Dhaka, Sept 17 (UNB) - Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has requested non-resident High Commissioner of New Zealand to Bangladesh Joanna Mary Kempkers for its support to put pressure on Myanmar so that Myanmar takes back their nationals who are currently staying in Bangladesh.
The High Commissioner expressed high respect for the government of Bangladesh for generously accepting and protecting the displaced people and said New Zealand has provided 18 million dollar for humanitarian assistance to the displaced people and solution to their crisis lies in their early repatriation.
New Zealand is ranked top among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, and therefore Wellington likes to share its experience with Dhaka to improve business climate in Bangladesh to attract more foreign investment, said Joanna.
The issues came up for discussion when she paid farewell courtesy call on Foreign Minister Momen at his office on Tuesday.
High Commissioner Joanna highly praised the socio economic development of Bangladesh in recent years with significant reduction of maternal and child mortality rates, poverty alleviation, and sustained high economic growth.
She expressed keen interest of New Zealand to engage more with Bangladesh economically, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.
Foreign Minister Dr Momen requested the High Commissioner to help reduce the trade gap between Bangladesh and New Zealand, which remains in favour of New Zealand.
High Commissioner Joanna said New Zealand is expecting business delegation from Bangladesh to New Zealand in November this year where trade and investment opportunities between the two countries will be further explored.
Dhaka, Sept 16 (UNB) - UN-appointed independent investigators on Monday said hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingyas who remain in Myanmar may face a greater threat of genocide than ever, amid government attempts to “erase their identity and remove them from the country”.
In a report detailing alleged violations in Myanmar over the last year, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission insists that many of the conditions that led to “killings, rapes and gang rapes, torture, forced displacement and other grave rights violations” by the country’s military prompted, that some 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh in 2017, are still present.
Citing the lack of accountability for the perpetrators of these alleged crimes, as well as the failure by Myanmar “to investigate genocide and to enact effective legislation criminalising and punishing genocide”, the UN-appointed independent panel concludes “that the evidence that infers genocidal intent on the part of the State…has strengthened, that there is a serious risk that genocidal actions may occur or recur”.
Echoing those findings, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee told the Human Rights Council earlier on Monday that Myanmar had “done nothing to dismantle the system of violence and persecution” against the Rohingya who live in the “same dire circumstances that they did, prior to the events of August 2017”.
Citing satellite imagery of destroyed Rohingya villages, Lee questioned Myanmar’s assertion that it rebuilt areas affected by the violence, given that there were “six military bases that have been built on the site of destroyed Rohingya villages”.
Of nearly 400 Rohingya villages apparently destroyed, “there has been no attempt to reconstruct 320 of them”, the Special Rapporteur noted, and four in 10 villages had been “completely razed to the ground”.
Some of that demolition occurred in 2018 and some even in 2019 “and all of this is completely antithetical to the claim that Myanmar is ready to receive the refugees (back from Bangladesh)”, Lee insisted.
According to the International Fact-Finding Mission’s near 200-page report, the abuses it found were not on the same scale as the “clearance operations” conducted against Rohingya communities in the summer of 2017.
Nonetheless, the 600,000 mainly-Muslim Rohingya still in Myanmar “remain the target” of government efforts to remove them from the country, the expert panel insisted, according to UN News.
The threats the Rohingya minority face include a “continuation of hate speech” and discrimination that affects their ability to work, attend school, seek medical care “or even pray and congregate”, the report notes.
Ongoing gross rights violations still occurring, says rights investigator
Echoing those comments, Lee insisted that Myanmar “continues to be a State that commits ongoing gross violations of international law”.
Humanitarian access remains severely restricted by the State, she went on, and all those involved in the violence – among them, the Tatmadaw State military and the Arakan separatist army – have been responsible for “indiscriminate…heavy artillery fire, gunfire and landmines in civilian areas” linked to the displacement of some 65,000 people across northern Rakhine and southern Chin states since January.
Highlighting information about “reprisals, surveillance and harassment” of people in Myanmar and outside the country who have cooperated with international human rights mechanisms, Lee urged the international community to continue to scrutinize events in Myanmar.
“The parties to the conflict must end their hostilities – the people of Rakhine have suffered enough,” she insisted.
In addition to reports of up to six villages being burned deliberately since the end of June, the Special Rapporteur also noted with concern that the Government-imposed internet blackout has been in place for nearly three months in Kyauktaw, Minbya, Ponnagyun and Mrauk-U, “where the worst fighting is happening”.
Conflict escalated on 15 August when separatists launched attacks in northern Shan and Mandalay, Lee explained, “killing and injuring soldiers, police officers, and civilians”.
This sparked intense fighting between the Tatmadaw State military and the ethnic armed organizations in northern Shan which led to the death of a farmer killed when Tatmadaw “reportedly fired mortars into his village as people were fleeing military helicopters conducting air strikes nearby”.
