Friday, December 07, 2018 EDITORIAL

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 EDITORIAL

Quest for free, fair, credible parliament elections

Indisputably the resentful and frightened people of Bangladesh — except the leaders and activists of the incumbent Awami League (AL) headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina — were earnestly hoping to see a light at the end of the tunnel after the second round of dialogue between the ruling alliance headed by the AL chief Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and the opposition alliance Jatiya Oikya Front (JOF) led by Dr. Kamal Hossain, that the outcome would be worthwhile, pragmatic and productive. Mentionably, in 1981, The New York Times compared Dr. Hossain to American intellectual, lawyer and diplomat Adlai Stevenson II. Dr. Kamal Hossain taught Constitutional Law and International Law at Queen’s College, Oxford from 1957 to 1959. He is the country’s most celebrated jurist who led the process of framing the Constitution of Bangladesh in 1972.
Regrettably, the inconclusive end of the much longed-for talks, as of now, remains something of a pipe dream, thus dashing the hopes of the body politic who want nothing more than truly free, fair and credible Parliament elections on a level playing field which is conspicuous in its absence.
Jatiya Oikyafront leader Dr Kamal Hossain on December 05 urged all, including the media, to stay alert about any move that could hamper an impartial and credible election. “Efforts are on to interfere in holding an impartial and independent election. , if you and people remain alert and play an active role, we’ll be able to tackle it in many ways.”The government is now in “uncertainty” about the election as the Oikyafront decided to participate in the polls, said Kamal, who did not elaborate further. He called upon journalists to let people know about violations of electoral law and “unlawful and biased role” of the government officials and law enforcers.
Much to the helpless chagrin of the body politicof Bangladesh, umpteen — indeed innumerable — during the last eight years news reports about brazen examples of loathsome atrocious vote rigging through intimidating members of the electorate supporting the main opposition BNP, stuffing ballot-boxes with stamped ballot papers by the incumbent Awami League (AL) activists have hit the media headlines over and over. A pictorial report about Barisal City Corporation (BCC) polls was evidence enough when a voter was seen during a heated exchange of words with an election official, after waiting in queue “for hours and then finding ballots already stamped on the “boat” symbol”. Since the voting started at 8am, “seven to eight ruling party men wearing tags of the “boat” symbol occupied each of the five polling booths for men at Kaladema Government Primary School in Barisal city”. [Vide Barisal: No violence required: Open ballot stuffing by AL men. Daily Star, July 31, 2018]
Within the next half an hour, “198 votes were cast and all the voters were forced to vote for Awami League’s mayoral candidate”. Two correspondents of The Daily Star present at the centre for half an hour since the voting started witnessed the incident. The centre has 1,605 votes. No polling agents for other mayoral candidates were seen around the booths. Shahjahan Mridha, a voter of the centre, said AL men forced him to vote for the ruling party mayoral candidate. Another voter at the centre, Nanna, said there was no point of going to the polling centre as there was no scope for choosing a candidate. In both centres, no agent of BNP mayoral candidate Mujibur Rahman Sarwar was found. [Ibid]
Six correspondents of the The Daily Star visited 36 centres, out of the total 123. BNP’s polling agents were seen in only three centres and they left the centres after 9:30am. The correspondents noticed a large number of ruling party supporters around the polling centres who barred known BNP supporters from entering the centres. AL activists also asked the journalists not to take photographs, both inside and outside the polling centres. Anwarul Haque Tarin, assistant general secretary of Barisal city BNP, said the ruling party men forced their agents out of the polling centres. [Ibid]
Frustration of Ms Manisha Chakraborty, Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal’s mayoral candidate of the BCC, revealed untold depths of futility as her supporters claimed that some people “wearing AL badges of boat” snatched ballot papers from a polling centre. When Manisha Chakraborty and her supporters reached the polling centre, they found that many of the ballot papers were already stamped on boat, the symbol of the ruling AL. [Vide People wearing badges of boat snatch ballot papers: Manisha, the Daily Star, July 30, 2018]
All the incumbent Awami League (AL) leaders including PM Sheikh Hasina brag about her government’s huge achievements in every sector during her 9-year rule. But the recent World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index this year [released on November 01, 2018], Bangladesh’s grade registered major fall — this country is behind even Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan and Myanmar. Bangladesh’s per capita income is US$ 1,751—whereas Vietnam, which won victory in 1975, has per capita income US$  2,185.
 In India, the Lok Sabha (Parliament) has a term of five years but can be dissolved earlier; in this situation, the prerogative and timing is that of the leader of the majority, she/he has to dissolve the Lok Sabha if her/his five-year term is up. [Vide Indian news and information web portal Rediff.com based in Mumbai.] Why has not the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) been dissolved? Even in pre-Liberian era until the military junta regime of General Yahya Khan, all elections were free, fair and credible; rigging was unheard of. The 1954 Elections were held in East Pakistan in March 1954 under the India Act of 1935, and on the basis of universal adult suffrage. Very surprising in Bangladesh context, but true; veteran politician and the then sitting Chief Minister Nurul Amin — under whose administration the 1954 Elections were held —was defeated.
The Election Commission has not taken any palpable initiative to reshuffle the civil and police administrations even 24 days after the announcement of polls schedule.

