Rohingya killing near Bangladesh-Myanmar border raises Dhaka security concerns

 A Myanmar security personnel keeps watch along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border as Rohingya refugee stand outside their makeshifts shelters in Bandarban, Bangladesh. (AFP file photo)
A Myanmar security personnel keeps watch along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border as Rohingya refugee stand outside their makeshifts shelters in Bandarban, Bangladesh. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 18 September 2022

Rohingya killing near Bangladesh-Myanmar border raises Dhaka security concerns

Rohingya killing near Bangladesh-Myanmar border raises Dhaka security concerns
  • Dhaka has summoned Myanmar envoy 4 times in recent weeks
  • Bangladeshi border guards stepping up patrols, surveillance near border

DHAKA: A series of violent incidents near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border has turned deadly with at least one Rohingya teenager killed, as Dhaka summoned Myanmar’s ambassador on Sunday amid rising security concerns.

Although Bangladesh is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, the country has been hosting and providing humanitarian support to 1.2 million Rohingya people, most of whom fled neighboring Myanmar during a military crackdown in 2017.

A majority of the refugees live in Cox’s Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh, but around 5,000 people have been staying in a makeshift camp on a strip dubbed no-man’s land on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, also known as Zero Point.

The teenager was killed on Friday night, Bangladeshi officials said, making it the first recorded fatality in Bangladesh following a series of violent incidents over the last month that have involved mortar shells being fired from Myanmar.

“We have already beefed up the patrolling and intelligence activities across the border with Myanmar,” Lt. Col. Faizur Rahman, Border Guard Bangladesh operations director, told Arab News.

“We have sent a strong protest over the latest situation in the border areas. Measures have been taken on the diplomatic front also to send strong protest in this regard.”

Rahman said border guards in Myanmar were carrying out an investigation to find out the source of the shells.

“We know that fights are going on there against the separatist groups,” Rahman added. “Now it’s their responsibility to get information about that and to take care of it.”

Naypyidaw’s envoy to Dhaka has so far been summoned four times in recent weeks over the border incidents, which have stoked fear among the Rohingya in the area.

“We are all in a frightening situation,” Dil Mohammed, a Rohingya leader in no-man’s land, told Arab News.

He said the sound of mortar shells exploding had occurred regularly, adding that the incident on Friday had also injured at least five people from his community. “Now we are afraid that the situation may get worse at any moment.”

Salma Ferdous, the administrative head of Naikhongchari region near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, described the situation as tense.

“People are panicking over there and afraid of leaving their homes due to the mortar shelling from the other side of the border,” she said.

For years, the Rohingyas have been caught in the crossfire between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army, an armed group fighting for self-determination for ethnic minorities in Rakhine state.

Though an informal ceasefire was introduced in late 2020 after intense fighting that began in 2018, the International Crisis Group warned in June that “rising tensions” between the two parties “may lead to renewed combat.”

Retired air commodore and security analyst Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, who is based in Dhaka, told Arab News: “We are naturally worried.”

He said there was potential for more conflict that could pose “a threat to Bangladesh” unless the international community “urges the Myanmar government to ensure a peaceful situation inside their border and also ensure the rights of the smaller minorities.”

Choudhury pointed out that Dhaka must not only strengthen its border security but make a show of forces, such as conducting exercises close to the border.

“We can show that beside diplomatic efforts we are also worried about our security,” he added.

The conflict near the border and the Rohingya people caught at its midst is an “old problem” that has been ongoing for a long time, retired major general and security analyst, Helal Morshed Khan, told Arab News.

“The Rohingya people are depressed, they are suppressed, they are deprived by the overall policy created by the Myanmar government,” Khan said. “As a result, just like anywhere else, suppressed people fight it out, and they do have their own armed group.”

Khan noted that any solution for the situation must consider their depression and suppression, adding that the possibility of the fighting escalating near the border would depend on the “Rohingya freedom fighters.”

“What support are they getting from other countries? To what extent and to what level of fighting they can develop, and the degree of insurgency?” he said. “Nobody can predict today what is going to happen.”

