World Inside

Bangabandhu murder convict sped away to evade Canadian TV

Publish: 11:57 AM, 20 Nov, 2023


The man, convicted for shooting Bangladesh's founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dead, sped away as Canadian national CBC TV network approached him for comments on his role in the assassination and the story he told the Canadian officials for his protection.

"Sir, if we could just have . . . just a quick conversation . . . I just want know if you have been truthful with Canadians about your role in the assassination," a CBC TV journalist was seen asking someone onboard a white SUV car, which was about to be get started.

The man was one of fugitive convicts, sacked major Nur Chowdhury, while CBS TV's investigative journalist Mark Kelly described him as someone who pitted Canada against Bangladesh as he was living in Canada for the past 27 years.

In reply to the CBS TV journalist's question, the killer was heard saying "just a second, just a second, I have an (indistinct chatter)" and then hastily maneuvered the car and subsequently sped away. The report also showed a glimpse of him on the balcony of an apartment in Toronto.

The presenter and colleague at that point were seen to run after Nur's car few steps in their attempt to persuade him to stop and talk and then Kelly commented "after 27 years living freely in Canada, it seems he has nothing more to add".

Most plotters of the August 15, 1975 putsch fled the country in 1996 when the general elections brought Bangabandhu's Awami League back to power while until then they were protected from justice under an infamous indemnity law.

Nur took refuge in Canada and continued to live there a quiet life and for years his whereabouts were unknown.

The CBS TV's popular investigative segment The Fifth State aired the 42-minute documentary two days ago with a title -- Assassin Next Door - questioning "Why the killer of Bangladesh's first president is free in Canada".

Returning to power after exhausting 21 years in a political wilderness Awami League scrapped the Indemnity Act to expose the killers to justice while after a protracted legal process Noor and 11 other sacked military officers were sentenced to death and six of them were hanged so far.

The rests were on the run abroad while the government later confirmed one of them to have died a natural death while he was in hiding in Zimbabwe.

Bangladesh authorities could confirm the current abode of another convict sacked major Rashed Chowdhury in the United States while the Interpol had issued a red alert for the fugitives as part of efforts to track them down.

In a comment to the Canadian TV network years ago, Nur, however, said he was not at the carnage scene at the time when Bangabandhu was killed along with most of his family members. "That's not true, I wasn't there. I was nowhere near that place," he told in an audio comment to the TV, visibly evading his personal visual appearance on the TV screen.

Kelly, who made the documentary talked to the key-people relating to the Bangabandhu Murder Trial, and all of them binned Nur's claim with Bangabandhu's daughter and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina calling it an "absolute lie".

Current Law Minister Anisul Huq who was a key prosecution lawyer in the trial alongside his lawyer father Serajul Huq, chief police investigator of the case Abdul Kahhar Akand and the current CID chief who preserved the case documents also rejected Nur's denial.

They said most of his co-accused who faced the trial in person described Nur's role during the investigation process.

Extradition issue

The documentary focused mainly on Nur's extradition issue and unearthed that in 2002 the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) had ruled he was a "fugitive from justice" and his alibi was "simply implausible".

The then Canadian minister for public safety Stockwell Day appeared in the documentary and said he had reviewed Nur's file and strongly felt "he shouldn't be here (in Canada)" and then his office went to the Canadian court supporting the IRB decision to send him back to Bangladesh.

According to the legal procedure a decision was made that Nur must go back home.

"But (Nur) Chowdhury had a last lifeline. Five years earlier the Supreme Court ruled it was violation of charter of rights to deport any from Canada who faced death or torture back home," the documentary presenter commented.

He said Nur took the advantage of the ruling saying that would exactly happen to him if he was deported, prompting Bangladesh to go to Canadian federal court to know his legal status while the court "ordered Canada to rethink its position".

Canadian government then informed Bangladesh that while "there may be benefits in disclosing information regarding Nur Chowdhury, those benefits do not take precedence over Canada's stance regarding death penalty".

"(But) there is one important loophole to that stance. The Supreme Court ruled people could be sent to their deaths under exception circumstances," the presenter commented reviewing the ruling.

Kelly interviewed a senior law professor of Dalhousie University Robn Currie, a specialist on international criminal law, who said "in this area of law, it's probably the most mysterious phrase that there is".

Currie said when the court first formulated the phrase, "some people called it the bin Laden clause, meaning if someone like Osama bin Laden were to show up in Canada, we would overcome our aversion to the death penalty and say in the greater interest of justice, this person should be extradited or deported".

The law professor said he thought the Canada was in an uncomfortable position with Nur being in Canada.

The presenter posed a question for the audience if taking part "in the assassination of a world leader and 21 members of his household including a 10-year-old boy" (Bangabandhu's son Sheikh Russell) were an "exceptional circumstances" and added "it's a clause that has never been tested before".

