Days after the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh reportedly faced a security breach while meeting the family of an Opposition leader, Russia on Thursday opened a diplomatic front on the incident and said interference in domestic affairs of countries had increased after the end of the Cold War. The statement from the Embassy of Russia in Dhaka came as a senior diplomatic source reminded the importance of following the Vienna Convention and avoid interference in internal affairs of host countries.
“According to the U.N. Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty dated 1965, ‘no State has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State’”, said the Russian Embassy’s Statement on Interference in Domestic Affairs.
Russia, which is building the first nuclear reactor of Bangladesh in Rooppur, has maintained silence about the political process in Bangladesh which hit headlines last week because of the opposition BNP-led ‘Grand Rally’ of December 10 which led to the arrest of several leaders of the BNP, including Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
Following the arrests, the U.S. ambassador to Dhaka, Peter D. Haas, visited on December 14 the residence of BNP leader Sajedul Islam Sumon who has been missing for nearly a decade. As the early morning meeting began between the team led by the U.S. envoy and Sanjeda, sister of the missing leader, a large crowd gathered outside the venue which escalated tension in the neighbourhood.
The ambassador who had to abruptly end the meeting because of worsening security situation outside was briefly gheraoed by a rival group which wanted to hand over a memorandum containing the names of those who were killed in a crackdown of the government of BNP’s founder Ziaur Rahman in 1977.
Mr. Haas has been in focus for months because of his proactive campaign to promote electoral transparency in Bangladesh. Earlier, in June he visited the Election Commission of Bangladesh, and in a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal called for “transparent” election in the country. Apart from the U.S. envoy, the European Union and Japan also called for transparent democracy.
The meetings were not viewed positively by the Sheikh Hasina administration which refused to comment openly on the matter even as the Prime Minister herself made sharp remarks about the perceived futility of American sanctions against Russia in the context of the war in Ukraine. Continuing with that approach, a senior diplomatic source on Wednesday pointed out that following Vienna Convention was the only way out to ensure that domestic affairs of the host nation — in this case Bangladesh — was not violated in any way.
The security scare involving Mr. Haas was taken up by U.S. Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu who held a discussion with Dhaka’s ambassador in the U.S. Mohammed Imran even as Home Minister of Bangladesh Asaduzzaman Khan argued that Mr. Haas’ security was not violated during the December 14 incident.