Asian Correspondent » Syed Tashfin Chowdhury http://asiancorrespondent.com Asian Correspondent Wed, 20 May 2015 11:20:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 August 30: A day of remembrance, a day of action http://asiancorrespondent.com/63703/august-30-a-day-of-remembrance-a-day-of-action/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/63703/august-30-a-day-of-remembrance-a-day-of-action/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2011 09:20:35 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=63703 An Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) Statement on the Commemoration of International Day of the Disappeared on August 30 was shared with journalists and media personnel worldwide today.

Signed by Chairperson Mugiyanto and Secretary General Mary Aileen D Bacalso of AFAD and dated August 30, the release reads:

Today, we honor all victims of enforced disappearance, considered one of the cruelest forms of human rights violations. In 2010,  recognizing the global magnitude of the crime and the never ending sufferings of the desaparecidos’ families, the United Nations officially recognized August 30 as the International Day of the Disappeared.  The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), which is the Focal Point of the International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances, joins all the families of the disappeared and human rights advocates world-wide in commemorating this day by resonating the call for an end to enforced disappearance and by renewing its organizational commitment to take action.

Enforced disappearance is an international phenomenon. It is a major concern of 94 countries based on the 2010 report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance (UN WGEID). Many of these cases occur in 27 countries of Asia, a continent that has the highest number of cases submitted to the UNWGEID in recent years. Unfortunately, Asia lacks a strong regional mechanism for redress. No Asian country has a domestic law penalizing enforced disappearance as a separate and autonomous criminal offense. This condition perpetuates a climate of impunity allowing perpetrators to escape accountability and increasing possibilities for repetition.

Indeed, globally, thousands of people are forcibly disappeared by their own governments or individuals or groups acting on states’ authorization, support or acquiescence.  Bereft of legal safeguards, they are often tortured, confined under constant fear or threat of death, and in many instances, murdered without any trace.

Their families are equally victimized, not knowing their loved ones’ fate and whereabouts and are put in a perpetual state of hope and despair, wondering and waiting, pleading and demanding for answers that may never ever come.

We reckon that enforced disappearance has a particular universal impact on women and children. Most of the disappeared are men.  Hence, women who are usually left behind to tend to their families bear the brunt of serious hardships. When women are themselves direct victims of disappearance, they are particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of violence. The children of the disappeared are also victims. The disappearance of a child or of a parent is a serious violation of children’s rights.

As we remember all the desaparecidos of the world, we demand that the perpetrators of enforced disappearances be brought to justice.  A concrete step to combat impunity is to urge all governments to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (The Convention).  The Convention which was adopted in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly, entered into force on 23 December 2010.  To date, this international human rights instrument has 88 signatories and 29 States Parties.  To ensure its implementation, States are under the obligation to codify enforced disappearance in their statute of books.  To note, the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, composed of 10 individual experts, was established on 31 May 2011 to ensure the treaty’s implementation.

Today, member-organizations of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, through varying forms of public awareness, call for a stop to enforced disappearances and reiterate their call to all States to sign and ratify the Convention, recognize the competences of the Committee Against Enforced Disappearances, enact domestic laws penalizing enforced disappearance and end enforced disappearances NOW.

As we pay tribute to all the desaparecidos of the world, we must also highlight the long drawn struggle of the families and human rights organizations particularly in Asia to obtain truth and justice and to work for the complete eradication of enforced disappearance from the face of the earth.

The International Day of the Disappeared is a time to remember and in remembering, we must take action.


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Odhikar to observe International Day of the Disappeared http://asiancorrespondent.com/63699/odhikar-observes-international-day-of-the-disappeared/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/63699/odhikar-observes-international-day-of-the-disappeared/#comments Mon, 29 Aug 2011 09:05:08 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=63699 The Bright Side received the following release from Bangladesh-based human rights organization Odhikar on August 29 in observance of International day of the disappeared on August 30.

Signed by Dr CR Abrar, President and Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of Odhikar, the release states, “On the International Day of the Disappeared, the human rights organisation Odhikar urges the Government of Bangladesh to accede to the International Convention of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance that has been signed by 88 countries and ratified by 29. The Convention was adopted in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly and came into force on 23 December 2010. This is regarded as one of the major achievements for the protection of the human rights of people around the world. Odhikar also calls upon all other States to join this important international mechanism.”

The release explained that ‘enforced disappearance’ is “particularly a heinous violation of human rights and an international crime. It affects victims in many different ways, including constant fear for their lives and their near and dear ones go through an emotional rollercoaster of hope and despair, hoping and waiting for news that might never come. The disappeared person is removed from the protection of law, a fundamental right.”

The release continued:

One of the purposes of enforced disappearance is to create fear and to eliminate the victim or dehumanise him/her. Odhikar notes with deep concern the increased incidents of disappearances that have occurred. In 2010, the total recorded number of reported incidents of disappearances were 17 while in the first eight months of this year, it has documented 15 incidents of disappearances already. According to Odhikar, this cannot be allowed to go on unchecked.

Odhikar demands that the Government of Bangladesh thoroughly investigate each reported incident of disappearance speedily and efficiently; put in place a directive that security forces operate within the Constitution and the laws; and responsible organisations and individuals be identified, investigated and prosecuted. Only through rigorous and impartial enforcement of law can the crime of disappearance be addressed. Odhikar further demands, that the families of those missing are regularly informed about the process to locate and recover the disappeared person, and that they should be adequately compensated for their pain and suffering.

Odhikar reiterate its call for an immediate accession to the International Convention of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and immediately put in place measures that no person is made to disappear against his/her will.

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Investors to appear in court over Bangladesh stock market crash http://asiancorrespondent.com/63062/investors-summoned-for-january%e2%80%99s-stock-market-crash/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/63062/investors-summoned-for-january%e2%80%99s-stock-market-crash/#comments Mon, 22 Aug 2011 09:01:42 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=63062 A magistrate’s court in Dhaka on August 21 summoned five big investors to appear before it by October 17 charged with their involvement in December-January stock market crash as lawyers of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) told Financial Express.

Md Rezaul Karim Reza, a lawyer of the SEC, said to the daily, “Summon was issued after the SEC Director Mahbuber Rahman Chowdhury filed two cases against the investors following the recommendations of a probe body that was formed by the government to investigate the causes of the stock market debacle in December-January last.”

The accused investors asked to appear before the court include Abu Sadaf Md Sayeem, Abdul Mabin Molla, Syed Shiraj-ud-Doula and his wife Rasheda Akhter Maya and Habibur Rahman.

The SEC lawyer Mr. Reza said the SEC filed one case against Syed Shiraj-ud-Doula and his wife Rasheda Akhter Maya and Habibur Rahman as they violated section 17 (e) (IV) of the SEC ordinance 1969, through bulk transactions.

“These shareholders artificially influenced the share market through bulk transactions,” Mr. Reza told the FE.

Reza stated that these three shareholders artificially influenced the share prices of People’s Leasing through bulk transactions in an effort to reap hefty profits during the period from June 30 to November 04, 2010.