Comment

Indisputably the resentful and frightened people of Bangladesh — except the leaders and activists of the incumbent Awami League (AL) headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina — were earnestly hoping to see a light at the end of the tunnel after the second round of dialogue between the ruling alliance headed by the AL chief Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and the opposition alliance Jatiya Oikya Front (JOF) led by Dr. Kamal Hossain, that the outcome would be worthwhile, pragmatic and productive. Mentionably, in 1981, The New York Times compared Dr. Hossain to American intellectual, lawyer and diplomat Adlai Stevenson II. Dr. Kamal Hossain taught Constitutional Law and International Law at Queen’s College, Oxford from 1957 to 1959. He is the country’s most celebrated jurist who led the process of framing the Constitution of Bangladesh in 1972.
Regrettably, the inconclusive end of the much longed-for talks, as of now, remains something of a pipe dream, thus dashing the hopes of the body politic who want nothing more than truly free, fair and credible Parliament elections on a level playing field which is conspicuous in its absence.
Jatiya Oikyafront leader Dr Kamal Hossain on December 05 urged all, including the media, to stay alert about any move that could hamper an impartial and credible election. “Efforts are on to interfere in holding an impartial and independent election. , if you and people remain alert and play an active role, we’ll be able to tackle it in many ways.”The government is now in “uncertainty” about the election as the Oikyafront decided to participate in the polls, said Kamal, who did not elaborate further. He called upon journalists to let people know about violations of electoral law and “unlawful and biased role” of the government officials and law enforcers.
Much to the helpless chagrin of the body politicof Bangladesh, umpteen — indeed innumerable — during the last eight years news reports about brazen examples of loathsome atrocious vote rigging through intimidating members of the electorate supporting the main opposition BNP, stuffing ballot-boxes with stamped ballot papers by the incumbent Awami League (AL) activists have hit the media headlines over and over. A pictorial report about Barisal City Corporation (BCC) polls was evidence enough when a voter was seen during a heated exchange of words with an election official, after waiting in queue “for hours and then finding ballots already stamped on the “boat” symbol”. Since the voting started at 8am, “seven to eight ruling party men wearing tags of the “boat” symbol occupied each of the five polling booths for men at Kaladema Government Primary School in Barisal city”. [Vide Barisal: No violence required: Open ballot stuffing by AL men. Daily Star, July 31, 2018]
Within the next half an hour, “198 votes were cast and all the voters were forced to vote for Awami League’s mayoral candidate”. Two correspondents of The Daily Star present at the centre for half an hour since the voting started witnessed the incident. The centre has 1,605 votes. No polling agents for other mayoral candidates were seen around the booths. Shahjahan Mridha, a voter of the centre, said AL men forced him to vote for the ruling party mayoral candidate. Another voter at the centre, Nanna, said there was no point of going to the polling centre as there was no scope for choosing a candidate. In both centres, no agent of BNP mayoral candidate Mujibur Rahman Sarwar was found. [Ibid]
Six correspondents of the The Daily Star visited 36 centres, out of the total 123. BNP’s polling agents were seen in only three centres and they left the centres after 9:30am. The correspondents noticed a large number of ruling party supporters around the polling centres who barred known BNP supporters from entering the centres. AL activists also asked the journalists not to take photographs, both inside and outside the polling centres. Anwarul Haque Tarin, assistant general secretary of Barisal city BNP, said the ruling party men forced their agents out of the polling centres. [Ibid]
Frustration of Ms Manisha Chakraborty, Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal’s mayoral candidate of the BCC, revealed untold depths of futility as her supporters claimed that some people “wearing AL badges of boat” snatched ballot papers from a polling centre. When Manisha Chakraborty and her supporters reached the polling centre, they found that many of the ballot papers were already stamped on boat, the symbol of the ruling AL. [Vide People wearing badges of boat snatch ballot papers: Manisha, the Daily Star, July 30, 2018]
All the incumbent Awami League (AL) leaders including PM Sheikh Hasina brag about her government’s huge achievements in every sector during her 9-year rule. But the recent World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index this year [released on November 01, 2018], Bangladesh’s grade registered major fall — this country is behind even Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan and Myanmar. Bangladesh’s per capita income is US$ 1,751—whereas Vietnam, which won victory in 1975, has per capita income US$  2,185.
 In India, the Lok Sabha (Parliament) has a term of five years but can be dissolved earlier; in this situation, the prerogative and timing is that of the leader of the majority, she/he has to dissolve the Lok Sabha if her/his five-year term is up. [Vide Indian news and information web portal Rediff.com based in Mumbai.] Why has not the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) been dissolved? Even in pre-Liberian era until the military junta regime of General Yahya Khan, all elections were free, fair and credible; rigging was unheard of. The 1954 Elections were held in East Pakistan in March 1954 under the India Act of 1935, and on the basis of universal adult suffrage. Very surprising in Bangladesh context, but true; veteran politician and the then sitting Chief Minister Nurul Amin — under whose administration the 1954 Elections were held —was defeated.
The Election Commission has not taken any palpable initiative to reshuffle the civil and police administrations even 24 days after the announcement of polls schedule.


