DU BCL leaders, activists demand arrest of Motiur Rahman; block Shahabagh
Leaders and activists Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) of different hall units of Dhaka University demanded arrest of Prothom Alo editor Motiur Rahman blocking Shahbagh intersection for about two hours on Saturday. The BCL men under the banner of 'general students' blocked the area around 10.20 am and continued till 12.30 pm. Jaman Sami, a student of 2017-18 academic session of Law department also organisational secretary of Sir AF Rahman hall Chhatra League, said, " Today we came here to protest yellow journalism practiced by Prothom Alo. Motiur Rahman, the editor of the daily, has been accused of child exploitation, killing a student of Dhaka Residential Model College and so more." Also read: Prothom Alo Editor Matiur Rahman sued under Digital Security Act “We, the conscious students of Dhaka University, are protesting this heinous activities of Prothom Alo. For doing such heinous acts, Motiur Rahman have to be arrested soon," he added. On March 26, Prothom Alo published a ‘ graphic card’ with a photograph and a quotation of a day labourer Zakir Hossain for sharing a news report on Facebook. However, the national daily later removed the post from online due to a discrepancy regarding the photo that was used with the news.Later, the report was republished with necessary amendments and a note below the report regarding the correction.Later, Shamsuzzaman Shams, the paper’s Savar correspondent, who wrote the report was sued in a separate case under the DSA on Wednesday afternoon, around 10 hours after being picked up from his house near Jahangirnagar University by members of the Criminal Investigation Department of police.Editor of the country’s leading daily Motiur Rahman was also sued under the Digital Security Act.
Sri Lankan state workers strike, protesting high taxes
Sri Lankan health, railway, port and other state workers were on a daylong strike Wednesday to protest against sharp increases in income taxes and electricity charges, as the island nation awaits approval of an International Monetary Fund package to aid its bankrupt economy. Most government hospitals around the country suspended their outpatient clinics because doctors, nurses and pharmacists were on strike. The railways operated fewer trains and armed soldiers guarded carriages and train stations fearing sabotage. Trade unions say the increase in taxes and electricity charges have hit them hard amid difficulties from the country's worst economic crisis. They have threatened to extend the strike indefinitely if the government fails to address their demands. Also Read: Sri Lanka leader says IMF deal imminent after China’s pledge The government says it was compelled to raise taxes to strengthen state revenue and electricity charges to cover production costs, key prerequisites to unlocking the proposed $2.9 billion IMF package. Authorities say they managed to operate some trains and most state banks despite the strike. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said last week the fund's board will meet on March 20 to consider the final approval of Sri Lanka's bailout package after China gave crucial debt restructuring assurances. Sri Lanka announced last year it was suspending repayment of its foreign loans amid a severe foreign currency crisis that resulted in shortages of fuel, food, medicines and cooking gas, along with long power cuts. The crisis led to street protests that forced then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and resign. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, since taking over last July, has managed to end the power cuts and reduce shortages. The Central Bank has said the country's reserves have improved and Sri Lanka's rupee has started to strengthen after crashing last year. The Central Bank has wrested back control of foreign currency trade from the black market, the monetary authority says. However, critics say the strengthening of the currency might be linked to import controls and that it is bound to weaken once the country reopens for imports. Wickremesinghe told Parliament last week that difficult reforms are needed to remain on course with the IMF program. Sidestepping them, as the country has done on 16 previous occasions, could spell danger, he added, noting that any breakdown would compel Sri Lanka to repay $6-7 billion of foreign debt every year until 2029. However, he found no support from the opposition parties and the public, who say he is shielding the ousted Rajapaksa family from allegations of corruption, which they say caused the economic crisis, in return for their support for his presidency.