He said the court summoned Abu Sadaf Md Sayeem and Abdul Mabin Molla for almost the same allegations as they “violated section 17 (e), (II) and (IV) through serial trading and creating artificial influence as well” and conducted serial trading from July 27 till August 19 of 2010.

But, the SEC Chairman Professor M Khairul Hossain said on the same day that more cases on December-January stock market crash may not be filed by SEC.

The cases are basically against a few from the total number of investors, including some leading businessmen of the country, who were involved through various illegal practices at the Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges, according to a probe body report that was submitted to the Finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith on April of this year. The probe body tried to investigate into the reasons behind the stock market crash in January of this year.

On January 10, 2011, the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) was shut down after the General Index fell 660 points and trading was halted at the Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) when the Selective Categories Index tumbled 914 points within 50 minutes of the opening, the biggest point declines in the 55-year history of the country’s share market. The market had already fallen about 27% since early December 2010 after almost doubling in the first 11 months of the year.

Prior to the probe body report, media and investors in Bangladesh had blamed Bangladesh’s banks and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a stock market crash that saw the key benchmark index tumble 9% within the first hour of trading on January 10 driving small investors to riot in protest at their lost investments.

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Bangladesh govt to earn Tk75.63bn from spectrum fees http://asiancorrespondent.com/62624/bangladesh-government-to-earn-tk-75-63-bn-from-spectrum-fees/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/62624/bangladesh-government-to-earn-tk-75-63-bn-from-spectrum-fees/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2011 14:16:20 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=62624 A proposal of the telecommunications ministry in Bangladesh, already sent to the finance ministry for evaluation after consulting with the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), has tallied that the Bangladesh government is likely to get around Tk 75.63 billion of Tk 7,563 crore as spectrum assignment fees from four mobile operators – Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Citycell.

The financial issues will be finalized after vetting by the finance ministry and prime minister’s office, the Daily Star reported.

Grameenphone, Banglalink and Robi are using spectrum in 900 megahertz and 1800 Mhz bands and the only CDMA operator, Citycell, is using 800 Mhz.

Although the government has decided to charge the same fee at Tk 150 crore per Mhz for all the three kinds of spectrum bands, the payable money for per Mhz airwave is different for different operators, according to the minutes of a high-profile meeting held at the PMO on August 9.

The proposal of per Mhz spectrum charge has been set on the basis of their market share or Market Contribution Factor (MCF). According to the definition of the MCF as explained by the telecom ministry, “…if an operator has more than 20 percent market share, it will have to pay additionally, while an operator with less than 20 percent share will pay at a reduced rate.”

The MCF for Grameenphone now stands at 1.48, Banglalink 1.06, Robi 0.99 and Citycell 0.30.

Hence after multiplying the MCF with Tk 150 crore, Grameenphone, which is using 14.6 Mhz, will pay Tk 3,241 crore, Banglalink with 12.4 Mhz will pay Tk 1,971 crore, Robi with 12.8 Mhz will pay Tk 1,900 crore, and Citycell with 10 Mhz will pay Tk 450 crore.

Also, Tk 10 crore will be charged as renewal fee from each operator along with a 5.5% revenue sharing by mobile operators as supported by an August 9 meeting of the BTRC proposal. Daily Star reported that the operators will also pay 1% of their revenue to a social obligation fund, meant for the development of the ICT sector.

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Bangladesh and India strip maps border http://asiancorrespondent.com/62492/bangladesh-and-india-strip-maps-border/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/62492/bangladesh-and-india-strip-maps-border/#comments Mon, 15 Aug 2011 09:50:12 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=62492 Home ministry sources in Bangladesh said to the Daily Star on August 14 that for the first time, Bangladesh and India have prepared strip maps of their 4,156-kilometre international border which will be useful in settling border-related disputes.

Daily Star quoted anonymous officials  that the 11,000-page strip maps were prepared after a joint survey and that the two countries will sign official documents on the maps during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh on September 5-6.

An inter-ministerial meeting was held on August 14 at the home ministry to discuss the signing of the document and other border-related issues, which was attended by high officials of home and international affairs ministries.

A strip map, an unscaled drawing of a route to include critical points along the border, will prove important to resolve disputes related to border as these maps usually incorporates distances, roadside features and town facilities on a simple flip-over style map.

Also, the prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s international affairs adviser Prof Gowher Rizvi and economic affairs adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman are expected to leave Dhaka on August 16 to hold meetings with high government leaders and officials ahead of Manmohan’s visit to Bangladesh where border issues will most likely be the topic of discussion.

Daily Star reported:

The boundary agreement is expected to resolve the decades-old disputes involving 3,000 acres of Bangladesh land inside India, 51 enclaves and 6.5km un-demarcated border. Similarly India has around 3,500 acres of land and 111 enclaves adversely possessed inside Bangladesh.

The border deal will involve boundary strip maps, exchange of 162 enclaves and 6,500 acres of adversely possessed land and 6.5 km un-demarcated borders between the two countries and 24-hour access to Bangladesh’s Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves through Tin Bigha corridor.

Indian enclaves inside Bangladesh are situated in four districts– Panchagarh, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram and Nilphamari– while all of Bangladesh enclaves fall in Indian Cooch Behar district. Some of these enclaves were created even before the British rule back in 1713.

There is 1.5km un-demarcated border at Doykhata under Nilphamari district, 2km at Muhurir Char in Feni and 3km at Lathitila in Moulvibazar.

Besides border issues, other conflicts requiring resolution include interim water sharing agreement on Teesta and Feni rivers, transit framework agreement, import of electricity, joint venture on coal-fired power plant, preservation of tigers in Sundarbans, MoU on trade liberalisation under the Indo-Bangladesh Trade Agreement and MoU on cooperation of usage of renewable energy.

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Bangladesh loses Tareq Masud to road crash http://asiancorrespondent.com/62402/bangladesh-loses-tareq-masud-to-road-crash/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/62402/bangladesh-loses-tareq-masud-to-road-crash/#comments Sat, 13 Aug 2011 10:50:41 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=62402 Tareq Masud, one of the pioneers in the film revival movement in Bangladesh, was killed in a road accident on August 13 on the Dhaka-Aricha highway in Ghior upazila of Manikganj.

Along with Masud, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ATN News in Bangladesh Mishuk Munier and three others were killed, as their microbus collided with a passenger bus on the highway on Saturday.

Masud’s wife, Catherine Masud, was critically injured along with painter Dhali Al Mamun and his wife Dolly. The three were rushed to the Square Hospital in Dhaka.

Media in Bangladesh have reported that the entire team were returning after visiting a site for shooting a new film titled ‘Kagojer Phool’ (Paper Flower )in Shibalaya and were on their way to the Manikganj deputy commissioner when the accident occured.

Talking to The Daily Star, Rois Uddin, officer-in-charge of Ghior Police Station, said: “The accident took place around 12:20pm when a Chuadanga-bound bus collided head-on with the microbus coming to Dhaka in Joka area of Ghior”. He added that police later seized the bus although the driver and helper had managed to escape.

