Dhaka, Sept 4 (UNB) – Bangladesh has briefed Lithuania on the crisis faced by Bangladesh with the forcibly displaced Rohingya nationals from Myanmar and called the Lithuanian side to extend necessary support with a view to resolving the crisis.
The issue came up for discussion broadly at the Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) held between Bangladesh and Lithuania at Vilnius recently.
Secretary (Bilateral & Consular), Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Kamrul Ahsan led Bangladesh delegation while Vice-minister of Lithuania Foreign Ministry Albinas Zananavicius led the Lithuanian side.
Bangladesh Ambassador in Moscow and concurrently accredited to Lithuania Dr SM Saiful Hoque and other officials of Lithuanian Foreign Ministry were also present.
Both delegations agreed that the pending visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the visit of their Prime Minister to Bangladesh should be organised soon.
Bangladesh and Lithuania will sign a number of documents to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries on all fronts.
Both sides agreed that agreement on cooperation in the field of agriculture and MoU between Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Bangladesh and Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (LPK) will be signed soon, said the Foreign Ministry here on Tuesday.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Foreign Office Consultations, as agreed, will be signed too.
During the FOC, Ambassador Ahsan appreciated the Lithuanian side for hosting the FOC. He called for more engagement and investment of the Lithuanian government in Bangladesh.
He encouraged the Lithuanian businessmen to set up joint ventures in Bangladesh, especially in the garments sector.
The Bangladesh side urged the Lithuanian side to ease the business visa while the Lithuanian vice-minister assured that they will consider the matter.
Both sides discussed the importance of Government-to-Government contacts and institutional cooperation for promoting the economic cooperation.
The Lithuanian side informed that they have expertise in ICT, e-commerce, e-governance and aviation maintenance sectors. Currently, 02 (two) Lithuanian companies are working in IT sector in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh side encouraged the Lithuanian side to be engaged in Bangladesh in the sectors as well as to obtain land at high-tech parks.
AKM Moinuddin, Back from Xinjiang, China
Dhaka, Sept 3 (UNB) – China has said the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, is not only for the development of China but it is also an answer for the common destination of human being through stronger partnership and broader connectivity among countries along the Belt and Road.
Describing massive development in the largest region Xinjiang, China has also said they have made a lot of achievements in terms of social stability in the region that the international media should see with an eye of “objective understanding”.
“We’ve made a lot of achievements. Terrorism, separatist and religious extremist ideas, these aren’t only the problems of China but these are also the common problems all over the world,” Vice Director of the Information Office of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Ailit Shaliyefu told UNB.
He said China is making the best use of Xinjiang’s geographic advantages and its role as a window of westward opening-up to deepen communication and cooperation with Central, South and West Asian countries.
Xinjiang works as a key transportation, trade, logistics, culture, science and education centre, and a core area on the Silk Road Economic Belt.
During Xi’s historic visit, Bangladesh formally joined the 'Belt and Road Initiative', a drive which has already drawn the close attention of the world.
Responding to a question, the senior Chinese official said the global problems of separatists, religious extremists and terrorism could be solved under the framework of common destination of human being.
Vice Director of the Information Office of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Ailit Shaliyefu. Photo: UNB
“We know we also have some problems. However, we believe all the problems will be fixed in the future and the situation will even be better,” Ailit said.
He said some of the information China’s foreign friends hear about Xinjiang are “misleading or false, even biased ones.” “You’ve visited here; you saw what’s really happening here. You can continuously pay attention what’s happening here to have an objective understanding of Xinxiang.”
Xinjiang, the resource-blessed largest region of China, is bordered by eight countries -- Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India -- with a borderline of more than 5600 kilometres.
Responding to a question, Ailit said they believe other common problems of countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt, component of the Belt and Road Initiative, will be resolved by not a single country but by all.
He hoped that more international cities and cosmopolitans along this belt and road will prosper just because of connections and connectivity.
The Belt and Road Initiative aims to promote the connectivity of Asian, European and African continents and their adjacent seas, set up all-dimensional, multi-tiered and composite connectivity networks, and realise diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development in these countries.
Responding to a question, the official said they will be taken into custody as per the laws of China if anybody breaks that. “If anybody is misled or cheated by evil force, we’ll educate them and bring them back to society after correction.”
