Dhaka summons US envoy over sanctions on top Bangladesh police officials

Dhaka summons US envoy over sanctions on top Bangladesh police officials
Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen summoned US Ambassador Earl R. Miller. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 12 December 2021

Dhaka summons US envoy over sanctions on top Bangladesh police officials

Dhaka summons US envoy over sanctions on top Bangladesh police officials

DHAKA: The Bangladeshi Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the US envoy in Dhaka on Saturday over sanctions imposed on six top security officials related to an elite anti-drug and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police.
The US Treasury and Department of State imposed financial sanctions and visa bans on officials and entities in nine countries on Friday, including former and present Bangladeshi officers of the elite crime-fighting unit the Rapid Action Battalion, which it designated as “a foreign entity that is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.”
Among the sanctioned individuals is the police inspector general, the former RAB chief Benazir Ahmed, who has been rendered ineligible for entry to the US.
To convey Dhaka’s “discontent over the designated sanctions” and “disappointment that the decision was taken unilaterally,” Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen summoned US Ambassador Earl R. Miller.
The ministry said in a statement that Momen “regretted the US decided to undermine an agency of the government that had been at the forefront of combating terrorism, drug trafficking and other heinous transnational crimes that were considered to be shared priorities with successive US administrations.”
It said that the US decision appeared to have been based “more on unverified or unsubstantiated allegations of command responsibility” than on facts. According to the US Treasury’s notification, “widespread allegations of serious human rights abuse in Bangladesh” by RAB threaten US national security interests by “undermining the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the economic prosperity of the people of Bangladesh.”

FASTFACTS

• US imposed sanctions on six Bangladeshi officers of the Rapid Action Battalion special unit on Friday.  

• The Inspector General of Bangladesh Police is one of the sanctioned individuals.

The notification cited NGO reports alleging that RAB and other Bangladeshi law enforcement personnel were responsible for “more than 600 disappearances since 2009, nearly 600 extrajudicial killings since 2018 and torture.”
RAB was founded in 2004 and composed of members of the police, army, navy, air force, and border guards. Its mandate includes internal security, intelligence gathering related to criminal activities, and government-ordered investigations.
Shomsher Mobin Chowdhury, Bangladesh’s former foreign secretary, told Arab News it was the first time the US had imposed such sanctions on the country’s law enforcement agency officials. 
“I haven’t witnessed anything like this earlier,” he said.
Dhaka’s former envoy to China, Munshi Faiz Ahmad, expressed surprise over a lack of consultations with Bangladesh before the sanctions were imposed.
“I don’t think these sanctions have been imposed with much prudence,” he said. “If there was any genuine problem, we could have solved it through bilateral discussions and there was no need for such sanctions. This decision may trigger a negative perception of the US in Bangladesh.”
Prof. Amena Mohsin, of the international relations department at the University of Dhaka, questioned the US Treasury’s rationale behind the decision.
“I don’t understand how the actions of a Bangladeshi law enforcement agency creates national security concerns for the US,” she told Arab News. “The police in US also have many issues concerning human rights as we noticed in the case of George Floyd murder last year.”


Video of US police killing Black man sparks protests in Ohio state

Video of US police killing Black man sparks protests in Ohio state
Updated 20 sec ago

Video of US police killing Black man sparks protests in Ohio state

Video of US police killing Black man sparks protests in Ohio state
  • Jayland Walker was killed in a hail of bullets as he tried to flee from police
  • Police claimeed the victim had earlier fired at them when they were chasing him for traffic violation

