The government of Bangladesh has strongly condemned the 'blatant lies' told by a leader of a minorities association to US President Donald Trump in a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC.
The foreign ministry in a statement on Saturday said, the government's attention has been drawn to a video on July 18, where Priya Saha, an organising secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity, was seen telling Trump, among other things, that 37 million people of minority groups have disappeared in Bangladesh.
“It appears that there was an ulterior motive behind Ms Saha’s absolutely false and concocted stories that were targeted to malign Bangladesh,” the foreign ministry said.
Saha was among five Bangladeshis and two Rohingya refugees the US Embassy in Dhaka sent to the meeting with Trump last Wednesday.
A video of the meeting subsequently went viral on social media and sparked widespread controversy back home.
She also told the president that her land had been grabbed by Muslim fundamentalists and sought his help so that minority groups could live peacefully in Bangladesh.
Saha was a participant of the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom held at the US Department of State in Washington, DC from July 16 to July 18 2019.
Refuting her remarks, the foreign ministry said, Bangladesh is a “beacon” of religious freedom and communal harmony, where people of all faiths have been living in peace for ages.
It added, the government's humane attitude and generosity were exemplified and subsequently lauded wordwide when Bangladesh decided to shelter more than 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals - Rohingyas.
“Government of Bangladesh would expect that organisers of such a big international event would invite responsible individuals who would objectively contribute in promoting the true spirit and value of religious freedom,” the foreign ministry said.
Saha's statement was disavowed by the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity with its President Rana Dasgupta refusing to take responsibility for the allegations of persecution raised by one of its leaders.
He also said they had been unaware of Saha’s presence in the White House meeting with Trump and came to know about it through media reports earlier in the day.
Saha is one of 11 organising secretaries of the council but was not among the three representatives it selected for the US tour, according to Rana.
The three are Ashok Barua and Nirmal Rozario, members of the organisation’s advisory council, and Joint General Secretary Nirmal Chatterjee, Rana said.
“We did not have any other representative. What she said there is her personal comment, not the organisation’s statement or decisions,” he clarified.
He said they were waiting for her return to know about the issue.