Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested five suspected members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned militant outfit, from Chakla area in Shibganj upazila early Wednesday.
The arrestees are Moazzem, 32, Rabiul Islam, 35, Selim Reza, 37, Mahidur Rahman, 52 and Fahad Hossain, 29.
Tipped off that a group of people gathered in the area for holding a clandestine meeting, a team of RAB-5 conducted a drive in the area and arrested the five people around 1am, said a press release of the RAB-5.
The elite force members also recovered some books and leaflets on jihad from their possessions.
Bangladesh has sought Japan’s support for the early repatriation of Rohingyas, currently living in Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps, to their place of origin in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen discussed the issue when Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Naoki Ito met him at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.
The Japanese Ambassador reaffirmed the commitment of Japanese humanitarian assistance for Rohingyas in Bangladesh and continued support for the safe and voluntary repatriation of Rohingyas to Myanmar and their resettlement.
The Foreign Minister also discussed the Rohingya situation in details with Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Andrei Dapkunas at his office here on the same day.
Dr Momen urged Dapkunas to talk to his counterpart of Myanmar, and also mentioned that the Belarusian government needs to extend its assistance to ensure the safe and dignified repatriation of the forcefully displaced Rohingyas to their homeland, Myanmar.
Dapkunas assured that his government would look into the matter positively, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.
During the two meetings, they seized the opportunity to share major bilateral issues.
Dr Momen thanked the Japanese government through the newly-appointed Ambassador for concluding MoC (Memorandum of Cooperation) on recruiting ‘Specified Skilled Workers’ by Japan from Bangladesh.
He also mentioned that Bangladesh is driving for the digital economy by high-tech manufacturing Hi-Tech Parks in different places of Bangladesh which are now ready for investment with all necessary off-site infrastructures.
In this regard, he sought Japanese investment in Bangladesh’s IT sector.
During the meeting with Belarus Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr Momen discussed various issues of mutual interests ranging from trade and economic cooperation and agreed to strengthen the already existing friendly ties.
The Bangladesh Foreign Minister expressed gratitude to the people of Belarus for their support during the War of Liberation in 1971 and appreciated the fact that the relations between the two countries were deepening gradually through a number of initiatives taken by the two governments.
He underscored the need for exchange of more trade and investment delegations, and invited Belarusian businessmen and entrepreneurs to invest in Export Processing Zones (EPZs), Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Hi-Tech Parks (HTP) in Bangladesh.
The Belarusian Deputy Minister said his country would be the Chair of the Eurasian Economic Commission from January 1, 2020 for one year.
Foreign Minister Dr Momen urged his government to play a special role in favour of Bangladesh to get duty- and quota-free facilities to the Eurasian market.
Bangladesh and the United States are expecting good results on accountability front as the second day hearing on genocide by Myanmar against Rohingyas began at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday.
“We feel proud that a country like The Gambia came forward with the case. Yesterday’s hearing was a good one,” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters after two separate meetings with US Ambassador Earl R Miller and Japanese Ambassador to Dhaka Naoki Ito at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Asked about US’ feedback on the ICJ hearing, the Foreign Minister said the US Ambassador also hoped that they will have a good result and they remain engaged.
Ambassador Miller said the United States supports justice for victims and accountability for the perpetrators of serious abuses as important element of Myanmar’s ongoing democratic transition.
“To date, there has yet to be any meaningful accountability for the perpetrators of the horrific abuses in northern Rakhine State that led to fleeing of more than 740,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh,” he said.
Commenting on Suu Kyi’s role, Dr Momen said it is sad to see her current role and mentioned that he demonstrated on the streets several times demanding her release from jail in the past. “She was an icon of democracy and human rights. I felt hurt seeing her moral degradation.”
At the ICJ, Suu Kyi on Wednesday claimed Muslims are not a party to this conflict, but may, like other civilians in the conflict area, be affected by security measures that are in place. “We pray to the Court to refrain from taking any action that might aggravate the ongoing armed conflict and peace and security in Rakhine.”
The Foreign Minister referred the joint statement issued by Nobel peace laureates who demanded that Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, along with her army commanders, be held criminally accountable for crimes committed.
“As Nobel Peace laureates, we call on Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, to publicly acknowledge the crimes, including genocide, committed against the Rohingya,” said the Nobel peace laureates in a joint statement.
The Foreign Minister said they firstly want Rohingyas go back to their place of origin in Rakhine State and live their lives peacefully.
He also said accountability and justice need to be ensured so that similar crimes against Rohingyas do not take place again.
The Foreign Minister hoped that Suu Kyi will realise the fact.
Impunity Must Stop
Talking to reporters, the US Ambassador shared the fresh sanctions imposed on four top current and former Myanmar military leaders.
On Tuesday, the United States took fresh action against 18 individuals, including the Myanmar Army chief, for their roles in atrocities and other abuses.
