Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bangladesh ambitious plan to reach Vitamin A to 19mi children

SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH IN an ambitious plan will dispense of Vitamin A doses to nearly 19 million children aged below five years from Sunday.

In a nationwide campaign, thousands of volunteers, also school students will provide life-saving Vitamin A supplements to combat chronic deficiency, which cause night blindness, a sign of severe malnutrition.

Health workers and volunteers from 150,000 health centers, schools, and buses, country boats and train stations will also distribute de-worming tablets to 17 million children aged between two and five to reduce child growth retardation, writes bdnews24.com.

Apart from night blindness, vitamin A deficiency increases the risk of diseases like measles and diarrhea, both contributing to more than a third of child deaths in Bangladesh.

An estimated vitamin A doses annually save the lives of more than 30,000 children in Bangladesh, said Prof. Fatima Parveen Chowdhury, director of the Institute of Public Health Nutrition.

Quoting a national nutrition survey, the health official argues that night blindness among children has significantly declined from 3.7 percent two decades ago to 0.04 percent.


Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and politics. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Bangladesh war crimes suspect escapes police dragnet

SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH MOST-WANTED war crimes suspect escaped police dragnet and flees to India on his final destination to Pakistan.

Home minister Shahara Khatun on Tuesday told reporters that the authority will seek help from Interpol to arrest suspect Abul Kalam Azad aka 'Bachchu Razakar'.

Quoting close relatives of Azad, elite anti-crime forces Rapid Action Battalion on Monday at late night press meet told that he had left Dhaka on Mar. 30 and fled to India on Apr. 2.

The country’s International Crimes Tribunal issued arrest warrant for Azad on Apr. 2 for his alleged involvement with crimes against humanity committed in Faridpur, in the west of capital Dhaka during the bloody war of independence in 1971.

Meanwhile, elite police forces detained two sons and a brother-in-law of Azad for obstruction of justice and abetting the fugitive war crimes suspect to flee the country. They are being grilled by police.

The 64 year old Azad was described by war crimes investigators as henchmen of marauding Pakistan army responsible for genocide of millions, sexual abuse of Hindu women and torching villages suspected for harboring guerillas.

Azad is accused for abduction, murder and missing of scores of pro-independence supporters. He was an accomplice of jailed Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, leader of Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami also charged with crime against humanity.

Only recently, Azad was a popular TV host of Islamic program. A Muslim evangelist had often travelled abroad including United States advocating for converting a pro-secular Bangladesh into an Islamic state and implementation of Sharia laws, a strict Islamic code.


Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow in journalism, is a Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He is student of Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was twice detained and tortured. Once in 1982 and second in 2002. Later he was expelled in 2004 from Bangladesh for whistle-blowing of the arrival of Jihadists from international terror network. He recently returned home from Canada. His email: saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Bangladesh satellite orbital position opposed by United States, other countries

SALEEM SAMAD

Bangladesh ambition space program to launch a communication satellite has drawn cold shoulder from 20 countries, including United States, Russia, France and Australia.

The country’s $150 million plan to launch a satellite by 2015 now seems to be uncertain.

The officials said on Monday that the countries opposed the Bangladesh satellite orbital position, as state telecommunication regulator applied for approval to send the satellite in 102 degree slot.
The state Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC)  said they have applied to ITU (International Telecommunications Union) to send the satellite named after independence hero “Bangabandhu” for 102 degree slot.

The countries who raised the objections argued that the Bangladesh request the position of the satellite likely to have frequency problem.

Space Partnership International (SPI), the U.S. based space satellite consultant for Bangladesh is working to enable that both parties could be benefited.

Bangladesh has alternative plan to send satellite at 69 degree east slot if it is refused the 102 degree orbit. However, ITU will give final decision regarding slot approval.
On the other hand, if Bangladesh is given the 69 degree slot, then Malaysia, Singapore, China are likely to raise objections, BTRC chairman Major General Zia Ahmed said.