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G20 summit: US, China declare trade war truce after Trump, Xi parley

At G20 summit, all eyes were on Donald Trump  and China’s Xi Jinping.

Nick Beams

UNDER intense pressure from President Trump and the US delegation and the threat that they would blow up the meeting, the G20 managed to reach an agreement on the communiqué issued from the leaders’ summit held in Buenos Aires.
This was followed by a deal between Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping for a temporary ceasefire in the escalating trade war between the world’s number one and number two economies.
However, it is a measure of the state of relations between the world’s major economic powers that the summit was labelled a limited success because a form of words was found to ensure it did not end in open conflict as did the G7 meeting in June. The APEC summit last month concluded without agreement and issued no final statement.
Thousands of demonstrators flooded a downtown avenue in Buenos Aires to protest the Group of 20 summit taking place in the Argentine capital.They waved flags and held up up banners with slogans like “Go away G-20” and “Go away Trump.”

Pledge to work to “improve a rules-based order
The statement pledged to work to “improve a rules-based order that is capable of effectively responding to a rapidly changing world” after the US secured the removal of references to “multilateralism.”
The statement did “recognise” the contribution of the “multilateral trading system” to global growth, but then added: “The system is currently falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement. We therefore support the necessary reform of the WTO [World Trade Organisation] to improve its functioning.”
Progress on the reform will be reviewed at the G20 summit to be held in Osaka, Japan, next June.

Deal reached between Trump and Xi
Under the deal reached between Trump and Xi at the conclusion of the summit, the US agreed to suspend the escalation of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent, which had been scheduled to come into effect next January, for three months.
Under the agreement, China agreed to purchase a “very substantial” amount of US farm, energy and industrial products in order to reduce the trade gap between the two countries. But this deal does not address the core conflict. China had already agreed to make such purchases back in May in talks between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and China’s vice premier and chief trade negotiator Liu He but the agreement was overturned by Trump a few days later as not being sufficient.
The key issue remains US opposition to China’s efforts to expand its technological and industrial base under its “Made in China 2025” plan and investment under its Belt and Road Initiative, all of which the US regards as a threat to its economic and military supremacy.
The US position was again set out in a 53-page report prepared by the office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer ten days before the Trump-Xi meeting. It accused China of continuing to organise state-backed theft of intellectual property and technology, downplayed moves by China to ease foreign investment restrictions and raised concerns over its “Made in China 2025” policy.

A tactical manoeuvre
These issues will be the subject of talks over the next three months, with the US threatening to go ahead with the imposition of higher tariffs if it is not satisfied with the outcome.The US decision to put off the tariff hike did not signify an end to the conflict but was a tactical manoeuvre as it seeks what it calls “structural changes” in the Chinese economy, not merely the purchasing of more American exports.
One of the main considerations appears to have been to provide more time to ensure that the European Union and Japan, as well as other countries, come on side with Washington in its push against China’s industrial development.
Trade manoeuvres by the Trump administration over recent months point in this direction.
The US Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), replacing the North America Free Trade Agreement and signed at the G20 summit, was aimed, at least in part, at unifying North America for a push against China. Significantly the USMCA deal contained a provision that parties should not agree to free trade deals with China—an unprecedented “third party” intervention in trade agreements.
The US has also struck agreements for bilateral discussions with both the European Union and Japan. Both had opposed such negotiations but then agreed under the threat that failure to do so would see the imposition of auto tariffs of up to 25 percent on “national security” grounds. In the lead-up to the G20 meeting, there was concern among EU negotiators that Trump was again threatening to go ahead with the auto tariffs.
When the trade war against China was launched, the Trump administration came under criticism, not for its anti-China measures as such, but for the way it was proceeding, which was repelling potential allies that also have grievances with Beijing. The temporary tariff pull-back is in line with efforts to secure wider support, as reflected in the G20 communiqué for discussions on “reform” of the WTO, for which the US will seek support from other major powers as it targets China.
On the European side, the decision appears to have been taken to try to accommodate US demands at the G20 lest an open split lead to the imposition of the threatened US auto tariffs.
The position of the European powers was summed up by the French President Emmanuel Macron, who noted that Trump did not express any “dissenting opinion.” “His team negotiated, he was present, and we will keep moving forward,” Macron said. In other words, they did not poke at the bear and the bear did not snarl back at them.

