একাত্তরে পাকিস্তানকে সাহায্য করতে যুদ্ধবিমান পাঠাতে চেয়েছিল তুরস্ক

একাত্তরের ডিসেম্বরে পাকিস্তানকে সামরিক সহায়তা দিতে আমেরিকা কয়েকটি দেশকে রাজী করিয়েছিল। তাদের মধ্যে সৌদি আরব ও তুরস্ক অন্যতম। 

তাদের মধ্যে তুরস্ক ৬টি এফ-৫ যুদ্ধবিমান পাঠাতে প্রতিশ্রুতি দিয়েছিল। বিমানগুলোতে পাকিস্তানী পাইলট ও চিহ্ন দেওয়ার কথা ছিল। 

অন্যদিকে জর্ডান বলেছিল নিজস্ব ক্রুসহ ৪টি যুদ্ধবিমান দেবে। 

তাছাড়া ইরানের শাহ বলেছিলেন তিনি অস্ত্র ও গোলাবারুদ পাঠাতে পারবেন। [CIA CREST records]
উল্লেখ্য, ভারত ও পাকিস্তানের উপর নিজেদের আরোপিত সামরিক নিষেধাজ্ঞার কারনে পাকিস্তানকে সরাসরি অস্ত্র সহায়তা দিতে পারেনি আমেরিকা। আবার তৃতীয় কোন দেশের মাধ্যমে আমেরিকান অস্ত্র হাতবদল করায় আইনি জটিলতা ছিল। 
ভারত পূর্ব পাকিস্তানকে সাহায্য করায় এবং একই সময়ে কাশ্মীরে হামলা করার কারনে পাকিস্তান নাস্তানাবুদ হয়ে পড়েছিল। এই পরিস্থিতিকে “পাকিস্তানের ধর্ষণ” বলে আখ্যায়িত করে পাকিস্তানের উপর নিষেধাজ্ঞা আরোপের সিদ্ধান্তের ভুল ছিল বলে বারবার আক্ষেপ করছিল কিসিঞ্জার।
তবে রাশিয়া বাংলাদেশের স্বাধীনতা যুদ্ধে আমাদের সমর্থন দিয়ে ভারত মহাসাগরে যুদ্ধজাহাজ মোতায়েন করায় পাল্টা জবাব দিতে সপ্তম নৌবহর পাঠিয়েছিল আমেরিকা।

এই কিসিঞ্জারকে বিচারের কাঠগড়ায় দাঁড়াতে হয়নি এখনো, উল্টো নোবেল শান্তি পুরস্কার বাগিয়ে বসে আছে।

বলে রাখা ভালো, পঁচিশে মার্চ শুরু করা অপারেশন সার্চলাইটে স্বাধীনতাকামী বাঙালিদের উপর গণহত্যা চালাতে পাকিস্তানী সেনাবাহিনী আমেরিকান অস্ত্র ব্যবহার করেছিল।

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CIA CREST records: ‘Islam and politics’ in Bangladesh, 70 other countries as of 1984

This secret report (titled “Islam and Politics: A Compendium”; ID: CIA-RDP84S00927R000300110003) explains in short the course of Islamic revival (since the Iranian revolution) in Bangladesh and 70 other countries with significant Muslim populations (as per the preface).

It was prepared by the CIA’s Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis as a reference aid for policymakers and analysts in April 1984 and released online on December 22, 2016.

Read the full report on CIA website

About Bangladesh

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WikiLeaks: BNP-Jamaat government wanted Rohingya refugees to leave

US ambassador to Yangon Shari (English Woods) Villarosa wrote to Washington on September 29, 2005 describing the condition of the Rohingya people living in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar areas.