Bangladesh spends $ 11-million annually for renting satellite for the local satellite television channels, telephone and radio.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow in journalism, is a Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He is student of Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was twice detained and tortured. Once in 1982 and second in 2002. Later he was expelled in 2004 from Bangladesh for whistle-blowing of the arrival of Jihadists from international terror network. He recently returned home from Canada. His email: saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lifting of tsunami alert brings sigh of relief in Bangladesh


SALEEM SAMAD

WITH A big sigh of relief the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and Japan Metrological Agency has withdrawn the tsunami watch issued in the evening issued for Bangladesh and other Indian Ocean countries following a powerful earthquake and two strong aftershocks off Indonesia on Wednesday.

Meanwhile Bangladesh capital and other places experienced two medium tremors at around 14:38 (local time), but authorities said there appeared to be no threat of a tsunami.

The center also lifted the warning from India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia shortly afterwards.

The tsunami warning came in the wake of an earthquake followed by aftershocks that jolted various parts of the country, including the capital, triggering widespread panic among people.

Shamsuddin Ahmed, an assistant director of Bangladesh Meteorological Department, said earlier the Pacific Centre issued a tsunami warning for Bangladesh other countries of the Indian Ocean.

Dhaka University's earth observatory's caretaker Professor Humayun Akhter said, "The tremor in Bangladesh resulted from the earthquake in Sumatra. The tremor registered a 3.8 magnitude on the Richter scale."

The quake was felt as far away as Singapore, Thailand, India and Bangladesh. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in Bangladesh.

Prof. Humayun Akter, head of the Earthquake Observatory Centre said after Wednesday’s earthquakes that Bangladesh will remain safe from any devastating tsunami.

“The tsunami route is East-West. Bangladesh is situated at the north of Indonesia. So, Bangladesh will remain safe from tsunami,” said Dr Humayun. 

Dr Humayun said a devastating tsunami hit Indonesia after a 9.1 earthquake in 2004 claiming 230,000 lives in 13 nations and that tsunami did not affect Bangladesh.


Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow in journalism, is a Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He is student of Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was twice detained and tortured. Once in 1982 and second in 2002. Later he was expelled in 2004 from Bangladesh for whistle-blowing of the arrival of Jihadists from international terror network. He recently returned home from Canada. His email: saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bangladesh war crimes suspect escapes police dragnet

SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH MOST-WANTED war crimes suspect escaped police dragnet and flees to India on his final destination to Pakistan.

Home minister Shahara Khatun on Tuesday told reporters that the authority will seek help from Interpol to arrest suspect Abul Kalam Azad aka 'Bachchu Razakar'.

Quoting close relatives of Azad, elite anti-crime forces Rapid Action Battalion on Monday at late night press meet told that he had left Dhaka on Mar. 30 and fled to India on Apr. 2.

The country’s International Crimes Tribunal issued arrest warrant for Azad on Apr. 2 for his alleged involvement with crimes against humanity committed in Faridpur, in the west of capital Dhaka during the bloody war of independence in 1971.

Meanwhile, elite police forces detained two sons and a brother-in-law of Azad for obstruction of justice and abetting the fugitive war crimes suspect to flee the country. They are being grilled by police.

The 64 year old Azad was described by war crimes investigators as henchman of marauding Pakistan army responsible for genocide of millions, sexual abuse of Hindu women and torching villages suspected for harboring guerillas.

Azad is accused for abduction, murder and missing of scores of pro-independence supporters. He was an accomplice of jailed Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed, leader of Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami also charged with crime against humanity.

Only recently, Azad was a popular TV host of Islamic program. A Muslim evangelist had often travelled abroad including United States advocating for converting a pro-secular Bangladesh into an Islamic state and implementation of Sharia laws, a strict Islamic code.


Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow in journalism, is a Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He is student of Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was twice detained and tortured. Once in 1982 and second in 2002. Later he was expelled in 2004 from Bangladesh for whistle-blowing of the arrival of Jihadists from international terror network. He recently returned home from Canada. His email: saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Monday, April 09, 2012

Bangladesh to review defence ties with United States

SALEEM SAMAD



Bangladesh and the United States will review the existing bilateral defence co-operation next week in the capital Dhaka.

Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni said on Sunday that she will take the opportunity to review the cooperation during the security dialogue scheduled on April 19. She also asserted that there is no plan to allow U.S. military base in Bangladesh, nor any other foreign country.

The foreign minister also said there was no proposal from the U.S. administration regarding the establishment of a base in Bangladesh or in its off shore isles.

In early March, the American ambassador Dan W. Mozena rejected news reports and reiterated that there was no permanent presence of U.S. Special Forces in Bangladesh, but on different occasions small teams routinely visits to conduct training.

Moni said Bangladesh has multifaceted co-operation with the U.S., including co-operation to fight against terrorism and militancy.

Responding to reporters query, whether the dialogue would lead to increase presence of the U.S. army or its base in the Bay of Bengal, the minister said that Bangladesh-U.S. security dialogue is a routine activity and the government held such meetings with many other countries too.

The minister added: “There is no presence of the U.S. military here, barring six or seven U.S. military men who are here for the training purpose.”

Last week U.S. Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman disclosed to reporters that the U.S. and Bangladesh will hold a dialogue on security challenges that the two countries face in this region and throughout the world.

Sherman had said U.S. Assistant Secretary for political and military affairs Andrew J. Shapiro will be in Dhaka for the dialogue.



Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow in journalism, is a Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He is student of Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was twice detained and tortured. Once in 1982 and second in 2002. Later he was expelled in 2004 from Bangladesh for whistle-blowing of the arrival of Jihadists from international terror network. He recently returned from Canada. His email: saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bangladesh to add offshore gas blocks after dispute with Burma ends


SALEEM SAMAD

Bangladesh wants to add two new offshore oil and gas exploration blocks to the country's map in the eastern Bay of Bengal.

The dispute resolution under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on March 14 may also clear Myanmar's claims over six existing blocks.

A top official on Thursday said Bangladesh eyes fresh mapping of offshore gas blocks as dispute ends with Burma, also known as Myanmar soon after the copy of judgment.

The tribunal based in Hamburg, Germany, upheld Bangladesh's claim to an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles in the Bay of Bengal, and to a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond, thus ending its maritime boundary dispute with Myanmar.


Bangladesh will come out with fresh demarcation of its offshore gas blocks in the Bay of Bengal, state-owned Petrobangla's Chairman Hussain Monsur said Thursday. 

The government asked Petrobangla to prepare a new map with the gas blocks properly demarcated in keeping with the international ruling, Monsur said.


Days after the victory at a U.N. court in Bangladesh's maritime boundary claims the Bangladesh Navy has made its first patrol across the settled boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

In 2008, Bangladesh floated its offshore block bidding for oil and gas exploration and  a U.S. company ConocoPhillips signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for two blocks -- DS 10 and 11. Of these, a part of block 10 is claimed by India and a part of block 11 by Myanmar.

Bangladesh was unable to ink a PSC with U.K's Tullow for shallow water gas block SS-08-05 because of the dispute with India. Tullow secured the block in a competitive bidding round for offshore blocks in February 2008.


Bangladesh's winning its maritime boundary claim over Burma implies that the country will now have a larger deep sea oil and gas exploration area in the eastern Bay of Bengal.


Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow in journalism, is a Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained, tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004, for whistle-blowing of the arrival of Jihadists with links to international terror network fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. His email: saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bangladesh court ask to block Facebook for anti-Islamic contents


Saleem Samad, RSF correspondent in Bangladesh

On March 21, Bangladesh High Court has ordered the authorities to take out the anti-Islamic contents from the popular social media network Facebook.

In a judgment Justice Mirza Hossain Haider and Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar issued the interim order to take off five pages from Facebook and a website for blasphemy, hurting religious sentiments.

The court held the unidentified persons as responsible for blasphemy and also ordered to investigate and identify the person behind the wrong-doings.

The judges said that the Facebook contain sensitive cartoons and pictures criticizing Islam and directed the authorities to immediately block the pages, locators and links of social networking website Facebook.

