Mar 27, 2012 at 15:43 o\clock

Bangladesh honours 83 ‘foreign friends’

Friends of Bangladesh DHAKA, MAR 27: Bangladesh has honoured 83 foreign nationals and organisations for their outstanding contributions in the Bangladesh’s war of independence.

President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday conferred two categories of honours on distinguished personalities from different countries and organisations at a gala ceremony at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

As many as eight foreign dignitaries—an incumbent president, a former king, three former presidents and three former prime ministers - were awarded the “Bangladesh Liberation War Honour”, while 67 individuals, six organisations, people of India and Mitra Bahini were given the “Friends of Liberation War Honour” for their invaluable contribution during the nation’s struggle for freedom.

In all, 19 distinguished foreign nationals received the honours themselves, while 56 of such honours were received by the recipients’ next of kin or representatives, as many of them have passed away, while some are unable to come. On behalf of the six organisations, representatives have received the awards.

Pankaj Saran, Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka, received the honour for People of India, while the Indian state minister for defence, Pallam Raju received the honour for Mitra Bahini. Of the 75 overseas personalities awarded on the day, 46 have already passed away.

President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid tribute to the foreign dignitaries for their contribution to Bangladesh’s war of independence. Foreign minister Dr Dipu Moni and AB Tajul Islam, state minister for liberation war affairs, also spoke on the occasion.

Cabinet secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan read out the citation, while Mizanur Rahman, secretary to the liberation war affairs’ ministry, delivered the vote of thanks. Michael Barnes, former member of the British House of Commons, who along with some of his colleagues visited the erstwhile East Pakistan in 1971, delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of the recipients.

The honoured 75 personalities include heads of states and government, ministers, lawmakers, politicians, artistes, humanitarian activists, journalists, military personnel and lawyers. They are from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, former Yugoslavia, Ireland, France, Sweden, Italy, Denmark and United States of America. Indian nationals dominated the number with 26 recipients, followed by USA (14), Russia (10) and the UK (7). People of India and members of the Mitra Bahini have been collectively honoured for their contribution.

The six organisations that were honoured are—Akashvani (All India Radio), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Kolkata University Shahayak Samiti, Oxfam and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Speaking on the occasion, the President described the honour conferred on the dignitaries as just a token of appreciation, as it is very difficult for a nation to reciprocate the support extended by its foreign friends during a very difficult time.

“This is merely a material means from our people, so that you can remember them,” he said. Bangladesh is grateful to recognise contributions of the country’s foreign friends and well-wishers who whole heartedly supported the war of independence and rendered invaluable endeavour in favour of freedom from their respective positions.

“Their precious inspiration and support put impetus to achieve our victory,” he said. The President appreciated the dignitaries for accepting the honours and said: “Your endless generosity, exemplary courage and firm spirit will remain in our hearts for ever.” Expressing gratitude to the foreign friends, the Prime Minister said that the nation was indebted to those who had stood by the people to extend their direct and indirect support. “Actually we are honouring ourselves by honouring you,” she said.

The Prime Minister, who spoke in Bangla, said: “It would not have been possible to achieve the victory so quickly had we not received assistance from our foreign friends.” “We cannot forget your contribution. We’ll not forget,” she added. Hasina also expressed gratitude to the unknown people who had contributed during the liberation war. “I was in captivity with my mother during the war of independence. There was a radio. Any word of support used to strengthen our belief,” she said.

The Prime Minister said that it had taken a long time to honour the foreign friends as those who believed in the spirit of the liberation war could not be in power for long. Hasina said that a list of over 560 foreign nationals had been prepared and they would be honoured in phases.

“Many have already passed away, and we might not be able to find some of them. But we’ll try to find out all the names,” she added. In his acceptance speech, former British lawmaker Michael Barnes said: “We are honoured to be invited here. We accept the honours with grateful hearts and humility.” Paying rich tributes to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he thanked the government for the decision to honour the foreigners with “generosity and hospitality”.

The ceremony was attended by Speaker Abdul Hamid, Chief Justice Mohammad Mozammel Haque, Ministers, Prime Minister’s advisers, lawmakers, judges, leaders political parties, members of the diplomatic corp, and senior civil and military officials.

According to sources, although Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia along with all other BNP MPs was invited they did not attend the ceremony. Two lawmakers belonging to Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami were not invited to attend the event. Meanwhile, Sheikh Hasina in another programme said on Tuesday that the war crimes trial would continue for generations to punish the last of the perpetrators of crimes against humanity committed during the 1971 Liberation War.