Shari Villarosa
Shari English Woods Villarosa, former US ambassador to Burma

The cable titled “Rohingya Refugees And Rebels – A View From Outside” is available online. It was coordinated with the US embassy in Dhaka. It is part of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables released by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

Here is the full text of the document without editing:

1. (C) SUMMARY: Rangoon Poloff traveled to Bangladesh in mid September to visit Rohingya refugee camps and to meet agencies that assist the refugees. Despite living in refugee camps for over a decade amid squalid conditions and sometimes suffering violence and intimidation, very few refugees indicate interest in returning to Burma and the repressive conditions they fled in the early 1990s. Recent discoveries of cached weapons near the border with Burma appear to be old stocks left over from failed insurgencies and not an indication of renewed rebel activity against the GOB or the Bangladesh government (BDG). END SUMMARY.

INHOSPITABLE REFUGEE CAMPS

2. (C) Rangoon Poloff and Political Specialist visited Bangladesh in mid September. Following briefings in Dhaka by IOM, UNHCR and others they traveled with Embassy Dhaka Poloffs to Cox’s Bazaar to visit two official Rohingya refugee camps (Naya Para and Kutu Palong) and another unofficial “makeshift” camp. UNHCR works with the Bangladesh Red Crescent and the BDG to provide minimal necessities to the refugees in the official camps where conditions are purposely kept spartan, as the BDG does not want the refugees to “feel at home” and settle down forever. The Bangladesh police control the refugees by giving selected refugees some authority over the others. Called “majhis,” these refugees frequently rule like the mafia by extorting money and beating refugees into submission.

3. (C) The Bangladeshi camp commander denied Poloffs access to Kutu Palong camp due to a visit by a European ambassador earlier in the year resulting in a riot that the Bangladeshi authorities brutally suppressed, killing at least three refugees and wounding many others. Nevertheless, we managed to meet several refugees at the camp entrance and heard their testimonies.

A HOMESTEAD IN HELL

4. (C) The visit to the unofficial “makeshift” camp near the town of Teknaf was sobering (ref C). The BDG refuses to acknowledge the inhabitants’ refugee status. Some of the Rohingyas who live there are displaced refugees from an older Rohingya “makeshift” community in Teknaf town, while others appear to be recent arrivals from northern Rakhine State in Burma. They live in a cramped, extremely unhygienic settlement sandwiched between the Naf River and the highway and eke out a living as day laborers in Teknaf (opposite Maung Daw, Rakhine State). Some prostitution is said to exist in this unofficial camp. Malnourished children were in evidence. The BDG reportedly asked these settlers to move to a different location, but the Rohingya say if they are not close to Teknaf, they will have no means of earning a living and then the BDG must take responsibility for their needs.

REFUGEES: THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG

5. (C) The BDG says that 20,697 Rohingya refugees lived in the two official refugee camps at the end of August. UNHCR in Cox’s Bazaar estimates that the figure is closer to 22,000. Although UNHCR is not allowed to operate in the “makeshift” camp, it estimates that there are close to 7,000 refugees living there. UNHCR further estimates there are 100,000 to 200,000 Rohingya migrants from Burma who have quietly integrated into the community around Cox’s Bazaar in recent years. Some of them have been able to obtain Bangladeshi passports, are registered to vote, and some travel to Persian Gulf countries for employment — rights that do not exist for them in Burma. UNHCR estimates that approximately 90% of these settlers are former Rohingya refugees who were repatriated to Burma in the mid 1990s, then through “reverse movement” returned to Bangladesh, but this time carefully avoided the refugee camps.

6. (C) UNHCR in Rangoon admits that it lacks the resources to continuously monitor 236,000 Rohingya returnees in northern Rakhine State eleven years after repatriation, and primarily focuses its attention on “new returnees,” monitoring them for three months after they return and only follow up further if problems develop. Therefore, it is entirely possible that some of the 236,000 Rohingya refugees who were repatriated to Rakhine State in the mid 1990s have managed to slip back into Bangladesh.

