Awamil League (AL) leaders on Friday night took to X, formerly Twitter, to react against the US move to impose visa restrictions upon some individuals from the government, opposition and members of law enforcing agencies centring the country’s upcoming general election.
Deputy Minister for Education Barrister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury Nowfel tweeted saying, “Wondering how USG (US government) can sign a defence pact with Vietnam which is a proud & strong Communist state & threaten vibrant democracy of Bangladesh with threats of visa restrictions! Many military allies of USA has challenge Re elections but, as usual their hypocrisy knows no bounds!”
On the other hand, Nahim Razzaq, an AL MP from Shariatpur-3 constituency, also took to Twitter and said, “All well and good with these actions but let us be mindful that the US interest is not only on Election but a greater agenda which some of us are familiar with. Is it Anti-China move or is it a show of might or is it a Scare Tactics or is it a pressure tactics to get something out of Bangladesh.”
He also tweeted that "Just a note: It’s not the Cold War anymore or is it???"
Alongside the duo, AL leaders from different levels reacted to the US visa restrictions on social media.
The Department of State on Friday said they are taking steps to impose visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.
"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," said its Spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement.
These individuals include members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition, he said.
"The United States is committed to supporting free and fair elections in Bangladesh that are carried out in a peaceful manner," Miller said.
These persons and members of their immediate family may be found ineligible for entry into the United States.
Additional persons found to have been responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh may also be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy in the future, according to US Department of State.
This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of opposition and ruling political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services, Miller said.
On the other hand, the United States (US) has said it will not release the names or numbers of people in Bangladesh subject to the visa restrictions.
"Visa records are confidential under US law," US Embassy Spokesperson Bryan Schiller told UNB Friday while responding to a question.
But, he said, the U.S. government has looked very closely at incidents since they announced this policy.
"After a careful review of the evidence, we have imposed visa restrictions on members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition,” said Bryan Schiller.
In May this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the new visa policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) (“3C”) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections.
Under this policy, the United States will restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.
The United States notified the Bangladesh government of this decision on May 3, 2023.