Secret money behind EU MPs statement on Bangladesh election


In February this year, European Parliament lifted the immunity of lawmakers Andrea Cozzolino and Marc Tarabella, paving the way for Belgian prosecutors to interrogate them about their involvement in corruption scandal that has shaken Brussels to its core. Cozzolino and Tarabella are under suspicion of serious offenses that could be tantamount to corruption, money laundering and participating in a criminal organization, according to the two immunity-waiving reports MEPs also approved.

In April this year, Europe’s most powerful political group has been raided by police over an alleged kick-back scheme in the last EU elections.

The HQ of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), situated at the Rue du Commerce in the heart of the EU district in Brussels, saw Belgian and German police sweep in unexpectedly on April 4.

In November 2022, Eva Kaili, a European Parliament vice president, was suspended from her duties after being caught up in an investigation into influence peddling at the EU assembly allegedly involving officials from Qatar.

Commenting on corruption and bribery inside European Parliament, Barbara Wesel wrote in a commentary, “Quite apart from the sordid circumstances of this corruption affair, which involves not only the now deposed vice-president, but also a clique of ex-MPs and former parliamentary staff from Italy, the damage to the European Parliament appears to be immense. The vast majority of MEPs give the job their all, working through the night on complex EU environmental legislation, for example — only for a small group of unscrupulous colleagues to destroy their reputation in one fell swoop.

The scandal is also one of shocking stupidity. MEPs earn five-figure salaries, and their expense allowances are more than generous. Why would someone destroy their career out of sheer greed, and then leave the cash lying around in bags and suitcases in hotel rooms and apartments? Did Eva Kaili and her friends assume that none of this would ever come out, that no one would tip off the police? The Belgian prosecutors had been tapping the suspects’ phones for some time, so a lot of unpleasant details will come to light.

Their constant propaganda on Qatar’s behalf had already attracted attention in the parliament, as had the fact that a leading trade unionist, of all people, was praising the quality of the labor laws in the Gulf state. But it had never occurred to anyone that such blatant, shameless corruption might be involved. Every honest, well-meaning, hard-working parliamentarian feels betrayed, and fears that their reputation has been destroyed.

On June 12, 2023, six members of the European Parliament have sent a letter to the European Union (EU) seeking its contribution to ensuring free, fair, and impartial general elections possibly under a poll-time neutral caretaker government in Bangladesh. They expressed concerns over violation of human rights in Bangladesh, and called to restore democracy and the rule of law in Bangladesh in view of its upcoming general elections.

The MEPs Ivan Stefanec (Slovak Republic), Michaela Sojdrova (Czech Republic), Andrey Kovatchev (EPP, Bulgaria), Karen Melchior (Denmark), Javier Nart (Spain) and Heidi Hautala (Finland) wrote the letter to High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and vice-president of European Commission Joseph Borrell.

The MEPs in the letter accused the Awami League government of “curtailing democratic space for the citizens and failing to show respect to their fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution”.

They asked the European Commission vice president to contribute in ensuring free, fair, and impartial general elections possibly under a poll-time neutral caretaker government in Bangladesh, end to the violation of human rights, release of Begum Khaleda Zia, and engagement of the government with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and other major political parties to find out a sustainable and democratic solution to the ongoing crises.

They bitterly criticized Bangladesh’s last two general elections and stressed on the need to focus on upcoming one.

“We must bear in mind that the right of the people to choose their representatives is yet to be determined as no mechanism is in place for acceptable elections in the country. This is a problem, as riggings, manipulations, and non-attendance of the voters marred the 10th and 11th parliamentary elections. While 10th general elections were non-participatory with the major political parties including the Bangladesh nationalist Party (BNP) boycotting the polls, the 11th (popularly known as Midnight Election) was concluded in the night before. Consequently, the governments have had no or little mandate from the people of Bangladesh and have failed to gain the approval of the international community”.

The MEPs said the Awami League government has been resorting to extrajudicial killings, abductions, tortures and false cases against the leaders and activists of the opposition political parties.

“Freedom of expression including the freedom of press have been undermined in recent years, most notably since the enactment of the Digital Security Act 2018 (DSA)”.

They further said, “Allegations of custodial torture and other ill-treatment remained common, often in connection to the Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). The abuse has not been restricted only to the government’s political opponents, but to the ethnic and religious minorities as well, including the minority Christian population in Bangladesh.”

The MEPs suggested potential measures such as restriction of entry into the EEA (European Economic Area) zone of those responsible for and complicit in the human rights abuses, or regular reminding of the conditions for the GSP+ incentive to which Bangladesh is a bidder may be evaluated.

A senior official of the EU in Bangladesh told Bangladesh’s leading vernacular daily Prothom Alo, “It’s important to point out that its 6 MEPs expressing views in their individual capacity and not the European Parliament as a whole”.

LondonGate cash bought EU MPs

Sitting in London, acting chairman of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has been running a massive lobbyist activity in the United States, United Kingdom and EU countries against ruling Awami League (AL) with the ulterior agenda of unseating the secularist government in Bangladesh and reestablish Islamist rule. Under Tarique Rahman’s instruction, western policymakers are being lured into exerting their influence and statement in favor of BNP, while according to a source, each of the signatories of the latest statements by the EU MPs were paid an amount between US$25-50 thousand. It is further learnt that Bangladesh Nationalist Party is trying to influence policymakers in the US, UK and EU to introduce bills against ruling Awami League and members of law enforcement agencies with agenda of globally maligning the image of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and ruling Awami League.

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