Dhaka, Sept 11 (UNB) – Bangladesh has requested member States of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to include their support for Rohingya issue in their engagements during the forthcoming UN General Assembly.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam made the request when a 16-member delegation of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUIC) met him here.
They discussed the Rohingya issue and the role that can be played by the OIC parliaments in addressing the situation.
The 73rd session of the UNGA will open on September 18 and will be presided over by Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces of Ecuador.
The visiting Members of Parliament along with PUIC Secretary General Prof Dr Mahmud Erol Klilic expressed their gratitude to Bangladesh for the humane stance taken by the Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in providing food, shelter, medical care and other humanitarian services to the more than 1 million Rohingyas forcibly displaced from Myanmar.
The State Minister appreciated the support of the brotherly countries of the OIC in addressing the humanitarian situation arising out of this unprecedented exodus of Rohingyas into Bangladesh over a very short period, said the Foreign Ministry here.
He briefed them on the steps being taken by the Government, including the arrangements agreed with Myanmar for repatriation of these displaced people.
The delegation, comprising of MPs from 7 member states of the PUIC, namely Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, Morocco, Sudan and Turkey will visit the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday.
Dhaka, Sept 11 (UNB) – Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka Zhang Zuo on Tuesday laid emphasis on building an effective platform of discussion, sharing and mutual help to further enhance the practical economic cooperation between Bangladesh and China.
“We continue to strengthen our coordination, and push for signing an MoU on the cooperation of the mechanism in order to build it into a platform of discussion, sharing and mutual help, a platform of win-win cooperation and friendship,” he said.
The Ambassador was addressing a roundtable discussion on ‘China-Bangladesh Communication, Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism for Industry Enterprises under Belt and Road Initiative’ held in a city hotel.
Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Industries Shah Haq, Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) Chairman Shah Md Aminul Haq, President of the Overseas Chinese Association Zhuang Lifeng, President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Lin Weiqiang, Deputy Chief of Mission of Chinese Embassy Chen Wei, among others, spoke.
The Chinese Ambassador said the friendship between Bangladesh and can be dated way back into history, yet it stays young and fresh.
“I hope the industry enterprises from two sides could enhance mutual trust, strengthen communication and coordination, work together to become partners of mutual benefits, and actively contribute to the practical economic cooperation between our two nations,” he added.
The Chinese envoy said the bilateral relationship was elevated to Strategic Partnership of Cooperation which started a new chapter in the BRI.
In 2017, bilateral trade value reached US$ 16 billion, 5.8 percent higher than last year, with China remaining the number one trade partner to Bangladesh; the engineering contracts signed between Bangladesh and Chinese companies reached US$ 10.4 billion, second in the South Asian region.
In the first half of this year, our bilateral trade value stands at US$ 9.35 billion, with a growth rate of 17.6 percent year on year; the contracts signed are worth US$ 3.57 billion, a growth rate of 8.6 percent year-on-year.
The people of China and Bangladesh have jointly written down a splendid chapter of common development and strong complementarities with mutual respect and equality.
He put forward several suggestions for the establishment of China-Bangladesh Communication, Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism for Industry Enterprises under Belt and Road Initiative.
Zhuang Lifeng said Overseas Chinese Association in Bangladesh has become a platform of win-win cooperation and common development for our two countries people under the Belt and Road Initiative.
“Now the Belt and Road Initiative has entered its 5th year, unprecedented historic development opportunities have opened up for industries for our two countries, along with challenges as well,” he said.
Zhuang Lifeng said they believe China-Bangladesh Communication, Cooperation and Coordination for industries under Belt and Road Initiative will facilitate closer economic exchanges and cooperation, spur the growth of Chinese enterprises, attract more Chinese investment, and further boost the economic development of Bangladesh.
“We’re committed to working together with you in this regard,” he said.
In the coming future, he said, Overseas Chinese Association in Bangladesh is determined to forge ahead, under the leadership of Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh, with support from the Ministry of Industries of Bangladesh, to make greater contributions to the development of friendship.
Zhuang Lifeng laid emphasis on win-win cooperation between two countries, as well as the fulfillment of the dreams of Chinese national rejuvenation and Sonar Bangla.
Bangladesh officials said the government is committed to working together with China and said Bangladesh-China relations will grow with the overall growth of Asia.
Dhaka, Sept 11 (UNB) - A host of ill-defined laws has been used in Myanmar to exert control over independent journalism across the country, including in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states, a UN human rights report on freedom of expression in the country has found.
The report states that it has become “impossible for journalists to do their job without fear or favour.”