RU students block Dhaka-Rajshahi highway to protest ‘attack from locals and police’
Rajshahi University students today blocked the Dhaka-Rajshahi highway to protest the “attack on them by locals and police” last night. Members of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) were deployed on the highway to control the situation, UNB’s RU correspondent said. Earlier today, students demonstrated in front of the administration building of the university and locked the building to protest last night’s clash involving locals of Binodpur and the students of Rajshahi University. At least 200 students were injured during the clash. Read more: Over 200 students injured as RU students clash with locals over bus seat The protesting students shouted slogans with their six-point demand, calling for justice. Their demands are: justice for the attack on RU students by locals and police, stopping the entry of outsiders in the university and ensuring safety of the students, ensuring on-campus accommodation for all students, ensuring proper treatment of the injured students, taking necessary measures within 24 hours of the incident, and ensuring student representation in forming university policies. According to the university sources, the students staged a sit-in protest in front of the Senate Building after holding a protest march on the campus to talk with the authorities. Later, they blocked the Vice Chancellor Professor Dr. Golam Shabbir Sattar, the Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof. Md. Sultan-Ul-Islam, and Prof. M. Humayun Kabir for two hours in front of Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmed Senate building. Read More: RU student stabbed on campus, 3 held VC Prof Golam Sabbir Sattar urged the students to stop the demonstration. However, the agitating students rejected his request and asked him to solve the issue. Amanullah Khan, a student of Population Science and Human Resource Development department of the university, said, “Police were largely inactive in the incident, rather they threw tear gas shells and fired rubber bullets at us. Taking advantage of their inaction, local thugs attacked us. The agitation will continue if our demands are not met.” At that time, he demanded the resignation of the university’s proctorial body and student advisor.
Farmers, environmental activists hold demos in The Hague
Thousands of farmers and other anti-establishment demonstrators protested Saturday in a park in The Hague against Dutch government plans to reduce nitrate emissions, while elsewhere in the city climate activists angry at what they call state support for the fossil fuel industry broke through police lines to block a major road. The simultaneous demonstrations — a few kilometers (miles) from one another — come days before Dutch voters go to the polls in provincial elections Wednesday that indirectly also elect the national parliament’s upper house and could have an effect on proposals for reducing nitrate pollution. Police said they stopped an unknown number of tractors that were headed for the farmers' demonstration. The municipality banned all but two “symbolic” tractors from participating, citing safety concerns. As thousands of people, many carrying the upside-down Dutch flags that have become synonymous with farmers' protests and balloons emblazoned with the logo of the far-right Forum for Democracy party, gathered peacefully in front of a stage for the demonstration, the two permitted tractors drove slowly across the park. Earlier, Rotterdam broadcaster Rijnmond showed video of a convoy of tractors crossing the city’s Erasmus Bridge early Saturday, apparently on their way to The Hague. One of the tractors was emblazoned with a banner saying in Dutch “#proudofthefarmer.” As the farmers were gathering in a park in the south of the city, Mayor Jan van Zanen gave police permission to use a water cannon on Extinction Rebellion protesters who blocked a major highway in the downtown area near where it runs past the temporary home of the Dutch parliament. Police said demonstrators who refuse to leave the road would be detained. The highway was blocked in both directions, but police did not immediately use the water cannon. The twin demonstrations prompted authorities to place army trucks near some crossroads ready to block the streets if tractors or other protest vehicles tried to drive into the city center. Anger at moves to cut nitrate emissions have spread from the Netherlands to other European nations. Just over a week ago, farmers drove hundreds of tractors into the heart of the Belgian capital, Brussels, snarling traffic. At protests in recent years, farmers have driven hundreds of tractors into the center of The Hague and also used them to blockade supermarket warehouses. The government has said that nitrate emissions, which are produced by livestock, transport and industry, must be drastically reduced close to nature areas that are part of a network of protected habitats for endangered plants and wildlife stretching across the 27-nation European Union. The coalition wants to cut emissions of pollutants, predominantly nitrates, by 50% nationwide by 2030. Ministers call the proposal an “unavoidable transition” that aims to improve air, land and water quality, and have warned that it will mean "that not all farmers can continue their business.”