GUNS AND REBELS

7. (C) We spoke to journalists about recent arms caches that the BDG unearthed in Naikhongchhari, a forested district along the Burma-Bangladesh border (ref A and B). They believe that Rohingya insurgents such as the National United Party of Arakan (NUPA), the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO), the Arakan-Rohingya National Organization (ARNO), and perhaps other splinter groups buried these weapons years ago. As little hope remained of rejuvenating their armed struggle, according to the journalists, some opportunists decided to earn money by selling the old arms to criminal groups. Some were caught trying to sell the arms, and in return for leniency, they revealed the locations of other arms caches to the BDG. The sources claimed that the leadership of the RSO and ARNO has moved on to the Middle East and their organizations are no longer viable. While the sources said that international terrorists might try to infiltrate the Rohingya camps by sea and foment trouble, they considered this scenario unlikely.

COMMENT: NO TURNING BACK

8. (C) The Bangladesh Red Crescent reported that only 92 Rohingya refugees chose repatriation to Burma this year, as compared to 3,233 in 2003. The refugees who chose to remain in Bangladesh listed many reasons why they originally left Burma, including refusal by the authorities to grant marriage licenses and to register their newborns, confiscation of their traditional land, the inability to leave their villages to trade, and the discriminatory and often brutal treatment inflicted on them by the Burmese military and local authorities. The refugees’ preference to remain in their hellhole camps in Bangladesh, rather than return to Burma, suggests just how bad conditions remain in northern Rakhine State.

ভারত থেকে গরু না আসলে সীমান্ত হত্যা বন্ধ হয়ে যাবে!

আমাদের বিজ্ঞ বিজিবি প্রধান মনে করেন যে, ভারত থেকে গরু না আসলে বিচারবহির্ভূত সীমান্ত হত্যা বন্ধ হয়ে যাবে। থামেন ভাই!

Felani_verdict_ASK# তাহলে মই দিয়ে বেড়া পার হতে গিয়ে ফেলানী কিভাবে খুন হয়?

# ঘাস কাটতে গিয়ে বা মাঠে কাজ করার সময় কৃষক কিভাবে খুন হয়?

# অপরাধী ধরার নামে বিএসএফ সদস্যরা কিভাবে বাংলাদেশের গ্রামে ঢুকে এলোপাথারি গুলি চালায়?

# এদেশের যুদ্ধাপরাধী, জঙ্গি ও প্রভাবশালী রাজনৈতিক নেতারা কিভাবে বিনা বাধায় সীমান্ত পার হয়?

# নারী ও শিশু, সোনা, মাদক, অস্ত্র, জালটাকা ইত্যাদি কিভাবে পাচার হয়?

# আন্তর্জাতিক আইন অমান্য করে বিএসএফ কিভাবে মারনাস্ত্র ব্যবহার করে চলছে?

# বাংলাদেশের স্বরাষ্টমন্ত্রী কেন বলেন বিএসএফ শুধুমাত্র আত্মরক্ষার্থে গুলি করে?

# আওয়ামীলীগের সাধারন সম্পাদক কেন বলেন যে, সীমান্তে হত্যা আগেও হয়েছে, এখনো হচ্ছে, ভবিষ্যতেও হবে। এটা বড় কোন বিষয় না!

সম্পর্কিত নোটঃ ভারত প্রায় সব কটি প্রদেশে গরুর মাংস খাওয়া নিষিদ্ধ করলেও রপ্তানী বন্ধ করেনি। কমদামে পাওয়ার আশায় বাংলাদেশী ব্যবসায়িরা অবৈধভাবে গরু আনায় ভারত বৈদেশিক মুদ্রা হারাচ্ছে, তবে বিএসএফ – বিজিবির কর্মকর্তা ও সদস্যরা লাভবান হচ্ছে। ভারত গত বছর থেকে সীমান্তে কড়াকড়ি আরোপ করায় বাংলাদেশে গরুর মাংসের দাম এখন দ্বিগুনের বেশী। এই আকাশচুম্বী দাম কমাতে দেশে গরু-মহিষের সংখ্যা বাড়ানো জরুরি।

Int’l Crisis Group: End political interference in justice system

BANGLADESH-WARCRIME-COURT-PAKISTAN

The International Crisis Group has expressed concerns over the ongoing political repression in Bangladesh saying that the government’s abuse of rule of law institutions for political ends has created an atmosphere of injustice that is increasingly exploited by anti-state extremist groups.