AKRON, US: Several hundred protesters marched Sunday in Akron, Ohio after the release of body camera footage that showed police fatally shooting a Black man with several dozen rounds of bullets.
As anger rose over the latest police killing of a Black man in the United States, and authorities appealed for calm, a crowd marched to City Hall carrying banners with slogans such as “Justice for Jayland.”
The slogan refers to Jayland Walker, 25, who was killed Monday after officers tried to stop his car over a traffic violation, police said.
Sunday marked the fourth straight day of protests. Demonstrations were peaceful but for a tense moment in which some protesters got close to a line of police and shouted at them.
After the first rally, a crowd of people remained in the street protesting as evening fell but it was in a less organized fashion. There were no reports of violence.
But fearing unrest, authorities in the city of 190,000 people moved snowplows and other heavy equipment near the police department to serve as a barrier.
After initially providing few details of the shooting, Akron authorities released two videos Sunday: one that was a compilation of body-camera footage, body-cam still frames and voiceover, and another of the complete body-cam footage of the entire chase and shooting.
The voiceover explained that Walker did not stop and drove off. Police engaged in a car chase and said a shot had been fired from Walker’s vehicle.
After being chased for several minutes, Walker got out of his car while it was still moving and fled on foot. Officers tried to subdue him with their tasers, but he kept running.
Several officers finally chased Walker to a parking lot. The body-cam footage is too blurry to see clearly what happens, but an initial police statement released after the shooting says he behaved in a way that caused officers to believe he posed a “deadly threat.”
All of the officers at the scene opened fire on Walker, shooting multiple times in rapid succession.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The incident was the latest death of an African-American citizen at the hands of police, events that have sparked mass protests over racism and police brutality.
“Many will wish to air their grievances in public, and I fully support our residents’ right to peacefully assemble,” Akron mayor Dan Horrigan told a press conference, saying he was “heartbroken” over the events.
“But I hope the community can agree that violence and destruction are not the answer.”
He also said an independent investigation was being conducted.
Bobby DiCello, a lawyer for the Walker family, told The New York Times: “I’ve been a trial lawyer for 22 years and I’ve never seen anything remotely close to what that video is going to show.”
Police chief Steve Mylett said he didn’t know the exact number of bullets fired at Walker, but the medical examiner’s report “indicates over 60 wounds to Mr. Walker’s body.”
He added that the eight officers involved in Walker’s death have been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.
Authorities canceled a festival planned for the July 4th weekend.
Basketball star LeBron James, an Akron native, said in a tweet Sunday he was praying for his city.


Three dead, 3 critically wounded in shooting at Denmark mall

Three dead, 3 critically wounded in shooting at Denmark mall
Updated 04 July 2022

Three dead, 3 critically wounded in shooting at Denmark mall

Three dead, 3 critically wounded in shooting at Denmark mall
  • A 22-year-old Danish man was arrested, Copenhagen police inspector Søren Thomassen told reporters

COPENHAGEN, Denmark: Danish police say three people were killed and three others are in critical condition after a shooting rampage Sunday at a shopping mall in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen police inspector Søren Thomassen said the three victims were a man in his 40s and “two young people.
A 22-year-old Danish man was arrested, Copenhagen police inspector Søren Thomassen told reporters, adding there was no indication that anyone else was involved in the attack, though police were still investigating.
Gun violence is relatively rare in Denmark.
Thomassen said it was too early to speculate on the motive for the shooting, which happened in the late afternoon at Field’s, one of the biggest shopping malls in Scandinavia and located on the outskirts of the Danish capital. When the shots rang out, some people hid in shops while others fled in a panicked stampede, witnesses said.
“It is pure terror. This is awful,” said Hans Christian Stoltz, a 53-year-old IT consultant, who was bringing his daughters to see Harry Styles perform at a concert scheduled for Sunday night near the mall. “You might wonder how a person can do this to another human being, but it’s beyond … beyond anything that’s possible.”
Thomassen gave no specific casualty count beyond saying several people were dead and several wounded. He said the suspect was an “ethnic Dane,” a phrase typically used to mean someone is white.
Danish broadcaster TV2 published a grainy photo of the alleged gunman, a man wearing knee-length shorts and a tank top and holding what appeared to be a rifle in his right hand.
“He seemed very violent and angry,” eyewitness Mahdi Al-Wazni told TV2. “He spoke to me and said it (the rifle) isn’t real as I was filming him. He seemed very proud of what he was doing.”
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the Scandinavian country had been hit by a “cruel attack.”

