Canada’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh Benoit Préfontaine on Friday shared his country's intention to intervene jointly with the Netherlands in The Gambia’s case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
"We consider it our obligation to support the effort before the ICJ which is of concern to all of humanity," he said.
Benoit Préfontaine was addressing the 2nd International Conference on “The Rohingya Crisis in Comparative Perspective’ hosted by the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction in collaboration with Center for Genocide Studies of Dhaka University.”
While the full scope of their intervention has yet to be determined, he advised that Canada intends to pay special attention to crimes related to sexual and gender-based violence, including rape.
Canada has been a leading advocate in international fora for accountability for the Rohingya crisis since its outset in August 2017.
“Concerted cooperation and coordination with our international partners has significantly advanced international accountability processes to date,” said the High Commissioner.
Canada has played a key role in the passing of several resolutions before the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, and worked to establish the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar.
The Canadian envoy applauded Bangladesh’s efforts to support both the ICC and ICJ processes including their recent announcement of $500,000 USD to the OIC fund for The Gambia’s legal team.
Canada said it continues to support the unprecedented investigation underway by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to assess the crime of forced deportation, and to call for the UNSC to refer the situation to the ICC.
While noting that more than three years have now passed since the events of August 2017, the High Commissioner assured Bangladesh that Canada is continuing to put pressure on Myanmar to meaningfully address the atrocities committed against the Rohingya and called on Myanmar to implement the provisional measures to prevent all acts of genocide as per the preliminary ruling issued by the ICJ in the Gambia v. Myanmar case on January 23, 2020.
The Canadian Envoy explained that Canada’s focus on accountability is not just about seeking justice for survivors, but seeking protection and rights for the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar and those who want to return.
Addressing impunity and ensuring justice in Myanmar is essential to ensuring a sustainable solution to the crisis, he said.
The law enforcement came down on anti-sculpture protesters in the city's Paltan intersection on Friday.
They brought out a rally from Baitul Mukarram National Mosque after Jumma prayers without Dhaka Metropolitan Police's (DMP) approval, the law enforcers said.
Several Muslim devotees, reportedly followers of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh Joint Secretary General Mamunul Haque, took to the street in protest, defying police barricade at around 2.15pm, witnesses said.
They started chanting slogans against sculptures and the government.
The police said a group of Muslim devotees was protesting at the north gate of Baitul Mukarram after the Jumma prayers.
"They were not supposed to go out. But they came out on the street suddenly and started marching toward the Paltan intersection."
When the law enforcers tried to resist the protesters, they clashed with them and started moving toward Kakrail. The police then dispersed the procession.
DMP Motijheel Division Additional Deputy Commissioner Enamul Haque said there is a ban on holding processions in DMP areas without permission.
As a group of devotees started protesting on the street without permission and was chanting anti-government slogans, police tried to stop them, Enamul said.
"But when they started marching toward Kakrail, defying the barricade, the police started baton charging to disperse them."
"Also, several people have been detained from the procession."
Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh's recent remarks about the setting up of a sculpture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has sparked widespread debates.
Two housewives were "raped" in Bagerhat and Satkhira on Thursday. And the rapists were held, too, following cases filed by the victims.
In Bagerhat, 28-year-old Jewel Mollah forced his way through a woman's living room window late on Thursday night.
The woman, whose husband "is now in jail for an alleged crime," was fast asleep at that time, said Morelganj Police Station Officer-in-Charge Md Monirul Islam.
Hearing the woman screaming, deep at night, the locals rushed to the spot and caught Jewel. Later they handed him over to the police.
Jewel, son of Md Razzak Mollah of Hoglapasha Maheshpura village, was arrested on charges of rape, on the complaint of the woman filed with Morelganj Police station.
He was produced before the Bagerhat court early Friday and remanded in judicial custody.
"The housewife alleged that two other unknown men were the rapist's partners in crime, too. We have already started investigating into the case," Monirul said.
In Satkhira, 38-year-old Nawab Ali has been "raping" a housewife for a long time by blackmailing her.
