By M Serajul Islam
7 February 2022

WASHINGTON’S decision to exclude Bangladesh from president Joe Biden’s 110-nation virtual Summit for Democracy in December 9–10 and the US Treasury department’s sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion and several of its past and present senior officials on December 10, International Human Rights Day, for human rights violations, caught Dhaka unawares. Dhaka’s immediate reactions were denial, anger, ridicule and confusion.

Dhaka stated that Bangladesh was not asked to join the Democracy Summit because it is a strong democracy. Dhaka also stated that Washington would realise that the Treasury department’s sanctions regarding human rights were a mistake, apologise for it and withdraw it. Dhaka further stated that Washington was jealous of Bangladesh’s economic cooperation with China and, therefore, imposed the sanctions. A sane reaction came from a section of the informed public that felt that Washington excluded Bangladesh from the Democracy Summit and imposed the Treasury sanctions to pressure Bangladesh to join the Quad although this reaction also did not comprehend fully why Washington took the two actions.