To overcome the situation the Brussels-based organisation in its new report “Political Conflict, Extremism and Criminal Justice in Bangladesh” has suggested that the government restore political stability and ensure security, respect the constitutional right to free speech and dissent, ensure due process and end political interference in the justice system, modernise the criminal justice system and push for a broader political reform agenda.

Executive Summary of the Report

Full Report

As the Awami League government’s political rivalry with the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) reaches new heights, so has its repression. At the same time, a deeply politicised, dysfunctional criminal justice system is undermining rather than buttressing the rule of law.

Heavy-handed measures are denting the government’s legitimacy and, by provoking violent counter-responses, benefiting violent party wings and extremist groups alike,” the report says.

The ICG asked the government to depoliticise and strengthen all aspects of the criminal justice system, including the judiciary, “so it can address the country’s myriad law and order challenges and help stall a democratic collapse.”

On the other hand, the BNP should commit to peaceful opposition, including by preventing party activists from using violence to subvert the political order; and sever ties with political allies who use violence to destabilise the government.

It says the political conflict between the Awami League and the BNP has resulted in high levels of violence and a brutal state response. “The government’s excesses against political opponents and critics include enforced disappearances, torture and extra-judicial killings.”

The group says that the permissive legal environment is creating opportunities for extremist outfits to regroup, manifested in the killings of secular bloggers and foreigners and attacks on sectarian and religious minorities last year.

The ICG has also urged the government to withdraw all cases against journalists, human rights groups and other civil society actors that are based on vague and dubious grounds, such as expressing views deemed “derogatory” of public officials or against the “public interest,” and end press closures and raids on media offices.

It has demanded that the 2014 national broadcast policy be withdrawn and the restrictions on online expression in the Information and Technology Act be removed.

The judiciary should refrain from issuing contempt of court citations to media and other civil society representatives for criticising court judgements, and overturn unjustified contempt convictions in other courts, including the International Crimes Tribunal.

The government’s reaction to rising extremism, including arrest and prosecution of several suspects without due process and transparency, is fuelling alienation that these groups can further exploit,” it observes.

Politicising the police and using elite forces, particularly the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), to silence political dissent, are laying the seeds of future violence. By concentrating on targeting the opposition, the police are failing to curb criminality and losing credibility.

The report says that while reforming the dysfunctional criminal justice system – by investing in training, equipping and otherwise modernising the police, prosecution and judiciary, the government must take it out of politics.

The deeply flawed International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) is an important example of the dangers of using rule of law institutions for political ends. Perceptions of injustice are creating opportunities for extremist groups and fuelling political conflict.”

The report says that the international community can help to promote political reconciliation by, in the US and EU case, using economic levers to pressure Dhaka to respect civil and political rights, and in New Delhi’s by using close ties to urge the AL to allow the opposition legitimate political expression and participation.

There is no time to lose. If mainstream dissent remains closed, more and more government opponents may come to view violence and violent groups as their only recourse.”

Human rights in US 2015: In the eyes of New York-based HRW

US_Humanrights-cartoonHere’s the details of the 2016 HR Report on USA, now led by Nobel Peace laureate Barac Obama, prepared by controversial human rights group Human Rights Watch. Click here to read the 2015 report.

UN Issues Scathing Assessment of U.S. Human Rights Record

The United States has a vibrant civil society and strong constitutional protections for many civil and political rights. Yet many US laws and practices, particularly in the areas of criminal and juvenile justice, immigration, and national security, violate internationally recognized human rights. Often, those least able to defend their rights in court or through the political process—members of racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, children, the poor, and prisoners—are the people most likely to suffer abuses.

Harsh Sentencing

The United States locks up 2.37 million people, the largest reported incarcerated population in the world. About 12 million people annually cycle through county jails.

Concerns about over-incarceration in prisons—caused in part by mandatory minimum sentencing and excessively long sentences—have led some states and the US Congress to introduce several reform bills. At time of writing, none of the federal congressional measures had become law.

