Beijing official in Hong Kong warns US envoy after speech
A Chinese diplomat accused the U.S. consul general in Hong Kong of interfering in its affairs after he said the city's freedoms were eroding and warned the American not to cross political “red lines.” Consul General Gregory May gave a video address last month in which he expressed concern over diminished freedoms in Hong Kong and said its reputation as a business center depended on adherence to international standards and the rule of law. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office in Hong Kong said its commissioner Liu Guangyuan met with May recently to express objections to his “inappropriate” words and deeds. “Liu also drew three red lines for US consul general and US consulate general in Hong Kong, which is not to endanger China’s national security, not to engage in political infiltration in Hong Kong, and not to slander or damage Hong Kong’s development prospect,” his office said in reply to inquiries from The Associated Press. Liu also urged May to abide by diplomatic ethics, the office added. Also Read: China issues peace plan; Zelenskyy says he'll await details An unidentified U.S. consulate spokesperson said that while they do not generally comment on private diplomatic meetings, they will not hesitate to express publicly or privately the United States' deep concern over the erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy. May, in his address to the U.S. Center for Strategic & International Studies, also cited a decision by China’s legislature that lets Hong Kong's executive branch decide whether foreign lawyers can be involved in national security cases in the city. The decision was made after the city's top court allowed pro-democracy publisher Jimmy Lai to hire a British lawyer to represent him as he fights collusion charges that could bring a life prison sentence if he is convicted. Liu's office accused May of slandering the rule of law and freedom in Hong Kong when he questioned the legal decision made in Beijing and other changes in Hong Kong's governance. Read More: What is China’s peace proposal for Ukraine War? The U.S. and other democracies have been critical of China’s crackdown on political freedoms in the former British colony, which was handed back to China in 1997 with a promise by Beijing to keep Western-style liberties under a “one country, two systems” framework. Hong Kong is among a raft of issues that have sent ties between Beijing and Washington to their lowest level in years, including technology and trade, human rights, threats against Taiwan, and China’s claims in the South China Sea.
US envoy’s visit to Mayer Dak coordinator’s house won’t hurt ties: Info Minister
The controversy over the visit of US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas to the residence of ‘Mayer Dak’ coordinator will not harm the relationship between Bangladesh and the United States, said Information Minister Hasan Mahmud on Thursday. “Of course, the United States is our development partner. They also have a great role in our development journey,” said the minister while talking to reporters at the secretariat. “I would urge the US Ambassador to stay alert about any wrong advice or attempt to make him biased like this,” he said. Those who advised Haas to visit the residence of the coordinator of Mayer Dak made him controversial, he said. Read more: Families of armed forces officers executed during Zia regime seek US ambassador’s intervention for justice “I don't know who advised him to go to the residence yesterday. Whoever gave him the advice did not give the right advice,” the minister added. “But I think the decision was up to the envoy and he also needed to focus on our special days”, he said. The minister said it would have been great if Haas had visited Martyred Intellectuals’ Memorial, marking the Martyred Intellectuals Day on Wednesday. Ambassador Haas visited the residence of Sanjida Islam, coordinator of Mayer Dak, a platform of the relatives of the victims of enforced disappearance, at Shaheenbagh in the city on Wednesday morning. Sanjida is the sister of BNP leader Sajedul Islam Sumon, reportedly a victim of enforced disappearance that took place in 2013. The minister said the Foreign Affairs Ministry was not aware of the matter and Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has already said so. “Mayer Dak was formed by those who are reported to have been made victims of enforced disappearance. Many of them are being found again. Many are accused involving murder cases, many are accused of drug cases and many are fugitive convicts,” he said. BNP keeps telling them that their leaders and activists have been victims of enforced disappearance, he added. Read more: US envoy meets Momen, shares displeasure over embarrassment Following the envoy’s visit to Mayer Dak coordinator’s residence, around 50 people from another organisation ‘Mayer Kanna’ a platform of family members of the victims of enforced disappearance during Gen Ziaur Rahman’s regime, went there to give a memorandum to the US Ambassador, said the minister. But those who were in charge of security of the US envoy did not let ‘Mayer Kanna’ to do that due to his security concern. “I think if the US Ambassador received their memorandum and had a talk with them, then he will not face the bitter criticism now," said the information minister said.