UNB reported President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed their deep shock at the death of Tareq Masud and Mishuk Munier.

In a condolence message, the president prayed for the salvation of the departed souls and also conveyed his sympathy to the bereaved family members.

The PM, in a separate message, prayed for the eternal peace of the departed souls and conveyed sympathy to the victim’s families.

Tareq Masud is an award-winning independent film director who gained prominence for directing the films ‘Muktir Gaan’ (1995) and ‘Matir Moina’ (2002).

Matir Moina, which received the International Critics Award at the Cannes film Festival in 2002, was inspired by events from his own childhood.

Matir Moina also won the FIPRESCI Prize for Directors’ Fortnight due to “its authentic, moving and delicate portrayal of a country struggling for its democratic rights.”

Muktir Gaan was based on the liberation war of Bangladesh. His latest film, Ontorjatra, also received critical acclaim.

Masud ran the film production house Audiovision with his wife, co-director and film editor, Catherine Masud.

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Time: Sheikh Hasina seventh global woman leader http://asiancorrespondent.com/62331/sheikh-hasina-seventh-from-12-top-global-women-leaders-time/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/62331/sheikh-hasina-seventh-from-12-top-global-women-leaders-time/#comments Fri, 12 Aug 2011 06:46:50 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=62331 After the MDG award and numerous accolades last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been ranked the seventh top woman leader in the world by Time Magazine on August 11 this year.

The UNB in Bangladesh released the Time Magazine list in the following order:

1) Yingluck Shinawatra, prime minister of Thailand
2) Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany
3) Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, president of Argentina
4) Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil
5) Julia Gillard, prime minister of Australia
6) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia
7) Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh
8) Johanna Sigurdardottir, prime minister of Iceland
9) Laura Chinchilla, president of Costa Rica,
10) Tarja Halonen, president of Finland
11) Dalia Grybauskaite, president of Lithuania
12) Kamla Persad-Bissessar, prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Time Magazine reasoned that Sheikh Hasina, the leader of Awami League, has “a history of surviving”. In 1975, assassins killed her father (Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of the nation of Bangladesh), mother, three brothers and some other family members.

Hasina, who was then 28, was saved as she was abroad at the time.

Hasina was first elected as the country’s prime minister in 1996.

However, prior to the 2001 parliamentary polls when Transparency International named Bangladesh the most corrupt country in the world, her party suffered a defeat in the polls.

In 2004, she survived a grenade attack that killed more than 20 people, dodging the bullets that sprayed her car as she fled, the magazine said in a statement.

“That was not the end of her, though. Through the December 2008 election, Awami League came to power again and the consummate survivor found herself prime minister for the second term”, the statement added.

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Mitsubishi starts Pajero SUV production in Bangladesh http://asiancorrespondent.com/62307/mitsubishi-starts-production-sales-of-pajero-suvs-in-bangladesh/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/62307/mitsubishi-starts-production-sales-of-pajero-suvs-in-bangladesh/#comments Thu, 11 Aug 2011 18:14:53 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=62307 Through a press release on August 9, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced that it has started local production and sales in Bangladesh of its new-model Pajero Sport SUV. The Pajero Sports model is being produced at the Chittagong plant of Pragoti Industries Limited (PIL), MMC’s business partner in Bangladesh, and will be sold through PIL’s domestic sales network in Bangladesh.

PIL is a state-owned automobile assembler operated by the Bangladesh Ministry of Industries and has had operational ties with MMC, assembling and selling MMC models in Bangladesh since 1977.

PIL has produced and sold MMC’s previous-generation Pajero since 1995 and with the addition of the new-model, Pajero Sport SUV, is seeking to strengthen its lineup and expand sales further. Initially the company expects to produce and sell some 500 Pajero Sport models annually.

MMC first entered the Bangladesh market in the 1970’s. In addition to its production and sales operations with PIL, the company also sells imported built-up Mitsubishi-brand models and has captured a large share of the country’s market for new passenger cars and SUV models. MMC intends to continue extending its presence in Bangladesh in various ways including the timely introduction of new models.

In the release, MMC makes the concentration of business resources in emerging markets a major strategic pillar of its “Jump 2013″ mid-term business plan which the company announced in January this year.

The start of local production and sales of the new SUV model in Bangladesh announced today embodies the implementation of this crucial strategy.

MMC assured that it will work to strengthen its operations by improving and firmly cementing the Mitsubishi Motors brand in emerging markets with the promise of future growth.

The release signifies the booming auto market in Bangladesh despite a gas crisis, increasing fuel costs and inflation in the country. Besides Mitsubishi, other brands like Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Maruti Suzuki and others are vying for greater share in a market where Toyota still rules despite the Tsunami and earthquake disaster during the beginning of this year.

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Bangladesh enjoys 28% increase in export earnings http://asiancorrespondent.com/62049/bangladesh-enjoys-28-percent-more-in-export-earnings/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/62049/bangladesh-enjoys-28-percent-more-in-export-earnings/#comments Tue, 09 Aug 2011 12:50:01 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=62049 Bangladesh channeled in export earnings of around $2,339.52 million in July 2011, increasing by 28.7% over the earnings in July 2010, according to the Export Promotion Bureau statistics on August 8.

The latest export figures showed the earning was 7.4% higher than the target of $2178.3 million set for July. However, the export growth in July declined by 1.95% compared to June 2011 when the earnings were at $2,386.04 million signifying growth of 40.25%.

The export earning had been growing for the last three months before July with $2,036.17 million in April and $2,295.10 million.

While talking to New Age, Center for Policy Dialogue executive director, Dr Mustafizur Rahman, attributed the growth to the RMG sector’s robust growth as the price of yarn and cotton decreased in the international market recently.

“Depending on the quantity of orders from the buyers, this outstanding growth would prevail in the future if the country can ensure an investment-friendly environment,” said Rahman.

However, Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) president, Abdus Salam Murshedy, said that the export earnings in the next few months would decline gradually because of the global economic crisis. “The major export-oriented knitwear and woven garment sectors are not getting any firm commitment on order from the buyers till next February,” he told New Age.

From the apparel sector, the country has earned a total of $1,512.35 million in July, a decrease by $515.16 million from the earnings in June.  The earnings consisted of $798.66 million from knitwear export, $671.28 million from woven garments export and $42.41 million from home textile export.

Jute sector earnings decreased by 30.54% over the target to $76.57 million while frozen food exports earned $58.69 million with shrimps alone earning $52.36 million.

Export earnings of leather increased by 8.8% over the target amounting to $29.30 million.

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Diarrhea cases rising in Dhaka http://asiancorrespondent.com/61862/diarrhea-rising-alarmingly-in-bangladesh/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61862/diarrhea-rising-alarmingly-in-bangladesh/#comments Sat, 06 Aug 2011 18:02:24 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61862 With the boiling heat and the consumption of adulterated food, cases of diarrhea rises during the summer in Bangladesh every year.

This year is no exception.

Over 400 patients, mostly children, have been admitted into the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) daily for the past two weeks.

Daily Star reported from the centre’s data, that on August 5, between 1:00am till 12:00pm, around 222 patients were admitted to the centre.

