Dhaka, Dec 13 (UNB) - The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs has declared it genocide in Myanmar as its military and security forces unleashed a targeted campaign against the Rohingya people.
Mentioning killing unarmed civilians, raping women and children, burning down villages, and planting landmines along border areas transited by refugees fleeing for their lives, the House of Representatives took a stand on Thursday by passing a resolution declaring these crimes "genocide".
On the House floor earlier this week, Chairman Ed Royce said, “With this resolution, the House will take the important step of naming the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people in Burma what they are: genocide."
The measure also accomplishes a number of other important goals. "It provides a thorough accounting of the crisis, calls out the complicit Burmese Government, urges the Secretary of State to join us in formally declaring genocide and promotes multilateral agreement on that declaration."
Importantly, the resolution also called for the immediate pardon and release of two journalists who were framed and jailed by Myanmar authorities for shining a light on some of the atrocities by government forces.
The Rohingya people, predominantly of Myanmar’s Rakhine state, are often called the world’s most persecuted minority.
The Rohingya are essentially stateless people, as the Myanmar government refuses to recognize them as citizens – despite the fact that the Rohingya people have lived in Burma for generations, said Royce.
Further, the House chair said, institutional restrictions on the Rohingya have impacted their rights to study, work, travel, access health services, practice religion and even marry.
The most recent wave of persecution began in August of 2017, when Myanmar security forces and civilian mobs began a horrific wave of attacks.
Mass murder, rape and destruction of villages throughout Rakhine State has been documented, Royce.
These atrocities have driven more than 700,000 Rohingya from their homes to Bangladesh, bringing the total Rohingya refugee population there to nearly a million.
"Bangladesh has been very generous in accepting all these refugees in the face of such dire circumstances," said Royce.
The House chairman said, "A year and a half later, the evidence is overwhelming. As I said at our hearing on the subject this past September, it is time that we take the next step in declaring that these crimes amount to genocide."
In September, the State Department released a report on the stomach-turning, systematic and widespread acts of violence against the Rohingya in Northern Rakhine State, but failed to label these atrocities genocide.
The State Department’s investigation revealed countless heart-wrenching pieces of evidence, like the account of one woman who hid in bushes as she watched Burmese soldiers throw infants and toddlers into a river to drown and shot their mothers who tried to save them.
"The United States has a moral obligation to call these crimes genocide. Failing to do so gives the perpetrators cover and hinders efforts to bring those accountable to justice. With this resolution, the House fulfills its part of that duty," Royce said.
The House chair said Congress has a proud legacy of declaring genocide when warranted – just as they did over two years ago when the House voted unanimously to declare ISIS’ atrocities against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria genocide. "It is time to take this sober step again."
Royce urged all of his colleagues to join him in supporting this measure and fulfilling their responsibility to reinforce the universal values they hold dear.
Dhaka, Dec 13 (UNB) – At least 25 people were injured in clashes at different places in Noakhali, Laxmipur districts on Thursday.
In Noakhali district, at least 15 BNP men were injured, several cars were vandalized in a clash between two groups of Awami League and BNP in Darbeshpur area in Hatiya Upazila on Thursday.
BNP nominated candidate Engineer Mohammad Fazlur Azim claimed a group of armed people attacked his motorcade during their electioneering campaign at the place, leaving his 15 supporters severely injured.
On information, police rushed in and brought the situation under control, said Chandpur Police Super MD Ilias Sharif.
In Laxmipur, BNP nominated candidate of Laxmipur-1 constituency Shahadat Hossain Selim claimed some AL men, belonging to Awami League candidate Anwar Hossain, swooped on his men while they were conducting a view-exchange meeting at Karpara village in Ramganj upazila on Thursday.
At least 10 BNP men were injured during the clash, he also claimed.
Habiganj, Dec 13 (UNB) – A man was killed while 20 people were injured in a clash between two groups of people at Noagaon village in Baniachang upazila on Thursday.
The deceased was identified as Matiur Rahman, 42, son of Abdul Wahab of the village.
Rashed Mobarak, officer-in-charge of Baniachang Police Station, said there had been a longstanding dispute between former union parishad member Arju Miah and two villagers -- Shahjahan Miah and Musa Miah – over the money of a cooperatives society.
