UPDATE: There is a report in the Bangladesh paper New Nation that the letter from the senators is a forgery. However, I just got off the phone with Senator Joe Biden’s office. They confirmed for me that the letter was indeed sent and the content of the letter is as was widely reported. We should keep in mind that the New Nation is owned by an advisor to the military government, and the new report from the New Nation may be part of a disinformation campaign.
UPDATE 2: The press person from Senator Biden’s office called me to tell me that the letter had been released to the press. So there should be no confusion about its authenticity. I love it when government works this efficiently and is this responsive to a citizen. Kudos to the staff at Senator Biden’s office. Senator Biden’s Washington office number is 202-224-5042.
UPDATE 3: The New Nation carries on the charade. They have a detailed story on their front page now claiming the letter is a forgery. Never mind that I and others have confirmed from Senator Biden and Senator Kerry’s office that they in fact did send this letter. Wow! Simply wow! The newspaper owned by Mainul Hosein, the military government’s information advisor, is playing the role of Baghdad Bob perfectly. Don’t let the facts hit you on the way to publishing your paper.
UPDATE 4: Salam Dhaka has confirmation from Senator Kerry’s office. Shada Kalo has confirmation from Senator Kennedy’s and Senator Lugar’s offices. He also has more information about the "reporting" from the New Nation.
Actually, its a "Dear Fakhruddin" letter. Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined by a number of other prominent senators, sent a letter to the titular head of the Bangladesh military government, Fakhruddin Ahmed, urging the following:
1) promptly lift the state of emergency and restore full civil and political rights to all citizens of Bangladesh; and
2) announce, within the next two months, a roadmap towards free and fair elections to be held as soon as possible, with input of the political parties and civil society leaders, so that a democratically-elected government can be restored as soon as possible.
The letter can be viewed here.
The letter was signed by the following bipartisan group of senators:
This letter comes on the heels of a trip to Washington by Bangladeshi special envoy Farooq Sobhan. During his trip, Mr. Sobhan met with the National Security Council, the State Department and members of Congress to lobby on behalf of the military government in Bangladesh. I am guessing the trip didn’t go well.