Bangladesh has an estimated 2.5 million Facebook users and ranks 55th, according to international media monitoring site SocialBaker.com.

The judgment was made after two teachers filed a writ petition on Wednesday and says it has violated the constitution in a majoritarian Sunni Muslim nation of 150 million population.

Batool Sarwar of Dhaka University and M. Nurul Islam, principal of Dhaka Centre for Law and Economics, said in their petition that certain Facebook pages, links and locators are showing cartoons and pictures that hurts the religious sentiment of the Muslims, which is against the constitution of republic of Bangladesh.

Responding to the petition, the high court also asked the government to explain in four weeks why it should not be directed to conduct an enquiry and punish the people who are responsible for publishing such “sensitive” cartoons and pictures.

The relevant ministries of home secretary, information secretary, inspector-general of police and the telecom regulatory body Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) have been asked to implement the order.

Earlier in May 2010, Facebook become controversial after Bangladesh followed Pakistan in blocking access to Facebook after satirical images of the prophet Muhammad and the country's leaders were uploaded. One teenage offender Mahbub Alam Rodin was arrested after his online ID was traced by the elite anti-crime unit.

Incidentally Bangladesh does not have laws to punish social media offenders, nor does it have adequate laws to curb cyber crime.




Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Monday, March 19, 2012

Environmentalists concerned over alarming e-waste produce in Bangladesh

SALEEM SAMAD

Environmentalists, academics, researchers and social justice activists on Monday expressed grave concern over the illegal dumping of electronic wastes (e-wastes) in Bangladesh.

The concerned citizens have demanded of the government for a formulation of an integrated national policy, implementation and effective monitoring with the participation of the stakeholders.

E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in Bangladesh and has emerged as top lucrative business in the country, said Dr Hossain Shahriar of Environmental and Social Development Organizations (ESDO), an activist group.

Bangladesh is one of the highest e-waste generating countries in the world. It produces 2.7 million metric tons of e-waste, and notorious ship breaking industry alone produce 90 percent of the total wastes, according to the study by ESDO presented at the capital Dhaka on Monday.

An estimated 700 ships reaches its final destination in Bangladesh to die. The wastes from the electronic goods produced from the ship breaking yards in the Bangladesh southern coast, which comes as a curse, laments Dr Hossain.

The ship scrap carries huge volumes of toxic products, as well as electric and electronic wastes, which includes neon lamps and light bulbs, light switches, hundred miles of electric wires and tons of cables, besides kitchen and laundry appliances, television monitors and computers.

The tradeoff and trans-boundary movement does not address the critical environmental, social and economic impacts on an impoverished nation of 150 million, a size of Texas State.

Most importantly the country does not have the expertise, or the skills for e-waste management. Rather impromptu e-waste recyclers are the major culprits of environmental hazards. The recycling trade grew into largest suppliers of metal scraps for the booming construction industry and other spent fuels which has caused hazards on environment, health and life in the region, said Siddika Sultana Shika, executive director of ESDO.

Despite repeated higher court directives, Bangladesh authorities have failed to curb the environmental menace created by the ship breaking yards.

A weak legislation is to be blamed for the recycle industry’s notoriety. They enjoy wide political patronage of the government despite committing unabated environmental and social crimes.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bangladesh government snubs opposition demand for non-party system


SALEEM SAMAD

Bangladesh’s ruling party on Wednesday rejected the opposition’s demand for a non-partisan interim government before the planned election in less than two years.

The pro-Islamist opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNPs) leader Khaleda Zia two days ago gave a 90 days ultimatum to accept a non-party system for holding a free, fair and credible election or face anti-government agitation.

Prime minister Shiekh Hasina lambasted her arch rival BNP chairperson Zia and said when she (Zia) was in power, she turned down the non-party system and described that only children and insane are neutral to head the interim government to oversee the parliament election.

The prime minister sat behind a bullet-proof glass shield while senior alliance leaders reiterated that the upcoming general election in 2013 would be free, fair and credible under the present government.


However, the opposition fears the government would rig the election, despite majority of the bye-polls and mayoral elections in different cities the opposition candidates won the seats.