Bangladesh High Commissioner to Canada Khalilur Rahman told the presenter that Dhaka wanted Canadian authority to take the case before their Supreme Court and "if your Supreme Court says that no, he cannot be deported, we will accept. And then we can take the other options".

Asked why Bangladesh was not taking the other options now, a visibly frustrated envoy said "they (Canadian authority) are not talking".

"We need to talk, we need dialogue," Rahman said.

Currie, the law professor, called the silence of the Canadian authority "the missing piece".

Going back to Canada's former public safety minister, the presenter sought his opinion if Canada was harbouring an assassin or standing up for human rights.

In reply Stockwell Day said Canada would be standing on a "moral high ground" by saying "He (Nur) is accountable for what he has done and we should negotiate with Bangladesh to see how we can get him out of here and put him back in the hands of people of Bangladesh".

The documentary then showed Nur working in the garden on the balcony of what appeared to be his apartment when the presenter commented "far from the diplomatic crossfire, Nur Chowdhury carries on his quiet life".

Kelly and his TV crew then visibly awaited Nur to descend and get on his white SUV car to be approached with his question, which he evaded, speeding away.

The presenter is then seen at the Dhaka residence of Huq, who previously stood as a lawyer for prosecuting Nur in absentia for the murder of Bangladesh's Father of the Nation and now fighting for his extradition as the law minister.

Kelly asked him if he believed Nur had got away with murder and after a momentary pause, the reply came with a smile on Huq's face.

"So far . . . yes. So far yes, but we will see to the end," Huq said.


World Inside

UN rarely deploys observers to monitor national polls: Spokesman

Publish: 03:34 PM, 01 Dec, 2023


The United Nations has said they do not deploy observers to elections like Bangladesh one, noting that they rarely do that without a specific mandate. 

"The UN is not deploying observers to these elections. We don't… we rarely, rarely do that without a specific mandate," Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric told reporters at a regular briefing on November 29.

He said they have seen the reports from Human Rights Watch and other organisations.

"We again call on all parties involved to ensure that people are able to express their votes freely, their opinion freely, free of any harassment,” the spokesman said.

Candidates of 30 political parties out of 44 registered political parties have submitted nomination papers for the January 7 national election.

The United Nations   observers   monitor   national polls  


World Inside

Aware of Moscow's ‘deliberate mischaracterization’ of US foreign policy, Ambassador Haas’ meetings: Washington says

Publish: 02:38 PM, 25 Nov, 2023


The United States has said it is aware of Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova's “deliberate mischaracterization” of US foreign policy and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas’ meetings.

“The United States does not support any political party in Bangladesh. Nor does the United States favor one political party over another,” a State Department spokesperson said on Saturday.

The US State Department reiterated that they want what the Bangladeshi people want: free and fair elections conducted in a peaceful manner.

To support that shared goal of free and fair elections conducted in a peaceful manner, the US embassy personnel engage and will continue to engage with the government, opposition, civil society, and other stakeholders to urge them to work together for the benefit of the Bangladeshi people, said the State Department spokesperson.

Maria Zakharova, during a weekly briefing on November 22, said that Russia has spoken repeatedly about the attempts by the United States and its allies to influence the internal political process in Bangladesh, ostensibly under the banner of ensuring “transparency and inclusiveness” in the upcoming parliamentary election.

Information has come to light regarding a meeting at the end of October between US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and a high-ranking representative of the local opposition, according to the Russian side.

They reportedly discussed plans to organize mass anti-government protests in the country during the meeting, the Russian side said.

In particular, the American Ambassador “promised” the representative of the opposition information support in the event that the authorities use force against participants in “peaceful demonstrations.”

These assurances were purportedly made on behalf of the embassies of the United States, Britain, Australia and several other countries, according to a Facebook post shared by the Russian Embassy in Dhaka.

"How can these actions of the American Ambassador to Bangladesh be regarded? They can be seen as nothing less than gross interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state on the part of Washington and its satellites, demonstrating open disregard for the norms and rules enshrined in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations," the Russian spokeswoman said.

"On our part, we have no doubts regarding the ability of the Bangladeshi authorities to hold the parliamentary election scheduled for January 7, 2024, in full compliance with national legislation, independently, without the help of overseas well-wishers," said the Russian spokeswoman.


Moscow   Russia   Foreign Ministry   The United States   Peter Haas   Ambassador  


World Inside

Bangladesh for early conclusion of Teesta agreement

Publish: 02:26 PM, 25 Nov, 2023


Bangladesh has underlined the need for early conclusion of the Teesta agreement and other water-sharing treaties of common rivers as foreign secretaries of Bangladesh and India held a meeting at Hyderabad House here this afternoon.

In the meeting styled Bangladesh-India Foreign Office Consultation (FOC), the Bangladesh side also stressed on removing trade barriers from Bangladesh's exportable goods and uninterrupted supply of essential commodities between the two countries.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and his Indian Counterpart Vinay Mohan Kwatra led their respective sides in the meeting that also discussed wide range of bilateral issues covering from border security to trade and commerce and water, power and energy cooperation.

