Sunday, June 03, 2012

Bangladesh's Silly Denials: Ambassador Qader and Me

On Friday, May 25, 2012, I met with Bangladeshi Ambassador Akramul Qader at his country's embassy in Washington. It was not my first trip to the embassy, but my first conversation with Mr. Qader. My intention was to remind Bangladesh's representative of his country's request for my help, that I can provide what they need; but that I will not do so as long as Bangladesh refuses to protect all, specifically, its Hindu citizens.

The meeting went pretty much as I expected, but the man representing 150 million Bangladeshis made some of the most ridiculous blanket denials, insisting again and again that there was no persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh. We continued our an ever more acrimonious back and forth exchange. First, Qader denied that there had been any problems. Then, he admitted that there "were some incidents at the time of elections years ago" (I clarified with his concurrence that he was speaking about 2006); but he said that "all the perpetrators had been punished [and that] I know of no other incidents since then." Can you believe he said that? Do you believe he actually thought any sentient human being would have believed him? Usually, participants in ethnic cleansing at least try to make their denials seem credible. But I pushed and let him know I had evidence to the contrary. "Well then let me enlighten you," I said when he claimed he "knew of no incidents."

After that, he admitted to an "incident" involving "religious fanatics," and I surprised him by identifying them as the anti-Hindu pogrom in Satkhira. I also let him know that it involved far more than a small group of "religious fanatics" (and that his claim is one of the most pernicious myths about his country). When he again insisted--amazingly--that Satkhira was the end of it; I threatened to send the evidence of his duplicity and he agreed--which is great because he's not the only person in Washington who will see the evidence.

One final idiocy. During our struggle, I said that "you don't go from a third of the population in 1965, to a fifth in 1971, to between seven and eight percent today simply through 'voluntary emigration,'" he replied,

"Yes, it does because they cannot find suitable matches for their children, so they go to India where there are more Hindus."

"You're kidding, right."

But he insisted, and I realized that the Ambassador was ready to say pretty much anything, no matter how ridiculous, confident that lack of credibility or even sanity would be enough nonetheless to allow Bangladesh's ethnic cleansing of Hindus to continue with impunity.

As decent human beings, we must prove him wrong!

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