The total number was at 559 and 481 on August 3 and 4. The centre usually expects as high as 300 patients per day.

Most patients are from the city’s Rampura, Shonir Akhra, Jatrabari, Mohammadpur, Kalyanpur and Matuail areas where the water crisis has been severe over the past few weeks.

Daily Star reported:

“Diarrhoea breaks out in late monsoon every year due to scorching heat and humidity and remains till October,” said Rafiqul Islam, senior medical officer of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) at Mohakhali.

“The bacteria that cause diarrhoea become more active with the rise in humidity. However, the good news is the recent rains might ease the plight of patients,” he added.

Relatives of the patients said they have to use dirty and stinky supply water at home.

Earlier, boiling water before consumption helped citizens prevent diarrhea and other waterborne diseases in Bangladesh. However, due to the ongoing gas crisis for which the government has stopped the subscription of new gas connections, this is not possible now.

“There is no gas connection in my house at Matuail, and boiling water on a kerosene stove is beyond my capacity. So I drink the supply water,” said Bashir Uddin, who was attending his 36-year-old brother.

Doctors at ICDDR,B noted that people from the lower income groups are suffering the most from the disease as they are mostly unaware of hygiene. They also depend on roadside food stalls and drink supply water which is usually contaminated.

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“Eat less” says Bangladesh commerce minister http://asiancorrespondent.com/61792/%e2%80%9ceat-less%e2%80%9d-commerce-minister-of-bangladesh-to-consumers/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61792/%e2%80%9ceat-less%e2%80%9d-commerce-minister-of-bangladesh-to-consumers/#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2011 08:29:51 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61792 Commerce minister, Faruk Khan, outdid himself once again on August 4 when he asked consumers in Bangladesh to eat less in order to avoid problems such as adulteration and food price hikes.

While speaking at a discussion on ‘Food adulteration: How to check it’ organized by the Voluntary Consumers Training and Awareness Society at the National Press Club in Dhaka, Khan referred to his personal experience to reason: “People do not die taking less food. Rather they ran less risk of consuming adulterated food”.

“If we can tame our gluttony, traders will find no profit in this business. They will be bound to lower the prices,” said Khan. “You might get hurt. But as I personally practice, I would suggest you eat less. Everything will be all right,” he added.

Over the past two years, usually prior to Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting for practicing muslims, Khan has urged businessmen and traders to not hike prices.  Immediately, from the next day, the prices of essentials increased to signify the “deaf ear” that traders and businessmen provided to the minister.

At the discussion, Khan further said:  “The government was regularly monitoring the markets and carrying out drives to check adulteration of food.  About taka 2 crores was realised in fines during anti-adulteration drives in the last two years”.

The minister said that the present government had set up the national consumer rights protection directorate to protect their rights and implement consumer rights protection act.

Speaking at the discussion, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President AK Azad said local bazaar committees should take up the responsibility of preventing food adulteration.

Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) Chairman SM Enamul Haque urged the media to intensify their campaign against food adulteration.

Presenting a paper on ‘Food adulteration in the context of Bangladesh’, Dhaka University biochemistry and molecular biology teacher, Hossain Uddin Sarker, said: “Nearly 45 million people suffer from food poisoning and food-borne diseases every year” and spoke of popular food iftar items in Bangladehs like jilapi, beguni and piaju sold by roadside food stalls may contain “toxic colours”.

Sarker also said that formalin was used on imported fish to make them look fresh, bananas had lost their taste as they were artificially ripened with carcinogenic chemicals, and 60% of vegetables sold in Dhaka markets had toxic chemicals sprayed on them. “During fiscal year 2010-11, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute had operated 1,251 mobile courts and 518 surveillance teams which fined 1,654 business organisations for adulterating food,” he said.

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Bird snags Biman Bangladesh flight http://asiancorrespondent.com/61721/bird-snags-biman-bangladesh-flight/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61721/bird-snags-biman-bangladesh-flight/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2011 09:43:27 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61721 A Biman Bangladesh Airlines Limited Sylhet-Dubai-London flight had to be cancelled a few minutes before its scheduled departure at 6:30am at the Osmani International Airport of Sylhet in Bangladesh on August 3 after Biman authorities termed the aircraft “unfit to fly”.

As a bird flew into the engine of the aircraft during its take-off run, the pilot of the Airbus applied brakes so hard to abort take-off that the tyres of the plane burst.

Nobody was hurt from the 171 passengers that was on-board the aircraft.

Two F-28 aircrafts sent from Dhaka brought the passengers to Hajrat Shahjalal International Airport a few hours after the incident, Biman Station Manager Motahar Hossain later told Daily Star. He hoped that the passengers will reach London soon.

The aircraft in question with one blade of the engine damaged was grounded at the airport in Sylhet until 5:00pm yesterday. An engineering team from Dhaka reached Sylhet to repair the aircraft later during the day.

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Bangladesh:Abdul Quader gets bail on all three cases http://asiancorrespondent.com/61720/bangladeshabdul-quader-gets-bail-on-all-three-cases/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61720/bangladeshabdul-quader-gets-bail-on-all-three-cases/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2011 09:28:36 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61720 Abdul Quader, student of biochemistry and molecular biology department of Dhaka University, has been finally freed on bail on August 3 after 18 days of detention. During 11 of these days, he was tortured by the police.

The charges imposed on Quader by the police include carjacking, robbery and possessing sharp weapons. While the last two were charged against him shortly after his detention, he was charged with carjacking on July 27.

The Daily Star reported Quader’s accounts of the horrible torture he faced when he arrived at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital flanked by his mother and relatives.

“I had lost all my hopes of survival… Since I was arrested without any offence and tortured, it comes to my mind often that no innocent person in the country is safe from police brutality.”

From sticks to sharp weapons to bare hands, the police tortured Quader in numerous ways in an attempt to get him to confess his involvement in a robbery.

Daily Star reported:

At one point, officer-in-charge of Khilgaon Police Station Helal Uddin told his colleagues, “We beat him so much but still he does not confess,” then he picked up a cleaver and chopped Quader’s leg with it.

“When the OC could not find any more space in my body that was not hit, he started to hit my hands and wrists with a stick,” he said adding, “At one point I thought I was going to die.”

Police showed no mercy to him even when he was crying for medical treatment in Khilgaon Police Station after his left leg was chopped.

“I was taken to a local clinic with blood rolling down my leg for two and half hours,” said the DU student, adding that despite doctors’ recommendation for sending him to Dhaka Medical College Hospital immediately, police did not pay heed.

Instead, they took him back to the police station and kept him detained again.

“I was not even served water for 11 hours in the police station,” he said with tears in his eyes. He now feels constant pain all over his body, he complained.

The incident is the latest incident of police brutality under detention.

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Tougher Ramadan for Bangladeshis suffering power outages http://asiancorrespondent.com/61546/tougher-ramadan-for-bangladeshis-suffering-power-outages/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61546/tougher-ramadan-for-bangladeshis-suffering-power-outages/#comments Tue, 02 Aug 2011 09:17:22 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61546 As Ramadan began in Bangladesh from August 2, the summer heat and demand for electricity has increased the load on the power stations in the country. Additionally the production is suspended at some power plants due to technical upgrades has compounded sufferings for practicing muslims.