During the 35-minute speech at a rally in the city center, Hasina alleged that the opposition’s agitation is a ploy to destabilize the pro-secular democratic governance.


Meanwhile, the business leaders warned on Tuesday that the opposition threats for political agitation and nation-wide shut down on Mar 29 would raise tensions in social life. The leaders of the influential business and export chambers urged the opposition to demonstrate restrain and instead debate in the parliament.

The opposition has been boycotting the parliament for more than a year, for unknown reasons.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Bangladesh wins maritime boundary case with Myanmar


SALEEM SAMAD


BANGLADESH HAS won territorial and economic rights to the vast Bay of Bengal resources in the maritime boundary case with Burma in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in a judgment in Hamburg on Wednesday.

Foreign minister Dipu Moni said a United Nations (UN) maritime tribunal had ruled in Bangladesh’s favor in a complex maritime border dispute with Burma, also known as Myanmar.

Moni said Bangladesh got more than it claimed in its long-running dispute with Burma. "This is a great day for Bangladesh. All our strategic objectives were achieved."


The President of the Tribunal, Jose Luis Jesus of Cape Verde, read the judgment in the Hamburg courtroom.

The verdict opened the way for huge potentiality of offshore oil and gas exploration in the Bay of Bengal, Moni said.

Bangladesh claimed 66,486 square miles while the court provided 68,972 sq. mi area in the Bay of Bengal.


Earlier Burma claimed rights to part of an area Bangladesh has been trying to explore. At the peak of the dispute, both countries sent naval ships to the disputed area, which is about 174 miles off the Bangladeshi port of Chittagong.

The naval forces of Burma and Bangladesh came face to face in the Bay of Bengal in November 2008 after an oil and gas exploration by South Korean Company Daewoo attempt by Burma in a disputed area. The tension however, was diffused by the intervention of international organizations.


Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bangladesh opposition demands to restore non-party system

SALEEM SAMAD

PRO-ISLAMIST opposition has slapped a deadline of 90 days to restore the cancelled non-partisan caretaker system, which is widely believe the ruling party would manipulate.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalists Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia on Monday threatened agitation, which often begets violence in a poverty stricken nation of 150 million.

She urged her pro-Islamist 6-party alliance and their supporters to enforce nation-wide shut down on Mar 29 protesting the government attempts to bar its leaders and activists from joining Monday's grand rally in the capital’s city center.

Despite security agencies obstacles to hold the pro-Islamist opposition the rally was attended by a crowd of 200,000 and was apparently peaceful, eyewitnesses claim. In a country-wide crackdown, an estimated 4,000 opposition supporters and activists were detained, police spokesperson said.

The commuting city buses, long distance buses, river ferry boats were shut down. Several check posts were manned by police and elite anti-crime squads who frisked thousands of people entering the capital Dhaka.

The security agencies asked the city hoteliers and community centers to shut down their business on the eve of the opposition rally. The agencies put off the air three private satellite channels Ekushey TV, Bangla Vision and Islamic TV from live broadcast of opposition leader speech.

In her 90-minute speech, the BNP chief in a scathing remarks of the government and blamed for gagging the media.
At the rally the opposition leader, Zia who was twice prime minister failed to provide terms of reference of an interim government’s system would be responsible to hold free, fair and credible election.

The opposition believes that the upcoming parliament election in 2013 would be rigged, in the backdrop of a weak election commission.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Bangladesh authority blocks private TV channels from live broadcast of opposition rally


SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH SECURITY agencies knocked off the air three private TV channels in a bid to refrain them from live broadcast of opposition rally, without any prior notices.

The security agencies blocked for three and half hours in the afternoon the TV channels Ekushey Television (ETV), Bangla Vision and Islamic TV, when the rally was in progress.

The newsroom editors of the private satellite channels confirmed that government agencies asked Cable Operators' Association of Bangladesh (COAB) to suspend the telecast as the channels were planning to go live from the rally venue. The COAB officials acknowledged receiving the instruction.

However, the channels were available to the viewers around 6:30 pm, an hour after opposition leader Khaleda Zia finished her speech.