Concerns over impact on global financial markets
Another consideration in the China decision was concerns over the impact on global financial markets of proceeding with higher tariffs. Trump first raised the prospect of talks with Xi at the G20 at the beginning of November following a significant market sell-off in October. Since then markets, especially the hi-tech companies, have been highly sensitive to the prospect of tariff measures because of their effect on sales and global supply chains.
Following the Trump-Xi meeting both sides put their own positive “spin” on the outcome.
“Today is a great day for the United States,” a senior administration official is reported to have said in a background briefing at the end of the summit. “Across the board it was a resounding success.”
In China, an editorial in the state-owned Global Times, noted for its more strident comments on US policy, said the agreement had “momentous significance.” The official Xinhua news agency said the tariff relief showed the two sides could work together.
Beijing, however, regards any back-down as highly dangerous because it would undermine the entire regime. The trade and economic conflict between the world’s two major economic powers has not been overcome but is entering a potentially more explosive stage. — WSWS

Comment

At G20 summit, all eyes were on Donald Trump  and China’s Xi Jinping.

Nick Beams

UNDER intense pressure from President Trump and the US delegation and the threat that they would blow up the meeting, the G20 managed to reach an agreement on the communiqué issued from the leaders’ summit held in Buenos Aires.
This was followed by a deal between Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping for a temporary ceasefire in the escalating trade war between the world’s number one and number two economies.
However, it is a measure of the state of relations between the world’s major economic powers that the summit was labelled a limited success because a form of words was found to ensure it did not end in open conflict as did the G7 meeting in June. The APEC summit last month concluded without agreement and issued no final statement.
Thousands of demonstrators flooded a downtown avenue in Buenos Aires to protest the Group of 20 summit taking place in the Argentine capital.They waved flags and held up up banners with slogans like “Go away G-20” and “Go away Trump.”

Pledge to work to “improve a rules-based order
The statement pledged to work to “improve a rules-based order that is capable of effectively responding to a rapidly changing world” after the US secured the removal of references to “multilateralism.”
The statement did “recognise” the contribution of the “multilateral trading system” to global growth, but then added: “The system is currently falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement. We therefore support the necessary reform of the WTO [World Trade Organisation] to improve its functioning.”
Progress on the reform will be reviewed at the G20 summit to be held in Osaka, Japan, next June.

Deal reached between Trump and Xi
Under the deal reached between Trump and Xi at the conclusion of the summit, the US agreed to suspend the escalation of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent, which had been scheduled to come into effect next January, for three months.
Under the agreement, China agreed to purchase a “very substantial” amount of US farm, energy and industrial products in order to reduce the trade gap between the two countries. But this deal does not address the core conflict. China had already agreed to make such purchases back in May in talks between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and China’s vice premier and chief trade negotiator Liu He but the agreement was overturned by Trump a few days later as not being sufficient.
The key issue remains US opposition to China’s efforts to expand its technological and industrial base under its “Made in China 2025” plan and investment under its Belt and Road Initiative, all of which the US regards as a threat to its economic and military supremacy.
The US position was again set out in a 53-page report prepared by the office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer ten days before the Trump-Xi meeting. It accused China of continuing to organise state-backed theft of intellectual property and technology, downplayed moves by China to ease foreign investment restrictions and raised concerns over its “Made in China 2025” policy.

