Human Rights Watch shows naked bias towards Islamist forces in Bangladesh


Human Rights Watch (HRW), which is known for its romance with Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) as well as anti-Bangladesh elements has been making naked bids of disrupting the January 7 general elections in Bangladesh by spreading concocted propaganda and disinformation with the ulterior motive of misleading international community about a free and fair election, despite the fact Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been repeatedly expressing firm determination of a credible election. Earlier, HRW made frantic bids in feeding ultra-Islamist BNP-Jamaat’s ridiculous claims of holding the election under an unelected “caretaker government” despite the fact, Bangladesh’s constitution does not permit such provisions. Moreover, the international community, including the United States, United Kingdom and EU nations have already expressed their confidence in holding a free and fair election under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

On November 26, 2023, HRW in a report titled ‘Bangladesh: Violent autocratic crackdown ahead of elections – Diplomatic partners should raise alarms in Dhaka and home capitals’ said: “Following the October 28 violence, the BNP called for a general strike from October 31-November 2, during and after which clashes broke out between police, opposition members, and ruling party supporters. While there has been violence on all sides, in some instances police used excessive force in responding to protests”.

Surprisingly, HRW did not say a word about direct involvement of BNP men in October 28 violence, where a police officer was brutally murdered by the unruly members of the party.

Commenting on October 28 violence, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the senior leaders of the BNP cannot evade accountability for the violence and chaos that roiled the capital during the opposition group’s anti government rally on October 28.

“The top leaders of BNP were pulling all the strings. Their decisions led to the attacks on the chief justice’s residence and the homes of judges, violence against women, and the killing of a police officer”, he added.

International media outlets also reported the October 28 violence which was orchestrated by activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

But Human Rights Watch turns a blind eye on the fact. Instead, it has been enthusiastically spreading disinformation with the target of misleading international community and rights groups. To understand the reason behind such a notorious role of HRW, it is essential to look into its past track record.

According to media reports, Human Right Watch was condemned by various rights groups and international bodies for expressing support to Salah Hamouri, member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a US- and EU-designated terrorist organization. It was inadvertently revealed on September 25, 2022 that Salah Hamouri—a lawyer and field researcher for the Palestinian NGO Addameer – is a member of the PFLP.

An article on the official PFLP Lebanon website explicitly names Hamouri, as does a different article on the main PFLP website from September 28.

Hamouri has been championed as a human rights defender by numerous NGOs and UN officials, including Human Rights WatchAmnesty International, UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese and more.

Additionally, Hamouri’s case has been addressed by the French government and President Emmanuel Macron.

The Guardian and other prominent media outlets have published articles about Hamouri, including one in The Independent, which is written by Hamouri himself while in detention.

Hamouri has served several prison sentences for his links to the PFLP. He was arrested in 2005 for planning a failed assassination attempt of Israel’s then-Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and was released in 2011 in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap.

Hamouri is among the higher-profile members of six Palestinian NGOs that Israel designated as terror proxies of the PFLP in October 2021.

Earlier, HRW was accused of defending Islamic State (ISIS) returnees.

According to documents leaked by Project Raven, Qatar provided 300 million euros to French president Nicolas Sarkozy for “unreserved support” to Doha in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, another leaked document now has put Human Rights Watch (HRW), which boasts of defending human rights throughout the world has been receiving millions of dollars from the Qatari government in exchange for its total silence on any case related to human rights violations.

According to the leaked document, on January 15, 2018, in a letter signed by Abdullah Bin Khalaf Hattab Al Ka’bi, director of Qatar’s Office of the Prime Minister and addressed to Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al-Emadi. Has described Qatar’s adaptational financial donation to Human Rights Watch.

Although the letter said, “With reference to the letter from his Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs number W-Kh/2048/1/172, dated January 10, 2018 and relating to the above mentioned subject: We are informing your Excellency that His Excellency the Prime Minister has agreed to provide monetary support of 3 million euros to the organization Human Rights Watch, under the Humanitarian Aid section, and that it should be distributed with the knowledge of the Embassy of Qatar in London so that it can be aware of it and take the necessary [steps] with regard to it”, according to experts, this continuous fund is actually given to HRW as bribe to silence it from criticizing case of human rights violation in the country.