Earlier on March 10, the private television channels have been discouraged by the telecommunication regulatory body Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) not to broadcast live the main opposition rally on Monday.

Many private television channels are in a dilemma whether it would be safe to broadcast live the opposition’s rally, when the government has determined against the opposition programme alleging 'it is a plot to create anarchy'.

The private TV channels fears BTRC as the telecom regulatory body is also licensing authority.

The government spokesperson and minister Syed Ashraful Islam has expressed his indignation over the planned live broadcasting of BNP's rally. Several newspapers also ran reports saying the issue was also discussed in the cabinet meeting.

Bangladesh has 19 private TV channels, which broadcast through satellite and does not have permission for terrestrial broadcast facilities.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Yunus regrets offer to be nominated as World Bank chief

SALEEM SAMAD

NOBEL LAUREATE Professor Muhammad Yunus on Friday quietly turned down the nomination offer for the position of World Bank chief, after Bangladesh prime minister requested European Parliament delegation to nominate micro-finance pioneer.

A visionary for banking for the rural poor, specially empowerment of women, Yunus declined to take the helms of affairs of the multi-lateral bank, based in Washington DC. Instead he said he wish to dedicate his life for social business.

The country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed Yunus name last month to a delegation of visiting European parliamentarians in capital Dhaka, saying he was respected for his pioneering role in poverty alleviation.

In a statement on Friday, Yunus while thanking Hasina said he never thought of taking up the top job of the bank or any other such multilateral institutions. He said he was a regular critic of the World Bank for its policies and programs.

The move surprised many, as Hasina last year fired the 70-year-old Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank on mandatory retirement age dispute. She (Hasina) in December 2010 also accused him of “sucking blood from the poor.”

The microfinance pioneer said he hoped that Hasina’s proposal that he take over at the World Bank would “make clear that the impressions she previously had about me and Grameen Bank no longer exist”.

The Washington-based anti-poverty lender, Robert Zoellick, the incumbent president of the World Bank, will step down at the end of his five-year term on June 30.

Earlier in 1995 U.S. President Bill Clinton invited him to his Oval Office and “asked whether I had any interest in this”. In 2005 ex-Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia wanted to nominate him for UN Secretary General’s post. In each proposal he had regretted the offer with thanks.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Friday, March 02, 2012

American special forces deployed in South Asia to combat counter-terrorism threats

SALEEM SAMAD

AMERICAN SPECIAL Forces have been deployed in five South Asian countries to enhance counter-terrorism capabilities with the nations in the region, intermittently visited by threats of Jihadists, a top Pentagon commander disclosed on Thursday.

To the surprise of politicians, media and western critiques, the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) Admiral Robert Willard revealed at a Congressional hearing that currently special forces assist teams - Pacific assist teams is the term - laid down in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, as well as India.

Willard told lawmakers in response to a question by Congressman Joe Wilson as to what effort is being made to counter threat from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and co-operation on counter-terrorism issues.

At the hearing, USPACOM Commander introduced LeT as a dangerous militant outfit. "Responsible for many attacks in India, including the horrific attacks into Mumbai, LeT is headquartered in Pakistan, affiliated with al-Qaeda and other Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs), and contributes to terrorist operations in Afghanistan and aspires to operate against Asia, Europe and North America," Willard said.

"We are working very closely with India with regard to their counter-terrorism capabilities and in particular on the maritime domain but also government to government, not necessarily department of defence (DoD) but other agencies assisting them in terms of their internal counter-terror and counterinsurgency challenges," said Willard.

The Pentagon official said Pacific Command's Indian Engagement Initiative that resourced and hosted Mumbai counter terrorist specialists for training exercises and exchanges throughout the US, together with capacity-building activities with South Asian partners are mainly focused on containing LeT and contributing to CT self-sufficiency of the sub-region's militaries.

India promptly denied deployment of U.S. Special Forces and quickly the American Embassy in New Delhi clarified that the troops were not stationed in India, as the media reports. The embassy and India's ministry of defence said a unit from the US 25th infantry division was in India to hold an exercise with Indian forces and its strategic neighbours.

