessons learned" document from a just-concluded combined British-Bangladesh maritime security exercise in which U.S. Department of Defense personnel participated. He noted the U.K. did not expect to have any more Royal Navy ships visit Bangladesh before 2011 and asked whether the United States could take the lead in organizing a follow-up exercise. With the U.S. and Britain both ramping up programs to develop community policing, we agreed to create an informal consultative group led by the British that would include other international missions in Dhaka with policing projects. The two missions also agreed to have their two development agencies, USAID and the U.K. Department for International Development, meet to discuss strategies for supporting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's plan to develop standardized curriculum for thousands of unregulated Islamic madrassa schools. (Note: The Embassy has submitted a 1207 proposal for a madrassa curriculum development program. End note). Finally, noting the horrendous safety gaps at Dhaka's international airport, the Ambassador and High Commissioner agreed to sound out contacts within their respective governments, the international airlines that serve Dhaka, and the Bangladeshi state airline to determine how best to improve security.

    -----------------------

    CONCLUSION: NOW WE KNOW

    -----------------------

    7. (C) The inaugural U.S.-British quarterly meeting provided each side with a much better understanding of what the other was doing to counter terrorism and extremism in Bangladesh. Not surprisingly, our counterterrorism strategies and goals are closely aligned, allowing ample room for close coordination and, in some cases, joint programs. Given that Sheikh Hasina's new government has made security a top priority, the chances of U.S.-British joint efforts bearing fruit are high indeed. MORIARTY

    US embassy cables: UK police trained Bangladeshi paramilitaries condemned for human rights abuses | World news | guardian.co.uk
     
  5. akash57

    akash57 FULL MEMBER

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    From bdnews24

    WORLD EXCLUSIVE

    WIKILEAKS EXPOSÉ: Bangladesh

    More than 250 embassies. More than a quarter of a million cables obtained and unleashed on the internet by WikiLeaks. The revelations sent shockwaves throughout the diplomatic world. The exposes embarrassed kings and courtiers, presidents and prime ministers, monks and ministers.
    The US government and its vast army of diplomats had swung into damage control mode long before the flood-gates themselves were opened at the end of November, releasing myriads of cables confidently emblazoned ‘SECRET’.

    In a world exclusive, Bangladesh’s first online newspaper presents the cables obtained by bdnews24.com Editor Emeritus aladin in London.


    INTRODUCTION

    So finally – the coming to light of WikiLeaks’ dossier on Bangladesh, a cache of secret US diplomatic cables relating to confidential assessments and off record exchanges about developments in the country. I have viewed and will précis these; they cover the period October-November 2008 and none other exists.

    On its track record of disclosures so far, Wikileaks’ Bangladesh documents too had every potential for containing spectacular, incendiary revelation. I cannot have been alone in speculating about the confidences and contacts about to be outed and in imagining the horror at this prospect amongst some of Bangladesh’s elite (the ones with skeletons in their closets).

    Either way – whether you approach them gleefully or with a sinking heart – the documents make for grim reading. A treatise on Real Politik. Should we have been surprised?

    Whatever embarrassments for Bangladesh’s political cadres the cables could have contained, their contents in the first instance reveal authors’ leaden pre-occupation with what is best described as American geo-strategic self interest.

    The above US diplomatic cables, replete with its accounts of vigilance against putative threats, build up an unappetising profile of Bangladeshi civil society. From a wider perspective it seems almost risible the thought of a superpower secretly collecting data about the expatriate population of a small developing nation and also keeping tabs on its peacekeeping presence in Africa which it feels is propelled by less than humanitarian objectives.

    The sheer monotony of focus on containing challenges to American interests does not so much paint a picture of Real Politik as it depicts a punctilious, micro-managing diplomacy which does not appear to leave much room for empathy with the indigenous context it operates in. It feels a one-dimensional narrative.

    I found the cumulative effect of these cables to be dirge-like and unsettling – conveying the sense of a Bangladesh and its diaspora perpetually at odds with the mores of wider civil society. It is however important to add the caveat that ‘good’ news rarely get classified as ‘secret’; conversely it is the complex (‘bad’ news) that often pre-occupies the diplomats. We should also bear in mind that Wikileaks’ disclosures for other parts of the world similarly seem to paint unrelentingly unflattering pictures. As well, these cables cover a very brief period of two months towards the end of 2008 – perhaps other cables covering other periods would express a very different picture.

