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Richard L. Benkin- Photo :web.israelinsider.com

Why Does the Bangladesh Government Want to Keep Me Out?

Tuesday April 04 2006 21:41:29 PM BDT

By Dr. Richard L. Benkin

Dr. Richard L. Benkin, an eminent journalist, USA Correspondent of Weekly Blitz was refused visa by Bangladesh authorities recently.


/24-7PressRelease/ - CHICAGO, IL, April 02, 2006 - After innumerable delays and false assurances, the Bangladesh government rejected my application for a visa to enter the country. Reviewing the psychically painful events of the last few weeks, I can only ask "Why?" Moreover, as I discussed with a member of the US Congress, it hardly seems like the action of an ally to deny entry to a citizens from a friendly country.

Just last week, I went out on a limb with an article criticizing my own government and praising Bangladesh for its actions in the War on Terror. A variant of the article on how the US Peace Corps pullout undermines Bangladeshi actions in capturing major terrorists appeared in Weekly Blitz. A very large number of web sites, including several major ones that are seen by some very influential Americans, picked up the article.

In part, I hoped the piece would help counteract a perception in many places throughout the world, including several key spots in the USA, about Bangladesh. Specifically, I have been told by a large number of diplomats and businessmen from various countries that Bangladesh is thought to coddle radicals and terrorists and will not take action against them. The perception harms Bangladeshi efforts to secure free trade and other agreements, as well as business investment. And although I have consistently defended Bangladesh in that regard and urged governments support its effort, the government I have been defending refused me entry into their country.

During my intended trip to Dhaka, I had planned to meet with several business concerns and conclude a number of agreements that would have benefited the Bangladeshi economy with an influx of income, as well as jobs creation. In fact, the government was informed of this aspect of my trip. And although I have striven to set up positive business arrangements for the people of Bangladesh, their government has refused me entry into their country to conclude them.

There is so much I can do and have offered to do to help Bangladesh with the rest of the world. When most people think of Bangladesh, they think of poverty and disasters, its consistent standing as one of the most corrupt places on earth, attacks on the press and religious minorities, and now terrorism. I know there is more to your country than that, and I was prepared to help. But now, I have been prevented from coming to Bangladesh.

Truth be told, Bangladesh has few defenders in the United States and elsewhere. Without an active program to paint a picture of the nation, its people, and its positive efforts, the world is left with a jumble of negative perceptions. Those perceptions stand in the way of security cooperation vis-à-vis the terrorists who have been killing your people, business relationships that would aid your economy, and political moves such as a free trade agreement.

So why has the government of Bangladesh treated one of its only true friends like an enemy and a beggar? Would my entry have been some sort of threat to them? Would it have been so terrible for them to discuss the matter openly and honestly with me, instead of giving me worthless assurances? Who is so afraid of my presence on Bangladesh soil when all I want to do is to help your country and benefit your people?

The government's actions certainly have left me confused. Most countries routinely approve visa applications, as they know that visits by foreigners are one of the best ways to dispel negative stereotypes about their countries. Worse still, many people had begun to listen to my statements about Bangladesh in part because they believed I had a good relationship with that country. The government's action, I can assure you, has now left many of them confused—and angry—as well.

News2006 is a fastest growing private news agency. A number of eminent journalists are working with this organization.
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