Ailit said awareness campaign and education for better understanding over religion are going on in every educational institution to help young people have better and deep understanding so that they are not misled or cheated. “It’s important to have the correct understanding of religion and history.”
He said separatist forces in and out of China, and some international organisations tried to destroy stability in Xinjiang as ‘some countries wished to do so’.
The official said about 200 billion Yuan were invested in Xingjian in 2017 which is much more than other places in China.
At the end of current year, officials said, the first line of the six-lane 100-km subway will be opened to public which covers 20 km inside the Urumqi city.
The Chinese government officials say these examples show the “unprecedented opportunities” for Xinxiang with support from China’s central government.
According to Chinese government sources, high-speed trains from Urumqi to Beijing will be opened to public soon, which was designed to reach Beijing from Urumqi by 15-16 hours.
Responding to a question, Ailit said Xingjian is so rich in terms of electricity generation -- wind power, solar energy, hydro power and coal power.
From January to July this year, some 75 million tourists visited Xinxiang and by the end of this year, the Chinese Tourism Bureau, is expecting to receive more than 100 million tourists.
Ailit said development of tourism requires stability of society and Xingjian can attract more and more tourists just because of that stability.
“I believe some of the journalists from countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt may have better understanding about great changes in their countries. We also have witnessed great changes in this area. However, some media may not be very happy about this initiative,” he said.
Xinjiang is a multi-ethnic area and a region of rich cultural resources and there are 56 ethnic groups living in the vast land of Xinjiang, with a population of nearly 21.81 million, according to Chinese government data.
In Xinjiang, there are 13 native inhabitants, namely Uygur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Xibo, Manchu, Tajik, Uzbek, Daur, Tatar and Russian.
Dhaka, Sept 3 (UNB) - An independent expert appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to express concerns about the company’s overly broad definition of terrorism.
The expert also expressed concerns about the apparent lack of a comprehensive human rights-based approach to the policies governing access to and use of its platform.
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism Fionnuala Ni Aolain said Facebook’s definition equates all non-state groups that use violence in pursuit of any goals or ends to terrorist entities.
“The use of overly broad and imprecise definitions as the basis for regulating access to and the use of Facebook’s platform may lead to discriminatory implementation, over-censoring and arbitrary denial of access to and use of Facebook’s services,” said Ni Aolain.
Facebook defines terrorist entities as: “Any non-governmental organization that engages in premeditated acts of violence against persons or property to intimidate a civilian population, government, or international organization in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim.”
Company policy prohibits terrorists from using Facebook’s services, and it uses detection technology and employs an ever-growing team of moderators assisted by a counter-terrorism team of 200 people to find and remove content from its platform, according to a statement UNB received here from Geneva on Monday.
“The use of such a sweeping definition is particularly worrying in light of a number of governments seeking to stigmatize diverse forms of dissent and opposition – whether peaceful or violent – as terrorism,” said Ni Aolain.
“The definition is further at odds with international humanitarian law as it qualifies all non-state armed groups party to a non-international armed conflict as terrorists, even if these groups comply with international humanitarian law.”
The Special Rapporteur expressed concern at the lack of clarity about the methods by which Facebook determines when a person belongs to a particular group and whether the respective group or person are given the opportunity to meaningfully challenge such determination.
The absence of any independent processes of review, oversight and monitoring of Facebook’s actions is also highly problematic, she added.
Ni Aolain called on Facebook, as well as any other companies facing similar challenges, to adopt the model definitions of terrorism and incitement to terrorism developed by the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.
She welcomed Facebook’ openness to a dialogue with her mandate with a view to promoting greater compliance with these standards.
The expert recommended that other companies hosting third-party content be guided by the recommendations issued by and consider entering into a continued dialogue with her mandate and other relevant United Nations human rights mechanisms.
Dhaka, Sept 3 (UNB) – Bimstec Secretary General Shahidul Islam on Monday said there was no scope to formally discuss the Rohingya issue in the 4th Bimstec Summit held in Kathmandu on August 30-31 as no Member State of the regional body proposed it.
“The Rohingya issue was not included in the agenda of the Summit. So, there was no scope for holding discussions on it,” he said while responding to a UNB question at a post-Summit press conference held at its headquarters.