Power outages have thus increased from four hours in July to seven to eight hours currently.

A recent Daily Star report mentioned that the authorities are trying to keep load-shedding level within 700 MW. This is still a good news for Bangladeshis as this is half of the total load-shedding during Ramadan last year.

There will be no improvement in the current crisis till mid-August when the authorities  hope to add four power plants, adding 270MW more power to the national grid currently at around 4,400 MW when the total demand per day is over 5,200 MW.

These power plants were supposed to be under operation by June or July of this year.

The government will also enforce a daily shutdown of six hours at CNG stations between 3:00pm and 9:00pm to divert the gas to power plants to increase gas-fired power production. This will add to the woes of commuters and car owners in Bangladesh for whom the queues at the filling stations will get even longer.

Due to the gas crisis and technical glitches, about 800MW of gas-based power cannot be generated, according to officials of the Power Development Board (PDB).

Daily Star quoted a top PDB official, “The government has added around 2000MW electricity since it came to power, and now the country should have been generating 5000MW power — the real situation is different.”

He went on: “The fact is, most of the basic power plants of the country are decades-old, and their maintenance and overhauling times were long overdue. Due to high demands, we have continued non-stop operations way beyond their maintenance schedules. Now different plants are causing disturbances,” he said.

“In other words, had not we added 2000MW in the last two years, we would have now been left with around 3000MW power, meeting only around half the country’s demand,” he said.

He pointed out that one-fourth of the power plants, that added 2000MW electricity in the last two years, are always undergoing some maintenance and repairs.

More power plants are in the pipeline and scheduled to be operational by December of this year. The government has assured that once these plants are operational load-shedding will become history.

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Bangladesh: Investors in Dhaka protest stocks plunge http://asiancorrespondent.com/61541/bangladesh-investors-in-dhaka-protest-stocks-plunge/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61541/bangladesh-investors-in-dhaka-protest-stocks-plunge/#comments Tue, 02 Aug 2011 08:56:00 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61541 Investors of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) took to the streets of Dhaka on August 2 as the DSE General (DGEN) Index fell yet again.

As share prices started to fall 25 minutes after the day’s trading began, investors under the banner of ‘Bangladesh Share Market Oikya Parishad’ began to gather in front of the DSE building at around 11:00am.

During their demonstration, angry investors chanted slogans against finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr. Atiur Rahman, president of DSE, the SEC chairman and other high concerned high officials.

The investors alleged to the Daily Star that “major market players and gamblers might have a hand in the continuous market fall”. They are enraged at the fact that the government is yet to take actions against a group of major investors who were termed as ‘wrongdoers’ in a probe body report, submitted to the government back in April this year.

Investors also sought the prime minister’s intervention to restore stability to the capital market.

The DGEN index went down by 174.65 points or 2.74 percent by closing on the day. Of the 256 issues traded by then, prices of 241 declined, 12 advanced and only three remained unchanged.

Around Tk 8,422.603 million was traded at the DSE today.

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Dhaka stocks continue to slide http://asiancorrespondent.com/61466/dhaka-stocks-continue-to-slide/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61466/dhaka-stocks-continue-to-slide/#comments Mon, 01 Aug 2011 11:22:39 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61466 For the fifth business day, share prices suffered a slide at the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) on August 1.

The DSE General (DGEN) Index fell by 92 points or 1.4% to 6,367 points on the day.

Total trade equalled 192,947 and trade value Tk 1,005.5 crore.

The DGEN index had fallen drastically on July 31 by 128 points. The DGEN index has also dipped three days before.

However, as it gained 50 points during the first 15 minutes on August 1, investors at the DSE were hopeful of a major turnaround.

Their joy was short-lived as the index dived to 6,432 points around 11:35am. The fluctuations continued till 1:00pm on the day when it reached a peak to again plummet before trading ended around 2:30pm.

The DGEN ended last week at 6,587, falling 73 points or 1.10%. Daily Star reported that the yardstick of the premier bourse gained 884 points or 15.15 percent in five weeks as the liquidity flow boosted investor confidence.

The market opened on a positive note on Sunday continuing from the preceding week’s uptrend and DGEN advanced 49.56 points or 0.74 percent.

The downtrend began on Monday with DGEN slipping 0.21 percent and the trend continued throughout the last three sessions.

Professor Mahmood Osman Imam, who teaches finance at Dhaka University, said the behaviour of the market is usual as the investors went for cashing profits.

The declaration of shares offloading by state enterprises into the capital market also increased selling pressure among the investors, said Imam

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No more shooting at India-Bangladesh border http://asiancorrespondent.com/61454/no-more-shooting-at-india-bangladesh-border/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61454/no-more-shooting-at-india-bangladesh-border/#comments Mon, 01 Aug 2011 08:55:34 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61454 During his one-day visit to Bangladesh, Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram announced on July 30 that Border Security Force (BSF) will not shoot anyone crossing the Indo-Bangla border irrespective of the circumstances.

Daily Star quoted Chidambaram saying: “Let me make it very clear…we have issued strict instructions to our border security forces that under no circumstances should they fire upon anyone trying to cross from either Bangladesh to India or India to Bangladesh. The message has gone down to the last jawan” .

He continued: “The only situation in which we have said firing may be justified is when a gang actually attacks a BSF jawan or an office. Then he has to protect himself and fire in self-defence”.

Also, on the same day, by signing a comprehensive border management deal, Bangladesh and India strengthened their commitment to ensure border security, combat smuggling of illegal drugs and weapons, and human trafficking through the border.

Following official discussions between the home minister of Bangladesh, Shahara Khatun, and her Indian counterpart, P Chidambaram, on his two-day visit to the country, Director General of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Maj Gen Anwar Hussain and DG of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Raman Srivastava inked the Border Management Coordinated Plan at the secretariat.

Daily Star quoted a source at the meeting who mentioned that during bilateral talks, Bangladesh’s State minister for Home Shamsul Hoque Tuku expressed “deep concern over killing of innocent Bangladeshis by BSF, trafficking of women and children and smuggling of phensedyl from India to Bangladesh”. Tuku also pointed out at the meeting: “A huge quantity of phensedyl enters Bangladesh through the border as there are some phensedyl-producing factories near the border”.

The state minister, however, thanked the Indian government for closing some of the illegal drug-producing units.

According to a recent UNICEF report, about 400 women and children in Bangladesh fall victim to both national and international traffickers each month. The report also mentions that over 300,000 Bangladeshi women and children had been trafficked to India while another 200,000 were sold in Pakistan in the last decade.

The accord allows BGB and BSF members patrol specific border points on their respective sides in a coordinated way. In case of any crisis, threats of terrorism or conflicts at any point of the border, the two forces will immediately settle the problem.

Daily Star reported on July 31 quoted a high official of the home ministry stating that Bangladesh will “hand over a list of vulnerable border points being used for criminal activities”.

