Bangladesh sentences 14 Islamists to death for attempting to kill prime minister in 2000

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Nine operatives of the outlawed Harkatul Jihad Bangladesh, HuJI-B, were in court Tuesday, five others on the run, as the sentence was pronounced by a judge at the Dhaka Speedy Trial tribunal-1 for placing a 170-lb bomb where the prime minister’s helicopter was scheduled to land in Gopalganj district in July 2000. The plot failed because security forces detected the device.

“The verdict will be executed by a firing squad to set an example unless the law barred it,” the judge said. The prevailing practice is execution by hanging. For the five on the lam, the judge said their sentence would be executed upon arrest or surrender.

The condemned have the right to appeal.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Bangladesh relocating Rohingyas to isolated Bhasan Char island

Bhasan Char
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The government of Bangladesh has started a controversial program to relocate Muslim Rohingya refugees who escaped from persecution in Myanmar to the small isolated island Bhasan Char that is particularly vulnerable to storms and has never been permanently inhabited.

Despite claims by the government in Dhaka that the resettlement is voluntary, refugees interviewed by CNN said they were being forced and beaten when refused.

The sedimentary 40-sq. kilometer island was discovered 18 years ago and has only ever occasionally served as a shelter for smugglers and pirates. Although the island has been considered unsafe for living due to its constant shape-changing as sand deposits shift, Bangladesh has build flood barriers and insists the island is safe.

Rohingyas say they are descendants of Muslim traders who have lived in the region for generations; Myanmar says they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, making them stateless people.

Nearly one-million Rohingyas have escaped discrimination and persecution in Myanmar, and Bangladesh plans on resettling as many as 100,000 to the island. Once there, they will have little chance of leaving, say human rights groups, fearing the island will flood and they will die.

By Milan Sime Martinić