Mass protests in Israel as controversial overhauls advanced
Tens of thousands of Israelis on Saturday protested their far-right government’s plans to overhaul the legal system, three days after parliament advanced a bill that would enable lawmakers to overturn a Supreme Court decision with a simple majority. The “Supreme Court override” bill’s approval in a preliminary vote in the Knesset was the latest step by Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition toward realizing the judicial overhaul that is steaming ahead despite calls for dialogue and consensus from American Jews and Israel’s president, and the weekly mass protests. Also Read: Israel's Netanyahu advances judicial changes despite uproar In addition to weakening the country's highest court, the protesters say the proposed changes threaten Israel's democratic values and concentrate power with the ruling coalition in parliament. Netanyahu and his ruling coalition believe the court has had unchecked power for years. For eight weeks, the weekly protests have gained momentum, with large sectors of Israeli society and businesses joining them. On Saturday, the main protest took place in the central city of Tel Aviv along numerous smaller demonstrations across the country. Also Read: Israel approves over 7,000 settlement homes, groups say The protesters held Israeli flags, flares, and posters with different messages against the judicial overhauls. “No Constitution, No Democracy," said one placard. Some demonstrators stood behind a banner reading “They Shall Not Pass" and “We Shall Override,” referring to the vote.
Chattogram University fine arts students asked to leave campus due to 'renovation work'
The fine arts department students of Chattogram University were asked to leave their hall and the campus by 10pm Thursday due to "renovation work" on the campus, the authorities said. The decision was taken at the 542nd syndicate meeting this evening, Chattogram University Proctor Rabiul Hasan Bhuiyan said. "After the urgent meeting, the students were asked to leave the campus and vacate the Shilpi Rashid Chowdhury dormitory by 10pm. All in-person classes and exams will be suspended in the fine arts institute for the next month to carry out some renovation work," he added. On Wednesday night, the proctorial team and police conducted a raid on the campus. They searched every room of the institution's Shilpi Rashid Chowdhury dormitory and the teachers' club. On November 2 last year, the students staged a sit-in programme and started boycotting classes for an indefinite period to press home their 22-point demand, including renovation of dormitories and the library, and relocation of the campus to Hathazari main campus. On November 16, the students staged a demonstration, locking the main gate of the institute and boycotting classes and exams, as their demands were not met. The students returned to classes on January 23 on some conditions. However, they resumed their protest Tuesday as their "demands were not met." Read more: 22-point demand: CU fine arts students on indefinite class boycott
Schoolgirl's death in road crash sparks protest in Kushtia
Local people blocked Kushtia-Rajbari road for nearly half-an-hour protesting the death of a schoolgirl in a road accident in Kumarkhali upazila of Kushtia district on Monday. Samia Arfin Shohagi, 7, a schoolgirl and daughter of Sohan Sheikh was killed and two others were injured as a motorbike hit them in front of Charaikol Government Primary School in Kumarkhali upazila in the afternoon, said Md Mohsin Hossain, officer-in-charge of Kumarkhali Police Station. The injured Halima Akter Munni, a class II student, and Naimul Hossain Nayan, son of Hekmat Ali were undergoing treatment at a local hospital. Agitated local people put up barricades on Kushtia-Rajbari highway demanding installment of a speed breaker in front of the school and punishment of the motorbike driver, disrupting traffic movement. Also read: Biker, pillion rider dead in Kushtia road accident Later, the traffic movement came to normal after half-an-hour as the local people cleared the road following police intervention. Police seized the motorbike and arrested the driver. Legal steps will be taken after getting written complaint from the victim’s family.