“The trial has started. It will go on for generations to bring the guilty to justice,” she told a discussion marking Bangladesh’s 41th Independence Day. The Awami League, which led the Liberation War against Pakistan in 1971 and obtained victory after nine months of armed struggle, organised the discussion “The nation now is united to establish a prosperous Bangladesh free from hunger and repression, and to prosecute war criminals,” at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.

Addressing the discussion as chief guest, the Prime Minister, also the AL supremo, assured the gathering of several thousand supporters, leaders and activists of the ruling party that the war crimes trial would be completed within her current tenure.

The process has only started, she said, but many of the perpetrators of crimes against humanity are still hiding abroad. “They should be traced and brought to justice, even if that takes several years,” Hasina said. She assured the gathering that her government would take steps so that the war trials can continue for years and are not stopped midway.

Hasina accused the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its right-wing allies of trying to protect war crimes suspects. She said the Opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, was a collaborator in the war crimes and called upon the people to remain alert against the “collaborators”. “You have to be remain alert so that these collaborators of the defeated forces can never assume office,” the AL chief said, adding that those who are serving the interests of the defeated forces, cannot be well-wishers of the people.

“Assuming office in the past, these forces turned the country’s development wheel backwards,” Hasina said, adding that these quarters would not be able to stop her government from conducting the war crimes trial.

The Prime Minister said Ziaur Rahman, the slain President and husband of Khaleda, had tried to protect the killers of Bangladesh’s founder, Bangabandhu Sheikh Munjibur Rahman. Zia also called off the early initiative by Bangabandhu for trial of war criminals, local collaborators of Pakistani occupation forces responsible for killing 3 million unarmed people, raping over 200,000 women and torching numerous houses during the nine-month-long war, said Hasina.

She was also critical about the Opposition leader’s alleged links with Pakistan and its intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence. Referring to Khaleda Zia’s presence at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium on the day of the Bangladesh-Pakistan match, which Bangladesh lost by two runs, the Prime Minister said it is not yet clear which team the BNP chief was supporting. “People want to know, as she has never turned up in a stadium to watch a cricket match before,” Hasina said.

Presided over by AL presidium member, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, the discussion was addressed among others by railway minister Suranjit Sengupta, agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury, jute and textile minister Abdul Latif Siddique, LGRD and cooperatives minister Syed Ashraful Islam, party joint secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif and Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya. [source: The Daily Star]

Mar 20, 2012 at 23:04 o\clock

Cricket: Bangladesh reach first Asia Cup final

by: bangladesh   Keywords: Cricket, Bangladesh, Asia, Cup, Final

BD Cricket Dhaka: Bangladesh reached its first Asia Cup final when it cruised past Sri Lanka by five wickets with nearly three overs to spare in a rain-disrupted match this morning.

Having failed at nine previous Asia Cups, Bangladesh will meet Pakistan in the final on Thursday at the same Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium having upset both finalists from last year's World Cup.

Bangladesh's victory helped it leapfrog World Cup and Asia Cup champion India into the final. Pakistan has won the biennial event only once, in 2000, when it last appeared in the final. Winless Sri Lanka was already assured of missing the final for the first time.

After limiting Sri Lanka to 232 in 49.5 overs, Bangladesh was handicapped by a mid-innings downpour which reduced the winning target to 212 but increased the required run rate from 40 overs.

The home side wobbled at the start then Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan smashed half centuries to help them reach the target in 37.1 overs.

After Bangladesh was reduced to 40-3, Iqbal (59 off 57 balls) and Shakib (56 off 46 balls) added 76 in their fourth-wicket stand to revive their hopes, and Nasir Hossain and Mahmudullah continued the fight under pressure from tight bowling.

Nasir Hossain knocked off the winning runs with a straight drive to the boundary off Suranga Lakmal and finished 36 not out.

Mahmuduallah was with him unbeaten on 32, having partnered for 77 in almost 14 overs. For Sri Lanka, Nuwan Kulasekara finished with figures of 2-30 while Sachitra Senanayake took 2-38.

Earlier, Sri Lanka posted a mediocre total after Nazmul Hossain took 3-32 and Shakib and Abdur Razzak two wickets each.

Chamara Kapugedera topscored with 62 off 92 balls while Upul Tharanga and Lahiru Thirimanne collected 48 each as Sri Lanka looked for a consolation win.

Of the eight other batsmen, only three could reach double figures after Bangladesh won the toss and decided to field first.

Nazmul set the course for Bangladesh as he claimed openers Mahela Jayawardene (5) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (19), and Kumar Sangakkara (6), who came in at No. 3, reducing Sri Lanka to 3-32. Kapugedera and Thirimanne stopped the slide with a stand of 88 before Thirimanne was stumped in the 32nd over.

