Assange sues Ecuadorian government over ‘fundamental rights’ breaches

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. (Reuters)
Updated 19 October 2018
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Assange sues Ecuadorian government over ‘fundamental rights’ breaches

  • Wikileaks founder Assange has filed a lawsuit in Ecuador seeking better access to communications
  • Assange has lived in the Andean nation’s London embassy for six years

QUITO: Julian Assange is sueing the Ecuadorian government over breaches of his “fundamental rights.” 

Wikileaks founder Assange has filed a lawsuit in Ecuador seeking better access to communications as part of his asylum in the Andean nation’s London embassy, where he has lived for six years, his lawyer told a news conference on Friday.

The whistleblowing website said its general counsel arrived in Ecuador on Thursday to launch a legal case against the government for “violating (Assange’s) fundamental rights and freedom.”
“The move comes almost seven months after Ecuador threatened to remove his protection and summarily cut off his access to the outside world, including by refusing to allow journalists and human rights organizations to see him,” WikiLeaks said.
It added that the embassy was requiring Assange’s visitors — including journalists and lawyers — to disclose “private or political details such as their social media usernames.”
The Ecuador government issued no immediate statement in response.
Assange’s legal action comes with speculation mounting that Ecuador was preparing to end its standoff with the British government by terminating his six-year asylum.
Quito confirmed blocking Assange’s Internet and mobile phone access in March after accusing him of breaking “a written committment” not to interfere in Ecuador’s foreign policies.
Assange found refuge in the embassy in 2012 after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, and he feared being transferred to the US.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in March 2017 that arresting Assange for leaking sensitive US government files through his websites was a “priority.”


Rohingya leaders to visit Myanmar

Updated 16 November 2018
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Rohingya leaders to visit Myanmar

  • Community leaders will check on preparations for repatriation
  • Refugees who fled tents fearing forced repatriation have started to return

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: A group of Rohingya community leaders will go to Rakhine, Myanmar, to witness developments on the ground there, said Bangladesh Foreign Minister A. H. Mahmood Ali on Thursday evening in Dhaka.

Ali was talking to the journalists after his briefing to diplomats in Dhaka over the Rohingya repatriation and forthcoming general election. He said that during the briefing session diplomats came up with the idea of sending the Rohingya community leaders (Majhi) to witness the practical developments for repatriation.

“We agreed with this idea,” said Bangladesh Foreign Minister.

A group of community leaders will check the preparations initiated by Myanmar government and will brief their fellow Rohingyas after returning Bangladesh.

Ali said that there is a misconception among a few stakeholders that Bangladesh was trying to send back Rohingyas against their will.

“If we wanted to send the refugees forcibly, we won’t have allowed them in our country. We have shown a humanitarian gesture to them, so there is no question of sending them back forcibly,” Ali said.

“We will not send a single one of the refugees against their will. Those who will repatriate will go on their own will,” he added.

Talking to Arab News, Abul Kalam, Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner of Bangladesh said, they have not stopped the repatriation process. It will remain open and if any of the Rohingyas wants to go back home, Bangladesh authorities will initiate repatriation for him or her.

Commenting on the failure of the first attempt at repatriation Kalam said, “Now we need to create more pressure on Myanmar for the completion of some specific tasks to build confidence among the Rohingyas. In the next Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting, we will put up these issues after more scrutiny.”
However, the next JWG meeting date is yet to be fixed, Kalam said.

After a week of tension over feared repatriation, on Friday everything was peaceful in the Rohingya camps at Cox’s Bazar. The refugees who fled from their tents fearing forceful repatriation started returning to their shanties.

“The Myanmar authority wanted to deceive us in the name of so-called repatriation process. If we would have returned on Thursday, they (Myanmar) would never granted our citizenship rights,” said Mohammad Lutfor Rahman, 53, of Jamtoli camp, Ukhia, who fled from his own tent after hearing that he was listed as a returnee in the first group.

Why did the Rohingyas refuse to take the offer to go back home, Rahman was asked. He said, “Myanmar authorities have declared that the repatriated Rohingyas will be kept in the camps for 5 months or more, guarded by armed law enforcers and there were no clear guidelines if we can go back to our original places or villages. So, what is point of accepting a camp life proposal in Rakhine?”

Another refugee, Syed Alam, 37, of Kutupalang camp, told Arab News, “Before any kind of repatriation, our top most priority is the guarantee of citizenship and once it is granted many of our problems will be minimized.”

However, talking about the future course of repatriation, United Nations Human Rights agency, UNHCR spokesperson in Bangladesh, Fairas Al-Khateeb, said, “We will continue to assist the Bangladesh government in assessing the voluntariness for repatriation. Bangladesh and Myanmar have made the deal of repatriation bilaterally, we can’t say when it will actually take place.”