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Human Rights Experts skeptical about 11,000 Mass Arrests in Bangladesh Regarding Brutal Killings By Suspected IS Militants

Last week, IS militants have claimed responsibility for the deaths of a Hindu monastery worker, an elderly Hindu priest and a Christian merchant

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  • More than 11,000 people were arrested regarding the brutal killings in Bangladesh
  • Human Rights Watch said police are accepting bribes to release many of those detained
  • Bangladesh authorities blame home-grown militants – and in some cases the political opposition for the violence

The recent sweep of arrests in Bangladesh have caught the attention of Human rights experts.

Bangladesh officials say they have arrested more than 11,000 people in a sudden and drastic response to the wave of brutal killings by suspected Islamist militants.

But New York-based Rights group Human Rights Watch is skeptical that this large number of arrests is founded on adequate investigations, or that this will effectively reduce violence in the country.

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“The mass arrest of thousands upon thousands within the course of a few days is a familiar scene in Bangladesh, but does little to inspire confidence either that these ghastly killings will stop or that due process will be followed,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director.

“After a slow and complacent response to these horrific attacks, Bangladesh’s security forces are falling back on old habits and rounding up the ‘usual suspects’ instead of doing the hard work of carrying out proper investigations,” he continued.

The statement released by Human Rights Watch Friday, June 17 cited media reports that say police are accepting bribes to release many of those detained.

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Image Source: The Irish Times (AFP/STRSTR/AFP/Getty)

Police have arrested thousands of people since last Friday in a crackdown on the violence that has targeted more than 30 victims in Bangladesh since early last year, including bloggers, gay rights activists, Christians and Hindus.  Islamic State extremists have claimed responsibility for more than 20 of the killings.

In the past week, IS militants have claimed responsibility for the deaths of a Hindu monastery worker, an elderly Hindu priest and a Christian merchant.  All three were hacked to death. The Muslim wife of a key counter terrorism official was also stabbed and shot dead.

Bangladesh authorities blame home-grown militants – and in some cases the political opposition – for the violence even after IS militants have claimed responsibility.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna (with inputs from VOA), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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Human Rights Situation in North Korea Needs Reforms

In all areas related to the enjoyment of economic and social rights, including health, housing, education, social security, employment, food, water and sanitation, much of the country’s population is being left behind

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United Nations special rapporteur on the rights situation in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana attends a press conference following his report on the country to the Human Rights Council, March 12, 2018 in Geneva. A year later, little has changed. (VOA)

Despite more than a year of international engagement and promises of economic reform by North Korea’s leaders, the human rights situation in the isolated country remains dire, a top U.N. rights official said Friday.

Blocked by the government from visiting North Korea, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea Tomas Quintana visited South Korea this week as part of an investigation that will be provided to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March.

North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a factory in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, Aug. 7, 2018. (VOA)

Noting that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has embarked on an effort to improve living conditions by focusing on economic development, Quintana said his preliminary findings showed those efforts had not translated into improvements in the lives of most people.

“The fact is, that with all the positive developments the world has witnessed in the last year, it is all the more regrettable that the reality for human rights on the ground remains unchanged, and continues to be extremely serious,” he told reporters at a briefing in Seoul.

“In all areas related to the enjoyment of economic and social rights, including health, housing, education, social security, employment, food, water and sanitation, much of the country’s population is being left behind,” Quintana added.

North Korea, Humaqn Rights
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inside the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, April 27, 2018.

Left out of talks

North Korea denies human rights abuses and says the issue is used by the international community as a political ploy to isolate it.

Human rights were noticeably absent from talks between Kim and the leaders of South Korea and the United States last year, over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

But in December, the United States imposed sanctions on an additional three North Korean officials, including a top aide to Kim, for serious rights abuses and censorship.

North Korea’s foreign ministry warned in a statement after the December sanctions were announced, that the measures could lead to a return to “exchanges of fire” and North Korea’s disarming could be blocked forever.

Kim acknowledgement

While noting he had “no specific information” on whether international sanctions were hurting ordinary North Koreans, Quintana said the sanctions targeted the economy as a whole and “raised questions” about the possible impact on the public.

He cited a reference by Kim in his new year message to the need to improve living standards, saying it was a rare acknowledgement of the economic and social hardships faced by many North Koreans.

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Still, the United Nations has confirmed the continued use of political prison camps housing “thousands” of inmates, Quintana said, quoting one source as saying “the whole country is a prison.”

He said witnesses who recently left North Korea reported facing widespread discrimination, labor exploitation and corruption in daily life.

There is also a “continuing pattern of ill-treatment and torture” of defectors who escaped to China only to be returned to North Korea by Chinese authorities, Quintana said. (VOA)