Kapugedera was Abdur Razzak's second wicket in the 40th over at 169-5. Tharanga pushed the run rate to better than expected with 48 off 44 balls, including a six and five boundaries, before he was caught behind off Shahadat Hossain in the 46th.

Bangladesh made one change to its XI, bringing in Nazmul for Shafiul Islam, who injured a shoulder in the previous game against India.

Sri Lanka made two changes from last week's game against India, resting Dinesh Chandimal and Seekkuge Prasanna to include Senanayake and Kapugedara.

Mar 15, 2012 at 23:13 o\clock

Bangladesh wins Myanmar battle

by: bangladesh   Keywords: Myanmar, Hamburg

BD Sea Border Dhaka/Hamburg, Mar 14 (–In a historic victory at the UN maritime tribunal, Bangladesh has won territorial and economic rights to the vast Bay of Bengal resources even beyond it bargained for.

"We've got all we wanted," an elated foreign minister told on Wednesday by phone from Hamburg, Germany, where the International Tribunal for Law of the Seas (ITLOS) is based.

Dr Dipu Moni said Bangladesh got more than it claimed in its long-running dispute with Myanmar. "Bangladesh claimed 107,000 square kilometres while it got 111,000 square kilometers area in the Bay of Bengal," she said.

"The court has given equitable solution on equidistance basis," she said, immediately after the verdict.

The President of the Tribunal, Jose Luis Jesus of Cape Verde, read the judgment in the Hamburg courtroom.

"The judgment is final and without appeal," a foreign ministry statement said. "The court also gave St Martin's a full effect," the foreign minister said.

"The full effect means Bangladesh has the territorial and economic rights surrounding the island up to 200 nautical miles toward continental shelf in an angle of 215 degrees," an official explained.

"The ITLOS ruling, by a vote of 21 to 1, brings to a conclusion the case initiated by Bangladesh against Myanmar in December 2009, to resolve a longstanding dispute with regard to the maritime boundary in the oil-and-gas rich Bay," says a statement from the foreign ministry in Dhaka.

"The court sustained Bangladesh's claims to a full 200-mile exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal, and to a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond 200 miles.

"All of our strategic objectives have been achieved," the foreign minister said. "Bangladesh's full access to the high seas out to 200 miles and beyond is now recognised and guaranteed, as are our undisputed rights to the fish in our waters and the natural resources beneath our seabed."

The Tribunal also awarded Bangladesh a full 12-mile territorial sea around St. Martin's Island, rejecting Myanmar's argument that it should be cut in half.

A similar dispute with India is awaiting resolution at the UN court, and a verdict is due in 2014

The energy-starved Bangladesh's exploration for petroleum and natural gas in the Bay of Bengal, long delayed by conflicting boundary claims, can now proceed, Dipu Moni said.

"Today's ruling constitutes the equitable solution that Bangladesh has long desired, but was unable to obtain during 38 years of diplomatic stalemate preceding the lawsuit."

The minister also paid tribute to Myanmar. "… it is a victory for both states because it finally resolves – peacefully and according to international law.

"We salute Myanmar for its willingness to resolve this matter by legal means and for its acceptance of the tribunal's judgment.

"We are very pleased with the expertise, fairness and efficiency of ITLOS and its judges," said the foreign minister.

"The case was resolved, from beginning to end, in a little over two years. This is unprecedented for judicial efficiency in a maritime boundary case."

Myanmar had claimed that its maritime boundary with Bangladesh cut directly across the Bangladesh coastline, severely truncating Bangladesh's maritime jurisdiction to a narrow wedge of sea not extending beyond 130 miles.

Myanmar also claimed that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to award continental shelf rights beyond 200 miles from either State's coast.

The tribunal rejected both of these arguments. The International Tribunal was established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes between States concerning issues covered by the Convention, including the delimitation of maritime boundaries.

The 151-page judgment is the first by any court or tribunal to delimit the maritime area beyond 200 miles, known as the "outer continental shelf", and is certain to establish an important precedent in that regard.

As the Agent of Bangladesh in the proceedings, the foreign minister presided over a legal team, including the deputy agent, Mohammad Khurshed Alam; as well as attorneys James Crawford, Philippe Sands and Alan Boyle of the United Kingdom, Paul Reichler and Lawrence Martin of the United States; and Payam Akhavan of Canada.

Myanmar was represented by its agent, attorney general Tun Shin. Its counsel included Alain Pellet and Mathias Forteau of France, Sir Michael Wood of the United Kingdom, and Coalter Lathrop of the United States.