A tactical manoeuvre
These issues will be the subject of talks over the next three months, with the US threatening to go ahead with the imposition of higher tariffs if it is not satisfied with the outcome.The US decision to put off the tariff hike did not signify an end to the conflict but was a tactical manoeuvre as it seeks what it calls “structural changes” in the Chinese economy, not merely the purchasing of more American exports.
One of the main considerations appears to have been to provide more time to ensure that the European Union and Japan, as well as other countries, come on side with Washington in its push against China’s industrial development.
Trade manoeuvres by the Trump administration over recent months point in this direction.
The US Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), replacing the North America Free Trade Agreement and signed at the G20 summit, was aimed, at least in part, at unifying North America for a push against China. Significantly the USMCA deal contained a provision that parties should not agree to free trade deals with China—an unprecedented “third party” intervention in trade agreements.
The US has also struck agreements for bilateral discussions with both the European Union and Japan. Both had opposed such negotiations but then agreed under the threat that failure to do so would see the imposition of auto tariffs of up to 25 percent on “national security” grounds. In the lead-up to the G20 meeting, there was concern among EU negotiators that Trump was again threatening to go ahead with the auto tariffs.
When the trade war against China was launched, the Trump administration came under criticism, not for its anti-China measures as such, but for the way it was proceeding, which was repelling potential allies that also have grievances with Beijing. The temporary tariff pull-back is in line with efforts to secure wider support, as reflected in the G20 communiqué for discussions on “reform” of the WTO, for which the US will seek support from other major powers as it targets China.
On the European side, the decision appears to have been taken to try to accommodate US demands at the G20 lest an open split lead to the imposition of the threatened US auto tariffs.
The position of the European powers was summed up by the French President Emmanuel Macron, who noted that Trump did not express any “dissenting opinion.” “His team negotiated, he was present, and we will keep moving forward,” Macron said. In other words, they did not poke at the bear and the bear did not snarl back at them.

Concerns over impact on global financial markets
Another consideration in the China decision was concerns over the impact on global financial markets of proceeding with higher tariffs. Trump first raised the prospect of talks with Xi at the G20 at the beginning of November following a significant market sell-off in October. Since then markets, especially the hi-tech companies, have been highly sensitive to the prospect of tariff measures because of their effect on sales and global supply chains.
Following the Trump-Xi meeting both sides put their own positive “spin” on the outcome.
“Today is a great day for the United States,” a senior administration official is reported to have said in a background briefing at the end of the summit. “Across the board it was a resounding success.”
In China, an editorial in the state-owned Global Times, noted for its more strident comments on US policy, said the agreement had “momentous significance.” The official Xinhua news agency said the tariff relief showed the two sides could work together.
Beijing, however, regards any back-down as highly dangerous because it would undermine the entire regime. The trade and economic conflict between the world’s two major economic powers has not been overcome but is entering a potentially more explosive stage. — WSWS


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Russia-Ukraine conflict: The Sea of Azov is a new flashpoint

Barrister Harun ur Rashid

The Sea of Azov of Crimea connects the Black Sea through the narrow Kerch Strait. Ukraine alleged on November that the Russian annexation of the Azov Sea and escalation of conflict with the Ukrainian Navy in the Kerch Strait as unacceptable, just like the Russian annexation of Crimea three years ago. A Russian coast guard vessel rammed a Ukrainian navy tugboat near Crimea, damaging the ship’s engines and hull, the Ukrainian navy said.
The incident took place on November 25th as two Ukrainian navy artillery boats and a tugboat were transiting from Odessa on the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov, via the Kerch Strait, a narrow passage between Crimea and the Russian mainland.”Russian coast guard vessels carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian navy ships” during the transit, the Ukrainian navy statement said. It said a Russian coast guard ship damaged the tugboat’s engine, hull, side railing and a lifeboat.
The statement added that Russia had been informed in advance about the planned transit .Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) told Russian news agencies that the Ukrainian ships held their course and violated Russian territorial waters, which were temporarily closed.
“Their goal is clear,” an FSB (former KGB) statement said, “to create a conflict situation in the region.” The statement did not mention ramming a Ukrainian tugboat.   The Interfax news agency reported later that Russia had since closed the passage to civilian traffic, citing a local port authority, due to heightened security concerns.
Though a 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia has been asserting greater control over the passage since 2015.  According to the Ukrainian navy, “the occupiers’ dispatch service refuses to ensure the right to freedom of navigation, guaranteed by international agreements.” Russia’s press confirmed the seizure of the Ukrainian ships, claiming the vessels — two armored vessels and one tug boat — “had illegally entered its territorial waters, attempted illegal actions, and ignored warnings to stop while maneuvering through the Kerch Strait.
The US responded and Ms. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN,  sharply confronted Russia’s latest aggression against Ukraine in front of the United Nations Security Council on 26th November , calling the act an “ and a violation of international law. “The United States will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine against the Russian aggression,” Haley said. The Ambassador’s response reportedly marked the most vocal rebuke from the Trump administration since Russia seized three Ukrainian ships on 25 November in the contested waters of the Kerch Strait near the Russian-occupied peninsula.
Haley outlined recent steps the United States has taken to combat Russian aggression in the region, noting that Washington condemned Russia’s development and construction of a bridge between Russia and Czech Republic  in May, and in August, further condemned Russia for its harassment of international shipping in the waters around Ukraine “We call on Russia to respect its international obligations and not obstruct or harass Ukraine  transiting  in the Kerch Straight and to deescalate the tensions it has created,” she said.
Russian nationals reportedly said that it is not always Russia’s fault. Ukraine was pushing the ticket. They knew about Russia’s building that bridge and that they would be there protecting it. Ukraine’s President is also doing very poorly in his country and thought this would be a way to look relevant in his peoples’ eyes.  It is just plain bad politics and even worse with dragging everyone else into the quagmire.
Another report indicated that the Ukrainian election is nearby and the country’s President had been accusing Russia as a strategy to garner votes for him. Analysts say the President needs such narrative to have a good chance of re-election. President Poroshenko of Ukraine has been accused of dragging his feet when it comes to tackling corruption and some voters have taken to the streets over the past year to call for his resignation.
[The writer is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.]