While last week’s conviction of two Reuters journalists -- Kyaw Soe Oo and Thet Oo Maung-- was a particularly outrageous and high-profile example of judicial harassment against the media in Myanmar, the report details a number of other examples of detentions and prosecutions of journalists and their sources indicative of wider trends of suppression of freedom of expression.
Laws on telecommunications, official secrets, unlawful associations, electronic transactions and even import-export and aircraft acts have been used against journalists in a number of cases over the years, the report states, according to a statement UNB received from Geneva on Tuesday.
In one case, three journalists were among seven men arrested in June 2017 for covering an event to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in an area under the control of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) in northern Shan state.
Even though the journalists from The Democratic Voice of Burma and The Irrawady were covering a ‘drug burning’ ceremony unrelated to the armed conflict, they were charged under the Unlawful Associations Act, which is “routinely used to allege that any contact with an ethnic armed group is tantamount to a criminal offence.”
“The fact that the three journalists were covering activities by TNLA that were unconnected to the conflict highlights the military’s sensitivity towards any independent reporting on ethnic armed groups or from non-government controlled territory, and illustrates how promptly the authorities consider that journalists have overstepped the boundary between what they consider as acceptable and impermissible reporting,” the report states. The charges were dropped after the men had spent 67 days in detention.
In another case, two Kachin Baptists were arrested in December 2016 under the same law for assisting journalists who had travelled to northern Shan State to report on the conflict there, the report states.
They were held incommunicado for several weeks and eventually received prison sentences of two years and three months under the Unlawful Associations Act as well as the Import-Export Law 2012 – the latter related to their alleged use of unlicensed motorbikes, the report states.
The Telecommunications Law, the Penal Code Section 500 and the Electronic Transactions Law, which all contain articles criminalising defamation, effectively also grant private individuals the power to stifle expression, the report adds.
The case against Swe Win, editor of the online newspaper Myanmar Now, involved a Facebook post in which he quoted a senior monk as saying that high-profile nationalist month Wirathu had violated the tenets of Buddhism. One of Wirathu’s followers filed a complaint against Swe Win under the Telecommunications Law in March 2017.
The case is still pending.
Swe Win told the UN Human Rights Office that the drawn-out proceedings in the case, which have included more than 30 court appearances, have undermined his ability to do his job.
In the case of the arrest and prosecutions in 2017 of a documentary crew working for Turkish state television, the Import-Export Law 2012 was invoked in relation to their use of a drone to film the parliament building in the capital city of Nay Pyi Taw.
The charges were eventually dropped but the report states that this case illustrates the “any means to an end” approach of the authorities who will use any available legal provision to deter independent reporting on critical issues in Myanmar – in “flagrant violation of the right to freedom of expression.”
The report also refers to “the instrumentalisation of the law and of the courts by the government and military in what constitutes a political campaign against independent journalism,” and the “failure of the judiciary to uphold the fair trial rights of those targeted.”
“Together, the cases outline to journalists a clear choice between self-censorship and the risk of prosecution,” the report states. “Given the importance of journalism for the public’s right to information, the restrictions imposed on media personnel have a broader implication in society.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the report laid bare the perilous position of independent journalists in Myanmar.
“Where journalists are jailed for merely visiting an area controlled by an armed group, when their sources are jailed for providing information from conflict zones, and where a Facebook post can result in criminal defamation accusations – such an environment is hardly conducive to a democratic transition,” she said.
“I call on the authorities to cease the legal and judicial harassment of journalists and to initiate a review of ill-defined laws that facilitate attacks on the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression.”
Dhaka, Sept 11 (UNB) - Bangladesh on Tuesday requested the international partners to intensify their campaign for a permanent solution to the Rohingya problem and ensure the safe and sustainable return of Rohingyas.
"The Myanmar authorities must demonstrate a strong political will as well as visible actions to address the discrimination against the Rohingyas," said State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam.
He said international humanitarian actors need to continue their persuasion with Myanmar for access to the Rakhine State so that these needs of Rohingya women and girls could be adequately addressed once they return to their homes.
Shahriar was addressing as the chief guest at OXFAM launch of new report, ‘One Year on: Time to put Women and Girls at the Heart of the Rohingya Response’ in the city.
Australian High Commission in Dhaka Julia Niblett and Oxfam Bangladesh Country Director Dr Dipankar Datta were, among others, present.
Shahriar said security is an important component of Bangladesh government’s response to the Rohingya crisis.
More than 1200 law enforcement officials have been additionally deployed in 11 check posts.
To ensure security at night, the government has established a 13-km power line alongside installing 50 streetlights, 10 floodlights and 1040 solar lights to lit up the streets.
Besides, the World Bank and ADB have been requested to provide additional support to the ensure electricity inside the camps, Shahriar said.
