Bangladesh Promises Justice For Chinese National Killed in Stabbing

Lau Phan, an electrical engineer, was killed in a robbery as he carried funds to pay his workers, in the fourth murder of a Chinese worker in Bangladesh since June 20, 2019.

Bangladesh Promises Justice For Chinese National Killed in Stabbing

In a phone call this week, Bangladesh’s foreign minister assured his counterpart in China that justice would be done in the killing earlier this month of a Chinese national working on a bridge construction project, a statement said Friday.

Police said the fatal stabbing occurred during an attempted mugging on Oct. 7, as the man was carrying funds to pay his workers at the bridge site in Pirojpur district in southern Bangladesh. It was the fourth killing since June 2019 of a Chinese national working on a major infrastructure project in Bangladesh.

“I had a very good telephone conversation with my Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. We talked about the Chinese national who was killed by a mugger in Pirojpur district. I assured him the killers must face a speedy trial, and the police already arrested two people including a man who allegedly stabbed the victim,” Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, on Friday.

“The foreign minister has assured me that China maintains the confidence that we will mete out justice and guarantee the safety and security of the Chinese nationals working in different development projects in Bangladesh,” Momen said of their Thursday conversation.

Dhaka maintains warm relations with Beijing. In 2018, China spent U.S. $1.3 billion (110 billion taka) on projects including $800 million (67.8 billion taka) in the power sector to become the biggest investor in Bangladesh.

China is the principal country providing loans to Bangladesh for development projects mainly in the power, road, rail, and information and communication technology sectors. Those projects are linked to One Belt, One Road, Beijing’s ambitious program to build a global network of ports, highways, railways, bridges, and power plants to connect China to markets abroad.

The victim, identified as Chinese national Lau Phan, 58, who was the chief electrician of the eighth Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge being constructed over the Kocha River, died Oct. 7, according to Hayatul Islam Khan, the district police chief in Pirojpur.

Hossain Sheikh, 19, who allegedly stabbed Lau in the chest, and a suspected accomplice, Sabbir Sheikh, 20, were arrested, Khan said, adding the charge sheet against the two had not been finished.

“They told us that they intended to mug him,” Khan told BenarNews.

“Hossain had worked under Lau but lost his job in March while Sabbir continued to work for him,” Khan said, noting that 14 Bangladeshis were part of the team. “On the afternoon of Oct. 7, Lau was carrying 253,000 taka ($2,984) to pay the wages of the workers.”

The police chief noted that Sabbir had told Hossain that Lau would have the workers’ pay that day.

“Hossain took the money and ran, but Lau caught him,” Khan said. “Hossain then stabbed him,” he said, adding Lau was taken to a hospital where he died.

China is to provide $30 million (2.5 billion taka) while Bangladesh is to provide $43 million (3.6 billion taka) to construct the nearly 1 km (six-tenths of a mile) bridge project, which is scheduled to be completed by June 2021.

Previous deaths

Last year, a Chinese national was killed at the Payra power plant project in southern Patuakhali district during a fight between Bangladeshi and Chinese workers. A labor leader said it was the first time a foreigner had been killed in a workplace clash in Bangladesh.

Earlier that day, a Bangladeshi worker had died after falling from a height at the Chinese-funded project, leading to the clash between workers from both countries. The Chinese victim in the brawl was an electrician. He died after suffering a head wound and excessive bleeding. Dozens of other people were injured in the fight.

The clash exposed apparent tensions among 7,000 Bangladeshi and 2,700 Chinese workers at the power plant being built with Chinese funds in Patuakhali, a district about 329 km (206 miles) south of Dhaka.

Five months later in November 2019, a Chinese national was sent back to his home country to stand trial after allegedly killing his roommate, another Chinese national. Sang Zeyang, a Payra power plant employee, allegedly stabbed and killed Feng Lue Jun during an argument over food.

In December 2019, two Bangladeshi security guards were arrested after they allegedly strangled another Chinese national, identified as Jianhui Gao, at his Dhaka apartment before burying him nearby. Jianhui was a stone supplier for the Padma Bridge project to connect Dhaka to the southern and southwestern sections of Bangladesh.

In February, Li Jiming, the Chinese Ambassador to Dhaka, told reporters that about 8,000 Chinese nationals had been working in Bangladesh.

Rohingya repatriation

Momen also told BenarNews that he had also discussed efforts to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees with Wang, adding China’s top diplomat said that Myanmar could take steps to allow the refugees to return after the COVID-19 pandemic improved.

“The Chinese foreign minister told me that Myanmar officials had assured China that they will take back the Rohingya refugees. He also said China will mediate another meeting on Rohingya repatriation,” he said.

“The date of the meeting has yet to be set, but hopefully, it could take place after the general election in Myanmar,” Momen said of the Nov. 8 vote.

The last meeting involving Bangladesh, China and Myanmar occurred on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2019.

Munshi Faiz Ahmad, a former Bangladesh ambassador to Beijing, said China was the only country to mediate repatriation talks.

“The U.S. and the Western countries have been backing us on the Rohingya issue, but China is the only country that can make Myanmar agree to take back the Rohingya,” he told BenarNews.

