ISLAMABAD/DHAKA- Pakistan and Bangladesh summoned each other’s ambassadors on Thursday to register “strong protest” in connection with a row over the execution of an Islamist leader in Bangladesh this week, both sides said in statements.
The two Muslim countries used to be two halves of the same one until Bangladesh broke away in a 1971 war of independence.
Bangladesh has in the past few years been prosecuting people accused of carrying out crimes in support of Pakistani forces during the war, and has executed five of them, the most recent one, Motiur Rehman Nizami, on Wednesday.
Pakistan said Nizami’s hanging was “unfortunate” and attempts by Bangladesh to malign Pakistan were “regrettable,” though it was not clear what Bangladeshi statement Pakistan was referring to.
Bangladesh summoned the Pakistani ambassador in Dhaka to register its “strong protest” over statements by Pakistan.
Relations between the two countries have never recovered from the 1971 war when Bangladeshi nationalists, backed by India, broke away from what was then West Pakistan.
About three million people were killed in the war, Bangladesh says, and thousands of women were raped.
Some Bangladeshi factions including the Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist party, opposed the break and some if its members, including Nizami, have been prosecuted by a Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal set up in 2010.
“The government of Bangladesh deeply regrets that despite Bangladesh’s repeated overtures, the malicious campaign by Pakistan against the trials of the crimes against humanity and genocide in Bangladesh is continuing,” Bangladesh said in a statement.
International human rights groups say the tribunal’s procedures fall short of international standards but Bangladesh rejects that and the trials are supported by many Bangladeshis.
Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Bangladesh on Thursday over Nizami’s hanging. (Reuters)
Bangladesh, November 14: As Bangladesh’s government struggled this week to persuade residents of overcrowded refugee camps to use contraceptives as part of a new push to promote family planning among Rohingya Muslims, Nurul Islam’s wife gave birth to their fifth child.
Three-day-old Ayesha was born Tuesday in a tiny, one-room hut in Teknaf upazila (sub-district) in Cox’s Bazar district that her parents and four brothers have called home for the past two months since they fled a fresh cycle of violence and atrocities allegedly committed against the Rohingya minority by the military in neighboring Myanmar.
Islam was elated at what he described as his “latest achievement.”
“Having a child shows that you are a strong man. I now have five of them,” the 32-year-old told BenarNews proudly. “And I will try for more,” he added with an air of confidence.
Unlike most other members of his community, Islam said, he was aware of birth control procedures but wasn’t interested because the practice was “considered a sin.”
“I know what a condom is… but have never used one,” he said – a telling statement uttered by a majority of Rohingya that prompted the family planning office of Cox’s Bazar to introduce birth control steps in about 15 refugee camps sheltering nearly 1 million members of the displaced group.
More than 600,000 of them, including about 20,000 pregnant women, have arrived in southeastern Bangladesh from Buddhist-majority Myanmar since its military launched a counter-offensive in response to insurgent attacks in Rakhine state on Aug. 25, according to the latest estimates from the United Nations.
Officials with the Directorate of Family Planning, which is connected to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, launched the birth control program in Rohingya camps in September.
But soon after, they realized they were “only scratching the surface of a deep-rooted problem,” Pintu Kanti Bhattacharjee, the department’s deputy director, told BenarNews.
“A majority of Rohingya, who are largely uneducated, are not aware of birth control measures. The ones who are aware are convinced that family planning methods conflict with their faith,” he said, adding, “We then realized we were faced with a huge challenge.”
Before the refugee crisis exploded in late August, Bhattacharjee’s department had about 50 workers.
“We have hired about 200 people over the past few weeks and still feel the need for more staff,” he said. The near 250 health workers operate out of 13 offices in Ukhia and Teknaf sub-districts and “go door-to-door to educate Rohingya about the benefits of family planning.”
“So far, we have managed to talk about birth control with 150,000 Rohingya. We convinced 7,500 of them to take contraceptive measures like condoms, pills and injections,” Bhattacharjee said.
Islam, the refugee who became a father for the fifth time this week, was among the unconvinced multitude.
“Our children are Allah’s gift to us. We will accept as many as he gives us,” he said, as he prepared to walk 1 km (0.6 mile) to the nearest food distribution center to bring his family something to eat.
“Allah will take care of them,” he added, before disappearing into the crowd of refugees rushing to get ration supplies.
Islam’s wife, Amina Khatun, 24, said she did not agree with her husband.
“If they [family planning workers] come here, I would like to opt for birth control,” she told BenarNews.
She had their first child when she was 16 years old, two years after getting married. Over the next eight years she delivered four more children. All of them, including the latest addition to their family, were born at home with help from women in the neighborhood.
“It’s not easy to take care of so many children. And my husband wants to have more,” Khatun said exhaustedly as she breastfed her newborn.
Abdul Muktalif, 57, a camp leader in Teknaf, said that all Rohingya couples had “at least five children in hopes that the more kids they have, the more money they will bring in when they grow up.”
Muktalif, who has been living at the Leda camp for the last 14 years, has 15 children – the youngest 1 year old – from three wives.
Officials weigh voluntary sterilization
Bhattacharjee said his office was mulling the idea of providing voluntary sterilization to Rohingya but “cannot implement it unless the Ministry (of Health and Family Welfare) approves it.”
In a statement issued Thursday, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said: “Simply offering sterilization would be a narrow and unethical approach.