US envoy meets Momen, shares displeasure over embarrassment
Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday (December 14, 2022) said his ministry did not have prior information regarding the US Ambassador's visit to a particular residence where many people gathered outside the gate. Momen said US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas met him on an emergency basis at his office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “I told him that it is our responsibility to ensure security for you and your people. I asked him (Haas) whether anybody attacked him or on his people. He replied, no,” the foreign minister told reporters, adding that they will provide the Ambassador additional security if he wants. Momen said the Ambassador did not inform his ministry beforehand about the visit and wanted to know from the Ambassador how people came to know that he was going there. “We don’t know anything about it," he added. Read more: US Ambassador hosts reception for DCAB The foreign minister also advised the US envoy to look into how the information regarding his visit was leaked, adding that his (Ambassador) people may also do that. Ambassador Haas visited the residence of Sanjida Islam, coordinator of Mayer Dak, an organisation of the relatives of the victims of enforced disappearance, at Shaheenbagh in the city on Wednesday morning. Sanjida is the sister of BNP leader Sajedul Islam Sumon, who is reportedly a victim of enforced disappearance that took place in 2013. The Ambassador's security escort asked him to leave the place as soon as possible fearing blockade by people there. Read More: US keen to work with Bangladesh, other partners to ensure an open Indo-Pacific “Due to security reasons he left quickly. He is very unhappy with that incident. He is a bit worried,” Momen said. The US Ambassador and embassy staff ended the meeting due to "security concerns", said a spokesperson at the US Embassy in Dhaka. "We are raising this matter at the highest levels of the Bangladesh government," he said. “We cannot bar our journalists from performing their duties. They are very vocal and have the freedom and they run after events,” said the Foreign Minister while responding to a question. Read More: US to be bold in promoting its vision of a free, secure, and prosperous world: Haas The foreign minister said it is a country of free speech and people convey their messages freely and there is freedom of mobility. But, he said, people can be arrested as per the law if public and private property are damaged.
US envoy discusses DSA with law minister
Bangladesh and the United States on Sunday discussed updating the Digital Security Act (DSA) so that it prevents cybercrime without curtailing the freedom of speech or independence of the press.US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas met Law Minister Anisul Huq to discuss areas of mutual cooperation and the importance of ensuring freedom of expression. Also read: UK envoy lauds climate expert Dr. Saleemul Huq
It’s done to alert, not to punish: US envoy about sanctions
The United States has said the sanctions imposed on individuals at the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) were not meant for punishment as it was done to alert the law enforcement agency. Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque made the remarks on Sunday quoting US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller after their meeting at the Secretariat. The Agriculture Minister conveyed the outgoing US envoy that it is very unfortunate to impose sanctions on the officials of the law enforcement agency, according to a PID handout. Read: Shirin Sharmin a "role model, inspiration" for women leaders: Miller The Agriculture Minister said the US side appreciated Bangladesh for successfully combating the militants. Their idea is that in some cases human rights have been violated which needs to be improved, said the minister, adding that they are hopeful of improvement to that end. "I’ve told them that the human rights situation in our country is good. There were no incidents of human rights violation. In some places, law enforcement agency might have made mistakes, for which 190 Rab officers have been punished,” Razzaque said. The Ambassador assured that he would discuss the matter at the higher level of his government after his return to the United States so that the sanctions could be lifted soon. During the farewell meeting, the two sides discussed agriculture, economy, global and regional issues and recent US sanctions. Highlighting the significant success of the country's agricultural production, they both said there is a deep relationship between Bangladesh and the United States in the field of agriculture. Read: Human trafficking has no place in world: Miller The Agriculture Minister said the USA has been instrumental in developing the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) in Bangladesh. “Bangladesh has achieved tremendous success in agricultural production in the last 50 years.” Ambassador Miller said agricultural trade between the two countries has increased significantly. Bangladesh is now the 26th largest market for agricultural products in the United States. In the days ahead, relations and cooperation in the agricultural sector will further be increased, said the US envoy.
