Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tipaimukh to spell disaster for Bangladesh: Ershad

Jatiya Party chairman Hussain Muhammad Ershad has warned that construction of Tipaimukh dam on River Barak across the border in India will spell disaster for Bangladesh.

Urging the government to take immediate step to hold discussion with India over the issue, Ershad reiterated that implementation of Tipaimulh project must be stopped at any cost, ‘Even at the cost of our lives.’

He said India had no right to build the dam unilaterally on a river it shared with Bangladesh.

‘I’ll rather lay my life but won’t allow them to go ahead with the project,’ the former
president warned.

Ershad sounded the warning at a rally on Sunday, organised by Golapganj unit JP held at the upazila town, on his way to border upazila Jakiganj.

He said once implemented the project would dry up eight rivers, including Surma, Khowai, Khusiara, also partly affect River Meghna, spelling doom for several north, east and southeast districts of the country. ‘After going to Jakiganj we will make such a jarring, loud sound against the dam that it will deafen their ear,’ the JP chief said.

Terming Tipaimukh a death trap, Ershad said the government must hold talks with India to conduct a joint survey before the neighbouring country progressed with the project.

Refuting allegations made by some leaders of Awami League, the leader of the ruling alliance to which 
Ershad‘s JP belongs, he asserted that he was leading the long march from the country’s capital to the land of saints only to safeguard the holy land against India’s ecological aggression and not to seek vote.

After an overnight halt in Sylhet, Ershad’s convoy reached Golapganj town in the morning and headed to Jakiganj where he would address the final public meeting before heading back for Dhaka.

Dipu Moni slams Khaleda, Ershad for Tipai protests

Foreign minister Dipu Moni on Sunday castigated both opposition leader Khaleda Zia and Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad for staging ‘long marches’ in protest at the Indian plan to build the Tipaimukh dam on the river Barak.

Addressing a rally at the Adrasha Uchcha Bidyalaya ground at Mirpur in the city on Sunday, Dipu Moni said both Khaleda and Ershad had forgotten the issue of Tipaimukh dam when were in power.  

Awami League Mirpur and Kafrul thana committees jointly organised the rally to celebrate the 40th
Victory Day and demanding expeditious trial of the war crimes.

Dipu Moni, also joint general secretary of the Awami League, said that Khaleda Zia should explain to the people why she had forgotten the Tipaimukh issue when she had visited India during her rule.

‘These leaders [Khaleda and Ershad] forget the issue when they are in power and shout when in opposition.’ 
She said that opposition was trying to kick up a fuss about the Tipaimukh and Dhaka city corporation issues and urged the people to be on guard against their ‘conspiracies’.

Among others Dhaka city AL acting president MA Azia, general secretary Mofazzal Hossain
Chowdhury Maya and organising secretary Shah Alam Murad adressed the rally presided by local lawmaker Kamal Ahmed Majumder.

Caucus proposes commission for indigenous people’s rights

The Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous Peoples on Sunday proposed setting up of a ‘National Commission’ to protect indigenous people’s rights to their ancestral lands as a means to ensuring their social-economic and cultural well-being. 

The parliamentary caucus also placed a draft law titled ‘Bangladesh Indigenous People’s Rights Act’ and urged the government to formulate a law in light with the draft. 

The developments came at a meeting of the caucus at a convention centre in the capital. 

“The proposed legislation will lay down the legal framework for addressing indigenous people’s poverty in order to alleviate their plight,” Mesbah Kamal, general secretary of Research and Development Collective, said while placing the proposals.

“The law will also stipulate that the indigenous peoples and their communities have the responsibility to maintain ecological balance, restore denuded areas, and adhere to the spirit and intent of the act.” 

Kamal, a professor of history at Dhaka University, said the law would also uphold indigenous people’s rights of self-governance and empowerment. 

On the proposed commission, he said, it will monitor and oversee implementation of the law.
Rashed Khan Menon, chief of the parliamentary caucus, noted the existing laws are not adequate to ensure rights of the indigenous people. 

“We need a comprehensive legal framework where all existing laws will be incorporated,” Menon, also president of Workers Party said. 

“Indigenous people are always ignored, we are yet to ensure their rights on lands in the hill areas,” he said, adding that the government had formed a land commission which has failed to perform its duties as expected.

Shapan Adnan, a member of Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission, said the Land Commission has failed to recover indigenous people’s lands grabbed by local influentials.

He also said indigenous people have been badly affected due to “traditional development” in the CHT areas. 

Khaleda to BBC: Tarique won’t return before full recovery

Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Sunday said her eldest son Tarique Rahman, who is receiving medical treatment in London, would not return home till his complete recovery. 

Khaleda, also the leader of the opposition, said Tarique’s spinal cord was damaged during severe torture inflicted on him while in custody during the army-backed caretaker government (2007-8).

In a telephonic interview with the BBC Bangla service, Khaleda spoke freely on her party’s policy and position on major national issues, like trial of war criminals, return of Tarique, also the party’s senior vice chairman, to Bangladesh for directly involving in BNP politics and Indian move to construct the controversial Tipaimukh dam across the border.

On Tipaimukh issue, Khaleda said she could not be satisfied with the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s assurance that the Tipaimukh Dam project would not cause any adverse impact on Bangladesh. She demanded that there should be a joint survey of the project by experts of both Bangladesh and India.

Responding to a question on ruling party’s allegations that BNP was siding with a specific party (Jamaat-e-Islami) on the question of trial of war criminals, Khaleda said she was for total transparency in the process of trial of war crimes.

“We are not taking any side. We also want trial of war crimes. But the trial has to be of international standard.”

No polls again with AL alliance: Ershad tells Tipai march

Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad said on Sunday that his party will not take part in the next parliamentary elections with the Awami League-led grand alliance.

