The government has requested everyone to remain alert against any deliberate attempt to propagate misinformation to mislead friends of Bangladesh.
"There are reasons to believe that a few panellists used the platform to offer unsubstantiated information about human rights situation in Bangladesh and made deliberate attempts to malign the image of the government of Bangladesh," said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday in a press note regarding the briefing on "Human Rights in Bangladesh: An update' by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission."
The MoFA said its attention has been drawn to some recent media reports stating that Bangladesh's human rights situation was discussed in the US Congress on 15 August 2023.
"When checked, it was found that no such discussion took place in the US Congress, neither in the House of Representatives nor in the Senate or in any of the relevant committees of the Congress," according to the government.
As per the 2023 Congressional Calendar, the Congress (both the Senate and the House of Representatives) went to recess on 28 July.
The Senate session will start on 5th September after the recess and the House of Representatives will be reconvened on 12th of September. Most of the Senators and Congressmen visit their constituencies during the recess.
However, on 15 August 2023, a virtual briefing session via zoom was hosted by 'Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission' in which four panellists from (a) Asian Human Rights Commission & Asian Legal Resource Centre, (b) Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (c) Human Rights Watch and (d) International Republican Institute presented written statements. Panellists were supposed to offer recommendations for the Congress.
"Although the event was said to be hosted by the Tom Lantos Commission, no member of the US Congress made their appearance or made any statement, comment, or observation," MoFA said.
The organisers failed to include Bangladesh government and civil society representatives as panellists. Virtual attendance was allowed upon registration, the Bangladesh government said.
A number of questions were sent to the moderator seeking clarifications and contesting the panelists' views.
"Unfortunately, those were not entertained, and the moderator and the panellists responded to comments and questions of their choice," MoFA said.
It was held on 15th August, on the National Mourning Day of Bangladesh - the very black day when the worst human rights violation took place with the brutal assassination of Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 18 members of his family.
"The insensitivity of a few panellists about the day was deplorable. It was not understood why the organisers chose this very day for such a discussion," MoFA said.
The Tom Lantos Commission is a bi-partisan entity established by the US House of Representatives to raise awareness of human rights issues among the members of Congress and encourage them to actively engage in human rights matters. It has no legislative authority or no jurisdiction over the legislation.