US envoy calls for joint action to tackle climate crisis right now
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller has said that the world must put in joint efforts to confront the climate crisis right now instead of leaving the challenge for future generations. “The climate crisis is here. This is not a challenge for future generations. Together, we must confront it today," he said mentioning that COP26 in Glasgow is a pivotal moment at the start of this decisive decade to tackle the climate crisis. While COP26 continues in Glasgow, Scotland, Miller visited U.S. government climate resilience projects in Cox’s Bazar and travelled to St. Martin’s Island to assess the effects of climate change and learn about local adaptation efforts. Also read: COP26: Bangladesh announces 37bn-dollar budget to tackle climate change damages Miller learned about severe coastal erosion and sea level rise on the island, the impact on local fisheries, the degradation of coral colonies, and local efforts to restore mangroves and protect shorelines.
Erdogan orders removal of 10 ambassadors, including US envoy
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that he had ordered 10 foreign ambassadors who called for the release of a jailed philanthropist to be declared persona non grata. The envoys, including the U.S., French and German representatives in Ankara, issued a statement earlier this week calling for a resolution to the case of Osman Kavala, a businessman and philanthropist held in prison since 2017 despite not having been convicted of a crime. Describing the statement as an “impudence,” Erdogan said he had ordered the ambassadors be declared undesirable. Read: Turkish leaders condemn Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Erdogan “I gave the instruction to our foreign minister and said ‘You will immediately handle the persona non grata declaration of these 10 ambassadors,’” Erdogan said during a rally in the western city of Eskisehir. He added: “They will recognize, understand and know Turkey. The day they don’t know or understand Turkey, they will leave.” The diplomats, who also include the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand, were summoned to the foreign ministry on Tuesday. A declaration of persona non grata against a diplomat usually means that individual is banned from remaining in their host country. Kavala, 64, was acquitted last year of charges linked to nationwide anti-government protests in 2013, but the ruling was overturned and joined to charges relating to a 2016 coup attempt. International observers and human rights groups have repeatedly called for the release of Kavala and Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who has been jailed since 2016. They say their imprisonment is based on political considerations. Ankara denies the claims and insists on the independence of Turkish courts. Read: Erdogan urges world countries for joint efforts in combating COVID-19 The European Court of Human Rights called for Kavala's release in 2019, saying his incarceration acted to silence him and wasn't supported by evidence of an offense. The Council of Europe says it will start infringement proceedings again Turkey at the end of November if Kavala is not released. The current U.S. ambassador, David Satterfield, was appointed in 2019. The nomination of his replacement, Jeff Flake, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. After Erdogan's order was reported, the State Department said in a statement, “We are aware of these reports and are seeking clarity from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Bangladesh to get another three million doses of Moderna Covid jabs: US envoy
US Ambassador Earl R Miller has announced another consignment of three million doses of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for Bangladesh. These vaccine doses are coming to Bangladesh from the American people via the COVAX facility, he said. "The US is committed to increasing the country’s vaccine supply to beat the pandemic here and worldwide," Ambassador Miller tweeted. READ: Bangladesh’s request for vaccine doses under active consideration: Miller In the first week of July, Bangladesh received the first consignment of 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine under the COVAX facility. Meanwhile, Bangladesh will receive 20 lakh doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China on Saturday night as part of a commercial agreement. Deputy Chief of Mission at Chinese Embassy in Dhaka, Hualong Yan told UNB on Friday that the vaccine doses would arrive at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in two planes.
US envoy say it's his mustache; South Koreans say otherwise
The U.S. ambassador to South Korea has some unusual explanations for the harsh criticism he's faced in his host country. His mustache, maybe? Or a Japanese ancestry that raises unpleasant reminders of Japan's former colonial domination of Korea?
US hopeful of credible polls to Dhaka city corporations
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller on Monday encouraged voters to cast their votes hoping that the elections to two Dhaka city corporations will be ‘festive, free, credible and participatory’ ones.