After the meeting, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh issued separate statements in New Delhi and Dhaka on the FOC, an institutional dialogue mechanism between the foreign secretaries to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

The foreign ministry statement said that the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary requested his counterpart to deepen and expand the people-to-people contacts and sought India's assistance in resolving Rohingya crisis.

The two sides also stressed on deepening collaboration for greater prosperity of the people of the two friendly countries.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary thanked the Government of India for inviting Bangladesh Prime Minister to attend the "G20 Leaders' Summit" as the only South Asian leader under India's G20 Presidency.

Both the Foreign Secretaries expressed satisfaction over the existing bilateral relations and the progress made in the year 2023.

Referring to the recent inauguration of number of projects for enhancing connectivity and power and energy sector cooperation by the two Prime Ministers, they said that this sort of cooperation reflects the tangible outcomes of the strong bilateral relations.

The two foreign secretaries further emphasized bolstering cooperation in important areas such as development, trade and commerce, regional connectivity, regional power grid connection, security and water related issues, consular and cultural issues.

 They also discussed to address the challenges to be faced by Bangladesh during post-graduation scenario. Both the sides reiterated that the two border guard forces should continue their cooperation to have a peaceful border.

According to MEA statement issued here the two sides reviewed entire gamut of bilateral relations as they held comprehensive discussions on a wide range of issues covering border and security, trade, commerce and connectivity, cooperation in water, power and energy sectors, people to people ties and development cooperation in Bangladesh.

Apart from bilateral issues, the both sides also exchanged views on sub-regional, regional and multilateral issues.

The Indian side appreciated Bangladesh's participation in the recently held Virtual G20 summit and the Voice of Global South Summit 2.0.

The meeting agreed that the next FOC will be hosted by Bangladesh on a mutually convenient date.

This was the second Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between Bangladesh and India this year as the first one was held in February in Dhaka.


Bangladesh   Teesta agreement   Foreign Secretary   Masud Bin Momen   Vinay Mohan Kwatra  


World Inside

Israeli 'not celebrating' after family released by Hamas

Publish: 09:56 AM, 25 Nov, 2023


An Israeli man whose family was kidnapped by Hamas and freed on Friday said he was happy but could not celebrate their return without the release of all those still held in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas released 13 Israeli hostages on the first day of a truce in the Palestinian territory, bringing the total number of captives released to 29 of around 240 taken when the Islamist group launched its deadly October 7 attack on Israel.

Yoni Asher was at home near Tel Aviv that day when his wife Doron Asher Katz, 34, and their two children, aged two and four, where kidnapped while visiting Doron's mother, 69-year-old Efrat Katz, who was killed during the attack.

"I am happy that I received my family back. It's allowed to feel joy and it's allowed to shed a tear. That's a human thing," Asher said in a video released by the Hostage Families Forum on Friday evening.

"But I am not celebrating. I will not celebrate until the last of the hostages returns home," he added.

"Our children, fathers, mothers, sisters are currently hostages. There are people whose hearts are breaking at this time and I want to ensure that each and every hostage returns home."

Doron's brother and her mother's partner were also kidnapped and are still being held hostage in Gaza.

"I am determined to help my family recover from the terrible trauma and loss we went through", Asher said. "Difficult days are still ahead of me."

The renewable agreement that led to their release covers four days during which 50 hostages held in Gaza must be released, as well as 150 Palestinians held in Israel.

On Friday, 39 Palestinian women and children were released from Israeli prisons.

Ten Thai hostages and one Filippino were also released Friday in a separate agreement, according to Qatar, which led the negotiations along with Egypt and the United States.


Israeli   Gaza   War  


World Inside

Dhaka’s air ‘hazardous’, most polluted in the world Friday morning

Publish: 02:36 PM, 24 Nov, 2023


Dhaka occupied the top spot in the list of cities around the world with the worst air quality Friday morning.

With an air quality index (AQI) score of 323 at 9:30 am, Dhaka’s air remained in the ‘hazardous’ zone, according to IQAir.

Pakistan’s Lahore, and India’s Kolkata and Delhi occupied the second, third, and fourth spots in the list, with AQI scores of 306, 284, and 216, respectively.

An AQI between 151 and 200 is considered "unhealthy," 201 and 300 "very unhealthy," and 301 to 400 is considered "hazardous," posing serious health risks to residents.

In Bangladesh, the AQI is based on five criteria pollutants – particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), NO2, CO, SO2, and ozone.

Dhaka has long been grappling with air pollution issues. Its air quality usually turns unhealthy in winter and improves during the monsoon.

Air pollution consistently ranks among the top risk factors for death and disability worldwide.

Breathing polluted air has long been recognised as increasing a person's chances of developing heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, lung infections, and cancer, according to several studies.

Dhaka   air quality   hazardous   polluted   Friday morning   AQI