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US Asstnt Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal in Bangladesh: terrorism and intolerance on top agenda

Bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism and extremism were discussed on day one

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal addresses a news conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, April 3, 2014. AFP

Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 5,2016:

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal said she discussed bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism and extremism during a meeting with Bangladesh’s foreign minister and other senior officials in Dhaka on Wednesday.

The meeting on the first day of a three-day visit by Biswal took place amid mounting American pressure on Bangladesh to stop a wave of machete killings by suspected Islamic extremists and to thoroughly investigate killings of secular bloggers and activists dating to last year.

“Important talks with FM Ali, State Minister Alam, & FS Haque on US-#Bangladesh partnership and combating terrorism and extremism,” Biswal said in a message posted on Twitter.

Biswal, the assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asian Affairs, arrived in the Bangladeshi capital nine days after two Bangladeshi gay rights activists, including a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) worker, were slain together in a machete-attack by suspected militants.

Later on Wednesday, Biswal said she met with staff at the U.S. embassy and USAID to share memories of Xulhaz Mannan, the aid worker who was killed at this Dhaka apartment on April 25 alongside K. Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, a theater actor.

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Both men were gay rights activists and Mannan was the editor of Bangladesh’s first magazine devoted to the coverage of LGBT issues in the country.

“#XulhazMannan embodied courage and selflessness and his legacy will live on in causes he championed,” Biswal tweeted on Wednesday.

Three other people – an English professor, a secular blogger and a Hindu tailor – were killed in separate machete attacks last month that marked an escalation in killings at the hands of suspected extremists in Bangladesh. Last year, militants hacked to death five writers and intellectuals, including Bangladeshi-American secular blogger Avijit Roy.

Closed-door meeting

After landing in Dhaka, Biswal went to a state guest house where she met behind closed doors for at least two hours with Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali and other senior officials from the ministry.

In Dhaka, Madrasa students carrying out a rally. Wikimedia Commons
In Dhaka, Madrasa students carrying out a rally. Wikimedia Commons

At around 11:30 a.m., the foreign minister and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam left the building without talking to journalists.

Biswal was scheduled to meet on Thursday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal. During her visit she was also expected to meet with local human rights and civil society groups.

The senior American diplomat arrived in Bangladesh six days after her boss, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, called Hasina to offer U.S. support for the investigation into the killing of Mannan and Tonoy, according to officials at state.

“The Secretary also condemned other incidents in a recent spate of violence,” according to a statement issued last week by the State Department.

“The Secretary urged Prime Minister Hasina to ensure a thorough investigation of all of these incidents, and to redouble law enforcement efforts to prevent future attacks and protect those who are at risk,” the statement added. (Benar News)

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Khaleda Zia granted bail in 2008 corruption case

Khaleda is a two-time Bangladesh Prime Minister, having ruled from 1991-96 and again from 2001-06

Khaleeda Zia granted 64 months bail. IANS

Bangladesh Nationalist Party Chairperson Khaleda Zia, convicted in a corruption case, was granted bail on Monday.

BNP leader Zia secured a four-month bail in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case in which she was handed five years of imprisonment by a Bangladesh court.

“Now, there is no legal bar to let Khaleda walk out of prison on bail,” Bangladesh Daily Star quoted BNP Advocate Sagir Hossain Leon as saying.

Earlier today, a bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Shahidul Karim passed the bail order in response to a petition moved by Khaleda before a high court back in February.

Her bail was considered on four grounds, including her health condition.

Further, the high court directed the concerned authority to prepare the paper book of the case within the next four months for hearing the appeal she filed against her conviction in the case.

The high court sentenced Zia’s eldest son and Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman and four others for at least 10 years with a fine of 2.10 crore Bangladeshi takas (Tk).

The Anti-Corruption Commission had earlier filed a case in 2008 with Ramna Police Station, accusing six persons including Khaleda and her son Tarique.

Khaleda is a two-time Bangladesh Prime Minister, having ruled from 1991-96 and again from 2001-06.

In a political career spanning almost four decades, Khaleda went to the jail several times but was never convicted. She was detained several times during the anti-Ershad movement between the 1980s and 1990s.

In March 1983, she was made vice-chairperson of BNP after her husband and former Bangladesh President Ziaur was assassinated.

She went on to become the party’s chairperson in 1984, a position which she holds today. May 10, 1984.

Since the last three decades, Bangladeshi politics have been dominated by Zia and current Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.