Peru's protest 'deactivators' run toward tear gas to stop it
When police fire tear gas at protesters demanding the resignation of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, most run away. A few, though, run toward the gas canisters as quickly as possible — to neutralize them. These are the “deactivators.” Donning gas masks, safety goggles and thick gloves, these volunteers grab the hot canisters and toss them inside large plastic bottles filled with a mixture of water, baking soda and vinegar. The deactivators made their debut in Peru street protests in 2020, inspired by protesters in Hong Kong who in 2019 unveiled new strategies to counteract the eye-stinging, breath-stealing effects of tear gas. With protesters in Lima facing a nearly daily fusillade of tear gas, more people have joined the ranks of deactivators trying to shield them and keep the demonstrations going. Read more: Anger in rural areas fuel protests against Peru government Peruvians have been protesting since early December, when former President Pedro Castillo was impeached after a failed attempt to dissolve Congress. His vice president, Boluarte, immediately took over — and has faced strong opposition ever since. Fifty-eight people have died in connection with the unrest, including one police officer. Forty-six of the deaths occurred during direct clashes between protesters and police. The protests have exposed deep divisions in the country between the urban elites and the rural poor. Demonstrations were first largely concentrated in the south, a long-neglected region of Peru that felt a particular kinship to Castillo’s humble background as a rural teacher from the Andean highlands. But earlier this month, thousands descended on Peru's capital, and police met them with tear gas. Lots and lots of tear gas. On Thursday, as protesters gathered in downtown Lima, Alexander Gutiérrez Padilla, 45, was giving a brief course to anyone who would listen around Plaza San Martín about how to mix vinegar and baking soda into the water and how to grab the tear gas canisters most efficiently. “If we don’t deactivate, people disperse and the protest breaks,” Gutiérrez said. “That’s why we’re pillars of this demonstration.” Next to him was Wilfredo Huertas Vidal, 25, who has taken it upon himself to collect donations to buy gloves and other protective equipment and hand them out to those who want to help. “Who wants gloves? Who wants gloves?” he yelled as he stood next to several large bottles of water, gas masks and eye goggles. When protesters descended on Lima earlier this month, old networks were reactivated. A tactic first seen in Peru in late 2020 during protests against then-President Manuel Merino resurfaced. Vladimir Molina, 34, who participated in the 2020 protests, now runs what he calls a “brigade.” It consists of around 60 people, including paramedics, deactivators and “front-line” activists who stand in the middle of protesters and police with shields, in an effort to block any pellets or tear gas police may fire into the crowd. Read more: Peru judge orders 18-month detention for ousted president “Every day more and more people are joining,” Molina said. Interest in his group is so great that he’s made it a requirement for anyone who wants to join to have their own equipment. By tossing the hot tear gas cartridges into the water solution, “what they do is extinguish the pyrotechnical charge so the tear gas cannot come out anymore,” said Sven Eric Jordt, a professor of anesthesiology at Duke University. Water alone should achieve what the protesters want, although the carbon dioxide created by mixing vinegar and baking soda could “form a foam bath that suffocates the charge” further, Jordt speculated. It may be only a matter of time before authorities deploy methods to blunt the deactivators' effectiveness. Manufacturers are now developing tear gas with plastic cartridges that stick to the road so it “can’t be lifted up anymore,” Jordt said. Fearful of being targeted by police and prosecutors, many of the deactivators prefer to remain anonymous, keeping their faces covered even when there’s no tear gas around. Boluarte has given strong backing to law enforcement, and the government recently announced a bonus for police officers. Boluarte has characterized the work of police controlling the Lima protests as “immaculate,” despite their often indiscriminate firing of tear gas and pellets. In contrast, she says the demonstrations are violent and financed by drug-trafficking rings and illegal miners. Andrea Fernández, 22, is new to deactivating tear gas. “The truth is I love the adrenaline,” Fernández said shortly after grabbing a pair of gloves from Huertas and listening to the instructions closely. She said she hadn’t been really interested in the country’s political crisis at first. Then the deaths started piling up. “There are a lot of farmers who’ve come from lots of parts of Peru and they come here to march, face-to-face, but don’t have the necessary protection,” Fernández said. Felix Davillo, 37, also says the casualties pushed him to become a deactivator. “I made this decision for all the death that is going on in Puno right now,” Davillo said, referring to a region in Peru that has experienced some of the deadliest protests. A general lack of protective equipment has also meant protesters have been injured by the widespread use of less lethal weapons. From January 19 to 24, Doctors Without Borders treated 73 patients at the Lima protests suffering from exposure to tear gas, pellet wounds, contusions or psychological distress, the non-profit organization said. The deactivators' increased chance of injury doesn’t scare Julio Incarocas Beliz, who grabbed one of the big water bottles in the plaza for his first day trying to diffuse tear gas. “I served in the military and I’ve never been afraid,“ Incarocas, 28, said. “I’m fighting for my homeland.”
