The Bangladesh government on Saturday rejected the charges made by activist Priya Saha to United States President Donald Trump about alleged atrocities committed against minority communities in the country, The Daily Star reported.
Saha, a citizen of Bangladesh, told Trump that minority communities in her country were subjected to persecution. She spoke to the US president during the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom held in Washington from July 16 to July 18. Among the participants was Yazidi activist Nadia Murad, whose exchange with Trump went viral after he asked her why she had been given a Nobel prize.
When it was Saha’s turn, she told Trump that 37 million Hindus, Buddhists and Christians had disappeared from Bangladesh. She also told the US president that her land had been grabbed by Muslim fundamentalists, and sought his help so that members of minority communities could live in Bangladesh.
“Please, help us, the Bangladeshi people,” Saha was quoted as saying by The Daily Star. “We want to stay in our country. Still there are 18 million minority people. My request is: please help us, we don’t want to leave our country. Just help us to stay. I have lost my home, they burnt my home, they taken my land; but no judgement here taken place… please.”
But the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry on Saturday issued a statement describing Saha’s claims as “blatant lies” and said that the country’s government “condemns her remarks in the strongest possible terms”.
The statement claimed that Bangladesh was a beacon of religious freedom and communal harmony, where people of all faiths have been living in peace for ages. It also highlighted the generosity of Bangladesh government when it decided to temporarily shelter more than 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals and was condemned by the whole world.
It said Bangladesh government would expect that organisers of such a big international event would in future invite responsible individuals who would objectively contribute to promote the true spirit and value of religious freedom.
Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said Saha will be sued on sedition charges. “Priya Saha’s allegation was absolutely false,” Quader said. “No one will agree with her. A sedition case will be filed against her. The process is underway.”
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam on Friday said the government would “hear and examine” Saha’s allegations. He said that this kind of attitude was not acceptable from a person with contacts at different levels of the government.
“Bangladesh is a good example of religious harmony,” Alam said. “Many people damage it either for personal interest or without understanding it. All should refrain from such acts.”