An ambulance and armed police are seen during the evacuation of people at the Fields shopping center in Copenhagen, Denmark, on July 3, 2022 after Danish media reported a shooting. (AFP)


“It is incomprehensible. Heartbreaking. Pointless,” she said. “Our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second.”
Images from the scene showed people running out of the mall, and TV2 posted a photo of a man being put on a stretcher. After the shooting, an enormous contingent of heavily armed police officers patrolled the area, with several fire department vehicles also parked outside the mall.
Laurits Hermansen told Danish broadcaster DR that he was in a clothing store at the shopping center with his family when he heard “three, four bangs. Really loud bangs. It sounded like the shots were being fired just next to the store.”
The shopping center is on the outskirts of Copenhagen just across from a subway station for a line that connects the city center with the international airport. A major highway also runs adjacent to the mall.
Organizers called off the Harry Styles concert, which had been scheduled at the nearby Royal Arena, by order of police.
On Snapchat, Styles wrote: “My team and I pray for everyone involved in the Copenhagen shopping mall shooting. I am shocked. Love H.”

People embrace outside Fields shopping center, after Danish police said they received reports of a shooting at the site, in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 3, 2022. (Reuters) 


The royal palace said a reception with Crown Prince Frederik connected to the Tour de France cycling race had been canceled. The first three stages of the race were held in Denmark this year. The reception was due to be held on the royal yacht that is moored in Soenderborg, the town where the third stage ended.
In a joint statement, Queen Margrethe, her son Crown Prince Frederik and his wife, Crown Princess Mary, said: “We do not yet know the full extent of the tragedy, but it is already clear that more people have lost their lives and that even more have been injured.”
“The situation calls for unity and care,” they said in a statement.
The shooting came a week after a mass shooting in neighboring Norway, where police said a Norwegian man of Iranian origin opened fire during a LGBTQ festival, killing two and wounding more than 20.
Though the number of victims in Copenhagen on Sunday was unclear, it appeared to be the worst gun attack in Denmark since February 2015, when a 22-year-old man was killed in a shootout with police after going on a shooting spree in the capital that left two people dead and five police officers wounded.


Death toll from a massive landslide in India rises to 37

Death toll from a massive landslide in India rises to 37
Updated 03 July 2022

Death toll from a massive landslide in India rises to 37

Death toll from a massive landslide in India rises to 37
  • A wall of mud and rock swamped a camp housing railway construction workers and members of the Territorial Army in remote Manipur state in the northeast after heavy rain early on Thursday

GUWAHATI, India: The death toll from a massive landslide in India hit 37 on Sunday, authorities said, as rescue teams battled teeming rain to search for 25 others still missing three days later.

A wall of mud and rock swamped a camp housing railway construction workers and members of the Territorial Army in remote Manipur state in the northeast after heavy rain early on Thursday.

Emergency teams rescued 18 survivors within the first few hours of the incident.

But army spokesperson Angom Bobin Singh said Sunday that 28 people were still missing before an announcement later that three more bodies had been retrieved.

The fourth day of search operations was ongoing “despite adverse weather conditions” because of “heavy rains and fresh landslides,” Singh said.

The remote northeast has generally poor road and railway infrastructure but India in the last few years has pushed ambitious infrastructure projects to match a Chinese buildup across the border.

The picturesque region — with mountains and dense forests — has been pummeled by heavy rainfall in recent weeks, triggering landslides and floods.

Dozens were killed in the area after flooding last month, with relentless rains causing landslides and inundating homes.

Experts say climate change is increasing the number of extreme weather events around the world, with damming, deforestation and development projects in India exacerbating the human toll.

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Floodwaters in Bangladesh take heavy toll on children’s education

Floodwaters in Bangladesh take heavy toll on children’s education
Updated 03 July 2022

Floodwaters in Bangladesh take heavy toll on children’s education

Floodwaters in Bangladesh take heavy toll on children’s education
  • Deadly floods in Bangladesh had killed dozens of people and stranded millions of others
  • Thousands of schools in worst-hit Sylhet region were impacted by deluge

DHAKA: Last month’s flooding in northeastern Bangladesh has dealt a heavy blow to the country’s education sector as authorities estimate that it has kept hundreds of thousands of children out of school.

Millions of people were displaced, and dozens of others killed when heavy floods triggered by monsoon rains hit northeast Bangladesh in June. The South Asian nation witnessed intense rainfall that continued for days, causing the worst deluge that the country had seen in more than a century.

In the worst-hit Sylhet region, thousands of schools and colleges were forced to remain shut weeks after the devastating floods, leaving hundreds and thousands of students out of classes as authorities began assessing the extent of the damages.