DU students stage protest demanding resignation of Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall provost
The resident students of Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall of Dhaka University have staged a sit-in in front of the vice-chancellor's (VC) house demanding the resignation of their provost. They gathered in front of the VC's house around 9.30pm Thursday to protest "irregularities in seat allocation, lack of emergency facilities, poor quality of food in the canteen, student harassment, inadequate water filters and cooking facilities." The agitating students demanded the resignation of Hall Provost Nazmun Nahar, professor of the Department of Geography and Environment, saying: "She does not care about the students and is always busy with her personal affairs." Preferring anonymity, one of the protesting students said, "The hall provost has been involved in many irregularities. It takes a minimum of 15 days for us to get a document signed by the hall provost even if it is urgent. She takes Tk4,000 from every student every year to allocate seats although it is not allowed by the university regulations." At one stage, four protesting students went to the VC's house to express their grievances. DU Proctor Professor AKM Golam Rabbani said: "The students shared their sufferings and problems with us. They have some valid demands and points. We will try to resolve the issues through discussion." After the meeting, the students returned to their dormitory at around 11:45pm. However, Provost Nazmun Nahar could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts. Read more: DU punishes 114 students
Brazil’s President Lula fires army chief in aftermath of capital uprising by far-right protesters
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva fired Brazil’s army chief Saturday just days after the leftist leader openly said that some military members allowed the Jan. 8 uprising in the capital by far-right protesters. The official website of the Brazilian armed forces said Gen. Julio Cesar de Arruda had been removed as head of the army. He was replaced by Gen. Tomás Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, who was head of the Southeast Military Command. Lula, who did not comment publicly on the firing, met with Defense Minister Jose Mucio, chief of staff Rui Costa and the new army commander in Brasilia at the end of the day. Speaking to journalists afterward, Mucio said the Jan. 8 riots had caused “a fracture in the level of trust” in the army’s top levels and the government decided a change was needed. Read more: Brazil charges dozens in pro-Bolsonaro riots; more expected In recent weeks, Lula targeted the military with criticism after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed through government buildings and destroyed public property in an attempt to keep Bolsonaro in office. The uprising underlined the polarization in Brazil between the left and the right. Lula said several times in public that there were definitely people in the army who allowed the rioting to occur, though he never cited Arruda. During a breakfast with the press, Lula said earlier this week that “a lot of people from the military police and the armed forces were complicit” and had allowed protesters to enter the buildings with open doors. In another interview, the president said that “all the military involved in the coup attempt will be punished, no matter the rank.” The comments were followed by Lula scheduling several meetings with the defense minister and the armed forces’ commanders. Mucio denied they had mentioned the Jan. 8 rioting, but he said relations between the military and the government needed adjustment. On the eve of Arruda’s firing, a video of a Paiva speech earlier in the week was released in which he said the election results should be respected in order to guarantee democracy. Rioters who stormed through the Brazilian Congress, the presidential palace and the Supreme Court in Brasilia sought to have the military intervene and overturn Bolsonaro’s loss to Lula in the presidential election. Read more: Days before new president, old divisions tearing at Brazil In a video posted on social media from inside the presidential palace on the day of the attack, a colonel is seen trying to stop police from arresting Bolsonaro’s supporters who had invaded the building. He asks for patience from the military police, which report to the federal district’s government. More than a thousand people were arrested on the day of the riot and the morning after the disturbance, which bore strong similarities to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Congress by mobs who wanted to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election loss. A Brazilian Supreme Court justice earlier this month authorized adding Bolsonaro in its investigation into who incited the rioting in Brasilia as part of a broader crackdown to hold responsible parties to account. According to the text of his ruling, Justice Alexandre de Moraes granted the request from the prosecutor-general’s office, which cited a video that Bolsonaro posted on Facebook two days after the riot. The video claimed Lula wasn’t voted into office, but rather was chosen by the Supreme Court and Brazil’s electoral authority. Lula has been trying to reduce the high number of military officers in the government administration left by Bolsonaro. At least 140 military officers have been dismissed since Lula took office Jan. 1.