For the last few days, almost all of our newspapers are publishing reports about one member of the Bangladesh National Assembly who is involved in human trafficking and money laundering. By the grace of those dailies, we, the ordinary people of this country, fortunately enjoy the opportunity to know the misdeeds of that esteemed parliament member even in the midst of the ongoing corona pandemic. Human trafficking and money laundering - these two processes of trafficking existed, are existing, and perhaps will continue to exist in Bangladesh. These activities are operated by some people of our society who are certainly very powerful and are intelligent enough to run that business. Their networks are well designedto cover the land, water and air all over the world.
Will not such courageous people be ever born in the soil of this country to eliminate them?In Bangladesh, involvement of people in human trafficking or money laundering is not something new. A very few of them are caught, but they often go out of the net through their own mechanism. These people are rarely punished. But this time, the member of the parliament in question was so unfortunate that although he was able to manage everything in Bangladesh, but he somehow failed to do that in Kuwait. Surprisingly, the people he had brought to Kuwait committed such ‘betrayals’ with him! He never thought that those whom he brought to Kuwait and provided them with job would reveal his original identity in such a naked way. Even we did not think.In fact, it was beyond his imagination that his power and money will fail to save him in the end.
It is learned from various sources that the MP went to Kuwait in 1989 with a job. Due to Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, he had to return home like other Bangladeshis. However, when Kuwait was liberated after seven months, he also returned to Kuwait. Gradually he became involved in the human trafficking business. Once he collected a good amount of money, he started peeping into the field of politics. He took the strategy of distributing money to various establishments as well aspeoplein constituencyto earn quick popularity. He was continuing this and finally the opportunity came, in 2018 he was elected member of the parliament despite being an independent candidate. Even he did manage for his wife a reserved seat in the parliament. He knew that everything is possible with money in this country. Finally, his planed magic won the game and thus was able to make the people surprised.
The honourable MP is currently in a Kuwaiti jail under trial. And perhaps, this is the first record in the present world history that a member of parliament of a country has been arrested by another country for his involvement in human trafficking and money laundering. The advancement of information technology has given me the opportunity to hear the speeches being made in the Kuwaiti parliament about that MP. Those deliberations were very painful, though there was a polite ‘reservation of respect’ for Bangladesh. He has made our head down. Our pride and glory - all is our liberation struggle. And the peace loving people of the world respect Bangladesh for that. Will it all come to an end if the responsibility of tarnishing the image of Bangladesh is passed on to the shoulder of that esteemed MP? Will not the Bangladeshis working in Kuwait be ashamed to show their face to their colleagues from other countries? Above all, we need to be serious from today so that this does not have an adverse impact on the future employment of workers from Bangladesh to Kuwait as well as the security of our nationals there.
The most surprising is that a citizen of Bangladesh, who is not an ordinary citizen, but a distinguished member of our parliament, was detained by the Kuwaiti administration without informing the Bangladesh government. We had seen that whenever a Bangladeshi citizen was detained or arrested abroad by the police, our mission was immediately informed. But it is not clear why this did not happen in this case. We do not know whether our government i.e. the Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait has taken any action in this regard or whether any contact has been made with the Kuwaiti Embassy in Dhaka. Note that the incident did not happen suddenly, the issue has been floating in the air for a couple of months. This game of light and shadow really surprises us.
We know that our Members of the Parliament are entitled to get diplomatic passports i.e. red coloured passports and the MP in question must have that passport in his possession. Did he have the diplomatic passport with him when he was detained in Kuwait? Or, was he travelling to Kuwait on a normal international passport? Perhaps, he did not want to desecrate the image of the diplomatic passport due to these 'hidden activities'. Hemight have gone there on a normal international passport. Maybe the visa was taken on that passport. What a wonderful play! Is there something called ‘law’ in this country? We believe there is no such provision or exception for lawmakers to escape from the laws of the land.
The news of human trafficking and money laundering of that MP came to the notice of our government last February and the concerned authorities have already started their investigations accordingly. A couple of days ago, the Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission has banned his MP wife, daughter and sister-in-law from leaving Bangladesh. A report published in a Kuwaiti daily on 12 February said that three Bangladeshis, including an MP, were involved in human trafficking in the Middle East and they had brought about 20,000 Bangladeshi workers to Kuwait which benefited them at least Tk 1,392 crore. As the Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the matter, there is a need to find out the other two suspects besides the MP. We are not sure whether those two have already fled the country. On the other hand, necessary investigation is crucial to their ‘operational network’ spread all over the country. It is to be mentioned that the government of Kuwait might bring their nationals involved in this case to book, but to bring MP’s Bangladeshi associates to justice comes to the shoulder of our government, isn’t it?At this moment, though we are able to know the activities of the Kuwaiti authorities through various news media, but we are still in darkness about the role of our Embassy there. On the other hand, it is not clear whether our government has had any communication with the Kuwaiti government or how this issue would be solved under the framework of the existing bilateral relations between the two countries. Above all, we, the common people of this country, are eagerly waiting to know how much the Jatiya Sangsad is concerned on this issue and what action they are going to take. We strongly believe that the sanctity of our National Parliament will never be compromised.
In this trying time of corona pandemic, we are not at all ready for such embarrassment. Like such incidents in the past, the present one shall not be thrown for a deep dive into the Atlantic – we sincerely expect that.
The writer is a former Ambassador and Secretary