Fortify Rights on Wednesday said the government of Myanmar should immediately schedule by-elections in areas where the Union Election Commission (UEC) cancelled the November 8 polls.
The Myanmar government should ensure the right to vote for all eligible persons, including Rohingya and others disenfranchised under discriminatory laws, said the rights body.
The national elections held in Myanmar on November 8 disenfranchised ethnic minority voters, most notably the Rohingya en masse in Rakhine State as well as Rohingya refugees, including hundreds of thousands of potentially eligible voting-age Rohingya in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
“Myanmar’s elections aren’t finished,” said Ismail Wolff, Regional Director of Fortify Rights.
“Free and fair elections must be held at the earliest opportunity in all areas where they were suspended.”
On October 16, the UEC announced the cancellation of elections in parts of 15 townships in Bago Region, Kachin, Kayin [Karen], Mon, Shan, and Rakhine states. On October 21, UEC spokesperson Myint Naing said the UEC cancelled the elections because the areas were “unsafe."
On November 11, the UEC announced that it would hold elections in areas previously cancelled “when the situation in those areas becomes stable enough.”
However, the UEC has yet to commit to a timeframe for the by-elections nor qualify what conditions would constitute “stable enough.”
The Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar military also both called for by-elections in Rakhine State. On November 12, the AA released a statement saying the suspension of the elections had “disenfranchised” voters and to allow “by-elections [to] be held in those constituencies in order that the people do not lose their rights.”
The same day, Major General Zaw Min Tun of the Myanmar military welcomed the AA statement saying, “The military chief also stated that he wishes that every registered voter be able to vote. That’s why we welcome the AA’s statement.”
On November 12, the President’s spokesperson Zaw Htay told journalists, “The government will be negotiating and coordinating [with others] in order to hold elections in areas left out of the November 8 elections.”
However, the President’s office has not provided any further information or taken action to facilitate the elections since this announcement.
Myanmar’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), claimed a landslide victory in the November 8 elections, securing a clear majority in the parliament.
The Myanmar authorities denied almost all voting-age Rohingya—including hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in Rakhine State—the right to vote through an arbitrary and discriminatory application of Myanmar’s citizenship law.
The UEC also rejected all Rohingya candidate applications for the 2020 election.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has expressed Bangladesh’s interest to work with India for the development of the energy sector in this region.
He conveyed such interest when newly appointed Indian High Commissioner Vikram Doraiswami met him at his office in the Power and Energy Ministry.
Welcoming the new Indian envoy, Nasrul Hamid said there is a huge opportunity for Bangladesh and India to work together for the development of the sector.
Bangladesh has laid out Delta Development Plan to carry out coordinated development, he said adding that special emphasis is given to promote clean and green energy.
“Hydropower in Nepal could be promoted as an issue of tripartite cooperation”, said the junior minister.
The issue of development of electric vehicles also came up for discussion in the meeting, said a press release of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.
The Indian High Commissioner said India always looks at the relation with Bangladesh with dignity.
“Bangladesh could work as an energy hub for this region and this hub could be strengthened through exchange of electricity and technology, applying power and energy conservation and producing equipment.”
The issues of Bangladesh-India Friendship pipeline, cross-border pipeline by Indian H-Energy, cross-border pipeline by Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), power transmission line project, activities of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)-OVL, Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company, and import of hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan were discussed in the meeting.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen have tested positive for Covid-19.
They are now in good health and remain in isolation at home following doctors' advice, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
Both of them were scheduled to leave for Niger this (Wednesday) morning to attend the 47th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM).
The planned visit was cancelled as they got the Covid-19 test reports on Tuesday.
They went for Covid-19 test as per rules before travelling abroad but had no Covid-19 symptoms before the tests.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam tested positive for COVID-19 recently but recovered later.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will hold the meeting on the theme “United against Terrorism for Peace and Development” on November 27-28.
A Bangladesh delegation comprising officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh and Bangladesh Permanent Mission in OIC will represent Bangladesh at the OIC meeting, MoFA said.
Foreign Minister Dr Momen was supposed to lead the Bangladesh delegation.
The OIC will discuss ways to raise funds for supporting the Rohingya case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the meeting.
The OIC Secretariat in a media statement said the Council will discuss the situation of Muslim minorities and communities in non-member states, how to raise funds for the Rohingya case at the ICJ, as well as civilizational, cultural and religious dialogue promotion, and other matters that may come before the council.