Meanwhile, according to The Atlantic, quoting an opinion editorial published in  The Wall Street Journal, Human Right Watch officials went trolling for dollars in Saudi Arabia, and that the organization’s senior Middle East official, Sarah Leah Whitson, attempted to extract money from potential Saudi donors by bragging about the group’s “battles” with the “pro-Israel pressure groups”.

According to a May 13, 2014 report published in Consortium News, “Over the years, US “public diplomacy” has pulled reputable NGOs into the US propaganda orbit, sometimes via funding, sometimes by creating a revolving door to government jobs, as a letter from over 100 scholars suggests happened to Human Rights Watch. Followed by HRW’s response to the criticism”. In a letter to HRW, 131 esteemed individuals and world leaders wrote:

Human Rights Watch characterizes itself as “one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights”. However, HRW’s close ties to the US government call into question its independence.

For example, HRW’s Washington advocacy director, Tom Malinowski, previously served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton and as a speechwriter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In 2013, he left HRW after being nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights & Labor under John Kerry.

In her biography, Board of Directors’ Vice Chair Susan Manilow describes herself as “a longtime friend to Bill Clinton” who is “highly involved” in his political party, and “has hosted dozens of events” for the Democratic National Committee.

Currently, HRW Americas’ advisory committee includes Myles Frechette, a former US ambassador to Colombia, and Michael Shifter, one-time Latin America director for the US government-financed National Endowment for Democracy. Miguel Díaz, a Central Intelligence Agency analyst in the 1990s, sat on HRW Americas’ advisory committee from 2003–11. Now at the State Department, Díaz serves as “an interlocutor between the intelligence community and non-government experts”.

In his capacity as an HRW advocacy director, Malinowski contended in 2009 that “under limited circumstances” there was “a legitimate place” for CIA renditions, the illegal practice of kidnapping and transferring terrorism suspects around the planet. Malinowski was quoted paraphrasing the US government’s argument that designing an alternative to sending suspects to “foreign dungeons to be tortured” was “going to take some time”.

HRW has not extended similar consideration to Venezuela. In a 2012 letter to President Chávez, HRW criticized the country’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council, alleging that Venezuela had fallen “far short of acceptable standards” and questioning its “ability to serve as a credible voice on human rights”. At no point has US membership in the same council merited censure from HRW, despite Washington’s secret, global assassination program, its preservation of renditions, and its illegal detention of individuals at Guantánamo Bay.

Likewise, in February 2013, HRW correctly described as “unlawful” Syria’s use of missiles in its civil war. However, HRW remained silent on the clear violation of international law constituted by the US threat of missile strikes on Syria in August.

There are more allegations against Human Rights Watch.

According to The Intercept, Human Rights Watch accepted a sizable donation from a Saudi billionaire shortly after its researchers documented labor abuses at one of the man’s companies, a potential violation of the rights group’s own fundraising guidance. After The Intercept began investigating the donation, the rights group published a statement on its website saying that accepting the funding was a “deeply regrettable decision” that “stood in stark contrast to our core values and our longstanding commitment to LGBT rights as an integral part of human rights”.

In an article titled ‘Who is watching the human rights watchers’, Australian Broadcasting Corporation said:

There was a time when the reports and campaigns run by influential organizations promoting human rights bore the promise — or at least, the hope — of making the world a better place. At the height of the Cold War, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International were founded by altruists motivated by universal moral principles, the need for accurate documentation, and political independence. Recently, however, the activities of these and similar organizations are less trusted and their agendas are increasingly being questioned. Ongoing human rights catastrophes in Syria, Venezuela, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, North Korea, Myanmar, and Iran reflect their limited influence.

Despite their diminishing returns, the budgets of these groups have grown steadily — together, human rights organizations raise several billions of dollars annually. Relying on reputations established many years ago, human rights now constitutes a major industry, with organizations such as HRW and Amnesty receiving and spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Fund-raising, it seems, is untethered to particular outcomes, and runs the risk of becoming an end in itself, thereby distorting their priorities and skewing their agendas.

It may be mentioned here that Human Rights Watch in particular has been regularly issuing statements, majority of which went in favor of ultra-Islamist and jihadist forces in Bangladesh including war criminals. Mystery behind such over-enthusiasm of HRW in defending extremely controversial entities are yet to be exposed.


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