Election CommissionField-level officials of the election commission (EC) are in favour of deploying defence personnel as regular law enforcement to create confidence among voters during the next general elections.They came up with these recommendations as their opinion was sought in order to amend 14 laws, rules and directives ahead of the 11th parliamentary polls.Reinsertion of the provision for ‘No’ option in the ballot paper is another of the 58 recommendations the officials submitted to the law section of the EC secretariat.EC officials said the draft recommendations will be placed at the EC’s consultation meetings with the political parties, civil society leaders and election experts likely to begin soon.The armed forces — army, navy, and air force — were included as a law enforcement agency alongside police, armed police, RAB, ansar, BGB (then BDR), and the coast guard, in the amended version of the Representation of People Order during the past caretaker government in 2008. However, in 2013, the armed forces were excluded from the definition of law enforcement agency as per RPO.Inclusion of the armed forces as a law enforcement agency is being emphasised in view of the fact that the election would be held under the incumbent political government. It is believed to be important for creating an even field for all political parties.”Army deployment is necessary to create confidence in the minds of the voters. In fact, it would be hard to hold a fair election without the army. We cannot understand it why it had been removed from the definition of law enforcement,” said former election commissioner M Sakhawat Hossain.The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has all along favoured army deployment while the ruling Awami League wants to keep the army only as striking force.BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed reiterated the party’s demand for deployment of the armed forces and added that the BNP wants election-time supportive government for the sake of fair election.AL presidium member, health minister Mohammad Nasim said the army should be deployed during the next general elections the way current election law has defined.However, Jatiya Party leader GM Quader said, if the army deployment creates confidence among the political parties, army should be included as law enforcement in the electoral laws.Although the EC officials recommended reintroduction of the provision for allowing ‘No’ vote as a choice of electorates, both the AL and the BNP do not consider it important.* This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Khawaza Main Uddin.
The Myanmar security forces have laid landmines during attacks on villages and along the Bangladesh border, posing a grave risk to Rohingya Muslims fleeing atrocities, Human Rights Watch said in a press release on Saturday.The Myanmar government should immediately stop using antipersonnel landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.“The dangers faced by thousands of Rohingya fleeing atrocities in Burma are deadly enough without adding landmines to the mix,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director.“The Burmese military needs to stop using these banned weapons, which kill and maim without distinction.”According to witness accounts, independent reporting, and photo and video recordings, Burmese soldiers have in recent weeks laid antipersonnel landmines at key crossing points on Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh.Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Burmese military personnel also planted mines on roads inside northern Rakhine state prior to their attacks on predominantly Rohingya villages.The Myanmar government has accused the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) of using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against infrastructure and security forces.Two Rohingya refugees from inner areas of Rakhine state, one from Buthidaung and another from Rathedaung township, told Human Rights Watch they saw the Myanmar military laying antipersonnel mines on roads as the military entered and attacked villagers.“Mohammad,” 39, said he saw a neighbour’s son step on one of the mines laid by the military. The mine blew his right leg off.On 4 September 2017, a landmine detonated on a path used by many refugees near the hamlets of Taung Pyo Let Yar, about 200 meters from the Bangladesh border.Human Rights Watch witnessed smoke arising from the hamlets, suggesting burning by the military that caused villagers to flee.The next day, three Rohingya men were wounded in three separate landmine explosions near the same border point.Two Rohingya refugees told Human Rights Watch that men in apparent Myanmar military uniforms were seen in the northern part of Taung Pyo Let Yar performing some activity on the ground prior to the 4 September explosions.One described watching a Myanmar military patrol on the road near the border on the morning of 4 September.From a vantage point in so-called no-man’s land, he observed several soldiers from the patrol stop at least twice, kneel down on the ground, dig into the ground with a knife, and place a dark item into the earth.Since late August, Myanmar security forces, following a coordinated attack by ARSA militants, have carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing involving mass arson, killing, and other abuses against the Rohingya population, causing the flight of more than 420,000 people to neighboring Bangladesh.Human Rights Watch has called on members of the United Nations Security Council to hold a public meeting and adopt a resolution that condemns the Burmese military’s ethnic cleansing campaign and threatens to impose further measures, including targeted sanctions on military leaders and an arms embargo.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina. Photo: BSSRuling Awami League general secretary and minister Obaidul Quader has alleged that there is a conspiracy to kill prime minister Sheikh Hasina.However, his cabinet colleague, industries minister Amir Hossain has denied having any evidence of such a plot.After a meeting of the cabinet committee on the law and order on Sunday, Amir Hossain was asked to comment on the reports in India and Myanmar that claimed an attempt on life of Hasina was foiled.The industries minister, who chaired the meeting, said they did not feel that the news item had any element of truth.The government-run news agency BSS ran a story prepared by India-based CNN-News18 that reported that Bangladesh security agencies upset the plot assumed to have hatched by a Pakistani intelligence agency in consultation with BNP chief Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman. The original report was written by Indian journalist Subir Bhaumik.In Bandarban on Sunday, Obaidul Quader claimed that certain quarters at home and abroad, being jealous of popularity of Hasina, were engaged in conspiracy to kill her.“Their conspiracy will not be successful,” the AL leader expressed confidence.He also said when the prime minster was appreciated worldwide for her stance on the Rohingya issue, a political party at home was criticising her.