The two neighbors share a over 4,000-kilometre long border. From this, about 700 km, mainly along rivers and other points, are without fences.

According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report titled “Trigger Happy: Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border” and published on December 2010, quoting human rights promoting NGO in Bangladesh, Odhikar: ” From 2000 till September 2010, over 930 Bangladeshi nationals were killed in the border area by the Indian BSF”.

According to the BSF, 164 Indian nationals and 347 Bangladeshi nationals have been killed through BSF shootings since 2006.

From January till June 2011, BSF killed 17 Bangladeshis and wounded 49 others between January and June, claimed Odhikar. Another rights group, Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), claimed that 14 people were killed during the same period.

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University of Dhaka student illegally detained and tortured by police http://asiancorrespondent.com/61276/university-of-dhaka%e2%80%99s-student-illegally-detained-and-tortured-by-police/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61276/university-of-dhaka%e2%80%99s-student-illegally-detained-and-tortured-by-police/#comments Fri, 29 Jul 2011 07:22:04 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61276 Abdul Quader, a student of biochemistry of University of Dhaka, was never one to stir violence. On July 16, he was on his way to his dormitory Fazlul Haque Hall of the University after visiting a relative at the Holy Family hospital at around 1.30am. Allegedly the police picked him up from the Segunbagicha area in Dhaka and took him to the Khilgaon police station.

Claiming he is a robber, the police began to torture Quader without listening to his pleas that he is a student of Dhaka University.  In some Bangladeshi blogs, the harrowing accounts of the torture have been mentioned by his friends from the university. He was beaten so roughly with wooden sticks on his arms and legs that he had multiple bruises and wounds. A tendon was even torn due to the beating.

According to the blogs, his friends and family tried to convince the police that he is not a criminal. But the police in turn threatened them that if they disturb them too much, they will file cases and arrest them in a similar manner. The police filed three cases against Quader.

Finally, when the news got out on the national dailies, the High Court in a suo moto rule in the morning of July 28, summoned the policemen concerned and also brought the victim, the National Human Rights Commission chief Mizanur Rahman, and a Dhaka University teacher for hearing the rule in the evening. The NHRC chairman and university officials all stated at the court that Quader was never engaged in any criminal activities.

Quader was produced to the court in a wheelchair with bandaged legs half an hour later than the designated time.

Following the hearing on July 28, the Daily Star reported, “Police allegedly beat Quader severely in custody as well, and Officer-in-charge Helal Uddin chopped the calf muscle of one of his legs with a cleaver. He has been languishing in jail for the past 11 days, and police so far filed three cases against him.”

Daily Star also reported, the High Court yesterday ordered the inspector general of police to suspend immediately three officers of Khilgaon Police Station including its officer-in-charge for torturing a Dhaka University student in their custody. The three police officers to be suspended include, officer-in-charge of Khilgaon Police Station Helal Uddin, Sub-Inspector Alam Badsha, and Assistant SI Shahidur Rahman.

The three will have to be suspended so that they cannot influence investigation, the court said. Their suspension will remain in force until further order of the HC.

After the hearing, the court asked the government to provide proper treatment to the victim at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) hospital at its own cost, and to allow his parents to visit him anytime at the hospital.

An HC bench directed the government to give all legal assistance to Quader so that he can move petitions at the lower court concerned for bail in connection with the cases filed against him by police.

The bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore ordered the law secretary to form a committee headed by an officer of the ministry with the rank of at least joint secretary to investigate the incident of detention and torture of Quader.

The judges ordered the IGP to set up another parallel committee headed by an officer of the police department to investigate the matter. The committees are to submit their investigation reports to the HC within eight weeks.

The HC bench requested National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to hold a separate investigation of the incident.

Quader was sent to the hospital for treatment by the court. The incident is yet another case of human rights violation in Bangladesh, following Limon’s earlier this year.

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Bangladesh signs $190m railway upgrade deal with Chinese firm http://asiancorrespondent.com/61216/bangladesh-railway-signs-deal-with-chinese-railway-for-tongi-bhairab-double-tracks/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61216/bangladesh-railway-signs-deal-with-chinese-railway-for-tongi-bhairab-double-tracks/#comments Thu, 28 Jul 2011 11:22:24 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61216 As a part of infrastructure improvement, Bangladesh Railway signed a Tk 14.05 billion ($190 million) deal with a Chinese firm to upgrade the Tongi-Bhairab Bazar single-line track to double lines on July 27.

Besides the upgrading, the project also includes the improvement of the signaling system on Dhaka-Chittagong main line. The project has been signed almost five years after a project was initiated in this regard, as reported by the Daily Star.

Naturally, the cost of the project doubled as the government and ADB failed to select a firm over the past five years to implement the project.

Abu Taher, director general of Bangladesh Railway, and Wendong, deputy general manager of the contractor firm China Railway Group, signed the deal at the Railway Bhaban in Dhaka.

The Daily Star reported that Asian Development Bank (ADB) is financing Tk 1,330 crore, equivalent to 94.70% of the project cost, while the rest will be borne by the government.

It also mentioned that upgrading the 64-kilometre Tongi-Bhairab Bazar track is important as the Dhaka-bound trains from Chittagong and Sylhet use this line.

About 196 km of the 320 km route from Dhaka to Chittagong is single track, which is also a reason for frequent accidents. Moreover, when an accident occurs there, rescue operation is seriously hampered as the relief train cannot reach the spot for not having an alternative track.

Addressing the signing ceremony on July 27, Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain said, “Next month we are going to sign a deal to upgrade the 61-km Laksam-Chinki Astana single-track to double-line” before adding that another Chinese firm will be tasked to finish this project.

Zhang Xianyi, Chinese ambassador in Dhaka who was also present at the signing ceremony, observed that “good infrastructure is imperative to development” and that he would “keep an eye on the project so that it is implemented timely.”

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Bangladesh 114th most attractive country for FDI – World Investment Report http://asiancorrespondent.com/61085/bangladesh-114th-attractive-country-for-fdi-world-investment-report/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61085/bangladesh-114th-attractive-country-for-fdi-world-investment-report/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2011 09:27:05 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61085 The 21st World Investment Report 2011, recently published by the United Nations (UN) Conference on Trade and Development, has ranked Bangladesh as 114th among 141 countries in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The country has improved in 2010 from 2009 when the ranking was at 120th. The FDI in 2010 grew by 30% to $913 million, up by $213 million over the previous year but lower by $173 million in 2008. According to the report, “Much of the FDI went to acquisition of old assets rather than setting up Greenfield companies.”

The report said:

From the total FDI in 2010, around $360 million, of which $317 million came from Singapore alone, was invested in the telecommunications sector. About $145 million was invested in textiles, $163 million in banking and $92 million in power and energy, investment increasing by 41 per cent in the four sectors over 2009.

Investment in food production decreased from $24 million in 2009 to $12 in 2010.

The country ranked second after Maldives in terms of inward FDI growth. India and Pakistan were declining in position and Sri Lanka was improving.