“I will not participate in the parliamentary polls with the grand alliance and decided to go for the next elections individually” the JP chief said this while addressing a rally at Charthail of the district.

He also said that the people of Sylhet will be in problem, if the Tipaimukh dam is built. I came here to help the people from an impending disaster.

Earlier in the morning, the JP chief along with his entourage started for Zakiganj from Sylhet Alia Madrasa Sunday morning as part of the party’s long march programme.

Jatiya Party began the long march towards Sylhet from Dhaka on Saturday in protest against the building of the Tipaimukh dam.

Chemical weapons can save lives

Terrorists turning to chemical weapons to kill or maim chosen targets is a chilling possibility.

The good news is that there are potential antidotes to these chemical agents, which can save lives if they are used quickly and correctly, new research shows.
Chemical weapons act on their victims through a number of mechanisms, the Journal of Pharmacy Practice reported.
They include nerve agents, chemicals that cause blistering (vesicants), choking agents, incapacitating agents, riot control agents, blood agents, and toxic industrial chemicals.
Clinical pharmacist and forensic pharmacologist Peter D. Anderson at the Taunton State Hospital in Massachusetts explained the clinical effects of chemical weapons with their treatment.
Pharmacists need to work in their hospitals to prepare emergency plans, and with the pharmacy and therapeutic committees to stock for a potential chemical accident or terrorist attack.
Nerve agents work by blocking the actions of acetyl cholinesterase (the chemistry involved is similar to how pesticides kill). These toxins include sarin, tabun, VX, cyclosarin, and soman, according to a hospital statement.
Vesicants like sulphur mustard and lewisite produce blisters and damage the upper airways. Choking agents, which cause fluid to build up in the lungs (pulmonary edema), include phosgene and chlorine gas.

'Iran among few states with drone tech'

A senior Iranian commander says the Islamic Republic is among the few countries that possess the technological know-how of the unmanned aerial vehicles fitted with scanning and reconnaissance systems. 

Deputy Commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), Brigadier General Hossein Salami said on Saturday that the US spy drone, recently downed by the Iranian military forces while violating Iran's airspace, showed the US modern intelligence technology and the fact that the Islamic Republic could decode the drone's data and figure out the technology applied to it, IRNA reported.

Salami went on to say that the enemies of the Islamic Republic did not have a true understanding of Iran's capabilities.

The US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft was brought down with minimal damage by the Iranian Army's electronic warfare unit on Sunday, December 4, 2011, when flying over the northeastern Iran city of Kashmar, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) away from the Afghan border.

On December 6, two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the drone had been part of a CIA reconnaissance mission, involving the United State intelligence community stationed in Afghanistan.

Iran has announced that it intends to carry out reverse engineering on the aircraft, which is similar in design to a US Air Force B-2 stealth bomber.

The RQ-170 is an unmanned stealth aircraft designed and developed by the Lockheed Martin Company.

The drone is one of the US most advanced surveillance aircraft, whose loss is considered a major embarrassment for Washington.

Rumours Go Around On Ghulam Azam’s Possible Arrest On 16 Dec

The prosecution of International Crimes Tribunal will submit formal charges against top war crime suspect Ghulam Azam on Monday and seek a warrant for his arrest, sources involved in the process said.

The government has kept its law enforcing agencies alert so that the top collaborator of the Pakistan occupation army cannot evade arrest, possibly on the night of December 15, provided the prosecution secures arrest warrant from the tribunal by this time.

A group of prosecutors and a member of the investigation agency were busy to fine-tune the papers of formal charges at the prosecution's office in the old High Court building in the city last evening.

"We are almost prepared to submit formal charges along with a petition for arrest warrant. We are scrutinising the pros and cons of what we are going to submit to the tribunal," a prosecutor told daily sun on Saturday.

"It is a big thing in the history of Bangladesh . &hellip.. we have taken it seriously so that our petition is not rejected. We hope to submit it on December 12," the prosecutor said requesting that his name is not mentioned in the report.

Ghulam Azam (far left) can be seen meeting with Pakistani military commanders Gen. Tikka Khan (second from right) and Lt-Gen. Rao Farman Ali (second from left) in 1971.
Investigation Officer Motiur Rahman Chowdhury said that the investigation agency felt it necessary to arrest Ghulam Azam, the then ameer of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami, to put him on trial and so pleaded for steps to arrest him while submitting charges to the prosecution on November 1.

State Minister for Law Quamrul Islam also said it categorically that the former Jamaat chief will be arrested before December 16.

While speaking at a discussion meeting on "War Crimes Trial: Impediments by the Opposition and Our Resistance" at Dhaka Reporters' Unity on Saturday, he said that formal charges against Ghulam Azam would be submitted within two or three days.

He also revealed that more tribunals would be constituted to speed up the war crimes trial.

Ghulam Azam (left) is photographed with the then Awami League president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (right) as East Pakistani politicians sat together to chalk out plans in face of the then military junta's reluctance to hand over power to the elected representatives in 1970.
According to sources, the government does not want to arrest Ghulam Azam on other charges and then to show him arrested on war crime charges as he is aged. If Ghulam is arrested without any specific charge against him his followers may try to draw people's sympathy.

The government may keep him confined to his own house announcing it a sub-jail, a highly placed source said on condition of anonymity.

The name of Ghulam Azam came repeatedly in the other inquiry reports also. He was in the forefront in the formal charges pressed against Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Saydee.

According to the investigation report filed Against Ghulam Azam, he led formation of the so called 'Peace Committees' which helped the Pakistani occupation forces in committing atrocities countrywide during the Liberation War in 1971.

He had asked his followers to crush the pro-independence and peace loving people of Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971, fortnightly secret reports of the then government of East Pakistan reveals.