UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has urged Dhaka to halt plans for the repatriation of 2,260 Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, warning that the returns would be in violation of international law putting their lives and freedom at serious risk. “We are witnessing terror and panic among those Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar who are at imminent risk of being returned to Myanmar against their will,” she said in a statement issued in Geneva yesterday.
“Forcibly expelling or returning refugees and asylum seekers to their home country would be a clear violation of the core legal principle of non-refoulement, which forbids repatriation where there are threats of persecution or serious risks to the life and physical integrity or liberty of the individuals.”
The UN rights chief made the call ahead of the start of repatriation tomorrow as per the decision taken by Bangladesh and Myanmar following the Joint Working Group meeting held in Dhaka on October 30.
More than 725,000 Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh from Myanmar's Rakhine after a brutal military crackdown began in August last year. They have joined some 300,000 Rohingyas already living in squalid camps in Cox's Bazar for years.
The BNP may offer 60 parliamentary seats to its partners in the Jatiya Oikyafront and the 20-party alliance, setting aside the rest for its leaders who have been collecting party nomination papers since Monday.
Party policymakers discussed the seat-sharing issue in the last two days. They would soon sit with the partners in the alliances to settle it, BNP insiders said.
If needed, the party may offer 20 more seats to the partners to avoid any conflict, they said.
The Awami League looks all set to lead the largest alliance ever to take on its archrival BNP and other opposition parties and combines in the high-stake December election.
Bizarrely, the Jatiya Party, the main opposition in the current parliament, is also joining the ruling alliance, which is unprecedented in modern parliamentary democracy around the world.
BNP today submitted another list of 1002 “fictitious” cases filed against its leaders and activists to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
The party also sent a letter signed by BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir urging the government to stop such harassment and withdraw all the cases ahead of the upcoming general election.
“It was a partial list like that of previous one and more lists of such cases will be sent to the PMO later,” according to the letter that was submitted to the PMO this afternoon, BNP sources said. BNP, the archrival of the ruling Awami League, submitted a list of 1,046 “fictitious cases” filed against its leaders and activists to the PMO on November 6 following assurance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take a step to stop such harassment.
During a dialogue with Dr Kamal Hosain-led Jatiya Oikyafront on November 1, the prime minister asked the BNP leaders to submit the list of its arrested leaders and activists to her.
Rights defenders and photographers this week demanded immediate release of internationally acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam from prison.
“We have recently seen that convicts of murder get presidential clemency. But, Shahidul, who is sent to jail for pointing out the real scenario of the country, has yet to get bail. It's unfortunate,” said Prof Anu Muhammad of economics at Jahangirnagar University.
He said this at a rally organised to mark the 100th day of the arrest of Shahidul and demanded his immediate release.
A group of photographers organised the rally in front of the National Museum at Shahbagh where participants protested the arrest of Shahidul by gagging themselves with red cloth.
Describing how Shahidul was picked up by law enforcers on August 5, Anu said, “The noted photographer is kept behind bars in an extrajudicial manner.”