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Bangladesh Continues its War on Human Rights

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Bangladesh

By Dr. Richard L. Benkin

The government of Bangladesh-the Awami League even more so than the BNP-has a history of assaulting human rights workers who have done nothing other than investigate and report blatant human rights abuses and the brutalization of Bangladeshi citizens.  Advocate Rabindra Ghosh has shouldered a great deal of the government’s anti-human rights activity.  The most recent event took place on 29 January-only three days before the writing of this article.

Advocate Ghosh-who is a highly respected practicing attorney-notified Md. Moshiudowla Reza, Assistant Superintendent of Police (Hathazari Circle) in Chittagong, that he and his team would be visiting the area to investigate allegations that Hindu businessman and Managing Director of Super Stone Manufacturing, Sumon Kumar Dey, was the victim of torture and extortion.  Advocate Ghosh and his Bangladesh Minority Watch have extensive evidence that Hindus are fair game in Bangladesh with no protection by the legal authorities.

Thus, it was in keeping with Bangladesh’s refusal to aid its Hindu citizens when Reza warned Ghosh not to investigate the incident or face physical violence-a threat Reza carried out with the participation of several other police officers when Ghosh came to the area.

Bangladesh’s Awami League government would have you believe that it does not tolerate such actions and that the offending police officers were rogues acting on their own.  Yet, attacks on human rights activists have become common in Bangladesh, and the government has yet to prosecute the perpetrators.

According to Ghosh, “We immediately communicated with highest police officers S.P. DIG of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong Division, and Home Minister of Bangladesh over phone and kept them aware about the attack on human rights defenders by police officers and constables, but the administration took no action against perpetrators and bad police officers till writing of the report. This is the third alternate physical attack on Advocate Rabindra Ghosh and his team during his fact-finding within 15 days within Bangladesh.” Ghosh also noted that the video his team took of the attack was destroyed and the activist who took it, Titu Shil, was detained by police.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League government have made a very nice living convincing the West that they are the “good” party in Bangladesh; and I have had more than one Washington insider, operative, or NGO admit that the Awami League was terrible but “better than the alternative, by which they meant the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).  Perhaps they need to reassess that opinion and look at the facts.

Dr. Richard Benkin is an American Jewish human rights activist who is currently working on a mission to stop atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh.

  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Minority who are financially weak get bullied in any country.I know cotton business who are Bengali Hindu in Bangladesh and then there is a sikh officer in Pakistan Air Force.So the problem more is not the religion but the financial standing of a local insaan in the society….

Next Story

Bangladesh’s Second Nuclear Plant, Chinese Companies Look Up For The Contract

“Currently, we have been working on site selection,” he said, adding that the officials of the Chinese companies formally expressed their intent through letters sent to the ministry of science and technology and the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.

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Dhaka
Construction workers use heavy equipment while building Bangladesh’s first nuclear plant in Rooppur in northwestern Pabna district, about 160 km (100 miles) from Dhaka, in this undated handout photo. VAO

Three Chinese companies have started lobbying Bangladesh for a contract to build the nation’s second nuclear power plant, officials said, as the government pushed to finish its first multibillion-dollar Russian-backed nuclear reactor within five years.

Mahbubul Hoq, chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, that officials of three Chinese companies met with him during the past few months and expressed interest in building the second nuclear plant, which is expected to cost 1.5 trillion taka (U.S. $18 billion).

“The project is at the formative stage,” Hoq said Wednesday. “We are yet to decide who would build the plant.”

“But the officials of Chinese companies came to my office and did show their interest in building the second nuclear power plant,” he said.

China
“The influence of Chinese companies has been on the rise,” said Hossain Zillur Rahman, an economist and former commerce adviser. “Now they want to implement nuclear power project in Bangladesh.” Pixabay

In November 2018, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated construction of the first nuclear plant – estimated to cost more than 1 trillion taka (U.S. $13 billion) – in Rooppur in northwestern Pabna district, about 160 km (100 miles) from Dhaka.

Officials expect it to become operational by 2024, about a year from its original target date of completion. Previously, officials said the two reactors would be expected to produce a combined output of 2,400 megawatts per day.

“Hopefully, we will start producing electricity by December 2024,” Hoq said, referring to the first power plant.

He said representatives of the China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) handed him brochures about the state-owned company during their meeting at his office in Dhaka.

“Besides, two more representatives of the Chinese companies saw me in this regard. They assured us that they could build the nuclear plant using state-of-the-art technology,” Hoq said while declining to name the other companies.

The Chinese embassy in Dhaka did not respond to BenarNews emails seeking comments.

Hoq said Hasina, during a recent public event, pledged to build the second plant in the southern coastal districts.

“In line with her announcement, the authorities last year tasked us to find a suitable place to build the second nuclear power plant,” Hoq said.

Project director Mizanur Rahman confirmed to BenarNews that the government had approved plans to build the second plant in one of the country’s southern coastal districts.

“Currently, we have been working on site selection,” he said, adding that the officials of the Chinese companies formally expressed their intent through letters sent to the ministry of science and technology and the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.

Bangladesh has not decided on how it would finance the construction of the second plant. Officials previously told BenarNews that Russia was providing 90 percent of the funds for the first plant through soft loans, while the Bangladeshi government would shoulder the remaining 10 percent of the construction cost.

Getting dragged in China-India regional power play

China is one of Bangladesh’s largest trading partners, with bilateral trade reaching about U.S. $18 billion, with imbalance tilted heavily in Beijing’s favor. The Bangladeshi Army has been equipped with Chinese tanks, its navy uses Chinese frigates and its air force flies Chinese fighter jets.

There are 400 Chinese companies in Bangladesh, according to Chinese envoy Zhang Zuo during a speech at a Dhaka business event last month.

electricity
Officials expect it to become operational by 2024, about a year from its original target date of completion. Previously, officials said the two reactors would be expected to produce a combined output of 2,400 megawatts per day. Pixabay

Bangladesh officially joined China’s massive One Belt One Road (OBOR) infrastructure initiative in 2016 when it signed agreements for implementing 27 projects, including 10 infrastructure initiatives that would be financed by Beijing, according to documents from the Bangladesh finance ministry.

“Of the total 27 projects, 10 are Belt-and-Road initiative projects,” a ministry official told BenarNews on the condition of anonymity. “But we do not mention in official papers due to political sensitivity about the BRI.”

OBOR, also known in other countries as Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI), is Beijing’s globe-spanning project with a price tag of at least U.S. $1 trillion. It stretches across 70 countries and aims to become a 21st Century Silk Road by weaving a network of railways, ports and bridges, linking China with Africa, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Also Read: Amazon Accused of Violating Kids’ Privacy with Alexa

But involving Beijing in the construction of nuclear plants in Bangladesh may drag Hasina’s government into the power tussle between Beijing and New Delhi over dominance in South Asia, an analyst told BenarNews.

“The influence of Chinese companies has been on the rise,” said Hossain Zillur Rahman, an economist and former commerce adviser. “Now they want to implement nuclear power project in Bangladesh.” (RFA)