The victim said she informed her family members of this after the accused sexually assaulted her again on Thursday.
She then lodged a rape case with Debhata Police Station that day.
Police arrested Nawab, son of Akbar Gazi of Debhata upazila's Dakkhin Parulia village, on Thursday night.
Debhata Police Station Officer-in-Charge Biplab Kumar Saha said the rapist had already been sent to jail.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Friday thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her "prudent and decisive" action to relocate Rohingyas to Bhasan Char, saying that the global leadership and UN agencies have been extending lip services to the persecuted people of Myanmar.
"Global leadership and UN agencies have been extending lip services to the persecuted people of Myanmar and making statements again and again. No one came forward neither for their relocation nor sending them back to their country of origin - Myanmar," he told UNB after successful relocation of the first batch of Rohingyas to Bhasan Char.
The Foreign Minister said the relocation of Rohingyas is taking place in phases in order to avoid deaths and accidents due to landslides and other untoward incidents in the overcrowded hilly areas of Kutopalong where drug tafficking, fleshtrade and law and order situation have been deteriorating and also to provide better living for the time being.
Dr Momen said while the international agencies make noise about facilities in the Rohingya camps or Bhasan Char, no one had the courage nor sincerity to approach Myanmar to create a conducive environment leading to their repatriation to their own country in safety and security and in a dignified way for the wellbeing of Myanmar.
If these desparate people with no hope for future left alone, there is always possibility of pockets of radicalism and terrorism, and such may create an uncertainty in the region frustrating the ongoing developnent projects in Myanmar, said the Foreign Minister.
Over the last three years, trade and investment from European, ASEAN, China, Japan and the UK have increased manyfold in Myanmar in spite of violation of human rights in Myanmar, Dr Momen observed.
He said none of the human rights organisations have started any blockade of those countries that are heavily investing in Myanmar nor asking for divestment as they did in the case of Apatheid in South Africa.
"Fact of the matter is, Rohingya problem was created by Myanmar and they are the only one who can solve it," he said.
Dr Momen said all the international organisations and important countries of the world must commit themselves to approaching Myanmar in a meaningful way to resolve this crisis -- the sooner the better.
In the face of growing concerns over the extreme congestion in the camps of Cox’s Bazar and to avert any risk of death due to landslides and other unwarranted incidents, the government has decided to relocate, in phases, 1,00,000 Rohingyas to Bhashan Char.
Accordingly, in the first phase, more than 1600 Rohingyas, who expressed their willingness voluntarily for relocation, were shifted to Bhashan Char on Friday afternoon.
The Rohingyas were brought to Chattogram by buses and kept in a school at night.
They had dinner and started for Bhasan Char in the morning after having breakfast.
The first batch reached the Bhasan Char around 3pm.
The relocation has become imperative to decongest the overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar that have temporarily been accommodating nearly a million of Rohingyas with many more thousands born each year, said the government.
It said the deteriorating security situation due to prolonged stay of these frustrated people in Cox’s Bazar also compelled the government of Bangladesh to come up with a contingency plan and develop Bhashan Char from its own budgetary allocation.
Accordingly, the government invested more than USD 350.00 million to develop the island.
The 13,000 acres island has all modern amenities, year-round fresh water, beautiful lake and proper infrastructure and enhanced facilities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said.
These include uninterrupted supply of electricity and water, agricultural plots, cyclone shelters, two hospitals, four community clinics, mosques, warehouses, telecommunication services, police station, recreation and learning centers, playgrounds, etc.
A Sundarbans-bound tourist launch capsized after getting stuck on a shoal of the River Pasur early Friday.
The launch had 33 tourists on board, but no casualty was reported, Tour Association of Sundarbans Joint Secretary General Majharul Haque said.
Tourist launch Discovery started toward Hiran Point on Thursday night with a team from Faridpur's Boalkhali. But it got stuck on a shoal in Batiaghata upazila's Katianangla, at 4am on Friday, due to low tide.
All the tourists managed to land on the shoal when the launch started to sink, Majharul said.
"The tourists finally canceled the trip and returned home early Friday."