Trump downplays abuses by Kim Jong Un’s regime

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un listens to US President Donald Trump as they meet in a one-on-one bilateral session at the start of their summit on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, on June 12, 2018. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Trump downplays abuses by Kim Jong Un’s regime

  • According to Trump’s own State Department, Kim’s regime holds between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners in forced labor camps, facing torture and forced starvation.

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump downplayed abuses by Kim Jong Un’s regime in an interview following his summit with the North Korean leader, saying that other countries had also done “bad things.”
“A lot of other people (have) done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lotta bad things were done,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.
He praised Kim as “a very smart guy” and “a great negotiator,” saying that “I think we understand each other.”
According to Trump’s own State Department, Kim’s regime holds between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners in forced labor camps, facing torture and forced starvation.
As well as abuses at home, Kim is also suspected of ordering the assassination of his brother at a Malaysian airport last year.
Trump and Kim met in Singapore on Tuesday — an unprecedented encounter that saw the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy shake hands with the third generation scion of a dynastic dictatorship, standing as equals in front of their nations’ flags.
Critics have charged the summit legitimized Kim and said the summit was more about headlines than substantive progress.
Trump also had kind words for Chinese President Xi Jinping in the interview, describing him as “an incredible guy” and noting that he is “essentially president for life. That’s pretty good.”


Taste of kindness: Buddhist monks serve iftar at a Dhaka monastery

Updated 21 May 2019
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Taste of kindness: Buddhist monks serve iftar at a Dhaka monastery

  • The monastery’s generosity has not gone unnoticed by the fasting Muslims

DHAKA: As the clock strikes 6 p.m., Shudhhanondo Mohathero hurries to the kitchen to alert his army of 15 monks that they have less than 40 minutes until iftar. 

Soon, people will begin queuing outside the Dharmarajika Bouddha Bihar, a Buddhist monastery in Dhaka, where Mohathero hands out free food packs to fasting Muslims who are too poor to buy a meal to end their fast.

It is a tradition that 89-year-old Mohathero started 10 years ago when he assumed responsibility for the temple’s upkeep.

“Since the early days of the monastery, we have received tremendous support in celebrating different Buddhist festivals from our Muslim friends. So I thought it’s time to do something in return,” Mohathero told Arab News.

Built in 1951, the monastery, which is located in Basabo in the eastern part of Dhaka, has been involved in various social welfare activities. Since the start of Ramadan this year, almost 200 food packs have been doled out every day, with plans to double the number by the end of the month. The 15 monks who live in the monastery prepare the food boxes for iftar.

At a cost of around 80 cents, which is funded by the temple, each box contains traditional Bangladeshi iftar items such as puffed rice, boiled and seasoned chickpeas, jilapi (a deep-fried sweet pastry), beguni (deep-fried eggplant) and dal bora (a fried item with smashed lentils and dates).

“In previous years, our junior monks used to prepare iftar at the monastery. This year, however, we are starting to outsource the items due to the sheer volume,” Mohathero said. 

“Since the early days of the monastery, we have received tremendous support in celebrating different Buddhist festivals from our Muslim friends. So I thought it’s time to do something in return.”

Shudhhanondo Mohathero, Chief monk of Dhaka’s Buddhist Monastery

The monastery’s generosity has not gone unnoticed by the fasting Muslims.

“I have been receiving iftar from the monastery for three years. Since my husband works as a daily-wage laborer, this iftar has made our lives very comfortable,” Asma Khatun, a local resident, said.

Another devotee, Sharif Hossain, said that iftar from the monastery “is like a divine blessing.”

“After losing all my properties in a river erosion, I moved to Dhaka just a few months ago and started living in a slum. I can finally feed my family with the iftar provided by the monks,” he said. 

Talking about his experience being part of a project that builds communal harmony, Prantar Borua, an apprentice monk at the temple, said: “We feel proud and happy to be doing such an extraordinary thing. It’s a small contribution to the community, but it’s the best we can do at this moment.”

The monastery’s generosity has won praise from the Bangladesh authorities, too.

“It’s a nice initiative from the Buddhist community, especially at a time when the world is experiencing many hate crimes and interreligious conflicts. It upholds the spirit of religious harmony,” Abdul Hamid Jomaddar, joint secretary of the Religious Affairs Ministry, said.

“Our government believes in the coexistence of different religions, which is the beauty of this secular land,” he added.