Thirty-one US states continue to impose the death penalty; seven of  those carried out executions in 2014. In recent decades, the vast majority of executions have occurred in five states. In August, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled the state’s death penalty unconstitutional, barring execution for the 11 men who remained on death row after the Connecticut legislature did away with the death penalty in 2007.

At time of writing, 27 people had been executed in the US in 2015, all by lethal injection. The debate over lethal injection protocols continued, with several US states continuing to use experimental drug combinations and refusing to disclose their composition. In March, Utah passed a law allowing execution by firing squad. In June, the US Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol was constitutional. Two prisoners executed in Oklahoma in 2014—Clayton Lockett and Michael Wilson—showed visible signs of distress as they died.

Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice

Racial disparities permeate every part of the US criminal justice system. Disparities in drug enforcement are particularly egregious. While whites and African Americans engage in drug offenses at comparable rates, African Americans are arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated for drug offenses at much higher rates. African Americans are only 13 percent of the US population, but make up 29 percent of all drug arrests. Black men are incarcerated at six times the rate of white men.

A US Department of Justice report on the police department of Ferguson, Missouri, commissioned after the 2014 police killing of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown, found that African Americans were disproportionately impacted at all levels of Ferguson’s justice system—a problem that persists in justice systems throughout the country.

Drug Reform

The federal government has begun to address disproportionately long sentences for federal drug offenders. At time of writing, President Barack Obama had commuted the sentences of 86 prisoners in 2015, 76 of them drug offenders. Yet more than 35,000 federal inmates remain in prison after petitioning for reconsideration of their drug sentences. In October, the Bureau of Prisons released more than 6,000 people who had been serving disproportionately long drug sentences; the releases resulted from a retroactive reduction of federal drug sentences approved by the US Sentencing Commission.

Police Reform

Once again, high-profile police killings of unarmed African Americans gained media attention in 2015, including the deaths of Freddy Gray in Baltimore and Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. The federal government does not maintain a full count of the number of people killed by police each year. The Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed in 2015 that it tracks only 35 to 50 percent of arrest-related deaths on an annual basis. A new federal law incentivizes the collection of data regarding deaths in police custody, but does not require states to provide that data and so fails to ensure reliable data on people killed by police.

In May, Obama’s Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group released recommendations to better regulate and restrict the transfer of Defense Department equipment to local law enforcement.

Prison and Jail Conditions

Momentum against the use of solitary confinement continued in 2015, but according to a new report, an estimated 100,000 state and federal prison inmates are being held in isolation.

In July, President Obama ordered the Department of Justice to review the practice of solitary confinement. Several states are currently considering legislative or regulatory reforms to reduce the use of solitary confinement. In New York, a proposed bill would limit the time during which an inmate could be held in isolation, and would ban solitary confinement for people with mental illness and other vulnerable groups. California settled a lawsuit brought by prisoners and agreed to eliminate the use of indefinite solitary confinement at the Pelican Bay State Prison—a supermax facility—as well as significantly reduce the length of time  prisoners in California can be kept in solitary. However, California’s legislature failed to pass a bill that would have eliminated solitary confinement for children.

Jail and prison staff throughout the US use unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force against prisoners with mental disabilities. Although no national data exists, research—including a 2015 Human Rights Watch report—indicates that the problem is widespread and may be increasing in the country’s more than 5,100 jails and prisons.

Poverty and Criminal Justice

Poor defendants nationwide are subjected to prolonged and unnecessary pretrial detention because they cannot afford to post bail. Kalief Browder committed suicide in June, two years after being released from the jail complex on New York City’s Rikers Island, where from age 16 he had been held for three years in pretrial detention, mostly in solitary confinement, because he could not afford to post $3,000 in bail. His case catalyzed renewed criticism of money bail, prompting the New York City Council to announce creation of a bail fund and city officials to embrace new pretrial detention programs.

A new lawsuit challenging money bail was filed in October in San Francisco, and the governor of Connecticut has called for review of money bail in that state.