International Crimes Tribunal, BangladeshThe International Crimes Tribunal, Bangladesh (ICT,B) on Wednesday sentenced six people of Gaibandha to death for committing crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971, reports UNB.With Abdul Latif in the dock, the three-member tribunal led by judge Md Shahinur Islam pronounced the judgment at 11:45am.The six convicts are Jamaat leader and former lawmaker Abdul Aziz, Md Ruhul Amin alias Monju, Md Abdul Latif, Abu Muslim Mohammad Ali, Md Nazmul Huda, and Md Abdur Rahim Miah.Among them, only Abdul Latif is now in jail and the rest is on the run.They were awarded death sentences for two charges — 2 and 3 — out of three charges while imprisonment unto death for another charge — number 1.The 166-page judgment was read out by the tribunal judges in phases for 69 minutes starting from 10:36am.“All three charges brought against them were proved,” said prosecutor of the case Syed Saidul Haque Sumon.In the morning, police produced the lone defendant before the tribunal amid tight security.Earlier on 23 October, the tribunal concluded the hearing of arguments from both sides and kept the verdict pending for any day.Earlier on 9 May, the ICT,B kept the verdict pending for any day after hearing arguments from both sides.Later on 12 October, the reconstructed ICT,B set 22 October for placing further arguments in crimes against humanity case against the six alleged collaborators.The ICT-1 on 28 June 2016, started trial of the case after indicted the accused, framing three charges of crimes against humanity against them.The accused six were facing three charges, including those for mass killing, abduction, looting and arson attack, during the 1971 Liberation War.The ICT,B – a domestic tribunal set up in 2009 shortly after the assumption of power by Bangladesh Awami Leauge to investigate and prosecute suspects for the crimes against humanity committed in 1971 – has awarded death penalties to several opposition top figures.Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami have all along been claiming that the trials were politically motivated.In a press release sent to the media, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s acting ameer Mujibur Rahman claimed, “Maulana Abdul Aziz was involved in no crimes against humanity. He has rather fallen prey to government’s political vendetta.”He further alleged the Awami League government has “made an arrangement to punish him by filing false cases against him, failing to face him [Abdul Aziz] politically”. “We condemned and protested at this conspiracy of the government in strongest term,” added the acting Jamaat chief.
.The Federal Reserve, which was at the center of an unsolved $81-million cyber heist nearly two years ago, is ready for further talks with foreign counterparts to address the lingering risks of cyber fraud in global messaging systems, a top Fed official said on Wednesday.Simon Potter, head of market operations at the New York Fed, said the SWIFT bank messaging system is only as strong as the weakest of the central banks and financial institutions that use it to communicate and transfer trillions of dollars each day.In February 2016, hackers broke into Bangladesh Bank’s systems and tricked the New York Fed – which maintained its account – into sending $81 million to entities mostly in the Philippines. Bangladesh’s central bank has only recovered some $15 million of the stolen funds despite an international probe involving the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.Fixing the “deficiencies in prevention and detection may require a substantial re-orientation of priorities and resources for some institutions,” said Potter, whose unit within the US central bank maintains the international accounts and oversees some $3.6 trillion in foreign dollar-denominated assets.Potter, who did not mention the Bangladesh incident specifically, said “response regimes” need improvement and that co-operation was more important than ever.The Fed was “ready to engage in further dialogue and co-operation with both its foreign official account-holders and fellow central bank service providers in addressing these challenges,” he told a private forum at the New York Fed, according to prepared remarks.Last year’s heist exposed weaknesses not only in Bangladesh Bank and in SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, but also in the way the Fed detects fraud and communicates with clients in an emergency.Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Bangladesh Bank had asked the New York Fed to join a lawsuit it was considering filing against the Philippines bank through which the money was stolen. That in turn set off finger-pointing between the bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp, and Dhaka. (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer, Editing by Rosalba O‘Brien).