The report said that foreign investment increased by 5 per cent worldwide in 2010, which was less by 37% compared to investment in 2007. The total registered foreign investment in Bangladesh in 2010, which amounted to $3,138, increased by 372 per cent over the previous year.

Local investment in 2010, which was $6,276, was 142 per cent more than that of the previous year.

New Age in Bangladesh quoted Board of Investment (BoI) executive chairman S A Samad as saying at the unveiling of the investment report, “It is up to the foreign companies to decide whether to purchase the existing companies or set up new ventures.” However, Samad did acknowledge that FDI flow in acquisition did not help enlarge the economy while adding that Bangladesh should receive $ 5 to $ 6 billion of FDI annually as “it has a rapidly growing economy with an extensive market”.

He pointed out that political unrest, military intervention, incompetent public sector, obstructive bureaucracy and natural disasters are some of the factors discouraging FDI to the country.

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Bangladesh Nationalist Party to stage nationwide agitation on July 28 http://asiancorrespondent.com/61020/bangladesh-nationalist-party-to-stage-nationwide-agitation-on-july-28/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/61020/bangladesh-nationalist-party-to-stage-nationwide-agitation-on-july-28/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2011 17:40:54 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=61020 Following the arrest warrant against Tarique Rahman, Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) senior vice-chairman recently, the main opposition party and leader of the four party-alliance in Bangladesh, BNP, is planning to stage nationwide agitation programmes on July 28.

The arrest warrant was issued by a Dhaka court on July 14 against Rahman linking him with the grenade attack, which claimed the lives of 24 current ruling party, Awami League leaders and activists at a party rally in Bangabandhu Avenue of Dhaka on August 21, 2004.

Besides the warrant against Rahman, the party is also protesting against the price spiral of essentials in the country ahead of Ramadan, the muslim month of fasting, which begins from August 1. Also, the party is protesting the scrapping of the caretaker government system and the assault of police on opposition chief whip Zainal Abdin Farroque during a 48-hour long strike on July 6.

Daily Star reported that BNP announced the plan after a one and a half hour joint meeting of the party that was led by Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, acting party secretary general. The meeting had begun around 11:30am at BNP’s central office in Naya Paltan in Dhaka.

The programme is one of many attempts by BNP to mobilize an anti-government platform for political parties that will resist the next parliamentary elections in Bangladesh under the Awami League-led grand alliance government.

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Sonia Gandhi compliments Bangladesh’s efforts at tackling terrorism http://asiancorrespondent.com/60909/sonia-gandhi-compliments-bangladeshs-efforts-at-tackling-terrorism/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/60909/sonia-gandhi-compliments-bangladeshs-efforts-at-tackling-terrorism/#comments Mon, 25 Jul 2011 16:34:49 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=60909 During a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on July 25, Sonia Gandhi , chairperson of India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), who is currently visiting Bangladesh to attend a conference on autism, appreciated Dhaka’s efforts to combat terrorism.

“Sonia Gandhi in a one-to-one meeting with Sheikh Hasina lauded the steps taken by the government to stop terrorism,” Abul Kalam Azad, the prime minister’s press secretary, was quoted as saying by various media following the meeting.

Azad also shared,  “India and Bangladesh are committed to fighting terrorism as it is not possible for one country alone to uproot it.” He added, both leaders also discussed terror attack in Norway that left over 90 people dead.

As IANS reported, Sheikh Hasina and Sonia Gandhi spoke on bilateral issues, quoting Azad: “The relationship between the two countries is very good, and it’ll get stronger in the days to come.”

Sonia Gandhi, while addressing the two-day conference on autism in Dhaka later in the day, said,  “If society nurtures them (autistic people), it will get back much in return.” “There is much of it (autism) that we still do not understand. Science itself in the seven decades of research has not found clear answers or explanations for its causes,” she added.

Gandhi arrived at Dhaka on July 24 night following an invitation from Prime Minister Hasina. The conference is on ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia’.

Sonia Gandhi will also be attending a special ceremony at the Bangabhaban where President of Bangladesh Zillur Rahman will confer the ‘Bangladesh Freedom Honour’ posthumously on the late Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi. Indira Gandhi was in office during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Indira also played a pivotal role in supporting the liberation war in Bangladesh.

Ties between Bangladesh and India is quite strong at the moment. Earlier, on July 23, Bangladesh Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, while inaugurating a Mughal-era border “haat” (market) at Meghalaya, assured to provide India access to Chittagong port, for which Bangladesh’s neighbor had long been seeking permission to use.

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HRW alleges “new killings, torture” at Bangladesh-India border by BSF http://asiancorrespondent.com/60908/hrw-alleges-new-killings-torture-at-bangladesh-border-by-bsf/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/60908/hrw-alleges-new-killings-torture-at-bangladesh-border-by-bsf/#comments Mon, 25 Jul 2011 16:15:55 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=60908 In a recent press release on July 25, Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleged that “while the number of deaths due to shooting has substantially decreased in 2011, the Bangladeshi non-governmental organization Odhikar has documented at least 17 alleged killings of Bangladeshis by the border force and other instances of severe abuse since January. Local groups have documented several cases of deaths as a result of severe beatings by the BSF.”

The release thus reveals an issue that seemed to have been settled a few months back when the government of India had assured Bangladeshi officials that they would stop the killings and torture by the trigger-happy BSF jawans, following a December-2010  Human Rights Watch report, titled “ Trigger Happy”, that documented various extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, and ill-treatment of both Bangladeshi and Indian nationals by the BSF.

After the release of the report, the Indian government had announced that it would order restraint and encourage the use of rubber bullets instead of more lethal ammunition, steps welcomed by Human Rights Watch.

However, recent information as produced in the release reveal that the killings and torture at the India Bangladesh border has not subsided significantly. The release contained the following comments from Meenakshi Ganguly of HRW:

“Despite orders from New Delhi to end killings and abuse and to exercise restraint in dealing with people crossing the border, new deaths and other serious abuses are being reported,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “The government has issued some positive new directives, but it needs to prosecute those who commit abuses so the soldiers will understand they can’t act with impunity.”

While Odhikar works for HRW on the Bangladesh side, MASUM, a Kolkata-based non-governmental organization that conducts fact-finding in the border areas, provides information to HRW. MASUM’s account was also produced in the release in the following manner, “While the number of shootings at the border has significantly reduced, BSF soldiers have been brutally beating and torturing suspects. Indian residents in the border area, while expressing relief that the indiscriminate shootings have stopped, have complained about aggressive intimidation and beatings.”

Following are some alleged cases as provided in the release:

MASUM reported to the National Human Rights Commission of India that on July 13, a group of soldiers from the 91st battalion of the border force threatened a local human rights worker, Kanai Mondal, in the village of Char Rajanagar, holding a gun to his head to demand that he take down posters calling for an end to torture. The soldiers also threatened other activists and confiscated posters, MASUM said.

On June 30, BSF forces killed Mizanur Rahman, 25. According to Odhikar, he had slipped into India along with four other cattle rustlers, when border guards intercepted them. The others escaped, but the soldiers allegedly beat Rahman to death and dumped his body into the Saniyazan River.

