News

    Bangladesh Agrees to Pardon Rebel Border Guards if They End Mutiny 

    Bangladesh's government is granting amnesty to mutinous border guards in exchange for them agreeing to peacefully return to their barracks. Bangladeshi media say several civilians were killed and two army colonels died in the early stage of the mutiny by the paramilitary group The Bangladesh Rifles. 

    Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina quickly stepped in to try to defuse her first crisis since returning to power two months ago.  She agreed to pardon border guards who rebelled earlier in the day, clashing with their army commanders at the Dhaka headquarters of the para-military force.

    Speaking to reporters in Dhaka, one of the rebel representatives, identified as Bangladesh Rifles deputy assistant director Touhid, confirms a tentative deal has been made to end the mutiny.

    Touhid says the rebels will surrender their weapons on Thursday because the prime minister has agreed to look into their demands.

    A government spokesman tells VOA News that in exchange for a promise to end the mutiny, the rebels will not be charged and their grievances will be addressed in phases.

    The border guards are demanding better pay and the removal of army officers from command of the Bangladesh Rifles, known as the BDR.

    The agreement came after 14 rebels went to the prime minister's official residence for negotiations while gunshots continued to ring out at the BDR compound.

    The army had earlier surrounded the campus-like BDR headquarters.  Gunfire and occasional mortar blasts could be heard for several hours. 

    The mutiny threw part of Bangladesh's capital into panic, schoolchildren were trapped inside the compound as the army and border guards exchanged fire.  A nearby shopping center was also reported to have been seized by mutineers.

    Analysts point out that the BDR paramilitary force has long felt aggrieved that their commanders are solely composed of officers sent from the army. But research fellow Sreeradha Datta at India's Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses says this type of mutiny by the BDR appears unprecedented.

    "Despite the fact that Bangladesh has a history of coups and counter-coups and there are obviously some very strong fissures in the services, especially the army," said Sreeradha Datta. "But BDR, I do not recall any such incident in the past."

    The paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles force is primarily tasked with protecting the South Asian nation's borders.  It traces its history back to the late 18th century, in British colonial times.  It has more than 65,000 personnel.  

    Prime Minister Hasina visited the BDR headquarters Tuesday to urge the troops to increase their discipline and remain vigilant to guard the country's borders.

    Ms. Hasina, who was prime minister from 1996 to 2001, returned to power after a peaceful election in late December, succeeding a military-backed interim government.

    The mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles prompted India to heighten an alert along the shared 4,000-kilometer border.

    The director-general of India's Border Security Force, Mahendra Lal Kumawat, says no incidents have been reported.

    "We have asked our officers and men to remain fully alert, vigilant and watch the situation along the border and take appropriate action in case action is needed," said Mahendra Lal Kumawat.

    The external affairs minister, Pranab Mukherjee, told reporters the mutiny is an internal matter of Bangladesh but India wishes her neighbor all success in dealing with it.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.