State and municipal practices that prey on low-income defendants to generate income gained increased attention after the Justice Department’s report on Ferguson, Missouri described that town’s municipal court system as little more than a revenue-generating machine targeting African Americans, with the Ferguson police as its “collection agency.”

The privatization of misdemeanor probation services by several US states has also led to abuses, including fees structured by private probation companies in ways that penalize poor offenders or lead to the arrest of people who genuinely cannot afford to pay. In March, Georgia passed a law that imposes important new limits on the practices of such companies. Other states where private probation is widespread have thus far not taken similar steps, though awareness of probation-related abuses seems to be rising.

Youth in the Criminal Justice System

In every US jurisdiction, children are prosecuted in adult courts and sentenced to adult prison terms. Fourteen states have no minimum age for adult prosecution, while others set the age at 10, 12, or 13. Some states automatically prosecute youth age 14 and above as adults. Fifteen states give discretion to the prosecuting attorney, not a judge, to decide whether a youth is to be denied the services of the juvenile system. Tens of thousands of youth under the age of 18 are being held in adult prisons and jails across the country. The US remains the only country to sentence people under the age of 18 to life without the possibility of parole.

In 2015, there was some movement toward reducing the number of children tried as adults. In Illinois, a new law ended the automatic transfer of children under 15 to adult court. New Jersey increased the minimum age to be tried as an adult from 14 to 15. California, for the first time in 40 years, improved the statutory criteria judges use in transfer hearings, which could reduce the number of youth tried as adults.

Rights of Non-Citizens

The US government continued the dramatic expansion of detention of migrant mothers and their children from Central America, many of them seeking asylum, though it announced some reforms mid-year. Human Rights Watch has documented the severe psychological toll of indefinite detention on asylum-seeking mothers and children and the barriers it raises to due process.

In June, the Obama administration announced it would limit long-term detention of mothers and children who pass the first step to seeking refugee protection, and cease detaining individuals as a deterrent to others. A federal judge ruled in July that the US government’s family detention policy violates a 1997 settlement on the detention of migrant children. While detention of families continues, most are released within weeks if they can make a seemingly legitimate asylum claim.

A federal lawsuit halted implementation of the Obama administration’s November 2014 executive actions to provide a temporary reprieve from deportation to certain unauthorized immigrants, which could have protected millions of families from the threat of arbitrary separation. Legislative efforts toward legal status for millions of unauthorized migrants in the US continued to founder.

Human Rights Watch documented in June how the US government targets for deportation lawful permanent residents and other immigrants with longstanding ties to the US who have drug convictions, including for old and minor offenses. State and federal drug reform efforts have largely excluded non-citizens, who face permanent deportation and family separation for drug offenses.

Labor Rights

Hundreds of thousands of children work on US farms. US law exempts child farmworkers from the minimum age and maximum hour requirements that protect other working children. Child farmworkers often work long hours and risk pesticide exposure, heat illness, and injuries. In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency banned children under 18 from handling pesticides. Children who work on tobacco farms frequently suffer vomiting, headaches, and other symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning. After Human Rights Watch reported on hazardous child labor in US tobacco farming, the two largest US-based tobacco companies—Altria Group and Reynolds American—independently announced that, beginning in 2015, they would prohibit their growers from employing children under 16.

Right to Health

Stark racial disparities continue to characterize the HIV epidemic in the US, as the criminal justice system plays a key role as a barrier to HIV prevention and care and services for groups most vulnerable to HIV, including people who use drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men, and transgender women.

A large outbreak of HIV and Hepatitis C infection occurred in rural southern Indiana in 2015, affecting more than 180 people who inject drugs. A state law allowing needle exchange programs in response to outbreaks was passed but maintains prohibitions on state funding for such programs as part of a broader prevention approach.

Rights of People with Disabilities

Corporal punishment in state schools is still widely practiced in 19 US states. Children with disabilities receive corporal punishment at a disproportionate rate to their peers, despite evidence that it can adversely affect their physical and psychological conditions. In contrast, 124 countries have criminalized physical chastisement in public schools.