Comment

Barrister Harun ur Rashid

The Sea of Azov of Crimea connects the Black Sea through the narrow Kerch Strait. Ukraine alleged on November that the Russian annexation of the Azov Sea and escalation of conflict with the Ukrainian Navy in the Kerch Strait as unacceptable, just like the Russian annexation of Crimea three years ago. A Russian coast guard vessel rammed a Ukrainian navy tugboat near Crimea, damaging the ship’s engines and hull, the Ukrainian navy said.
The incident took place on November 25th as two Ukrainian navy artillery boats and a tugboat were transiting from Odessa on the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov, via the Kerch Strait, a narrow passage between Crimea and the Russian mainland.”Russian coast guard vessels carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian navy ships” during the transit, the Ukrainian navy statement said. It said a Russian coast guard ship damaged the tugboat’s engine, hull, side railing and a lifeboat.
The statement added that Russia had been informed in advance about the planned transit .Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) told Russian news agencies that the Ukrainian ships held their course and violated Russian territorial waters, which were temporarily closed.
“Their goal is clear,” an FSB (former KGB) statement said, “to create a conflict situation in the region.” The statement did not mention ramming a Ukrainian tugboat.   The Interfax news agency reported later that Russia had since closed the passage to civilian traffic, citing a local port authority, due to heightened security concerns.
Though a 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia has been asserting greater control over the passage since 2015.  According to the Ukrainian navy, “the occupiers’ dispatch service refuses to ensure the right to freedom of navigation, guaranteed by international agreements.” Russia’s press confirmed the seizure of the Ukrainian ships, claiming the vessels — two armored vessels and one tug boat — “had illegally entered its territorial waters, attempted illegal actions, and ignored warnings to stop while maneuvering through the Kerch Strait.
The US responded and Ms. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN,  sharply confronted Russia’s latest aggression against Ukraine in front of the United Nations Security Council on 26th November , calling the act an “ and a violation of international law. “The United States will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine against the Russian aggression,” Haley said. The Ambassador’s response reportedly marked the most vocal rebuke from the Trump administration since Russia seized three Ukrainian ships on 25 November in the contested waters of the Kerch Strait near the Russian-occupied peninsula.
Haley outlined recent steps the United States has taken to combat Russian aggression in the region, noting that Washington condemned Russia’s development and construction of a bridge between Russia and Czech Republic  in May, and in August, further condemned Russia for its harassment of international shipping in the waters around Ukraine “We call on Russia to respect its international obligations and not obstruct or harass Ukraine  transiting  in the Kerch Straight and to deescalate the tensions it has created,” she said.
Russian nationals reportedly said that it is not always Russia’s fault. Ukraine was pushing the ticket. They knew about Russia’s building that bridge and that they would be there protecting it. Ukraine’s President is also doing very poorly in his country and thought this would be a way to look relevant in his peoples’ eyes.  It is just plain bad politics and even worse with dragging everyone else into the quagmire.
Another report indicated that the Ukrainian election is nearby and the country’s President had been accusing Russia as a strategy to garner votes for him. Analysts say the President needs such narrative to have a good chance of re-election. President Poroshenko of Ukraine has been accused of dragging his feet when it comes to tackling corruption and some voters have taken to the streets over the past year to call for his resignation.
[The writer is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.]


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 VIEW POINT

Requiem for the withered flower bud Aritree

Aritree Adhikari

Momtaj Bilkis Banu

Inhuman degrading treatment refers to treating people causing them humiliation and psychological shock—these are violations of human dignity. Everyone has a right to be free from degrading treatment. Humiliation is a strong feeling of intolerable embarrassment or indignity. It is far worse than death — wrote novelist and winner of two Academy Awards, William Goldman. This disgrace is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. Impact of humiliation is presently an active research topic.
I join all concerned—the deceased Aritree Adhikari’s bereaved parents and Aritree’s friends—in condemning the death due to suicide caused by humiliation of the ninth grader Aritree Adhikary and her parents by teachers at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College. I write this as a requiem for unbloomed bud Aritree Adhikari, daughter of Mr. Dilip Adhikari and Mrs. Adhikari.

