BNP leader Tarique’s kin attends US State Department briefing as journalist, triggers controversy

Sharafat Hussain Babu, brother-in-law of BNP’s Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman, has triggered a fresh controversy by attending a media briefing of the US State Department as a journalist.

Published : 15 April 2015, 03:05 PM
Updated : 15 April 2015, 03:05 PM

The latest controversy comes on the heels of a BNP functionary recently attending UN press conferences identifying himself as journalist.

Babu attended the daily press briefing of the State Department last Monday at a time when the Interpol has issued a 'red corner' notice for the arrest of Tarique.

Babu heads a BNP group in the US.

According to local Bangladeshi journalists, Babu also runs a weekly Bangla-language newspaper, where he gives wide coverage to various statements of Tarique.

Expatriate Bangladeshi journalists have now questioned how someone associated with a political party could get media accreditation.

They said that for the accreditation, he had to take an “identification” certificate from the Bangladesh’s Consulate in New York. Now, the question they raised was how he could manage that.

Prime Minister’s Deputy Press Secretary Mamun-or-Rashid told that the government was looking into the matter.

“The government will take up the matter with the appropriate authority,” he said.

He said a vested interest group was deliberately doing a “propaganda campaign” against the country.

“Earlier Mushfiqul Fazal Ansari did the same thing at the United Nations. Now Sharafat Hussain Babu has started it again,” Mamun said.

Ansari, who is associated with the BNP, recently attended some UN press conferences, which raised questions among the Bangladesh’s expatriate journalists.

Babu on Monday put several questions to Acting Spokesperson of the US State Department Marie Harf on the execution of war criminal Mohammad Kamaruzzaman.

The expatriate journalists, who were present at the press conference, said the questions were provocative.

Initially, Babu was interrupted for broaching the subject before it was deliberated upon.

Later, after getting the opportunity, he wanted to know about the US stand on the ongoing war crimes trial in Bangladesh.

Apparently he wanted to put into the mouth of the spokesperson that the Bangladesh government did not pay heed to the statement issued by the US State Department before the execution of senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader Kamaruzzaman.

But in her reply, Harf said, “...That of course we support bringing to justice those who committed atrocities in the 1971 war.

“We understand this is an important process for Bangladesh to undertake.

“We also, though – I think this is what you saw in the statement – believe that the trial should be fair and transparent and in accordance with international standards that Bangladesh itself has agreed to uphold.

“So we’ve seen progress in these – in this process, and that, I think, has been a good thing.”

She further said, “But we still believe that further improvements to the ICT process could ensure that these kinds of proceedings meet domestic and international obligations.”

Despite Babu’s persistent attempts to derive a statement of his liking from the spokesperson, Harf maintained what she had said earlier.

At one point, he even wanted to know whether the US government would sternly ask the Bangladesh government to follow what it (US) had been saying on the trial.

But in her reply, Marie Harf said, “we understand this is a complicated issue and I think we’ll continue having those conversations with the Bangladeshis.”