Asia in Review Archive 2021
Date of AiR edition
12 January 2021
Bangladesh: Court orders halt of demolition of structure carrying memories of anti-British movement
(lm) A High Court issued a status quo order on January 6 to temporarily halt demolition of a historical structure housing the former house of Jatindra Mohan Sengupta, a late 19th century-Indian revolutionary against the British. Previously, a minority rights body had submitted a memorandum to local authorities, urging the government to take necessary steps to protect the complex. [South Asia Monitor] [Dhaka Tribune]
12 January 2021
Bangladesh: Government deprives 52 people of their status as members of Mukti Bahini
(lm) Bangladesh`s government has cancelled the freedom fighter certificates of 52 people, following the 70th meeting of the National Freedom Fighters Council. The decision also affected a former army officer, who was involved in the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding president of Bangladesh and father of incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. [bdnews24]
An autonomous Bangladesh government body, the National Freedom Fighters Council was formed to look after the welfare of members of the Mukti Bahini – the so-called freedom fighters – who fought for Bangladesh during the War of Liberation that transformed East Pakistan into Bangladesh in 1971. Civilian fighters and their heirs are entitled to numerous privileges, including honorarium. To this end, the council is also charged with preparing a list of freedom fighters, which is also known as the “Red Book”.
12 January 2021
Bangladesh invites Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said to join founding father’s birth centenary
(lm) Bangladesh has invited the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, to join the birth centenary celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding president of Bangladesh and father of incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The sultan was also invited to attend celebrations taking place on March 26 – the Independence Day of Bangladesh to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence from Pakistan. [Dhaka Tribune]
5 January 2021
Bangladesh wants repatriation of Rohingya refugees to begin this year
(lm) Bangladesh’s foreign minister on January 3 informed that a letter had been sent to Myanmar’s government, requesting to resume the repatriation process of more the more than 1 million Rohingya refugees this year. Context and timing of the announcement are noteworthy: In a 134-9 vote with 28 abstentions the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 31 approved a resolution strongly condemning rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims and other minority groups in Myanmar, including arbitrary arrests, torture, rape, and deaths in detention. [India Today] [Dhaka Tribune] [New York Times]
Bangladesh and Myanmar had signed a repatriation deal in November 2017 followed by a physical agreement in January 2018 to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to the Rakhine province. However, there has been no success in the repatriation of Rohingyas despite two failed attempts in the past. Meanwhile, authorities in Bangladesh have started relocating Rohingya refugees from crammed camps near the Myanmar border to a settlement on what the UN and rights groups worry is a dangerous low-lying island prone to cyclones and floods [see AiR No. 52, December/2020, 5].