    One can ponder at the opportunities for Bangladeshi diplomacy and its external relations afforded by these scant cables. It goes without saying that some of the most outstanding diplomatic interventions go unrecorded – including in the Wikileaks cables. Society needs its public servants and we need to blow their trumpets from time to time and not scapegoat the messenger. While Wikileaks does not quite qualify as a recruiting sergeant to the cause – it does remind us of the importance of inculcating a strong culture of public service.


    HIGHLIGHTS

    Seven items afford cases in point and make for some uncomfortable reading. They relate to direct or indirect USA-Bangladesh interactions over:

    1- The establishment of the IDP.
    2- Criminal and other threats to USA interests.
    3- The allegedly terrorist-front, Kuwaiti origin RIHS charity.
    4- French government immigration service piloting of DNA testing in Bangladesh
    5- Richard Holbrooke ascertaining Saudi cognizance of Bangladeshi terrorist networks.
    6- Forecasting Muslim, including Bangladeshi, population growth in the UK.
    7- Characterising Bangladeshi peacekeeping as influence-building needing to be monitored.


    THE CASE MATERIAL

    The establishment of the IDP

    COMMENTARY : This cable notes that a Bangladeshi security agency actively/covertly condoned the development of Islamic Democratic Party as an offshoot of the terrorist-labelled Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh. It notes US Embassy opposition to the moves and also differing/conflicting Bangladeshi agencies’ assessments of threats against US interests. It could be seen as depicting a lack of co-ordination between agencies of the Bangladesh government and revealing of naivete/poor judgement in relation to a Bangladesh government agency supporting the development of a purportedly terrorist-linked political group. The analysis adds – as if to reassure US interests about the propriety of the Bangladeshi mainstream – that the majority of the population wishes that the leaders of the Awami League and BNP be freely able to take part in upcoming elections.

    “The IDP is a nascent political party formed by senior members of the Islamic terrorist group Harakat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI-B). Bangladesh,s Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) supported the formation of the IDP as a way to bring HUJI-B into the mainstream and reported it tightly monitored the group,s activities; U.S. Embassy Dhaka strongly opposed the creation of the IDP. [Believes] the party may respond with violence possibly against U.S. Mission or interests. HUJI-B, entirely plausible the group is pursuing the creation of a political wing to improve its ability to support and carry out terrorist activity. A late-September assessment from Bangladesh,s National Security Intelligence Organization (NSI) voiced concern that the party,s creation would free extremists to pursue extremist activity under the cover of a moderate front organization”

    “Analysis from the DoS, Office of Research noted the majority of Bangladeshis want Awami League and Bangladesh National Party leaders Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia to participate in the December elections.”

    “HUJI-B,s current membership likely does retain the ability to manufacture and use explosives the group has publicly articulated its anti-Western and -Indian stance”

    “In regards to HUJI-B,s capabilities, DGFI,s, Rapid Action Battalion,s (RAB,s), and NSI,s assessments vary significantly.”

    “Following the early-March U.S. designation of HUJI-B as a foreign terrorist organization, RAB assessed HUJI-B would not respond with violence due to the severe degradation of the group,s capability and leadership structure from arrests and active surveillance. DGFI likewise reported HUJI-B was &an organization on the run8 and that it did not pose a threat to U.S. interests in Bangladesh”

    “NSI conversely assessed HUJI-B would react violently to the designation and would attempt to conduct an attack against the U.S. official presence in Dhaka”

    Criminal and other threats to USA interests

    COMMENTARY: This item notes unspecified ‘pressure’ US officials placed on the Bangladesh government in relation to protecting US personnel and interests in Dhaka. Unspecified ‘threat letters’ are referred to; it is not clear whether these are seen as terrorist or wider criminal-related.

    “U.S. Embassy Dhaka officials met with the secretary of Home Affairs to discuss concerns over an uptick in crimes directed against foreigners in Dhaka's Diplomatic Enclave; threat letters were sent to several diplomatic missions. Post officials will keep pressure on the GoB to provide adequate security to the U.S. Mission”

    The allegedly terrorist-front, Kuwaiti origin RIHS charity

    COMMENTARY : This item expresses concern over the operation in Bangladesh of the Kuwait-based charity the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society which is depicted as having terrorism and money-laundering connections. It also depicts an apparent contradiction between US officials believing its operations to have ceased and evidence that in fact the Bangladesh government had authorised an extension of its operations. An inference could be drawn from the item that Bangladesh government officials somehow could not be relied upon.

