Bangladesh

India: press freedom at stake amid communal violence

The Supreme Court of India ordered the Tripura police Nov. 17 to refrain from taking any coercive measures, including arrest, against two lawyers and one journalist booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 (UAPA) for their social media posts and reports on the recent communal violence in the northeastern state.

Glasgow: 'climate-vulnerable' protest 'compromise' pact

The COP26 UN climate summit on Nov. 13 concluded a deal among the 196 parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement on long-delayed implementation measures. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the deal a "compromise," and indeed it was saved through eleventh-hour haggling over the wording. Just minutes before the final decision on the text of the Glasgow Climate Pact, India, backed by fellow major coal-producer China, demanded weaker language on coal, with the original call for a "phase-out" softened to "phase-down." And even this applies only to "unabated" coal, with an implicit exemption for coal burned with carbon capture and storage technology—a technofix being aggressively pushed by Exxon and other fossil fuel giants, in a propaganda blitz clearly timed for the Glasgow summit.

Fear in Rohingya camps after slaying of activist

The killing of Mohib Ullah, a prominent Rohingya community leader, has drawn international condemnation and renewed deep-rooted fear in the Bangladesh refugee camps. Mohib Ullah was shot and killed on Sept. 29 outside the office of the civil society group he headed, the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace & Human Rights (ARSPH). A relative reportedly blamed members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a militant group active in the camps. Mohib Ullah had become one of his community's most prominent voices in the aftermath of the 2017 Burmese military assault that forced more than 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh. He led early attempts to document atrocity crimes, stood up for his community before governments and aid agencies, and addressed the UN (and Donald Trump).

Bangladesh: protests erupt as writer dies in prison

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets and blocked intersections in Dhaka on March 1 to protest the death of a writer and commentator in prison, who had been charged under Bangladesh's controversial Digital Security Act (DSA). The deceased, popular author and blogger Mushtaq Ahmed, had been arrested last May after posting comments on social media in which he criticized the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 10 others were also charged with sedition under the DSA that month, including political cartoonist Kabir Kishore, who remains imprisoned. At a court hearing last month, Kishore passed a note to his brother stating that he had been physically abused in prison, resulting in severe injuries. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists is demanding his release, and that the claim of maltreatment be investigated.

Bangladesh rings Rohingya camps with barbed wire

Authorities in Bangladesh are surrounding the Rohingya refugee camps with barbed-wire fencing and watchtowers, turning them into what refugees and rights groups liken to a "prison." Southeast Asia-based NGO Fortify Rights says construction on some 28 kilometers of fencing is nearly complete around parts of the camps, which are home to some 900,000 Rohingya pushed out of Myanmar. Humanitarian workers fear the fencing could hamper aid delivery and block access to medical clinics. Bangladeshi officials say the fencing is a response to growing concerns about crime and gang violence; humanitarian groups say any security measures must be proportionate. "The civilian and humanitarian character of the camps must be maintained," the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, warned in December.

Humanity's affluent 1% drive climate change

The richest one percent of the world's population are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who made up the poorest half of humanity during a critical 25-year period of unprecedented emissions growth, according to a new study by the aid group Oxfam. The report, "Confronting Carbon Inequality," is based on research conducted with the Stockholm Environment Institute and has been released as world leaders prepare to meet at the UN General Assembly to discuss global challenges including the climate crisis. The report assesses the "consumption emissions" of different income groups between 1990 and 2015—the 25 years when humanity doubled the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It found:

'Super Cyclone' Amphan compounds COVID-19 crisis

Tropical Cyclone Amphan unexpectedly intensified into a rare "Super Cyclonic Storm" on May 18—becoming the northern hemisphere's strongest tropical cyclone yet in 2020. Amphan made landfall two days later, leaving a trail of destruction along coastal areas both in India and Bangladesh, impacting tens of millions of people. At least 77 deaths in India and 25 in Bangladesh have been reported so far. Over three million people in both countries remain displaced from their homes, taking refuge in community shelters—obviously placing them at risk of contracting COVID-19. In India's West Bengal state, thousands of people evacuated from their homes are crammed inside buildings that were being used as COVID-19 quarantine centers, because there is no other shelter available. (ReliefWeb, The Watchers, ThirdPole)

Bangladesh arrests fugitive in assassination of founder

Bangladeshi counter-terrorism authorities announced the arrest in Dhaka April 7 of Abdul Majed, who faces the death penalty for involvement in the 1975 assassination of the country's founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Independence leader "Bangabandhu" Rahman served as the country's first prime minister from 1971 until the 1975 coup in which he was killed along with his family. Only his daughters Sheikh Hasina Wazed and Sheikh Rehana Siddiq survived, as they were in West Germany at the time. Although forbidden from returning to Bangladesh during the subsequent 15-year period of military rule, Sheikh Hasina became prime minister in 1997 and then again in 2009. Majed has publicly admitted his involvement in the massacre, but, like the others involved, faced no legal consequences during the period of military rule. After Sheikh Hasina first became prime minister, Majed went into hiding. In 1998, he was tried in absentia and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh in 2009 upheld the sentences of Majed and 11 others convicted in the case. In 2010, five of the convicts were hanged; five remain at large, and one has died of natural causes.

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