Army officers blame Sheikh Hasina for murder of over 70 officers in BDR mutiny; Home Ministry comes out with a report on militant outfits; Malaysia revokes the work visas of thousands of Bangladeshis;
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  • March 2009

    Angry Bangladeshi army officers blamed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the murder of over 70 officers by mutineering BDR guards.1 The government on its part indicated that investigators had uncovered a link between the mutineers and a militant group responsible for a series of bombings. Commerce Minister Farukh Khan stated that some of the guards arrested had links to the Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB). The police have so far issued more than 1,000 arrest warrants for alleged involvement in the revolt. Detectives from Britain's Scotland Yard also arrived in Bangladesh to help in the investigations. The four-member police team will work with local as well as US detectives. Law Minister Shafique Ahmed also stated that there would be special tribunals or courts martial for the mutineers.2

    New Age reported that the Bangladeshi Home Ministry has come out with a report on a dozen militant outfits listing their sources of funding, links to political parties, their operations, among other aspects. The organizations examined by Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder included Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI-B), Hizbut Towhid, Ulama Anjuman al Bainat, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Islami Democratic Party, Islami Samaj, Touhid Trust, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Shahadat-e al Hikma Party Bangladesh, Tamira Ar-Din Bangladesh (Hizb-e-Abu Omar) and Allahr Dal. The Government on its part has so far banned four Islamist militant outfits – the JMB, HuJI-B, JMJB and Shahadat-e al Hikma.3

    In a related development, twenty-seven Bangladeshis belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir were arrested for distributing leaflets criticising the government's handling of the savage mutiny. The organisation is banned in some countries but not in Bangladesh.4

    In other developments, the Malaysian government has revoked the work visas of tens of thousands of Bangladeshis. Bangladeshi officials expressed shock at the decision, but the country's acting high commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, Waisuzzaman, stated that he was hopeful the Malaysian government might change its mind. Reports noted that 5.5 million Bangladeshis live and work abroad, and have sent more than $9bn in 2008. Estimates suggest that about 500,000 Bangladeshis are among the three million Asian migrant workers in Malaysia.5

    Reports noted that Myanmar and Bangladesh were deliberating on using the Chittagong Port for trading activities. One more border trade point, Taungphyo, is being planned by Myanmar in addition to Sittway and Maungtaw. Myanmarese exports to Bangladesh include marine products, beans and pulses, and kitchen crops, while its imports included pharmaceuticals, ceramic, cotton fabric, raw jute, kitchenware and cosmetics. Bilateral trade between Myanmar and Bangladesh stood at $140 million and both countries hope to achieve the target of $500 million for the next fiscal year 2009-2010.

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