As a sequel of the enmity, the supporters of both the groups equipped with sharp weapons locked into a fierce clash.
The clash left around 21 people injured.
The injured were taken to Habiganj Sadar Hospital where doctors declared Matiur dead.
Dhaka, Oct 13 (UNB) – Jatiya Oikyafront senior leaders ASM Abdur Rob and Mahmudur Rahman Manna were allegedly obstructed from carrying out electioneering in the capital’s Uttarkhan area on Thursday.
The duo along with Oikyafront’s candidate for Dhaka-18 Shahoiduddin Mahmud Swapn offered fateha at Shah Kabir’s shrine at Uttarkhan to conduct election campaign in the area in the afternoon.
However, several hundred local leaders and activists of Awami League gathered on the shrine premises and started shouting slogans in favour of ‘Boat’.
At one stage, Rob and Manna along with their supporters left the shrine without conducting the campaign.
Talking to reporters, Manna, the convener of Nagorik Oiky, said the ruling party men are blocking Oikyafront candidates across the country from carrying out election campaign.
He said their alliance will remain in the polls till the last moment despite the adverse situation.
The Oikyafront leader called upon their leaders and activists to get ready to guard polling stations on December 30 braving all barriers.
Abur Rob, president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rob), urged police to work neutrally and help ensure a level-playing field.
Swapan, a JSD leader, was nominated by the Oikyafront to contest the election with the ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ from Dhaka-18 seat.
Dhaka, Dec 13 (UNB) - A number of educationalists, actors, actresses, musicians, singers, artists, sports personalities and civil society members participated in ruling party Awami League’s electioneering at the city’s Central Shaheed Minar on Thursday.
Awami League Publicity and Publication Sub-Committee, on behalf of the party, formally inaugurated the election campaign for the 11th parliamentary election.
Hasan Imam, Shomi Kaiser, Zahid Hassan, Aruna Biswas, Simon, Mahfuz Khan, Shakil Khan, Rokeya Prachi, Ajmeri Haque Bandhan, Tarin Jahan, Sweetie, Raisul Islam, Tareq Sujat and singer SD Rubel were present among the cultural personalities. Besides, sportspersons Abdul Gaffer, Satyajit Das Rupu and Badal Ray also joined the campaign.
AL secretary general Obaidul Quader, speaking as the chief guest, said “The response for Boat from the general public seems like 1971. The participation of the cultural personalities added a dimension to the campaign for the poll. So the defeated forces of ‘71 will be the losers in the coming election for the participation of the mass people.”
Referring to the campaign as a matter of spirit and passion, he said, "This consciousness has come here because of the emotional values. Awami League will be the winner in the next election.” He called for the people to avoid the defeated power of 1971 as they can’t win the elections in 2018.
Mentioning General Ziaur Rahman as the leader of communal forces in Bangladesh and ‘by chance’ freedom fighter, he said “Zia’s BNP is a party of killers, and corrupts. This party had been announced as 5- times champion in corruption during their tenure while their party leader, the corrupt Tarique Rahman is now convicted.”
He added “Dr Kamal, Manna, Kader Siddique are led by Tarique from London. On 30th December, people will prove that the BNP is a corrupt party and Awami League is a party for development.”
Distinguished playwright Hasan Imam, speaking on behalf of the present artists said: "We are always on the side of Awami League. Because Awami League favours the freedom fighters. Besides, the struggle of artists has started with the political struggle since 1971. The artists played a vital role in the Liberation War.”
AL Publication Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud was also present at the programme.
The organizers said the celebrities “who believe in the spirit of the Liberation War” were taking part in the colorful campaign of the AL.
The day’s nprogramme at the Shahid Minar began through the national anthem. Later, a documentary on different development activities of the government during the last 10 years was screened. A video on violent activities of BNP-Jamaat to foil the trial of war criminals was also screened.
That was followed by a rally rounding Banglamotor, Farmgate, Parliament building area which began from the central Shahid Minar ended at Dhanmondi Rd 32.
The assembled artists will be disbanding to visit various places around the country as part of the ruling party’s push to retain power.
Earlier AL President Sheikh Hasina kicked off the campaign by visiting the Mazar of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Tungipara in Gopalganj on December 12. In line with her programme, the party-wide formal campaign was inaugurated in the capital today.