Crowley Applauds Bangladesh for its Return to Democracy

Mar 25, 2010 Issues: Foreign Affairs

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Bangladesh, spearheaded passage of  a resolution expressing the U.S. House of Representative’s support for Bangladesh’s return to democracy (H.Res. 1215).  The measure was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 380 to 7.  Below are Congressman Crowley’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“I rise in strong support of House Resolution 1215, a measure to honor Bangladesh’s return to democracy. 

“I would like to thank Chairman Berman and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen for their support of this resolution.  I would also like to thank the gentleman from California, Congressman Royce, for leading this effort with me, along with other members of the House Caucus on Bangladesh.

“Just 18 months ago, this House passed a resolution urging a return to democracy in Bangladesh.  At the time, we were concerned that Bangladesh was creeping toward authoritarianism – especially after the ruling caretaker government postponed national elections.  The 160 million people of Bangladesh faced an uncertain future.

“Instead of succumbing to the temptations of permanent power, the caretaker government ultimately scheduled nationwide elections, invited international election monitors into the country, and created an independent anti-corruption commission.  The elections were deemed credible by numerous international observers – and most importantly, by the people of Bangladesh.  

“Today – the day before Bangladesh’s Independence Day – is an opportunity for this House to honor the Bangladeshi people and their democracy.  Bangladesh has made important strides toward reaching the qualification requirements of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  It has taken steps to create a path into government for women.  And – not least – the Bangladeshis have worked very hard to fight extremism.

“Bangladesh has become an important partner of the United States.  Even as it faces challenges with serious poverty, threats from climate change, and extremism, the Bangladeshi people have shown remarkable resilience, creativity, and principle.  This is exactly the kind of country the United States should work with and do more to support – not because the situation on the ground is perfect, but because by working together we have clearly created a better path forward.

“In the coming months, I hope the Bangladeshi authorities will make every possible effort to deepen and strengthen political reconciliation in their country.  I also hope the Bangladeshi government will work with us to identify stronger mechanisms to improve assistance and protection for refugees fleeing from neighboring countries.  Inside Bangladesh, the protection of minorities should be a high priority. 

“At the same time, I hope the international community will more quickly wake up to the positive changes Bangladesh has made.  The fact is – Bangladesh is a moderate Muslim country of 160 million people that wants to work with the United States. 

“I hope the United States can find more ways to work alongside Bangladesh to support good governance, human rights and development.  There is clearly much more we can do to work together.  For today though, we honor Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi people and the many hard working Bangladeshi Americans on their national day.  As an independent, moderate, and democratic nation, Bangladesh deserves no less.”

Congressman Crowley is a 6-term member of Congress who is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Bangladesh and a member of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. He has traveled to Bangladesh several times and has been at the center of efforts to establish stable and democratic governance in the country.