    “Patrick O'Brien met with senior GOK officials on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance (AML/CTF) issues. He conveyed USG concerns about the activities of the Kuwait-based charity the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), specifically the activities of branches including in Bangladesh. O'Brien described enforcement actions taken by the governments of Bangladesh and others against RIHS branch offices. He added that the USG is working with foreign governments that have RIHS branches of concern to gather additional evidence and pass to the GOK.”

    “Bangladesh: xxxxxxxxxxxx asserted that USG charges are different from those of the GOB. "The USG non-paper said RIHS' accounts were frozen while in reality the Bangladesh NGO Office renewed RIHS' registration for another 5 years in November 2006," he stated. He added that the GOK has been told RIHS projects in Bangladesh are going well. (Note: the two issues are separate, and restrictions on RIHS Bangladesh's bank accounts should merit more concern by the GOK. The government of Bangladesh canceled RIHS's license on May 18”

    French government immigration service piloting of DNA testing in Bangladesh

    COMMENTARY : The news of the piloting of DNA testing in Bangladesh for French immigration management purposes raises questions about any negotiations which may have taken place between the two governments including any subsequent ‘deal’ to allow France to undertake the trial.

    Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Kathleen Allegrone, Another part of Sarkozy’s immigration policy -- the program to test DNA to verify kinship as a basis for immigration.The DNA testing program appears to be going forward. Bangladesh one of nine countries where France plans to start.

    Richard Holbrooke ascertaining Saudi cognizance of Bangladeshi terrorist networks

    COMMENTARY: Holbrooke’s intervention with the Saudis incidentally brought to light the detainment of Bangladeshi citizens being held in connection with the use of Islamic charities as terrorist fronts. No further questions are asked about the legalities surrounding the detentions.

    “Holbrooke noted terrorist financing through Islamic charities and asked whether the Saudis were consulting with the governments of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh about the issue. xxxxxxxxxxxx said the Saudis had detained numerous individuals from these countries and were seeking cooperation to investigate their activities”

    Forecasting Muslim, including Bangladeshi, population growth in the UK

    COMMENTARY : US analysis points to a ‘jump’ in growth of the UK Muslim including Bangladeshi population whilst shortly after asserting the growth rate is slowing. Asks the question whether the US government is in fact concerned at the growth of the Muslim population; it raises further questions about whether the US Government also monitors US Muslim populations for similar ends.

    “This cable provides information on the demographics of the Muslim community in the UK. Among the findings are that the UK Muslim population has jumped in seven years from 1.6 million to 2 million. At that rate of increase, HMG estimates that the Muslim population of the UK at the next census in 2011 will be over 2.2 million. End Summary. Overall Muslim Population Growing But Rate Slowing -- Muslims are the second least-likely of all religious groups to have been born in the UK, with the majority being born outside the UK; 46% were born in the UK, 39% were bornin Asia (Bangladesh – 9%).”

    “-- 74% of Muslims are from an Asian ethnic background (Bangladeshi - 16%), Almost 1.2 million Asian Muslims were living in Great Britain in 2001”

    Characterising Bangladeshi peacekeeping as influence-building needing to be monitored

    COMMENTARY : Intricate details of personal information of UN personnel which US interests are encouraged to gather. Striking is the proposition that Bangladesh conducts peacekeeping operations in Africa with a view to gaining influence in the region – the inference one is clearly expected to draw being that US interests should be suspicious of such motives which is a possible justification for the direction to conduct surveillance of that country’s UN personnel.

    “Request for continued DOS reporting of biographic information relating to the United Nations B. (S/NF) Reporting officers should include as much of the following information as possible when they have information relating to persons linked to : office and organizational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cell phones, pagers and faxes; compendia of contact information, such as telephone directories (in compact disc or electronic format if available) and e-mail listings; internet and intranet "handles", internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.”

    “-- Efforts by to gain influence in Africa via UN peace operations. Countries: Bangladesh [and others].”

    A PERSONAL NOTE/DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS

    There is a particular irony to me reporting on this event for I have some personal intimacy with US-Bangladeshi/Bengali international relations. I felt an almost forensic inclination therefore when settling in front of the freshly excavated texts in question.

    I am American-born though I hold Bangladeshi nationality. I have attended American schools in several countries. I researched (and occasionally taught) American diplomacy - financial, economic and military - at the London School of Economics, having also graduated from there. My work today encompasses civic diplomacy.