Khaleda ZiaBangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson and former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia was given class one division facility in jail Sunday as per the court order.“We’ve given Khaleda Zia the division in jail soon after the court order reached the jail this afternoon,” Inspector General of Prisons brigadier general Syed Iftekhar Uddin told newsmen.Read More: Jail not a place of luxury: QuaderA nine-member delegation of lawyers headed by advocate Sanaullah Mia handed over the court order to the jail authority regarding Khaleda Zia’s division in jail this afternoon, reports BSS.Earlier, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said they will take measures relating to allow BNP chairperson and former prime minister Khaleda Zia division in the jail following a court order.Read More: Khaleda ordinary prisoner, not entitled to division: IG (P)He said this after an inter-ministerial meeting on security arrangements ahead of the upcoming International Mother Language Day.”Khaleda Zia has been kept in the jail considering her social status as she is a chairperson of a big party like the BNP,” the minister added.This afternoon, a Dhaka court passed an order asking the authorities concerned to give the BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia division in the jail as per the jail code.Read More: ‘Khaleda verdict an obstacle to fair polls’
Mirza Fakhrul Islam AlamgirThe Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on Friday alleged that law enforcers violated the Supreme Court’s (SC’s) directives by arresting one of its activists from a political programme without any warrant, reports UNB.Speaking at a discussion, party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir also said the government’s plan to hold the next national election keeping BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail is unrealistic.”I would like to express my anger and sorrow as I couldn’t save a Chhatra Dal leader who tried to escape arrest holding me tight. The law enforcers swooped on our programme in front of the [National] Press Club and snatched him by tearing his clothes,” he said.The BNP leader further said, “It’s a rare and most disgusting incident in Bangladesh’s political history. The law enforcers violated the directives of the Supreme Court by making such an arrest [without any warrant].”A faction of Jatiya Party (Zafar), arranged the programme at the National Press Club, demanding BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s release from jail.On Thursday, police arrested JCD leader Mizanur Rahman Raj from BNP’s sit-in programme in front of the National Press Club and foiled the event just 13 minutes before its scheduled conclusion.Fakhrul described the current government as a ‘dangerous demon’ and alleged that it has destroyed all the democratic institutions only to hang onto power.He said their chairperson has been convicted in a ‘false’ case ‘unlawfully’ to keep her, BNP and the 20-party alliance away from the next election. “Their main motive is to retain power without a competitive election.”The BNP leader said Khaleda is being deprived of her legal right of having bail due to the government’s interference.He also alleged that the government is controlling the judiciary by establishing a one-party rule under a different cover.Referring to the chief election commissioner’s comment that the commission will not take any initiative to bring all the political parties to the next general election, Fakhrul said KM Nurul Huda’s remark has reflected the government’s desire.”We know you won’t take any move for an inclusive election as you have been made CEC to ensure Awami League’s return to power through lopsided polls,” he added.
Transport workers occupy Dhaka streets, halt bus servicesBus services from Dhaka’s major bus stops — Gabtoli and Sayedabad — came to a complete halt on Friday morning as transport workers occupied several streets.The transport workers took the position on the Sayedabad-Jatrabari road in the morning demanding safety of their lives.The workers claimed they could not drive vehicles in the past five days. They were even beaten on-duty.Dhaka Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner (Wari Division) Farid Uddin told Prothom Alo that the workers were staying on the roads peacefully while the police were working to ensure security for general public.Another group of transport workers occupied the Kalshi road in the Mirpur area halting the movement of the vehicles there.The transport workers also took position at the Mirput-10 intersection.Transport owners and workers said no vehicles left Gabtoli bus stop since the morning (Friday).Asked about the matter, manager of Satkhira Express Md Borhan said workers were fearing for their safety.He alleged that bus services have been stopped due to vandalisation of vehicles.The transport workers earlier shut down the bus services on Thursday from Gabtoli, Mahakhali, Sayedabad, and Fulbari bus terminals in the capital without any notice, which is against the law.As per the transport law, route permit will be cancelled if the transport services are shut down without any notice.The transport workers staged the demonstration following a five-day protest of the students after two of their fellow students were killed in a road accident in the capital on 29 July.On the fifth day, the student movement took a new turn as thousands of students apparently took total control of the city’s traffic system and scrutinised licenses of the drivers and vehicles.They even examined licenses of the minister, member of the parliament, government officers and law enforcers.Later, the student agitation spread across the nation.On 29 July, Diya Khanam Mim and Abdul Karim Rajib, students of Shaheed Ramiz Uddin School and College, were killed as a ‘Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan’ bus ploughed through some students in front of the airport road in the capital.
Grand Mosque in Mecca. ReutersA female Hajj pilgrim hailing from Chandpur district died at a hospital in the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia on Monday, reports UNB.The pilgrim Noorjahan Begum, 61, (passport No-0658901) was a resident of Uttar Hajibari in Olipur village of Hajiganj Upazila. Family sources said Noorjahan died while she was undergoing treatment for respiratory complications at the King Faisal Hospital in Makkah.