Humiliation and suffering
Aritree was found hanging from the ceiling of her home in the capital’s Shantinagar on December 3 a few hours after she and her parents were allegedly insulted by some teachers of the Viqarunnisa Noon School and College (VNSC). The late Begum Viqarun Nisa Noon (1920 – 2000), the founder of the VNSC, would turn over in her grave in extreme outrage and frustration over what happened to deceased Aritree — a girl in her early teens at the VNSC.
At around 12:30pm, Aritree closed the door of her room at their Shantinagar residence, and hanged herself from the ceiling fan with a scarf. Her family members broke open the door and took her to a local hospital. She was later taken to DMCH where doctors pronounced her dead, at 4:00pm.
According to news report, Aritree committed suicide allegedly after VNSC authorities summoned her guardians and scolded her for adopting unfair means in the school’s annual exam.
School authorities called in her parents to the school’s Bailey Road branch and told them that the girl used a cell phone to cheat in her exam, the victim’s father told journalists. The girl’s parents tried to persuade the school authorities, but in vain. She would be barred from sitting in this year’s annual tests and would also be issued a transfer certificate, school authorities said, according to her father. The VNSC principal Nazneen Ferdous said teachers caught her while adopting unfair means during the exam, and she was expelled from test. She said they did it as per the school’s rule, and denied threatening to issue a TC.
A case has been filed against Viqarunnisa Noon School and College (VNSC) principal Naznin Ferdous, morning shift in-charge Jinat Akhtar and class teacher Hasna Hena over the suicide of schoolgirl Aritree. The victim’s father Dilip Adhikari filed the case with Paltan police station on accusing the trio of provoking Aritee to commit suicide, duty officer of the police station sub-inspector said.

Death and consequent agitation
The death and consequent agitation, joined by parents, rocked the 66-year-old institute and prompted the education ministry and the school authorities to form two separate probe committees. The ministry of education has asked the governing body of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College to suspend its three teachers including acting principal Nazneen Ferdous. The two other teachers are shift-in-charge of morning shift Jeenat Ara and class teacher Hasna Hena. The ministry has also decided to cancel the teachers’ MPOs, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said while addressing a press briefing at his secretariat office.
Let us also not forget the death of 16-year-old Afroza Khanom of Satkhira who took her own life because she could not bear the humiliation she had been subjected to by village arbitration on December 12, 2016. Her crime was that she had an affair with a boy. For this she and the young man in question were held by locals and then taken to the Chairman of the union with their hands tied. The Chairman then beat them up in public, after which the young girl went home and hanged herself, unable to take the public shaming. We are yet to know if the offender was penalized.

Public humiliation
The intense public shame and humiliation trigger suicide. Along with shame and humiliation, the threat of imminent disciplinary action and relationship conflict are the most common triggers for suicidal behaviour, said the chairman of Suicide Prevention Australia, Dr. Michael Duffy. (See “Shame and humiliation common suicide triggers”; The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 2005).
A professor of psychiatry at the University of Newcastle, Vaughan Carr, said the fall into suicide can happen surprisingly quickly. “If the magnitude of the stress or shaming experience is large enough, it can produce a catastrophic degree of despair and sense of hopelessness associated with the loss of self-esteem that can trigger a very sudden and very lethal suicide attempt.” (Ibid).

171 students were abused
Regrettably at different educational institutions of the country a total of 171 students were abused by teachers from January to November 2018 and among them two students c omitted suicide, according to a study of human rights organisation Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK). Executive Director Shipa Hafiza revealed the findings during a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club protesting the suicide of Aritree, a class nine student of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College.
The government should formulate stringent deterrent laws so that no teacher dares to humiliate any student the consequence of which can be tragic, as in the case of Aritree.
Last but not least, the VNSC teachers ought to have been humane and sympathetic to Aritree— considering her tender age—and must not have insulted her parents. The Prothom Alo reported on December 04, amid the protests, the High Court made an observation that the suicide by the student of Viqarunnisa Noon School is “heart-rending and termed the insult of her parents a “very bad example”.
[The writer is a former News Editor of the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha. She may be reached at momtajbilkis@yahoo.com]

Comment

Aritree Adhikari

Momtaj Bilkis Banu

Inhuman degrading treatment refers to treating people causing them humiliation and psychological shock—these are violations of human dignity. Everyone has a right to be free from degrading treatment. Humiliation is a strong feeling of intolerable embarrassment or indignity. It is far worse than death — wrote novelist and winner of two Academy Awards, William Goldman. This disgrace is the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission. Impact of humiliation is presently an active research topic.
I join all concerned—the deceased Aritree Adhikari’s bereaved parents and Aritree’s friends—in condemning the death due to suicide caused by humiliation of the ninth grader Aritree Adhikary and her parents by teachers at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College. I write this as a requiem for unbloomed bud Aritree Adhikari, daughter of Mr. Dilip Adhikari and Mrs. Adhikari.