Women’s and Girls’ Rights

Despite Defense Department reforms, US military service members who report sexual assault frequently experience retaliation, including threats, vandalism, harassment, poor work assignments, loss of promotion opportunities, disciplinary action including discharge, and even criminal charges. The military does little to hold retaliators to account or provide effective remedies for retaliation. In May, Human Rights Watch released a report that found both male and female military personnel who report sexual assault are 12 times as likely to experience some form of retaliation as to see their attacker convicted of a sex offense.

In June, the US Supreme Court ruled that housing policies and practices with a disproportionate and negative impact against classes protected from discrimination violate the Fair Housing Act, regardless of whether the policy was adopted with the intent to discriminate. The ruling is important for domestic and sexual violence victims who can face eviction due to zero-tolerance policies—where an entire household may be evicted if any member commits a crime—or municipal nuisance ordinances that subject tenants to eviction if they call the police frequently.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The US Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on June 26, 2015, that grants same-sex couples throughout the country the right to marry.

At time of writing, 28 states do not have laws banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, while three states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation but not on gender identity.

In July, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited under the existing definition of discrimination based on sex in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In June, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) introduced a policy providing certain protections for transgender women in immigration detention. Nevertheless, transgender women in ICE custody continue to receive inadequate medical care and report verbal and sexual harassment in detention.

National Security

The practice of indefinite detention without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay entered its 14th year; at time of writing, 107 detainees remained at the facility, 48 were cleared for release, and the Obama administration had in 2015 transferred 20 detainees to their homes or third countries.

The administration continued to pursue cases before the fundamentally flawed military commissions at Guantanamo. In June, a federal appeals court overturned the 2008 conviction of Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al-Bahlul, the alleged Al-Qaeda “public relations director” who was found guilty of conspiracy, soliciting murder, and providing material support for terrorism. As a result of the decision, at least five of the eight convictions imposed by the military commissions are now no longer valid.

Some detainees continued hunger strikes to protest their detention, including Tariq Ba Odah, who has been force-fed by nasal tube for several years and whose lawyers and doctors say is near death. The Obama administration opposed Odah’s legal request for a court-ordered release, even though the administration had cleared him for release five years ago.

Congress and President Obama signed into law the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which in recent years has included provisions on Guantanamo detentions. In 2015, the law tightened existing restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of Guantanamo. The provisions will make it more difficult, though not impossible, to transfer detainees home or to third countries, and maintains the complete ban on transfer of detainees to the US for detention or trial.

The release in December 2014 of a summary of a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s detention and interrogation program uncovered new information on the methods and extent of torture and Bush administration efforts to avoid culpability. The summary sparked calls by Human Rights Watch and others for new Justice Department criminal investigations into CIA torture and other violations of federal law, and, should the US fail to act, for action by other governments, including renewed efforts in Europe where a number of cases related to CIA torture already have been filed.

In response to the Senate summary, Congress included a provision in the NDAA that requires all US government agencies except law enforcement entities to abide by rules in the Army Field Manual on interrogation, and provide the International Committee of the Red Cross with notification of, and prompt access to, all prisoners held by the US in any armed conflict. The provision will bolster existing bans on torture, but without credible criminal investigations into CIA torture it is unclear how effectively the provision will guard against future abuse.

In June, Congress took a first small step toward curbing the government’s mass surveillance practices by passing the USA Freedom Act. The law imposes limits on the scope of the collection of phone records permissible under section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. It also puts in place new measures to increase transparency and oversight of surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The law does not constrain surveillance under section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act or Executive Order 12333, the primary legal authorities used by the US government to justify mass violations of privacy of people outside US borders. The law also does not address many modern surveillance capabilities, from use of malware to interception of all mobile calls in a country.

US law enforcement officials continued to urge major US Internet and mobile phone companies to weaken the security of their services to facilitate surveillance in the course of criminal investigations. In May, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression called on all countries, including the US, to refrain from weakening encryption and other online security measures because such tools are critical for the security of human rights defenders and activists worldwide.