On June 2, Odhikar documented two cases where BSF soldiers intercepted groups of cattle smugglers. According to Odhikar, Rafiqul Islam, 35, from Satkhira, was badly beaten and then dumped inside Bangladeshi territory, where Bangladesh Border Guards found him and took him to a hospital. In a separate incident, Indian soldiers caught Fazlur Rahman and his accomplices near the Panitor-Gazipur border. While the others escaped, Fazlur was badly beaten and left unconscious inside Bangladesh.

On April 18, 2011, border force soldiers killed Rekatul Islam, 17, as he and his accomplice, Mohammad Shahdat Hossain Odhikar, tried to smuggle cattle across the border. Shahdat said they were stopped by BSF soldiers as they tried to cross the border with 10 cows. Shahdat was injured, but escaped.

On April 9, MASUM reported that Biswanath Soren, an elderly Indian man, was beaten by border force troopers he believes were intoxicated. They brandished their firearms to intimidate him and finally released him, he said. Soren sent a written complaint to the police, but no action has been taken.

The release then went on to explain the reasons why nationals on either side cross the border.

Many people routinely move back and forth across India’s frontier with Bangladesh to visit relatives, buy supplies, and look for jobs. Others engage in petty and serious cross-border crime. The border force is mandated to address illegal activities, especially narcotics smuggling, human trafficking for sex work, and transporting fake currency and explosives. It also works to stop militants planning violent attacks in India’s restive northeast.

In many of the cases investigated by Human Rights Watch, however, the victims were cattle rustlers, farmers, or laborers who said they were hoping to supplement their meager livelihoods by working as couriers in the lucrative but illegal cattle trade that is rampant at the West Bengal border.

Local police forces rarely register complaints against border security and sometimes encourage the victims to drop their cases, telling them that nothing will come of it. One victim told Human Rights Watch that the police informed him that the border forces had committed no crime since they were there “to beat the people.”

The HRW release recommended, “The Indian government needs to do more to ensure accountability for violations committed by the border force soldiers and to ensure compliance with the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials” and should “undertake a speedy, fair, and transparent criminal investigation into fresh allegations of killings, torture, and other abuses by the Border Security Force (BSF) at the border with Bangladesh, Human Rights Watch said today. Those against whom there is credible evidence of culpability should be prosecuted as part of an effort to end longstanding impunity for abuses along the border.”

Despite the crises in the border region, the relationship between India and Bangladesh is extremely strong at the moment when Bangladesh Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, while inaugurating a Mughal-era border “haat” (market) at Meghalaya assured to provide India access to Chittagong port.

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Mark Stroman executed despite Bangladeshi victim’s attempts to save him http://asiancorrespondent.com/60606/mark-stroman-executed-despite-bangladeshi-victims-attempts-to-save-him/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/60606/mark-stroman-executed-despite-bangladeshi-victims-attempts-to-save-him/#comments Thu, 21 Jul 2011 16:31:29 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=60606 Rais Bhuiyan, a Bangladeshi-born US immigrant, left no stones unturned in his bid to save the man who shot him point  blank in the face in late 2001. His attempted killer, Mark Stroman, had killed two other South Asians in the US –  including  Vasudev Patel, from India and Waqar Hasan from Pakistan.

41-year-old Stroman was executed on July 20 in Texas through a lethal injection. Stroman was put on death row for killing Vasudev Patel although he has also killed Hasan four days after 9/11. Stroman went on a killing spree after losing his sister who worked in North Tower of the Twin Towers.

The Guardian reported on July 20;

From inside the death chamber, Stroman looked at five friends watching through a window and told them he loved them.

“Even though I lay on this gurney, seconds away from my death, I am at total peace,” he said. He called himself “still a proud American, Texas loud, Texas proud”.

“God bless America. God bless everyone,” he added, then turned his head to the warden and said: “Let’s do this damn thing.”

Feeling the drugs beginning to take effect, he said, he began a countdown. “One, two,” he said, slightly gasping. “There it goes.”

Eleven minutes later, he was dead….

His third victim, Bhuiyan, despite losing an eye, tried his best to save his killer reasoning that as a Muslim, his faith required him to “forgive the man”. However, the courts denied his request.

The execution was delayed for almost three hours before the Texas court of criminal appeals barred a state judge in Austin from considering Bhuiyan’s lawsuit to stop the execution. The US supreme court had rejected appeals earlier in the day.

Bhuiyan had asked the courts to halt Stroman’s execution and said he wanted to spend time with the inmate to learn more about why the shootings occurred.

The Guardian also reported :

“Killing him is not the solution,” Bhuiyan said. “He’s learning from his mistake. If he’s given a chance, he’s able to reach out to others and spread that message to others.”

A federal district judge in Austin rejected the lawsuit and Bhuiyan’s request for an injunction.

However, a week before his execution, Stroman did turn a new leaf. The Guardian report quoted Stroman admitting that he had made a “terrible mistake out of love, grief and anger” and had destroyed his victims’ families “out of pure anger and stupidity”.

“I’m not the monster the media portrays me,” he said last week from death row.

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Bangladesh: DoE goes tough on land encroachers http://asiancorrespondent.com/60273/bangladesh-doe-goes-tough-on-land-encroachers/ http://asiancorrespondent.com/60273/bangladesh-doe-goes-tough-on-land-encroachers/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2011 11:47:20 +0000 http://asiancorrespondent.com/?p=60273 Bangladesh has long been affected by illegal land encroachment, which has been the reason behind many natural disasters including landslides, destruction of bio-diversity and so on.

Following a drive on July 14 and 15 with the help of police, coast guard and Navy personnel at Jinjira Island of  Saint Martin’s island, the Department of Environment’s step to fine seven different organizations around Tk 10 million will definitely be welcomed by Bangladeshis as  a positive step to curb this menace.

As Daily Star reported on July 18:

A DoE team from Chittagong led by its director Zafar Alam conducted the drive at Jinjira Island of Saint Martin on July 14 and 15 with the help of police, coast guard and Navy personnel.

The team found out that the offenders were building highrise structures illegally occupying the seashore by installing pillars and filling it with sand illegally. The structures were visibly escalating risk of erosion and environmental imbalance.

Molla Bashir Ahmed Panna, owner of Panama Resort, was fined Tk 5.22 lakh, Syeed Alam, owner of a under- construction hotel was fined Tk 20.90 lakh, Rezaul Karim, owner of an under-construction hotel, was fined Tk 1 lakh and Nazrul Islam Chowdhury, owner of Chowdhury Labiba Bilash, was fined Tk 19.16 lakh.

Meanwhile, Chowdhury Builders Private Limited was fined Tk 19.16, Moulavi Abdur Rahman, owner of an under-construction hotel was fined Tk 17.42 lakh, and Shamsul Huda, managing director of Keari Tours and services Limited, was fined Tk 26.23 lakh.

Daily Star also reported that the DoE, after confiscating various construction materials from these sites, asked the offenders to “restore the sites to its previous state by July 19 or face prosecution under Environment Protection Act 1995.”

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