Humiliation and suffering
Aritree was found hanging from the ceiling of her home in the capital’s Shantinagar on December 3 a few hours after she and her parents were allegedly insulted by some teachers of the Viqarunnisa Noon School and College (VNSC). The late Begum Viqarun Nisa Noon (1920 – 2000), the founder of the VNSC, would turn over in her grave in extreme outrage and frustration over what happened to deceased Aritree — a girl in her early teens at the VNSC.
At around 12:30pm, Aritree closed the door of her room at their Shantinagar residence, and hanged herself from the ceiling fan with a scarf. Her family members broke open the door and took her to a local hospital. She was later taken to DMCH where doctors pronounced her dead, at 4:00pm.
According to news report, Aritree committed suicide allegedly after VNSC authorities summoned her guardians and scolded her for adopting unfair means in the school’s annual exam.
School authorities called in her parents to the school’s Bailey Road branch and told them that the girl used a cell phone to cheat in her exam, the victim’s father told journalists. The girl’s parents tried to persuade the school authorities, but in vain. She would be barred from sitting in this year’s annual tests and would also be issued a transfer certificate, school authorities said, according to her father. The VNSC principal Nazneen Ferdous said teachers caught her while adopting unfair means during the exam, and she was expelled from test. She said they did it as per the school’s rule, and denied threatening to issue a TC.
A case has been filed against Viqarunnisa Noon School and College (VNSC) principal Naznin Ferdous, morning shift in-charge Jinat Akhtar and class teacher Hasna Hena over the suicide of schoolgirl Aritree. The victim’s father Dilip Adhikari filed the case with Paltan police station on accusing the trio of provoking Aritee to commit suicide, duty officer of the police station sub-inspector said.

Death and consequent agitation
The death and consequent agitation, joined by parents, rocked the 66-year-old institute and prompted the education ministry and the school authorities to form two separate probe committees. The ministry of education has asked the governing body of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College to suspend its three teachers including acting principal Nazneen Ferdous. The two other teachers are shift-in-charge of morning shift Jeenat Ara and class teacher Hasna Hena. The ministry has also decided to cancel the teachers’ MPOs, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said while addressing a press briefing at his secretariat office.
Let us also not forget the death of 16-year-old Afroza Khanom of Satkhira who took her own life because she could not bear the humiliation she had been subjected to by village arbitration on December 12, 2016. Her crime was that she had an affair with a boy. For this she and the young man in question were held by locals and then taken to the Chairman of the union with their hands tied. The Chairman then beat them up in public, after which the young girl went home and hanged herself, unable to take the public shaming. We are yet to know if the offender was penalized.

Public humiliation
The intense public shame and humiliation trigger suicide. Along with shame and humiliation, the threat of imminent disciplinary action and relationship conflict are the most common triggers for suicidal behaviour, said the chairman of Suicide Prevention Australia, Dr. Michael Duffy. (See “Shame and humiliation common suicide triggers”; The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 2005).
A professor of psychiatry at the University of Newcastle, Vaughan Carr, said the fall into suicide can happen surprisingly quickly. “If the magnitude of the stress or shaming experience is large enough, it can produce a catastrophic degree of despair and sense of hopelessness associated with the loss of self-esteem that can trigger a very sudden and very lethal suicide attempt.” (Ibid).

171 students were abused
Regrettably at different educational institutions of the country a total of 171 students were abused by teachers from January to November 2018 and among them two students c omitted suicide, according to a study of human rights organisation Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK). Executive Director Shipa Hafiza revealed the findings during a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club protesting the suicide of Aritree, a class nine student of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College.
The government should formulate stringent deterrent laws so that no teacher dares to humiliate any student the consequence of which can be tragic, as in the case of Aritree.
Last but not least, the VNSC teachers ought to have been humane and sympathetic to Aritree— considering her tender age—and must not have insulted her parents. The Prothom Alo reported on December 04, amid the protests, the High Court made an observation that the suicide by the student of Viqarunnisa Noon School is “heart-rending and termed the insult of her parents a “very bad example”.
[The writer is a former News Editor of the Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha. She may be reached at momtajbilkis@yahoo.com]


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