    My mother Mahfuza Fateh (nee Banu) inaugurated Bengali language news broadcasts from Washington D.C. to South Asia for the Voice of America in the 1950s. She and her friends and family apparently had to be vetted by the CIA prior to her being appointed. At the time it would be fair to say that the VOA was an adjunct to American diplomacy worldwide.
    My late father Abul Fateh had unique personal experience of and insight into the complexities of American and regional, South Asian, diplomacy.

    During the 1971 War of Liberation and subsequently as Bangladesh’s first Foreign Secretary he had a key role managing relations with the United States and India whilst heading the nascent country’s diplomatic service.

    His American connections were already extensive: in 1949-50 he had been a Carnegie Foundation Fellow in International Peace; he was posted as a Pakistani diplomat to Washington 1956-60 (and shortly after became the founding Director of Pakistan’s Foreign Service Academy in Lahore); he was a Rockefeller Foundation Scholar and Research Fellow at Geneva’s Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales (International Relations Institute), subsequently becoming one of Pakistan’s few Bengali ambassadors.

    Shortly before the war he was also stationed in India (Delhi and Kolkata) as Pakistan’s highest ranking Bengali origin diplomat and so became an absolute repository of in-depth knowledge of the USA’s ‘secret diplomacy’ in the region; for the USA then as now was a key ally of Pakistan’s. Hence when he switched sides to Bangladesh in 1971, my father found himself re-engaging with his American colleagues but now ‘from the other side’ and with the advantage of his insider’s insight into their modus operandi.

    My father worked without partisanship as a public servant throughout his long career from 1949-1983 – except during that passage in 1971 when he chose to be counted. He also had to serve under an extraordinary variety of leaders in as many different circumstances and whatever his personal views he always took great pains when describing these individuals to me, which he also did with not inconsiderable humanity. In the contemporary Bangladeshi context my father may seem anomalous but there are his equivalent across public service and public life here and abroad.

    Here are a few axioms my father (who was a Sufi too) mentioned to me and I know he stayed true to:
    “Do not speak anything that you do not yourself know to be true.”
    “Speak in the spirit of offering, without the need to draw attention to yourself.”
    “You should stand up when it matters.”

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    aladin is Editor Emeritus of bdnews24.com and the son of Bangladesh’s first Foreign Secretary, Abul Fateh. Based in London, aladin works across disciplines, including as a strategy consultant, academic and artist. He has a long-sustained interest in civic diplomacy. aladin

    WikiLeaks cables on Bangladesh
     
  6. akash57

    akash57 FULL MEMBER

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    WIKILEAKS EXPOSÉ
    Delhi wary of Hasina's 'pro-India slant'


    Dhaka, Dec 22 (bdnews24.com)—India feels concerned about the propaganda over prime minister Sheikh Hasina's closeness with the country, WikiLeaks has revealed.

    In the leaked cable, sent by US ambassador to Dhaka James F Moriarty on Jan 14, 2009, the ambassador quoted Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, saying, "Indian Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukharjiee planned to visit Dhaka on February 8 for talks that would centre primarily on counterterrorism issues."

    Chakravart said that India would prefer a primarily bilateral engagement, according to London-based The Guardian.

    The Indian envoy, however, as quoted by Moriarty, said, "India understood that Bangladesh might insist on a regional task force to provide Hasina political cover from allegations she was too close to India."

    Moriarty, in a private note in the cable, said, "India frequently argues that international Islamic terrorists use Bangladesh as a safe haven and often cross its porous border into India for bombing and other attacks.

    "New Delhi also says Dhaka should do more to uproot Indian domestic extremist groups, including the United Liberation Front of Assam, that uses Bangladesh as a safe haven," the US ambassador added in the note.

    The Indian high commissioner expressed pleasure over the landslide victory by the Awami League in Dec 29, 2008 parliamentary elections. Moriarty noted that the winning party had warm relations with New Delhi.

    Chakravarty told ambassador Moriarty that improving security cooperation would be the top Indian priority with the new Bangladeshi government, the cable shows.

    Either bilateral or regional, Pinak stressed the importance that the task force be action-oriented and not become yet another regional talk shop, Moriarty quoted in the cable.

    WIKILEAKS EXPOSÉDelhi wary of Hasina's 'pro-India slant' | | bdnews24.com

    WikiLeaks cables on Bangladesh