Imposition of US sanctions on seven former and current Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) officers are "politically motivated", "fictitious" and a gross "violation of diplomatic etiquette", say three Bangladeshi ministers.
Terming the sanctions "one-sided and politically motivated", Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said it will motivate militants and terrorists Bangladesh.
"We are shocked and saddened by the US decision, which came at a time when we are celebrating the golden jubilee of the great independence of Bangladesh," Quader told the media at the secretariat on Sunday.
It is the first time individuals or entities from Bangladesh have been the subject of US sanctions.
"The US is talking about human rights but we had talked about the human rights situation there. The death of George Floyd shook the whole world, forcing the US administration to face a judicial trial. Many have expressed the view that racism exists there," he added.
According to various sources, there have been 6,600 extrajudicial killings by US law enforcement since 2015. About 1,000 people die there every year without trial. In a country where ordinary people take to the streets in different cities day after day over extrajudicial killings, any kind of statement by the country about the human rights situation in other countries is not acceptable, he said further.
"The people of the country consider the ban on a security force in Bangladesh to be political and a despicable attempt to force Bangladesh to surrender to their slavery," he added.
Mentioning that some of Bangabandhu's assassins, as well as war criminals, are still hiding in the US, Quader said Robert Reich, a former US senator, told the world in a tweet that there were 984 extrajudicial killings in that country in 2020 alone.
Meanwhile, Law Minister Anisul Huq has termed the decision of sanctions on RAB as "fictitious".
He said it was "extremely unfortunate" to issue such a notice without offering any opportunity to defend the counterparties.
The minister also denied the allegations of over 600 extrajudicial killings and nearly 600 cases of disappearance in Bangladesh since 2009 while responding to reporters' questions after inaugurating a workshop at the Judicial Administration Training Institute on Sunday.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Hassan Mahmud at a programme at the secretariat on Sunday said the sanctions by the US Department of Treasury is a breach of diplomatic norms.
"The imposition of sanctions without any communication is a violation of diplomatic etiquette. We think this action was [taken being] misled because some NGOs and individuals are constantly conspiring against the country. They provide incorrect data [about Bangladesh] to different countries. I think this decision is based on fabricated and misleading data," he added.
Earlier on Friday, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on a total of 10 organisations and 15 individuals from various countries, including Bangladesh, who were found to have been involved in human rights abuses and repression.
Of the organisations and individuals, RAB, its former director general and current police chief Benazir Ahmed and RAB's current chief Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun face the US ban under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, EO 13818 citing "serious human rights abuse relating to their tenure."
Due to the sanctions, they will not get a US visa, and may even have their assets in the US confiscated.
Following the sanction order, a media release from the foreign ministry said that Bangladesh has expressed dissatisfaction to the US ambassador over the ban on police and RAB chiefs.
Ambassador Miller told the foreign secretary that he would convey the Bangladesh government's concerns to Washington, added the media statement.
Later on Saturday, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said it will depend on the US whether there will be any impact on Dhaka-Washington relations following the sanctions on RAB and individuals.