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Two Bangladeshi leaders executed for war crimes

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Dhaka: Bangladesh executed two political leaders, convicted of war crimes during the country’s independence war in 1971, amid tight security early on Sunday.

Bangladesh’s war crimes tribunals had found the two guilty of collaborating with Pakistani forces and committing crimes, including mass killings.

The executions of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, secretary general of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party, were carried out at 12.55 AM, a news agency quoted Jahangir Kabir, jail superintendent of Dhaka Central Jail, as saying.

The two walked to the gallows together at Dhaka Central Jail amid tight security, Brigadier Gen. Syed Iftekhar Uddin, inspector general (prisons), told a news daily.

The execution took place hours after Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid rejected their mercy pleas, clearing the way for their execution.

The family members of Mojaheed and Chowdhury, who met them at the jail for the last time before the executions, claimed they did not seek presidential mercy.

About two hours after executions, ambulances carrying the bodies left the jail for Mojaheed and Chowdhury’s ancestral homes.

Authorities have tightened security in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country in the wake of the executions.

Thousands of security personnel have been stationed at key state institutions.

A four-member bench of Bangladesh Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha on Wednesday had dismissed the review petitions of Mojaheed and Chowdhury.

Chowdhury was a leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is headed by ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia, a rival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

After returning to power in January 2009, Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh’s independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established the first tribunal in March 2010, almost 40 years after the 1971 fight for independence from Pakistan.

Both the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami party have dismissed the court as a government “show trial”, saying it is a domestic set-up without the oversight or involvement of the UN.

Jamaat-e-Islami party has called for a strike on Monday.

(IANS)

 

 

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UN Agencies and Bangladesh Government Advances to Prevent Further Deforestation

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

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A deforested section of the Chakmakul camp for Rohingya refugees clings to a hillside in southern Bangladesh, Feb. 13, 2018. VOA

U.N. agencies and the Bangladesh government have begun distributing liquid petroleum gas stoves in Cox’s Bazar to help prevent further deforestation, which has been accelerating with the huge influx of Rohingya refugees during the past year.

Cox’s Bazar is home to large areas of protected forest and an important wildlife habitat. The arrival of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar has put enormous pressure on these precious resources.

U.N. Migration Agency spokesman, Paul Dillon tells VOA, the refugees have been cutting down the trees and clearing land to build makeshift shelters. He says they and many local villagers also rely almost exclusively on firewood to cook their meals.

“Consequently, the forests in that area are being denuded at the rate of roughly four football fields every single day. We are told by the experts at this rate, by 2019 there will be no further forests in that area,” he said.

Deforestation
Deforestation

Scientists note deforestation has devastating consequences for the environment leading to soil erosion, fewer crops, increased flooding and, most significantly, the loss of habitat for millions of species.

Dillon says disappearing forests are putting great pressure on the animals in the region.

“It interrupts migration pathways and regrettably forces these, sort of, artificial confrontations between animals in the wild and communities as they move into areas that have been logged out often-times in search of arable farmland and that type of thing,” he said.

Also Read: First Satellite Launched by Bangladesh

The project aims to distribute liquid petroleum gas stoves and gas cylinders to around 250,000 families over the coming months. U.N. agencies say the stoves will have additional benefits besides helping to prevent deforestation.

For example, they note smoke from firewood burned in homes and shelters without proper ventilation causes many health problems, especially among women and children who spend much of their time indoors. (VOA)