“Family planning is a matter of individual choice, should be completely voluntary, and women, girls and couples should have access to the widest method mix for them to choose from complemented by adequate information and counseling on available methods and services,” it said. (Benar)
Kolkata, November 8, 2017 : Cases of sexual assault are not new to the country. Sadly, the number of reported cases has witnessed a sharp rise in recent years. Countless insane reasons have been repeatedly cited to defend rapes that ranged from wearing short clothes, staying out till late hours, being over-friendly with men, among many others. But how do you justify the rape of an elderly nun? How do you justify rape at all?
Ranaghat nun rape case dates back to 2015. Two years after the incident, a court in Kolkata has now convicted and sentenced a Bangladeshi man to life imprisonment, for raping an elderly nun. The incident had taken place at a school in Ranaghat, West Bengal in 2015.
On March, 2015, five men had broken into the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat with a motive to loot the church and vandalize the idols. Consequently, they attacked the oldest nun of the school, aged 71, who had tried to stop them.
On November 7, two years after the Ranaghat nun rape case, the City Sessions Court announced 28-year-old Nazrul Islam, a Bangladeshi man guilty of rape and attempted murder of the nun.
Previously, Islam had been arrested after the nun had identified him from a list of suspects.
Ranaghat Nun Rape Case: What Exactly Happened?
As per a report by PTI, Arnab Ghosh, a police superintendent in Ranaghat revealed that the men, all aged between 20 and 30, jumped the boundary of the co-ed school around 11:40 pm in March 13.
After disconnecting the telephone lines, the five men choked the security personnel on duty and entered the nuns’ room. Upon being stopped by the oldest nun of the school, they forced her into another room where she was raped.
The men then went on to steal cash, and other expensive materials that included a camera, mobile phone and laptop.
The men also attacked Convent of Jesus and Mary and vandalized and stole holy items.
Reactions To The 2015 Ranaghat Nun Rape Case
The nun was subjected to such brutal treatment that she had to be rushed to a hospital on March 14 where she underwent an operation.
The Ranaghat nun rape case sought intense reactions from the larger public. Hundreds of angry locals, priests and schoolgirls took to the state to protest against the incident – highways were blocked, shops were closed and candlelight marches were carried out as slogans demanding justice were raised.
Soon after the incident was reported, the West Bengal government ordered the Criminal Investigation Department to carry out investigations that made use of CCTV footage to arrest the five accused.
The five accused were arrested after three months.
Delayed But Deserved Verdict
A court in West Bengal on November 8 has now sentenced Nazrul Islam to life imprisonment for raping, and allegedly attempting to murder the aged nun.
The court also convicted his other five accomplices – Gopal Sarkar , Kumar Sarkar, Mohd Selim Sheikh, Ohidul Islam and Khaledar Rahman of robbery, and sentenced them to 10 years of imprisonment.
The verdict comes two years after the incident had taken place.
The delay in the verdict raises serious concerns on the security of women in the count.
Rape Culture in India?
As per the 2015 government data, 34,651 cases of rape were officially recorded. However, it is estimated that the true figure is much higher than this, given half of the cases go unreported.
Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Consequently, laws on sexual violence were strengthened. However, the extents to which they are enforced remain questionable.
India will seek the Malaysian government’s help in extraditing televangelist Zakir Naik who faces charges of money laundering and inciting hatred through his sermons broadcast on Peace TV, the foreign ministry said Friday.
Zakir Naik obtained permanent residency in Malaysia
Officials will approach their Malaysian counterparts with the extradition request sometime within the next two weeks, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told a weekly news briefing in New Delhi.
“Any formal request seeking the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition requires a completion of the internal legal process involving consultation with other ministries involved in the case,” Kumar said.
“At this stage, we are nearing the completion of this process and as soon as this process is complete we will be making an official request to the Malaysian government in this matter,” Kumar said. “It could be a couple of days or a couple of weeks. But it would be soon and the nature of our request would also be clear.”
Naik fled India a month before terrorist carried out a massacre at a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in July 2016. This week, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said the Islamic preacher legally obtained permanent residency in the country, and that Malaysian authorities would arrest him only if he broke local laws or was found to be involved in terrorist activities.
Naik’s speeches allegedly inspired some of the militants who carried out the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery café in Dhaka, where 29 people, including 20 hostages and five gunmen, were killed.
In November 2016, the Indian government banned Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO Islamic Research Foundation, which partly funded the Peace TV channel that is banned in India, Bangladesh and several other countries.
Kumar said because the Indian government had knowledge of Naik’s whereabouts, the legal procedures would be tailored to requirements between the two countries in their extradition treaty.
Advocate challenges charges
“Naik is being hounded because he hails from a minority community. The charges that the investigating agencies are trying to frame are all stale and are hardly incriminating,” advocate S. Hariharan told BenarNews in a phone interview from Delhi.
“The charges lack veracity and would not stand scrutiny in the court of law. We will be challenging the extradition and deportation.”
Last week, the Indian government filed a 61-page charge sheet against Naik alleging he was involved in a criminal conspiracy by lauding terrorist organizations. In April, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him in an alleged case of money laundering through his NGO and a shell company.
In Malaysia meanwhile, the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has urged the government to ignore any request from India to extradite Zakir Naik, Reuters reported.
“For Muslim individuals, even when they won by using arguments and not weapons, like Dr. Zakir Naik, they are considered terrorists because their arguments cannot be countered,” PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang wrote last week in an opinion piece published in Harakah Daily.(BenarNews)