Prof Dr Mohammad Badruzzaman Bhuiyan : US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently announced a new visa policy under section 212(a)(3)(C)(“3C”) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that targets those from Bangladesh who are thought to have harmed the democratic electoral process in their nation. The United States will have the ability to prohibit the issuance of visas to any Bangladeshi person who is suspected of being accountable for or complicit in undermining the nation’s democratic election process, in accordance with this policy. This includes both current and past government representatives, members of both opposition and pro-government political parties, as well as employees of the judicial branch, law enforcement, and security organizations. However, this choice undercuts the substantial advancements the country has made recently and reveals a faulty grasp of Bangladesh’s democratic environment. We hope to dispel these myths and provide light on Bangladesh’s dedication to democracy, the robustness of its institutions, and the necessity for constructive engagement rather than punitive measures in this succinct brief.
The Bangladeshi Democracy Foundation is that about 75 million Bengaleese made sacrifices and courageous efforts in 1971 to overthrow the repressive and occupying Pakistani regime, which the US was supporting at the time. As a result, Bangladesh was established upholding democratic value. The country has made significant progress in upholding democratic values and has also long battled for democracy as part of the anti-autocracy struggle. People were organized in large numbers to restore democracy between 1975 and 1990. The country has a robust multiparty system, which allows for a wide range of political ideologies and points of view. Examples of the country’s dedication to democracy include political parties’ participation and the freedom to run for government.
The independence of the Election Commission demonstrates Bangladesh’s commitment to holding free and fair elections. The election commission runs independently, upholding the fairness and transparency of the voting process. Bangladesh has successfully staged a large number of elections, both national and municipal, which are viewed as credible and indicative of the will of the public.
Bangladesh has worked hard to strengthen its democratic institutions, especially the judiciary, law-enforcement agencies, and security forces. These institutions are crucial for safeguarding democratic values, upholding the rule of law, and ensuring that everyone is held accountable. Any allegations of subverting the democratic process should be supported by specific evidence rather than making generalizations.
In a healthy democracy like Bangladesh, political parties serve as the primary means of expressing and representing a variety of interests. Bangladesh has a robust multiparty system, and both the opposition and the ruling parties take an active role in the democratic process. Without a good reason, singling out members of political parties harms democracy and deters people from getting involved in politics.
The recognition of democratic development of Bangladesh shows that the international world has applauded the strides Bangladesh has made in strengthening its democratic foundations. Independent observers and organizations have praised the country for its efforts to ensure free and fair elections, including initiatives to update voter lists, increase transparency, and level the playing field for all political actors. Under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the US cited Bangladesh as an example of a “moderate and democratic nation in the Muslim world.” Despite having the fourth-largest Muslim population on earth, Bangladesh has a solid reputation as a secular, moderate, and democratic country.
The benefits of interaction instead of implementing punitive visa restrictions for Bangladesh is that, a more effective policy would be to participate in conversation and support Bangladesh’s democratic goals. Cooperation between nations is necessary to advance democratic ideals and human rights. The United States should seek out ways to collaborate with Bangladesh as a steadfast ally, offering assistance and expertise to further develop democratic institutions. Any problems with Bangladesh’s democratic system need to be handled diplomatically, through bilateral talks, and through practical engagement. This would enable a deeper understanding of the situation and offer an opportunity for group learning and skill improvement.
Now, the way forward for Bangladesh is that Bangladesh’s efforts to promote political diversity, hold free and fair elections, and strengthen democratic institutions demonstrate its commitment to democracy. The United States should accept and promote these activities as a defender of democratic ideals rather than imposing restrictions that would slow down development. Cooperative initiatives might focus on knowledge exchange, capacity building, and the promotion of democratic principles to further strengthen Bangladesh’s democratic fabric.
Given the enormous advancements Bangladesh has made in this regard, any portrayal that undermines the country’s efforts to become a democratic nation is inappropriate. The United States should review its current visa policy and take part in a productive dialogue in order to support Bangladesh’s democratic ambitions. Strengthening bilateral ties and achieving our shared goal of spreading democracy worldwide will both result from recognizing and applauding the accomplishments. Through its strong institutions, free and fair elections, and dedication to political pluralism, Bangladesh has demonstrated its commitment to democracy. It is time for the rest of the world, especially the United States, to accept this and take appropriate action.