 


Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians

Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians
Updated 28 November 2022

Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians

Amnesty International criticizes UK MPs for calls to deport trafficked Albanians
  • Group of 50 Conservatives demands prime minister removes ‘loopholes’ in asylum law
  • Organization says returning trafficked people is likely to ‘deliver them into cruel exploitation all over again’

LONDON: A row is brewing in the UK after Amnesty International condemned a group of Conservative MPs who called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to return Albanian asylum-seekers to their home country — including those claiming to be victims of human trafficking.

The UK has witnessed a marked increase in the number of Albanians coming to the country in the past 12 months, with many who cross the English Channel in small boats claiming they have been trafficked, and are victims of modern slavery.

The group of more than 50 politicians said moves to expedite the process of deporting Albanians was necessary to dissuade migrants from making the journey from what, they said, was a safe country, and reduce significant backlogs in the UK’s asylum process.

In a letter to Sunak, the MPs said: “If they (asylum-seekers) have really been taken (to the UK) against their will, then they could not reasonably object to being returned to their own homes.

“The quirks in our modern slavery laws that prevent this are clearly in defiance of the aims of that law and should be removed.”

David Davis MP, one of the signatories, told Sky News: “The Home Office itself has not been interpreting the asylum laws correctly. The point is to turn the turnaround time for an Albanian landing on our shores from years to days or weeks.

“That’s the aim and we think it’s possible. If we don’t do it, the Home Office is never going to be able to cope with the number of applications. It’s already 420 days to get a decision. It’d be longer and longer.”

He added that fear of persecution by smugglers and criminal gangs should not enable people to claim asylum.

“I’m not scapegoating the individual Albanians. What I want to do is to close those loopholes,” he said.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International’s UK refugee and migrant rights program director, criticized Davis, telling The Guardian: “There does seem to be quite a lot of nonsense here.

“The starting point is whether your government is unwilling or unable to provide protection from persecution. It doesn’t set out who your persecutors have to be.

“It could be organized crime, or a blood feud. It can also be women who are persecuted by their own families. The question is whether the state is both able and willing to provide the protections that it is expected under international law to provide.”

He added: “Not every survivor of human trafficking is necessarily unsafe to be returned, but returning someone to where they were trafficked from is likely to deliver them into cruel exploitation all over again, unless there is some significant improvement to their circumstances in that place.”


WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox

WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox
Updated 28 November 2022

WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox

WHO: Monkeypox to be renamed mpox
  • Bid to avoid stigmatization stemming from the existing name
  • Some 81,107 cases and 55 deaths have been reported to the WHO this year

GENEVA: Monkeypox is to be renamed mpox in English, the World Health Organization announced Monday, in a bid to avoid stigmatization stemming from the existing name.
Monkeypox received its name because the virus was originally identified in monkeys kept for research in Denmark in 1958, but the disease is found in a number of animals, and most frequently in rodents.
“Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term ‘mpox’ as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.”
The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the spread among humans since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African countries where it is endemic.
But in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions, began spreading rapidly around the world, mainly among men who have sex with men.
Some 81,107 cases and 55 deaths have been reported to the WHO this year, from 110 countries.


Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities
Updated 28 November 2022

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control – Moscow-installed authorities
  • Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex
  • UN nuclear watchdog wants to create a protection zone around the nuclear power station