Placed on the agenda of this year’s CFM session, Secretary General Dr Yousef Al-Othaimeen said it is a list of topics and issues of concern to the Muslim world.
In addition to the Palestinian cause, the fight against violence, extremism and terrorism, Islamophobia and religious defamation will also be discussed.
The OIC foreign ministers will also discuss, over two days, political, humanitarian, economic, socio-cultural and other issues related to science and technology, the media and the implementation progress on the OIC plan of action 2025.
The other item on the agenda is a brainstorming session on “Security and Humanitarian Challenges Confronting African Sahel States Members of the OIC”.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar district.
The Gambia filed a more than 500-page Memorial, which also includes more than 5000 pages of supporting material, in its lawsuit against Myanmar at the ICJ in The Hague, making its case for how the Government of Myanmar is responsible for genocide against Rohingya.
In November 2019, The Gambia opened a case at the ICJ, also known as the World Court, against Myanmar for failing to prevent or punish genocide against Rohingya Muslims.
On January 23, 2020, the ICJ unanimously indicated legally binding provisional measures, requiring the Government of Myanmar to take all steps within its power to prevent the commission of all acts of genocide, such as killing, causing serious mental or bodily harm, and other acts listed in the Genocide Convention.
It also requires the government to preserve evidence of genocide and to report to the court every six months on its progress implementing the order, among other measures.
On September 22, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, presented satellite photographs of a Rohingya village–Khan Da Para, also known as Kan Kya, in Rakhine State—before and after it was attacked and destroyed in military-led “clearance operations” in August 2017.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged all to redouble their efforts to eradicate gender-based violence forever.
"On this international day, let us redouble our efforts," he said in a message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Wednesday.
Guterres said violence against women and girls is a global human rights challenge.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed this issue as a global emergency requiring urgent action at all levels, in all spaces and by all people, said the UN chief.
He said the social and economic fallout from the pandemic is disproportionately pushing women and girls into poverty, and the risk of violence against them is rising.
In April this year, the UN chief urged the international community to work to end the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence once and for all. "I reiterate and relaunch that appeal today."
He said the global community needs to hear the voices and experiences of women and girls and take into account their needs, especially survivors and those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.
"We must also prioritise women’s leadership in finding solutions and engage men in the struggle," Guterres said.
He said action must involve predictable and flexible funding for women’s rights organisations, who so often act as first responders during crises.
"It is critical that services for survivors of violence remain open, with adequate resources and measures in place to support health, social and justice responses," said the UN chief.
These measures should not only focus on intervening once violence against women has occurred, he said.
They should work to prevent violence occurring in the first place, including through addressing social norms and power imbalances, and police and judicial systems need to increase accountability for perpetrators and end impunity.
The US Department of State is sponsoring a free Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) for non-native English speakers interested in improving their English language skills, and knowledge of business and entrepreneurship at the same time as part of its Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2020 programmes.
From identifying an opportunity to planning a persuasive pitch, this course will guide participants step-by-step through the basic elements of starting up a new business, said the US Embassy.
Through case studies, selected readings, and video lectures, participants will learn how to use market research to identify risks and opportunities.
They will also learn how to read and develop a business plan and how to find investors and financial support.
The MOOC is self-paced, meaning participants study independently, without facilitation from an instructor.
It is offered by the Online Professional English Network (OPEN), a US Department of State initiative, and is administered by FHI 360, a US-based nonprofit human development organisation.
Participants can enroll (https://www.canvas.net/browse/fhi/courses/english-for-media-literacy) in this six-module course until December 18, 2020.
After enrolling, participants can log in at any time – day or night – to access the course.
All six modules of coursework must be completed by December 28, 2020.
Participants who complete the required activities with a score of 70 percent or higher will receive a digital badge and certificate.
This “English for Business and Entrepreneurship Syllabus” MOOC is designed for non-native English-speaking entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs interested in improving their language skills and knowledge of business and entrepreneurship.
At the end of this course, participants will be able to identify and apply strategies to improve reading and listening comprehension in English and practice using key vocabulary in business and entrepreneurship contexts.
They will be able to analyse the role of entrepreneurship in local economies, identify and compare business models, and evaluate key components of effective market research and elements of an effective business plan in differing contexts.
They will also be able to identify and practice developing strategies to attract investors and obtain funding for a start-up.