Over 3,000 primary schools — more than half of the total in Sylhet — sustained damages during the floods, Dr. Nasima Begum, deputy director at the department of primary education in the region, told Arab News. Around 1.8 million children were enrolled in the primary schools, she added.

“Since more than half of the schools were affected by flood water, it is anticipated that the children of these areas were also affected,” Begum said.

“We have yet to complete the loss assessment because the floods have not completely receded in many areas,” she said. “We have plans to provide new books and education materials to the children when classes resume.”

Mohammed Nazrul Hakim, executive engineer at Sylhet’s education engineering department, told Arab News that buildings damaged in the floods are in dire need of repairs.

“The ground floors of the affected institutions have become unusable due to the floods. Students can’t have classes there without repair works being done,” Hakim said.

As hundreds of high schools and colleges in the region had also been damaged during the disaster, around 150,000 secondary students also had their final exams, initially scheduled to take place in June, postponed.

“More than 600 high schools and colleges were affected due to this flood,” Prof. Abdul Mannan Khan, director of Sylhet’s department of secondary and higher education, told Arab News.

Classes are expected to resume on July 19, but for most of the affected students, the “floodwater damaged many of their books and education materials,” Khan added.

When the unprecedented floods hit villages across northeast Bangladesh, most people only had enough time to save themselves and their loved ones.

“Saving our lives was the only concern during the flood,” 16-year-old Abdur Rahman Sohag told Arab News.

“It happened so quickly that I couldn’t manage to save any of my books.”

Sohag was among tens of thousands who were scheduled to take their final exams last month. But as the situation worsened and the final exams had to be postponed, a new date has yet to be announced.

Like Sohag, 16-year-old Sanjida Zahan Chowdhury also lost her textbooks in the floods, which had submerged her home in the Sunamganj district.

“Within half an hour at midnight, we found ourselves in around 1.5 meters of high flood water inside our home,” Chowdhury told Arab News, adding that she and her family had to wait eight hours before they were evacuated.

“Many of my books and notes were washed away. How can I sit for the exam without my books?”


Sweden refuses to deny deportations to Turkey part of NATO deal

Sweden refuses to deny deportations to Turkey part of NATO deal
Updated 03 July 2022

Sweden refuses to deny deportations to Turkey part of NATO deal

Sweden refuses to deny deportations to Turkey part of NATO deal
  • In an agreement signed by Stockholm and Helsinki at a NATO summit in Madrid on Tuesday, the two Nordic countries agreed to examine Turkish extradition requests “expeditiously and thoroughly”

VISBY, Sweden: Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson refused Sunday to deny Turkey’s claim that it had promised to deport individuals sought by Ankara as part of Stockholm’s efforts to join NATO.

Despite questioning by journalists and concerns among Kurdish and Turkish refugees in Sweden, Andersson would not say whether such a commitment had been given to Ankara for it to lift objections to Sweden’s membership.

“I’ve been a minister for eight years and I never talked about what is said in the negotiation room,” she said. “(That) actually puts me in a bit of a difficult situation right now,” she added.

In an agreement signed by Stockholm and Helsinki at a NATO summit in Madrid on Tuesday, the two Nordic countries agreed to examine Turkish extradition requests “expeditiously and thoroughly.”

No promise has been given to actually carry out the extraditions, and Finland and Sweden have since recalled that the process is in the hands of the authorities and independent courts.

But Turkish President Erdogan on Thursday said at the end of the NATO summit that Sweden had made a “promise” to extradite “73 terrorists” and threatened to block NATO membership if the commitments were not met.

Andersson, who was pressed several times on Sunday to say whether such a promise had been given, simply repeated Stockholm’s position.

She said Sweden will continue to respect national and international laws, no Swedish nationals will be extradited, the decision will be up to independent authorities and courts.

“If you are not involved in terrorist activities, there is no need for concern,” she said.

The Swedish leader was holding her first press conference since returning from the summit, during a visit to the Baltic Sea island of Gotland.

Every July, it hosts a week of political meetings bringing together party leaders.

But it is also one of the locations due to be reinforced by the Swedish army after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Sweden’s decision to join NATO.