Bangladesh kills 86, arrests 7,000 in anti-drugs campaign

Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) soldiers stand guard during a raid on suspected drug dealers at Mohammadpur Geneva Camp in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, May 26, 2018. (AP)
Updated 28 May 2018

Bangladesh kills 86, arrests 7,000 in anti-drugs campaign

DHAKA: Bangladesh police have killed at least 86 people and arrested about 7,000 since launching a crackdown on drug trafficking this month, officials said on Monday, raising fears from rights activists of a Philippines-style war on drugs.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the anti-narcotics campaign in early May to tackle the spread of ya ba, as methamphetamine is widely known in Asia, and worth an estimated $3 billion annually, government officials say.
The drug is sourced from Myanmar's northeast and smuggled into neighbouring Bangladesh.
"In recent times, drug dealing has increased and we feel that people should be alert and motivated to act against it," Devdas Bhattacharya, a senior police official, told reporters.
"The process will continue until it's eradicated totally".
He said police arrested six people on Sunday, including a 12-year-old boy from Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim community, who had carried 3,350 ya ba tablets to the capital, Dhaka.
Bangladesh has said an influx last year of Rohingya fleeing Buddhist-majority Myanmar is partly to blame for soaring methamphetamine use. But many Rohingya say their young people are being pushed into crime because they cannot legally work or, in many cases, get access to aid.
The 86 deaths occurred when police defended themselves in confrontations with suspected drug traffickers, said Mufti Mahmud Khan, a director of the police Rapid Action Battalion.
"It's their legal right to save themselves from the attack," Mufti told Reuters.
Human rights activists are worried the Bangladesh campaign is taking a page from the Philippine drugs war, in which thousands of people have been killed in the past two years.
"The Sheikh Hasina government says it is a protector of human rights, so it should reform its domestic record, set an example, instead of wishing to be compared to an abusive regime," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch.
Ganguly said the government "should heed concerns and allegations by families and activists that several of these deaths could be extrajudicial killings".
Interior minister Asaduzzaman Khan rejected the rights group's allegations and denied that police had carried out any extra-judicial killings. He said dozens of police had been injured in anti-drug operations.
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said the anti-drugs drive was part of a campaign to intimidate it but Khan also rejected that, saying ruling party members would not be spared if found guilty of drug crimes.
"We are determined to save our young generation from the curse of drugs," he said.


Pyongyang says US, South Korea must present new solutions for conflict

Updated 21 October 2019

Pyongyang says US, South Korea must present new solutions for conflict

  • Kim Hyong Ryong, Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, says North Korea has worked to build lasting peace
  • But that the situation has relapsed into a ‘dangerous, vicious cycle’ of exacerbating tensions because of US and South Korean actions

BEIJING: The United States and South Korea must produce new solutions for the current standoff on the Korean Peninsula, a senior North Korean military official said on Monday, warning that hostile policies toward Pyongyang would lead to serious consequences.
The remarks add to recent comments from Pyongyang expressing discontent at the lack of progress in its negotiations with Washington. This month North Korea issued a veiled threat about ending the freeze in long-range missile testing amid continued economic sanctions and pressure aimed at pushing it to give up its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs.
Kim Hyong Ryong, North Korea’s Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, said at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing that North Korea has worked to build lasting peace but that the situation has relapsed into a “dangerous, vicious cycle” of exacerbating tensions because of the actions of the US and South Korean governments.
“Though it has been more than one year since the DPRK-US joint statement was adopted, there is no progress in improving bilateral relations between the two countries, completely because of the US’ anachronistic, hostile policies against the DPRK,” Kim said, referring to his country by the initials of its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
He also accused South Korea of a “double-dealing attitude” in continuing to carry out military drills with the US and buying advanced military equipment. “Bearing in mind our firm will to safeguard peace in the region, the United States and the South Korean authorities must refrain from any actions disrupting the stability of the situation and come up with a new way for solving the problem,” Kim said.
North Korea has conducted missile tests in recent months, including that of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, and broke off the latest working-level nuclear talks with the US in early October.
Pyongyang’s top negotiator for the talks blamed the US for the breakdown and said Washington “brought nothing” to the negotiating table. Pyongyang has so far stuck to a freeze in testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that has been in place since 2017 and allowed for three meetings between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and US President Donald Trump since last year.
North Korean state media reported last week on Kim Jong Un’s visit to Mt Paektu, the spiritual homeland of the Kim dynasty, and that his aides are convinced the leader plans “a great operation,” which experts say may signal a major shift in Pyongyang’s stance toward the US in the coming months.
Some analysts say possible North Korean actions could include another space launch or an intercontinental ballistic missile test.