Foreign Policy

In July, the US and other countries reached a comprehensive deal with Iran, restricting its nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Although a full drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan was planned for the end of 2014, Obama ordered 9,800 US troops to remain in Afghanistan through the end of 2015 and 5,500 to remain into 2017.

Throughout the year, the US conducted airstrikes against the forces of the armed extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in Iraq and Syria and led a coalition of Western and regional allies in what Obama called a “long-term campaign” to defeat the group. A US program to train and equip “moderate” Syrian rebels—costing hundreds of millions of dollars—only produced approximately 60 fighters, a number of whom were promptly captured or killed. The US continued to call for a political solution to the conflict in Syria without a role for President Bashar al-Assad.

In March, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states began a military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen. The US provided intelligence, logistical support, and personnel to the Saudi Arabian center planning airstrikes and coordinating activities, making US forces potentially jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by coalition forces.

US drone strikes continued in Yemen and Pakistan, though at reduced numbers, while US strikes increased in Somalia.

The US restored full military assistance to Egypt in April, despite a worsening human rights environment, lifting restrictions in place since the military takeover by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013. Egypt resumed its position as the second-largest recipient of US military assistance, worth $1.3 billion annually, after Israel. In June, the US lifted its hold on military assistance to the Bahraini military despite an absence of meaningful reform, which was the original requirement for resuming the aid.

In July, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria met with Obama in Washington; the US then pledged broad support for counterterrorism efforts and the fight against the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, as well as collaboration on economic development and tackling corruption. Obama in July traveled to Kenya and Ethiopia, where he urged respect for term limits across Africa.

More than 50 years since trade and diplomatic ties were severed during the Cold War, the US officially reopened diplomatic relations with Cuba in August. Obama also called for the lifting of the economic embargo, which would require an act of Congress.

In September, Obama waived provisions of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act to allow four countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan—to continue to receive US military assistance, despite their continued use of child soldiers. Obama delegated authority to Secretary of State John Kerry to make determinations under the act regarding Yemen, where child soldiers are used by all sides to the conflict; at time of writing, all US military aid to Yemen was suspended because of continuing instability there.

Why do people die in lightning?

At least 30 people mostly farmers were struck and killed by lightning in the last 10 days at different parts of the country as nor’westers started to hit since last month.

The frequency of the storms (Kalboishakhi) usually rises in April and May, and the deaths from lightning could go up significantly if precautions are not taken properly. This seasonal storm is typically accompanied by lightning.

The maximum 13 people were killed by lightning on Thursday in seven districts. Most of the victims were farmers working on the field. Of them, three teenagers were killed in Munshiganj and two each in Faridpur, Kishoreganj, Bagerhat and Manikganj districts.

Earlier, two people were killed on March 30 and five on March 28 during nor’westers at different parts of the country. Six others, killed on March 27, include three schoolboys of Netrakona.

Reports say three farmers were struck by lightning and killed while working on a salt field at Moheshkhali of Cox’s Bazar.

The Bangladesh Meteorological Department broadcasts early warning of the impending thunderbolt.

On May 6, 2013, at least 24 deaths by lighting were reported from different districts.

In 2011, a total of 179 people were killed by lightning – 58 getting killed in the month of May alone. During April and May the following year, lightning killed a staggering 152 people.

In the wake of rise in lightning strikes, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) has started awareness campaign on social media, especially Facebook, to bring down the number of deaths and injuries from lightning.

Urging not to panic during a storm accompanied by lighting, the BDRCS suggests that people stay away from tall trees, electric pillars and towers, and take shelter under a concrete ceiling. Touching corrugated iron sheets (tin) or metals during lighting may claim lives.

People stuck in cars due to storms can also avoid casualty by not touching its metal body.

Being near water bodies including ponds and rivers can be fatal during a lightning, the BDRCS says.

It asks people to not use or switch off electronic items including phones, laptops, WiFi, cordless phones and landphones when lighting strikes frequently.

Published in Dhaka Tribune