KYIV: The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine remains under Russian control, authorities installed by Moscow in the nearby city of Enerhodar said on Monday, after a Ukrainian official suggested Russian forces were preparing to leave.
“The media are actively spreading fake news that Russia is allegedly planning to withdraw from Enerhodar and leave the (plant). This information is not true,” the Russia-installed administration wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
The head of Ukraine’s state-run nuclear energy company said on Sunday there were signs that Russian forces might be preparing to vacate the vast Zaporizhzhia plant which they seized in March, soon after invading Ukraine.
Ukraine, which suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident in Chornobyl in 1986, and Russia have accused each other of shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex.
Both sides have warned of the danger of a nuclear catastrophe. The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency), wants to create a protection zone around the nuclear power station, which is Europe’s largest.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said late on Sunday that he had no doubt that Russian forces would leave the plant, where Ukrainian staff are still operating. Many of these workers live in Enerhodar.
“The defense line is starting to retreat to the borders of the Russian Federation,” Podolyak told Ukrainian television, adding that Ukraine would “take it (the plant) back.”
Ukraine’s military said on Monday its forces late last week destroyed six units of Russian military equipment and that about 30 Russian servicemen were wounded in fighting near Enerhodar.
Reuters was not able to immediately verify the reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin moved in September to annex Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and the Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine where his forces say they have partial control. Kyiv and its Western allies condemned the move as illegal.


US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA
Updated 28 November 2022

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA

US and Russia discuss release of Griner and Whelan — RIA
  • Russia and the US have been discussing a deal that could see the basketball star in exchange for convicted weapons trafficker Viktor Bout

MOSCOW: The United States and Russia are discussing the release of basketball star Brittney Griner and ex-marine Paul Whelan through special channels, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Monday, citing a top US diplomat.
Elizabeth Rood, charge d’affaires of the US embassy in Russia, was quoted as saying that the United States had submitted a serious proposal for consideration but it had not received a “serious response” back from Russia.
Russia and the United States have been discussing a deal that could see Griner, who is facing nine years in jail in Russia on drug charges, return to the United States in exchange for convicted Russian weapons trafficker Viktor Bout.
No deal has materialized amid heightened tensions between the two countries.


More than 80 injured as Indian police clash with Adani port protesters

More than 80 injured as Indian police clash with Adani port protesters
Updated 28 November 2022

More than 80 injured as Indian police clash with Adani port protesters

More than 80 injured as Indian police clash with Adani port protesters
  • The protests are a major headache for Gautam Adani’s $23 billion ports-and-logistics company
  • Located on the southern tip of India, the port seeks to plug into lucrative East-West trade routes

KOCHI, India: More than 80 people were wounded in southern India as villagers halting the construction of a $900 million port clashed with police, the latest escalation of a months-old protest waged by a mostly Christian fishing community against Asia’s richest man.

The protests are a major headache for Gautam Adani’s $23 billion ports-and-logistics company which has been forced to stop work on the Vizhinjam seaport that is seen winning business from rivals in Dubai, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Construction, however, has been halted for more than three months after villagers blocked the entrance of the site, blaming the port of causing coastal erosion and depriving them of their livelihoods.

Over the weekend, police arrested several protesters after they blocked Adani’s construction vehicles from entering the port, despite a court order for work to resume.

The arrests prompted hundreds of protesters, led by Roman Catholic priests, to march on the police station, clash with personnel and damage vehicles there, according to police documents and footage on local television.

Senior local police official M R Ajith Kumar said 36 officers were wounded in the clashes. Joseph Johnson, one of the protest leaders, said at least 46 protesters were also hurt.

Located on the southern tip of India, the port seeks to plug into lucrative East-West trade routes, adding to the global reach of the business led by billionaire Adani, estimated by Forbes to be the world’s third richest man.

Asked about the latest protest, the Adani Group did not immediately comment. The company has said that the port complies with all laws and cited studies that show it is not linked to shoreline erosion. The state government has also said that any erosion was due to natural causes.

The protests have continued despite repeated orders by the Kerala state’s top court to allow construction to start. Police have largely been unwilling to take any action, fearful that doing so will set off social and religious tensions.

In the latest clashes, police documents said the protesters “came with lethal weapons and barged into the station and held the police hostage, threatening that if people in custody were not released they would set the station on fire.” Eugine H. Pereira, the vicar general of the archdiocese and a protest leader, said the police pelted the protesters with stones.

The port protests recall the backlash Adani faced in Australia over his Carmichael coal mine. There, activists concerned about carbon emissions and damage to the Great Barrier Reef forced Adani to downsize production targets and delayed the mine’s first coal shipment by six years.