"We all knew that [Aung San Suu Kyi] was put on a pedestal or portrayed as the icon of democracy and human rights, but ever since [her party] has taken office [after the 2015 election] and ever since she took the office of the State Councillor, all of her actions and her words, statements point otherwise", noted Professor Yanghee Lee, in one of her last conversations with Al Jazeera as the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Burma. "Perhaps the world didn't really know who she was", she said.
A spectre is haunting the conscientious citizens of Bangladesh—the spectre of the Digital Security Act, 2018 (DSA). By now the law has become synonymous with curtailment of freedom of expression and repression. The recent developments of involuntary disappearance, re-appearance and subsequent detention of several commentators and social activists have raised the alarm if indeed we as a nation are shying away from upholding one of the cardinal principles of the Muktijuddher Chetona
(the spirit of the Liberation War) to freely express our views.
Mid-November has arrived and insecurity and uncertainty have descended over Rohingya refugees in Ukhia and Teknaf. The impending deadline has also elicited expressions of deep concern from UN independent experts and rights organisations.
Slowly but surely the world is coming to terms with the gruesome reality of Burma's genocide of the Rohingyas. As early as 2015 London Queen Mary College's State Crimes Initiative alerted the international community of the ongoing genocide in Arakan. Hardly anyone paid heed to that ominous warning. Eventually, as the situation in Arakan took a turn for the worse, taking a heavy toll on Rohingya lives, livelihood and liberty, the progressive elements among the international community acknowledged the unpalatable reality.
Rohingyas of northern Arakan are facing yet another round of armed atrocities. Not only are they at the receiving end of indiscriminate use of bullets, bayonets and firing from helicopter gunships; their homes, hearths, livestock, crops and businesses are being consumed by bellowing fire deliberately lit by the Burmese security forces and their Rakhine cohorts. Satellite images validate witness accounts and provide correlation with some reported incidents where residences have allegedly been deliberately torched. The carnage follows a series of coordinated attacks by ethnic Rohingya militants on August 25, 2017 against 25 security posts.
The final week of May 2016 was a grisly one. More than 700 asylum seekers and migrants died as three boats attempting to carry them to Italy sunk in the Mediterranean, and the death toll for the year crossed 2000. A week ago, Unicef reported a doubling of the number of unaccompanied children arriving as asylum seekers this year. The report also highlighted that these children are subjected to sexual violence, forced prostitution and other forms of abuse.