The Secretary General said there was no proposal or request from any country to include or not to include the Rohingya issue in the agenda.
Shahidul said Nepal prepared the agenda of the Summit as its host which was circulated among the Member States and accepted by all.
He said the Summit was held after a long gap with the hope to strengthen regional cooperation through Bimstec.
“We feel that Bangladesh and Myanmar have shown diplomatic maturity by not raising the issue (Rohingya),” Shahidul said adding that nobody denied the existence of the problem.
He expressed optimism that Bangladesh and Myanmar who remain engaged can resolve the issue.
The Bimstec Secretary General said it is possible to work on the issues on which Member States have a clear consensus.
He mentioned that progress on areas where Member States have consensus should not suffer for the areas where there is lack of consensus. “We will continue make progress on trade investment, connectivity, energy and technology. These should go on.”
Shahidul said the Member States want to continue collaboration though there are differences of opinion in some areas.
He said the Bimstec Secretariat has full confidence in the sagacity and diplomatic maturity demonstrated by the Member States.
The Secretary General said if the Member States can maintain this level of maturity no issue can impede the progress of Bimstec.
Responding to a question on conclusion of Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations, he said trade negotiations can be very difficult negotiations, and it takes time to get results.
He said the Bimstec leaders renewed their commitment to an early conclusion of the FTA negotiations and expect to conclude trade and goods component within 2019.
They directed the Bimstec Trade and Economic Ministerial Meeting (TEMM) and its subsidiary bodies, including the Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC), to expedite the finalisation of all related agreements on the Bimstec FTA as early as possible, according to the Summit Declaration.
They expressed their satisfaction on the progress of negotiations on the Agreement on Trade in Goods and the Agreement on Customs Cooperation, and also directed the respective ministries and agencies to participate regularly in TNC meetings.
The Member States agreed to revitalise the activities of Bimstec Business Forum and Bimstec Economic Forum to further strengthen government-private sector cooperation for the promotion of trade and investment and task the Expert Group on Bimstec Visa Matters to continue negotiations for the finalisation of the modalities for the Bimstec Visa Facilitation.
The Bimstec Secretary General termed the Summit a very successful one as it reviewed the achievements of past 20 years.
He said they will prepare a follow-up chart on the basis of the Summit Declaration.
Dhaka, Sept 3 (UNB) – The United Nations has expressed disappointment over Myanmar’s court decision saying two Reuters journalists should be allowed to return to their families and continue their work as journalists.
“We are disappointed by today’s court decision,” reads a statement issued by the office of UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar.
A Myanmar court sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison Monday for illegal possession of official documents, a ruling met with international outrage that will add to condemnation over the military's alleged human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been reporting on the brutal crackdown on the Rohingya when they were arrested and charged with to violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, punishable by up to 14 years in prison. They had pleaded not guilty, contending that they were framed by police.
The United Nations has consistently called for the release of the Reuters journalists and urged the authorities to respect their right to pursue freedom of expression and information.
“A free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should be allowed to return to their families and continue their work as journalists,” said the statement.
Newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has urged Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally release Kyaw Soe Oo and Thet Oo Maung.
Their coverage of the Inn Din massacre by the military – for which the military subsequently admitted responsibility – was clearly in the public interest as it may otherwise never have come to light, said Bachelet.
“Their conviction follows a legal process that clearly breached international standards. It sends a message to all journalists in Myanmar that they cannot operate fearlessly, but must rather make a choice to either self-censor or risk prosecution,” the UN rights boss said in a statement UNB received from Geneva.
Bachelet called for their conviction to be quashed and for them to be released, along with all other journalists currently in detention for their legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression.
The UN Human Rights Office will in the coming days issue a report on the worrying state of freedom of expression in Myanmar, with a number of recommendations for legal and policy reform.
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned conviction in Myanmar of Reuters's Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.
“Today's ruling against Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo on bogus charges marks a new press freedom low for Myanmar," said CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative Shawn Crispin.
“The process that resulted in their convictions was a travesty of justice and will cast Myanmar as an anti-democratic pariah as long as they are wrongfully held behind bars. We call on Myanmar's civilian authorities to immediately release the journalists,” said Crispin
Comment by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the conviction of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar.