Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has put emphasis on increasing cooperation with Bangladesh, particularly in the areas of agriculture, agro-based products, regional tourism, investment promotion, ICT, high tech industry and education.
He discussed the issues when newly-appointed High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka Tareq Md Ariful Islam presented his credentials to him at the President’s House in a formal ceremony.
High Commissioner Tareq shared with the President the tremendous socio-economic developments that Bangladesh has achieved under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He also discussed issues including enhancing bilateral trade, concluding bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), enhancing shipping connectivity, signing of coastal shipping agreement, investment promotion and cooperation in pharmaceutical sectors.
They discussed ways and means to further deepen the bilateral relations between the two countries.
High Commissioner Tareq conveyed the greetings and personal regards of the President and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to President Rajapaksa.
High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Sri Lanka Tareq Md Ariful Islam presented his credentials Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Photo: Courtesy
He also conveyed to him the invitation of the President and the Prime Minister to visit Bangladesh.
Felicitating the High Commissioner for assuming his responsibility, Rajapaksa reciprocated the greetings to Bangladesh President and Prime Minister and thanked them for the invitation.
High Commissioner Tareq appreciated President Rajapaksa for leading the country to greater socio-economic developments as well as for effectively dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Referring to the excellent bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and the multitude of commonalities, the High Commissioner expressed his commitment to work for further strengthening the ties between the two countries.
He solicited the support of the host government in this regard.
The Sri Lankan President shared his country’s experience in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka Dinesh Gunawardene, Secretary to the President Dr PB Jayasundera, and Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof Jayanath Colombage were present at the ceremony, said the High Commission.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under its Human Rights and Justice Programme (HRJP) has launched Low-Value Grants (LVG) to foster small scale innovative actions to address human rights issues during and after COVID-19 situation in Bangladesh, engaging civil society organisations (CSOs) and community radio.
Under this initiative, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), UNDP in partnership with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) called for innovative ideas, actions, and approaches to solve human rights problems and challenges, leaving no one behind, in different thematic issues.
The Human Rights and Justice Programme, with funding support from SIDA and SDC has been working with the state-based institutions particularly the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to strengthen its capacity to better deliver on its mandate and the law-enforcing agencies (in particular Police) to defend and protect human rights, said UNDP on Monday.
It has been able to engage other stakeholders also such as civil society organisations (CSOs), human rights defenders (HRDs), youths and faith leaders to promote a human rights culture.
The Programme has given special focus on working with most vulnerable and marginalised groups, including women and girls, children and young people, ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities, Dalit and other excluded minorities.
The call encourages an approach to leave no one behind (LNOB) to combat discrimination and inequalities in the time of COVID-19, particularly on the following thematic issues - Rights and inclusion of left-behind people in the decision-making structures and institutional services, rights of the minorities, women and children rights, cultural rights: promotion of peace, tolerance and cultural diversity in the society, ethnic/local language-based rights education and radio programming.
So far, the Programme has provided small grants support to 44 CSOs in 15 districts aiming to enhance their capacity and better engagement in addressing human rights issues. Priority districts for this year are Dhaka, Manikganj, Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Khulna, Satkhira, Barishal, Cox’s Bazar, Mymensingh, Moulvibazar and Habiganj.
Rohingya repatriation could not be started because of the lack of cordiality of the Myanmar government, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Monday.
“Not a single Rohingya could be repatriated in the last three and a half years as Myanmar brought up one issue after the other,” he told reporters in Rangamati after inaugurating Bangabandhu Adventure Festival marking the birth centenary of Bangladesh’s founding father.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya men, women and children fled to Bangladesh from their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state after the military launched a brutal offensive targeting the mainly Muslim ethnic minority.
Also Read: 2020: Another year of agony for Rohingyas
State-sponsored discrimination against the Rohingyas stretches back decades. Myanmar does not recognise them as citizens despite having lived in the country for generations. The country denies them basic rights and many of them are forced to live in cramped camps.
Bangladesh and Myanmar held several rounds of talks for the discussions could not be advanced due to election and Covid-19 outbreak. Foreign Minister Momen said a repatriation talk with Myanmar is scheduled for Jan 19 at the mediation of China.
Replying to a question, the minister said India had repeatedly assured that they would give Bangladesh Covid-19 vaccine whenever they would use them.
“This decision came from the highest level of the Indian government. We want to believe in India. We’ve had talks with them on many occasions and they have assured us (of providing the vaccine),” he said.
Minister Momen said Bangladesh had held talks with other countries and they, too, assured of providing vaccines.
Bangladesh has so far confirmed 523,302 cases with 7,803 fatalities. The country reported its first cases on March 8 last year and the first death on March 18.
The country inked an agreement with the Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd last month for procuring 30 million doses of Oxford/Astrazeneca Vaccine – five million each month.
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 vaccination in Bangladesh will start in the first week of February, the Director General of the Directorate General Health Services (DGHS) Prof Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam said Monday.
Bangabandhu Adventure Festival
Foreign Minister Momen inaugurated the festival by releasing balloons and pigeons. He had earlier paid floral tributes to Bangabandhu’s sculpture.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board and Bangladesh Adventure Foundation jointly organised the festival.
Presided over by Development Board Chairman and Adventure Foundation President Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura, the programme was attended by parliamentarian Dipankar Talukder, Rangamati Region Commander Brig Gen Md Iftekharul Islam, and Rangamati Deputy Commissioner AKM Mamunur Rashid, among other.
The adventure festival includes mountain scaling, river cruise, kayaking, hiking, trail run, team building, trekking, and tree trail.
The festival will run from Jan 11 to Jan 15. This time, 100 adventurers (half of them from the hill tracts) aged between 18 and 35 years are taking part in the festival.
Five Bangladeshi nationals who had been placed under arrest by Yemen's Houthi rebels, finally managed to return home on Sunday.
The repatriated Bangladeshis are Mohammed Yousuf, Mohammad Alauddin, Mohammed Alamgir, Mohammed Rahim Uddin, Mohammed Abu Tayub.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earlier announced they would be coming.
The 5 Bangladeshis were all crew members of a ship that set sail for Saudi Arabia from Oman last February, when their vessel was caught in a storm and sank near Yemen's Al Salaif Port in Hodeida.
All the crew members, including 5 Bangladeshis, were rescued by the Coast Guard of the Houthi rebels, who have been involved in an armed uprising against Yemen's internationally recognised government. The rescued crew were then taken into custody by the Houthis.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka coordinated with Bangladesh Embassy in Muscat, Kuwait and Amman and the IOM (International Organization for Migration) to arrange repatriation of the Bangladeshi nationals.
With the help of IOM, they were taken to Aden, which is still held by the government, from Saana, which has fallen to the Houthis.
Among the rescued persons, there were Indian and Egyptian nationals.
Two other Bangladeshi nationals (Jamal Uddin and Rafiqul) were also repatriated who were detained in Aden.
Earlier, Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait issued Travel Permits in favor of the seven Bangladeshi Nationals.
Two others arrived in Dhaka on December 30, 2020.
The IOM coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dhaka to repatriate the seven Bangladeshi Nationals from Aden.
Jordanian Senate President and former Prime Minister Faisal Akif Al-Fayez has highly appreciated Bangladesh’s over 5 percent GDP growth even during pandemic under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He was addressing a special webinar as the chief guest on Sunday.
Bangladesh Embassy in Amman, Jordan organised the event to mark the historic 10th January, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Homecoming Day, and the inauguration of the newly installed ‘Bangabandhu Corner’ in the mission compound.
The senior politician from Jordan shared how remarkable the growth story of Bangladesh is, especially given that so many countries are experiencing negative growth as a result of the economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lt. Col. Retd. Faruk Khan MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was present as the guest of honour.
He highlighted the leadership qualities of Bangabandhu and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Khan also thanked the Bangladeshi expatriate workers who contributed greatly to the country’s economy despite Covid-19 and assured them of all support on behalf of the Sheikh Hasina government.
Moderated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Special Assistant Barrister Shah Ali Farhad, the event was also addressed by Chief Coordinator of the National Implementation Committee for the Birth Centenary Celebrations of the Father of the Nation, Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, former member of the Jordanian Senate Dr Sawsan Majali, renowned writer, researcher and journalist Syed Badrul Ahsan and Ambassador of Bangladesh to Jordan Nahida Sobhan.
A video on the context and national mood of 10th January 1972 titled ‘Hopes and Aspirations: The Day the Father of the Nation Returned Home’, produced by Barrister Farhad, was also screened during the event.
Dr Majali highlighted the role of the current government in Bangladesh and NGOs like BRAC in transforming the lives of millions, especially rural women.
She also applauded the rapid digitisation of Bangladesh under PM Sheikh Hasina and how millions of mobile banking customers is ensuring financial inclusion at the grassroots level.
She recalled her own visit to Bangladesh to illustrate the rapid socio-economic development taking place in Bangladesh.
Dr Kamal highlighted the significance of Mujib Year, especially for the youth.
He pointed out the timelessness of Bangabandhu’s politics and philosophy and how they are very much relevant in today’s domestic and international politics.
Dr Kamal shared his own experience of witnessing the 7th March speech of Bangabandhu in 1971 and what impact it had on his young mind.
He also narrated the initiatives undertaken by the government for celebrating Mujib Year and the golden anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence.
Also read:Bangladesh, Jordan discuss convening FOC
He lauded the Embassy in Jordan for setting up the Bangabandhu Corner, and hoped that the installation would enable Bangladeshi and foreign visitors to know about the remarkable life of the architect of Bangladesh’s independence.
Syed Badrul narrated the electrifying atmosphere in Dhaka and throughout the country at the anticipation of welcoming Bangabandhu to his motherland after almost nine and a half months of incarceration in the dark cells of Pakistani prisons.
He put Bangabandhu’s politics in historical context, and the spectacular nature of the successful independence movement of Bangalees headed by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, including the role of the six-point demands and the Agartala Conspiracy Case.
He also flagged the relatively young age by which Bangabandhu achieved his aim of an independent country and the heavy personal price he had to pay for it, including but not limited to, spending at least ten years in prison, for his politics alone.
Ambassador Sobhan termed Bangabandhu the ‘apostle of freedom’, as she listed the reasons for his stature as the undisputed architect of our independence.
She expressed hope that the ‘Bangabandhu Corner’ in the Bangladesh Embassy in Amanat will allow visitors to learn about the sacrifices Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib made in realizing the dream of an independent and prosperous Bangladesh.
The discussion was arranged by the Bangladesh Embassy in Amman, Jordan as part of the ‘Mujib Barsha Webinar Series’.
Earlier, on 29 December 2020, the Embassy arranged a webinar on ‘Liberation of Bangladesh and the Dream of Sonar Bangla’, which was attended by, among others, the Bangladeshi and Palestinian Foreign Ministers.