The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) came up with the sanctions.
“This brings to nine the number of Burmese [Myanmar] security force members, plus two units, who have been sanctioned by the United States since 2017 for serious human rights abuses,” said the US Ambassador.
He said this action builds on recent designations made in July and imposes targeted financial sanctions on these four senior military leaders.
The US envoy said the elements of the Myanmar military have committed serious human rights abuses against members of ethnic minority groups across Myanmar.
Such abuses and the continuing impunity must stop for Myanmar to transition to a more secure, stable, democratic, peaceful and prosperous nation, he said.
“Burma’s [Myanmar’s] military must address the climate of impunity and cease abuses and violations of universally accepted human rights. The United States prioritizes the protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights as a key part of our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, recognising them as integral to US foreign policy and national security interests and in line with US values,” Miller said.
He said such human rights abuse undermines the ability to realise the vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific that they share with ASEAN and other Indo-Pacific partners.
The US envoy said as the world recognised International Human Rights Day, the United States continues doing its part to promote accountability by remaining committed to the American ideals underpinning the “Global Magnitsky” programme.
“We commend the courageous work of civil society and all of you, the journalists, who play an important role in exposing human rights abuse and corruption and in holding public officials accountable,” he said adding, “Together, the US envoy said, they must work to ensure those who have committed such acts are cut off from the benefits of access to our financial systems and our shores.”
Myanmar's former pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday denied that her country's armed forces committed genocide against the Rohingya minority, telling the U.N.'s top court that the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Muslims was the unfortunate result of a battle with insurgents.
In a measured tone, Suu Kyi calmly refuted allegations that the army had killed civilians, raped women and torched houses in 2017 in what Myanmar's accusers describe as a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing and genocide that saw more than 700,00 Rohingya flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
She said the allegations stem from "an internal armed conflict started by coordinated and comprehensive armed attacks ... to which Myanmar's defense services responded. Tragically, this armed conflict led to the exodus of several hundred thousand Muslims."
Her appearance at the International Court of Justice was striking in that Suu Kyi was defending the very armed forces that had kept her under house arrest for about 15 years. She was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize in absentia for championing democracy and rights under Myanmar's then-ruling junta. A small group of her supporters gathered Wednesday outside The Hague-based court.
Suu Kyi told the court that the African nation of Gambia, which brought the legal action against Myanmar on behalf of the 57-country Organization of Islamic Cooperation, had provided "an incomplete and misleading factual picture" of what happened in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state in August 2017.
Gambia alleges that genocide was committed and is still ongoing. It has asked the world court to take action to stop the violence, including "all measures within its power to prevent all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide" in Myanmar.
But Suu Kyi said developments in one of Myanmar's poorest regions are "complex and not easy to fathom." She detailed how the army responded on Aug. 25, 2017, to attacks by insurgents trained by Afghan and Pakistan extremists.
Addressing the court in her capacity as Myanmar's foreign minister, Suu Kyi insisted that the country's armed forces had tried "to reduce collateral damage" during fighting in 12 locations. While conceding that excessive force might have been used and that one helicopter may have killed "non-combatants," Suu Kyi said a Myanmar investigation is looking into what happened and should be allowed to finish its work.
"Can there be genocidal intent on the part of a state that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers who are accused of wrongdoing?" she asked the court.
Suu Kyi and Myanmar's legal team argued that the genocide convention does not apply to Myanmar. They invoked Croatia during the Balkans wars in the 1990s, saying that no genocide was deemed there when thousands of people were forced from their homes by fighting.
On Tuesday, Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambadou urged the International Court of Justice to "tell Myanmar to stop these senseless killings, to stop these acts of barbarity that continue to shock our collective conscience, to stop this genocide of its own people."
Also Tuesday, the U.S. slapped economic sanctions on four Myanmar military officers suspected of human rights violations. It sanctioned Min Aung Hlaing, commander of Myanmar's armed forces, over allegations of serious rights abuses. Deputy commander Soe Win and two other military leaders, Than Oo and Aung Aung, were also targeted.
"There are credible claims of mass-scale rape and other forms of sexual violence committed by soldiers under Min Aung Hlaing's command," a U.S. statement said.
The court's hearings on Myanmar are scheduled to end Thursday.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Wednesday said Bangladesh has been recognised as a model in tackling militancy.
The minister came up with the remark at a views exchange programme with members of law enforcement agencies in the officers’ club of Jamalpur.
He said police have made much improvement in the last 12 years.
“They have been able to gain the people’s trust. It has been possible for them to tackle militancy as general people were with them,” the minister said, noting that policemen breaking the law are being punished.
“We can brag about our police force,” he said, urging everyone to work together to create a beautiful Bangladesh for the future generations.