Bangladesh authority has neither denied nor confirmed the presence of USPACOM Special Forces in Bangladesh. Bangladesh couple of weeks ago said that it will participate in joint exercise in India with United States on counter-terrorism.

In mid February the visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert O. Blake in the capital Dhaka said that with Bangladesh and the U.S. has developed strong cooperation on counter-terrorism and security issues.

Bangladesh, he said, has emerged as a particularly effective partner in the fight against terror, cooperating with India as well as the US to counter VEO activity by actors such as LeT.

Further, Bangladesh's military is advancing its capabilities and contributes broadly to the United Nations peacekeeping operations, he added.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

United States softens on threats to relations with Bangladesh

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni in Washington DC
SALEEM SAMAD

It now appears that the United States government has softened in exerting diplomatic pressure on Bangladesh soon after the authorities forcibly removed Nobel laureate Professor Mohammad Yunus from the micro-finance institution he founded 30 years ago.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was irked last March and threatened that the bilateral relations with Bangladesh would jeopardize if authorities continue to harass Prof. Yunus, a popular advocate of social business concept.

Visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert O. Blake in Bangladesh capital on Thursday told reporters that with Bangladesh and U.S has developed strong cooperation on counter-terrorism and security issues.

The visiting official emphasized the importance of Bangladesh’s finding an eminently qualified successor to Dr. Yunus as managing director of Grameen Bank, which has credit of empowering 10 million disadvantaged rural women. The Islamist squarely blamed the micro-finance bank for voting against the mullahs in last parliament election.

Blake reiterated U.S. policy against extra-constitutional means to overthrown a democratic government. In a recent botched military coup hatched by mid-level radical Muslim army officers in last January, the U.S. immediately condemned the conspiracy and firmly stood beside Sheikh Hasina’s government in establishing secularism and democracy. The overwhelming majority of Bangladesh 150 million people are Sunni Muslims, followed by 10 million minority Hindu population.

The senior U.S. official hopes that the ruling Awami League and mainstream opposition Bangladesh Nationalists Party would rise above narrow partisanship and will work together to agree for a mechanism in holding free, fair, credible and participatory election, schedule in end 2013.

He urged Bangladesh authority to ensure continued space for free media and vigorous non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The vibrant civil society representatives expressed their fear to Blake that the draft NGO law would curtail their mandate for empowerment of the rural poor, he told at a press briefing on Thursday.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is an award winning investigative reporter based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic extremism, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained, tortured in 2002 and later expelled in 2004 for whistle-blowing of the safe sanctuaries of the Jihadist leaders in Bangladesh who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile from Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Australian energy firm struck gas reserve in Bangladesh offshore Australian energy firm struck gas reserve in Bangladesh offshore

SALEEM SAMAD

AN AUSTRALIAN energy corporation has struck huge gas reserves in off shore Bay of Bengal, which is commercially viable.

The president of Santos Bangladesh John Chambers briefed journos on Wednesday that they are confident to start supplying gas from the reserve from the first week of April.

John Chambers, said that the Aussie company will be able to quantify Sangu-11's reserves in the next couple of weeks when necessary assessments are completed.

From the new well in shallow water block 37.2 miles from the Bangladesh coast, at least 25-30 million cubic feet of gas per day will be available for Chittagong's energy starved industrial customers within March – April, the official added.

For the second time, commercially viable gas reserves have been found in offshore Bangladesh, following the previous discovery by the U.K's Cairn Energy in 1996. Cairn, the previous operator of the Sangu field, found gas in the same block.

Unlike other energy giants globally, Santos has agreements to sell gas from its well to private consumers at market price, the Santos official said. The Aussie company has already received expressions of interest from over a dozen large privately owned companies in Chittagong to buy gas at market price due to a growing gas shortage in the country.

The energy crunch has forced Petrobangla, state energy regulatory agency to suspend new gas connections to industries since July 2009, squeezing industrial growth. Gas rationing is widespread and CNG filling stations are closed four hours a day. Bangladesh economy is entirely dependent on gas and electricity for production of the huge export industries.