"Bangladesh believes the problems of the Rohingya women and girls need to be resolved permanently and sustainably. For that, we’ve been engaged diplomatically both with Myanmar and with the international community," he said.
Bangladesh signed an “Arrangement of Return” with Myanmar in Nay PwiDaw.
A Joint Working Group has been formed and a set of other arrangements have also been signed to implement the arrangement.
"Our past experiences suggest that Myanmar doesn’t fulfil its obligations unless pressurised by the international community," Shahriar said.
"We believe the strong public opinion around the world that seeks accountability of the perpetrators would help Myanmar address the root causes of the Rohingya problem and take effective measures for ensuring the basic needs of the Rohingyas when they return to their homes," he added.
The forced displacement of more than 700,000 Rohingya population within less than a year from neighbouring country Myanmar is considered to be one of the worst humanitarian crises of the world.
The unprecedented magnitude of inflow of Rohingyas since 25 August in 2017 created an accumulated figure of forcibly displaced Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh to about 1.1 million.
The United Nations described the dreadful operations in Rakhine, which resulted in this mass exodus of Rohingyas a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’.
In its recent report, the Independent International Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar has termed the horrendous acts of Myanmar authorities as ‘genocide’, ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘war crimes’.
In the face of this unprecedented crisis, Shahriar said, Minister Sheikh Hasina has shown exemplary leadership by responding to the call of humanity and opening the border for the people in distress.
The number of forcibly displaced Rohingyas living in Bangladesh has crossed one million, he said.
"Despite constraints, we’ve faced the situation with courage and under the firm leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, mobilised massive humanitarian response to support the Rohingya community," said the State Minister.
With the support of the international community, Bangladesh has been able to tackle the massive humanitarian crises for the last one year.
The largest shelter project for the Rohingyas, known as the Kutupalong - BalukhaliRohingya Camp that hosts more than 600,000 Rohingya is situated in hilly lands belonging to the Forest Department.
An additional amount of BDT 41.2 crore (equivalent to USD 4.96 million) has been allocated for the Rohingyas in the current financial year. Rohingyas are provided with food, shelter, medical and WASH facilities, informal education, and other basic necessities in government and non-government establishments.
The State Minister said the government recognises the special needs of women and children and has provided customized humanitarian support for them. 34,338 pregnant women has been identified who are provided with necessary health services.
"As of now, 3554 children were within those facilities. Some 8170 tube-wells, 50,508 latrines and 11190 bathrooms have been established. Separate bath facilities with sheds have been built for Rohingya women and girls," he said.
Shahriar said the Rohingya women and girls have never had access to health services, education or any other income generating activities.
"Due to intergenerational experience of persecution and discrimination, they remain extremely vulnerable. On top of that, huge women and girls have faced sexual violence in Myanmar causing severe trauma and psychological breakdown," said Shahriar.
The international Fact Finding Mission’s report has stated, the scale, brutality and systematic nature of these violations indicate that rape and sexual violence are part of a deliberate strategy to intimidate, terrorise or punish a civilian population, and are used as a tactic of war.
Dhaka, Sept 11 (UNB) - Goethe-Institut Bangladesh and its five partner schools have celebrated 10 years of “Schools: Partner for the Future” (PASCH initiative) with a concert by German-Swiss reagga and dancehall band RAGGABUND.
As part of the celebration, the four-member band rocked the audience at the National Theater Hall in Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Monday.
The partner schools are Oxford International School, European Standard School, South Point School and College, Maple leaf International School and Chittagong Mastermind International School.
Inaugurating the event, Dr Kirsten Hackenbroch, director of the Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, said that over the past 10 years, German as a foreign language became increasingly popular in Bangladesh.
Dr Kirsten said the PASCH partner schools, with their commitment to train teachers and hold interactive foreign language classes, are setting a crucial basis for this.
"For the future, we look forward to engaging with the alumni, to intensify our global networking, and to support those who are eager to conduct higher studies in Germany. In the name of Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, I would today like to thank all who made the PASCH network in the last years a vibrant space for intercultural exchange!”
The Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy Michael Schultheiß, underlined that learning another language opens new perspectives and allows insights into another culture and way of thinking.
"By learning German the students in Bangladesh not only improve their language skills, but also become ambassadors for the close bilateral relations between Germany and Bangladesh."
During the event, four students were announced as winners of a video competition producing music videos for songs of RAGGABUND.
The first price, participation in a PASCH Youth Camp in Sri Lanka, went to Samiul Gani Daihan and Mehedi Khan Mojish (Oxford International School), the second price went to Shohaib Hossain and Sakiyun Noor (South Point School and College)