While welcoming the separatists’ unilateral ceasefire declared last week ahead of peace talks with the Government’s National Reconciliation and Peace Commission scheduled for Tuesday, Lee questioned whether the Tatmadaw were serious about bringing about peace after launching operations against Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) separatists – despite also saying that they were laying down their weapons.
Dhaka, Sept 16 (UNB) - Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali on Monday said the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India reached the best-ever one with the current focus being on key areas – trade, investment, connectivity and energy.
He credited the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking the relations between the two countries to a new height.
Muazzem Ali was delivering a key note address on “India-Bangladesh relations” at Sikkim University in Gangtok to the students, faculties and officials of the prestigious institution.
Highlighting Bangladesh’s outstanding socioeconomic success under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he said Bangladesh today is one of the fastest growing economies of the world with a record 7.86 percent GDP growth last year, and 8.13 percent so far in this fiscal year.
He said India too is fast emerging as a global economic power with strong growth coupled with scientific and technological achievements.
The envoy stressed all-round economic cooperation between the two countries, saying that the successes of both the neighbours offer each other opportunities to further deepen their economic relations.
“It has gone beyond the strategic partnership level and now encompasses all aspects of our bilateral cooperation. We’re confident that the reelections of both the Prime Ministers with landslide victories in their national elections will enable us to further consolidate and expand the ever-increasing bilateral ties, based on shared vision and mutuality of interest,” said the High Commissioner.
He mentioned that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to visit New Delhi in the first week of next month from October 3-7. “We hope the visit would further strengthen our cooperation.”
Dhaka, Sept 16 (UNB) – The United States has said it will continue partnership with the government of Bangladesh and its international organisation and non-governmental organisation partners to address the Rohingya crisis in ways that uphold humanitarian principles while benefiting all people in Cox’s Bazar.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller visited Cox’s Bazar on September 13-15 and during his trip, he met organisations providing assistance to Rohingyas and communities hosting the Rohingyas.
The United States is the world’s leading contributor of humanitarian assistance in response to the Rohingya crisis, having provided nearly $542 million (TK4,552.8 crore) since the outbreak of violence in August 2017; and, is committed to continuing to help those affected by the crisis, said the US Embassy in Dhaka on Monday.
US assistance supports Bangladeshi communities in Cox’s Bazar and the assistance helps improve the lives of Bangladeshis in host communities by expanding access to healthcare and enhancing economic and education opportunities, it said.
US assistance also supports humanitarian organisations and the government of Bangladesh in improving preparedness, infrastructure, and shelter for monsoon and cyclone seasons, the Embassy added.
This funding is in addition to the more than $7 billion (TK58,800 crore) in US development assistance provided to Bangladesh since 1971.
In 2018 alone, the US government, through USAID, for example, provided over $219 million (TK1,839.6 crore) to improve the lives of people across Bangladesh through programmes that increase food security and economic opportunity, improve access to education and healthcare, promote democratic institutions and practices, protect the environment, and boost resiliency to climate change.
The United States said it recognises the challenges the Rohingya crisis has posed for local communities and the government of Bangladesh.
The generosity of the people and government of Bangladesh in opening their hearts and borders to vulnerable Rohingyas is an example to the world, said the US Embassy.
Dhaka, Sept 16 (UNB) - UN human rights experts on Monday urged the Bangladesh government to carry out an “independent, impartial and effective investigation” into all the deaths that have occurred in Rohingya camps.
“The search for justice for the young Bangladeshi man killed on August 22 is of the utmost importance, but it’s equally necessary to ensure that the presumption of innocence is upheld and that reactionary, summary and ad hoc justice is not doled out solely to placate the legitimate concerns of the host community,” said a joint media release issued by the experts from Geneva.
The UN experts are Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues; David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
They said tensions flared between local communities and refugees following a “failed refugee repatriation attempt” and the murder of a young Bangladeshi man on August 22.
They said Bangladeshi police subsequently killed four Rohingya men and arrested at least one in response to the killing.
The UN experts expressed “serious concerns” about tight new restrictions and an “increased military presence” at Rohingya refugee camps following a massive “Genocide Day” protest last month.
An estimated 200,000 refugees gathered for the so-called “Genocide Day” rally in Cox’s Bazar to mark the second anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar. They called for Myanmar citizenship rights and other guarantees before they agree to return.
Since the demonstration in Cox’s Bazar on August 25, a number of the protest organisers have been questioned and subjected to intimidation, the experts said. A curfew is now being strictly enforced on those in the camps, and mobile phones have been banned and confiscated.
A number of NGOs have also been banned or suspended, allegedly for helping to organise the protest and attempting to persuade refugees not to return to Myanmar.
“We’re alarmed by the sudden crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and are seriously concerned, not only that these restrictions have been applied in a discriminatory manner against members of the Rohingya minority, who are refugees in Bangladesh, but also that curfews and communications shutdowns could facilitate further serious human rights abuses against them,” the release added.