Earlier, energy activists have been protesting the government ink a deal with Santos and other American energy giants for allowing them to sell gas privately, which they term is anti-nationalism, said its leader Professor Anu Mohammad of a state university.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is an award winning investigative reporter based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic extremism, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained, tortured in 2002 and later expelled in 2004 for whistle-blowing of the safe sanctuaries of the Jihadist leaders in Bangladesh who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile from Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heart throb’s suicide pact on Valentines Day

SALEEM SAMAD

A LOVE pair in a suicide pact dies on Valentine Day with a hope they would be united in eternity, on Tuesday.

Saud Sheikh, 17, and Mitu Mollah, 16, from a village Kathibazaar in Gopalganj in southern Bangladesh decided to give away their lives, after stiff opposition from both their families against their bondage.

Demoralized and frustrated by the attitude of their parents, the teens were driven to end their life.

Both are school students of standard ten, were in love, said the village leader Mejbah Uddin Chowdhury.

Shiekh had an affair with Mollah for a long time, but Saud’s family refused to accept the affair, a ridiculed as fairytales. The parent transferred Shiekh to the capital Dhaka. In the meantime Mollah’s family forced her to marry a groom whom he never met, said the village leader Chowdhury.

Police said, Shiekh returned to the village a day before the incident. The lovers tied a knot in their hands with a scarf and jumped from a mobile phone tower. They died instantaneously, Gopalganj police officer Sarojit Biswas said.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is an award winning investigative reporter based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic extremism, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained, tortured in 2002 and later expelled in 2004 for whistle-blowing of the safe sanctuaries of the Jihadist leaders in Bangladesh who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile from Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bangladesh TV journalist couple brutally murdered

Journalists from the broadcasting and print media take part in a human chain demanding arrests of journalist couple Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Nahar Runi killers. Photo: Shafin Ahmed/Demotix
SALEEM SAMAD

A YOUNG Journalist couple was cruelly murdered by unknown assailants in their apartment in the small hours in the weekend in the capital Dhaka, sparking widespread protest prompting authorities to issue orders for an investigation.
The couple’s five year-old son Megh informed her grandmother at 7:00 am on Saturday that two assailants killed his parents and he was locked inside a room. Police found Sagar Sarowar, news editor of private Maasranga TV both his hands and feet tied and his wife Meheren Runi, special correspondent of private ATN Bangla TV channel lying dead in a pool of blood.

Police security has been deployed to protect the only child who had survived the gruesome murder of his parents.

Sarowar returned to Bangladesh in 2011 after a few years stint with Deutsche Welle in Germany as a broadcaster.

The motive of the killing is unknown and police have yet to determine whether it is related to their work.

Chief Coroner at a state hospital said after the autopsy, Sarowar and Runi were hacked to death and had bore scores of stab wounds in their bodies.

Police detectives and intelligence agencies jointly launched a massive man-hunt ever in the history of Bangladesh and is desperately looking for clues.

Detectives and anti-crime agencies after two days is yet to make any progress in resolving the mystery of the most talked about murder story of the popular television journalists.

The police chief Hassan Mahmood Khandaker on Monday was evasive when crime reporters asked him barrages of questions regarding the progress of the investigation and whether the suspects have been nabbed. He, however, said there was significant progress and would not disclose any information for the sake of investigation.

Earlier the grieved journo leaders at a rally in front of the National Press Club on Sunday has set a 24 hours deadline, otherwise they threatened to boycott press coverage of the Home Affairs minister Sahara Khatoon.

Bangladesh is among the worst nations in the world in combating deadly anti-press violence. Bangladesh ranks 11th on New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Impunity Index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country's population. Twelve journalists have been murdered in reprisal for their work in Bangladesh since 1992.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is an award winning investigative reporter based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic extremism, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained, tortured in 2002 and later expelled in 2004 for whistle-blowing of the safe sanctuaries of the Jihadist leaders in Bangladesh who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile from Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com