Mar 12, 2012 at 00:05 o\clock

Closed, nervy city braces for today - BNP Rally

by: bangladesh   Keywords: bnp, khaleda, zia, hasina

12 March Govt actions disrupt communications, life; Khaleda to announce fresh agitation for caretaker govt at restriction-strung rally

Almost all highways and waterways leading to the capital remain blocked, hotels and guesthouses closed and intra-city traffic movements restricted -- all in frantic government attempts to keep opposition activists and supporters from joining the BNP rally today.

Opposition BNP is set to stage the much-talked grand rally on Monday afternoon in city’s Naya Paltan with inaugural speech of the party chief Khaleda Zia.
After a long drama, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Sunday gave conditional permission to the party for holding the grand rally.

According to DMP, the party is barred from using electronic devices and mega screen during the rally. Besides, the use of mike will also be controlled at the same time.

The party cannot start rally before 2:00pm and has to bring an end by 5:00pm in between Fakirapool and Nightingale Crossing. It cannot set up any stage on roads, the source added.

Besides, the authorities of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) requested the private Television channels of the country not to broadcast BNP’s grand rally live for the sake of the state and countrymen.

DMP deployed over 20,000 police and RAB personnel to build a multi-tier security measures in and around the capital during the grand rally.

Armed Personnel Carriers (APC), water cannons and special arrest forces are also ready. Additional law enforcers will be deployed in Bangabhavan, Prime Minister’s Office, Gano Bhavan, BNP central office at Naya Paltan, Bijoynagar, Kakrail, Malibagh, Jamaat office of Moghbazar and Paltan, Mirpur and Diplomat Zone of the city.

According to DMP sources, police set up CCTV cameras in different points, including Shantinagar, Bijoy Nagar crossing, Kakrial and Naya Paltan area in order to monitor the law-and-order situation in the programme. On the other hand, BNP has adopted strong security measures ahead of its grand rally.

Party’s own security members, volunteers and special teams comprised of 600 persons will ensure safety of the supporters and activists of BNP in different points of the capital.

Police detained some 714 BNP-Jamaat leaders and activists across the country in last three days apprehending subversive acts during the upcoming grand rally.

On January 9, opposition leader in parliament, also BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, announced a grand rally in Dhaka on March 12 in protest against the price hike of fuel oils and essentials, deterioration of law-and-order situation.

BDST: 2215 HRS, MAR 12, 2012

Mar 7, 2012 at 13:53 o\clock

Historic 7th March: Tight security for AL mass procession

by: bangladesh   Keywords: March, Bangabandhu

7 March PM No room for razakars in country: PM (মার্চে বাংলার মাটিতে রাজাকারের ঠাঁই নাই: প্রধানমন্ত্রী) DHAKA: Strong security measures have been taken in Suhrawardy Udyan area from Wednesday morning to avert any untoward incident during Awami League mass procession on the occasion of the historic 7th March.

The procession will start from Suhrawardy Udyan (gate in front of Engineers’ Institution) at 3:30 pm of the day and wind up at the historic Bangabandhu Bhaban on Road 32 of Dhanmondi of the city.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, also the AL president, is set to address here and later will inaugurate the rally, party sources said.

Law enforcers have been deployed here with dog squad. Wishing anonymity, several officers of Special branch (SB) and DB told banglanews, “Several numbers of DGFI, DB, SB and SSF team are working in the area to ensure security.”

They informed that Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to go Shikha Chirontini of Suhrawardy Udyan to join rally and mass procession. So, enormous security measures have been taken in Suhrawardy Udyan and Ramna Park area, they added.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday said the opposition leader Khaleda Zia would not be able to protect the war criminals by staging movements against the government.

She said: “The trial of war criminals will be held in the soil of the country as there is no room for razakars here in the March.”

The premier, also ruling Awami League president, came up with the forewarning while addressing a rally held at Suhrawardy Udyan in the city organized by the party on the occasion of the historic March 7.

Criticizing the opposition leader, she said, “March is the month of liberation war and independence, but the she (Khaleda) has chosen the month to make the enemies of independence happy.”

The chief of the party said, “We have shed blood for the independence of the country and we will not allow someone to play ducks and drakes with it.”

Calling upon all to make the country free from hunger and poverty, she said, “We will observe the golden jubilee of the independence in 2021.”

Indicating Khaleda Zia, the premier also said, “You have to reply the people why you had taken five crore rupees from the Pakistan for bearing election expenses whom we defeated in 1971.”

Mentioning that the Pakistan court had revealed the information, she put question, “Who wanted to sell the country?”

The prime minister again claimed that some 15 journalists were killed, 1500 journalists were tortured and 700 officers were made OSD during the then four-party alliance regime.

Regarding the caretaker government, she said, “We had wanted caretaker government at the BNP manipulated vote.”

But, there is no vote rigging during the last three years of the incumbent government, he added. “So, there is no more need of caretaker government in the country,” she observed.