“So Bangladesh must work closely with both China and the U.S. to resolve the Rohingya crisis, which is a huge burden for us.”

On Thursday, U.S. officials promised an additional $200 million to U.N. aid for the Rohingya during a virtual international conference that raised $600 million.

Bangladesh hosts close to 1 million Rohingya in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district, including 740,000 who escaped from Myanmar’s Rakhine state following a military crackdown in August 2017.

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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Indonesia Deports 4 Uyghur Terrorism Suspects to China, Experts Say

The four were convicted of terror-related offenses in 2015, and were sent back to China last month after China paid their fines.

Indonesia Deports 4 Uyghur Terrorism Suspects to China, Experts Say

Four Uyghur Muslims convicted in 2015 of terror-related offenses in Indonesia were deported last month after the Chinese government paid the fines imposed on them, two counter-terrorism experts told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, on Friday.

When asked where they had been sent, both experts confirmed that the four men were deported to China, where authorities are believed to have held  up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a network of internment camps as part of an extralegel campaign of incarceration that began in early 2017.

“They were deported in September and the fines were paid by the Chinese government,” Deka Anwar, a researcher at the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), told BenarNews.

The four – Ahmet Mahmud, Altinci Bayram, Ahmet Bozoglan ,and Abdul Basit Tuzer – were sentenced to six years in prison and were fined 100 million rupiah (U.S. $6,812) by a Jakarta court after being found guilty of entering the country by using fake passports and for attempting to join the Islamic State-affiliated Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen (MIT) militant group.

Muhammad Taufiqurrohman, a senior researcher at the Center for Radicalism and Deradicalization Studies (PAKAR), said that the four men were repatriated to China after immigration officers transported them to a detention center from Nusa Kambangan, an island-prison complex off Java, on Sept. 17.

“Immigration officers came to Nusa Kambangan with a letter to pick them up, saying they were to be transferred to an immigration detention center,” Taufiqurrohman told BenarNews. He also confirmed the information that Chinese authorities had paid the Uyghur men’s fines.

On Friday, BenarNews contacted the Chinese embassy in Jakarta for comment on the four men’s deportation, but officials there did not immediately respond.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Teuku Faizasyah, said he had no information on the matter and asked BenarNews to contact the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.

Reinhard Silitonga, the director general of corrections at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, told BenarNews he couldn’t confirm whether the four men had been deported.

And officials at the immigration department could not be reached immediately to confirm that the Uyghurs had been expelled.

‘Vocational centers’

PAKAR’s Taufiqurrohman said Indonesia carried out the deportation of the four men in secret because many in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation criticize China’s alleged mistreatment of the Uyghurs, who mostly live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwestern China.

“The [Indonesian] government would be heavily criticized and be labelled complicit in the Chinese government’s oppression of Uyghur Muslims,” if the deportation of the four Uyghurs was made public, Taufiqurrohman said.

For more than three years, the Chinese government has allegedly imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in detention camps and subjected those not detained to intense surveillance, religious restrictions, and forced sterilizations, said a report published in June by the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S.-based think-tank.

Chinese officials have repeatedly denied these allegations, saying the camps are centers for vocational training and that the thousands of Uyghur Muslims arrested had links to extremism.

BenarNews informed Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International in Indonesia, about Deka’s and Taufiqurrohman’s assertion that Indonesia had deported the four Uyghurs who had been in prison on terrorism charges.

Usman said the Indonesian government must provide an explanation on the fate of the four Uyghurs.

“The Indonesian government must immediately provide an official statement regarding the truth of the report about the deportation of the four Uyghurs,” Usman said.

“Deporting them to a country that could put them at real risk of human rights violations is illegal under international law. We understand that the pandemic situation poses challenges to the government, but deporting foreigners who are at risk of being subjected to human rights violations is not a solution.”

Four years ago, Indonesia had turned down a request from the Chinese government to exchange a fugitive Indonesian banker captured in China for the four Uyghur prisoners serving terrorism-related sentences.

Indonesia told China that a prisoner swap wasn’t possible because the charges against the four Uyghurs were different from those against the Indonesia banker.

Back then, an Indonesian official who requested anonymity said Indonesia would face international pressure if the country agreed to deport the Uyghur prisoners to China.

“Giving Uyghurs back to China is the same as killing them. Most probably, the Chinese government will execute them instantly,” the official told BenarNews in April 2019.

In the years since, the Indonesian government has faced criticism at home and abroad for its silence on the alleged mistreatment of Uyghurs in XUAR.

“Indonesia – which has played a positive role in the Rohingya refugee crisis – has shown its commitment to promoting rights elsewhere in the region. It should do no less for China’s Muslims,” Human Rights Watch said in January.

Last December, thousands of people took to the streets in Indonesia and Malaysia to protest China’s treatment of the Muslim minority community.

“The Indonesian government must not remain silent about the suffering there, because according to our constitution, occupation and oppression must be abolished,” a 48-year-old protester told BenarNews during a demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Jakarta.

Days before the protest, Moeldoko, President Joko Widodo’s chief of staff, said Indonesia would not interfere in Chinese domestic affairs when asked why the government was not more vocal about the Uyghur issue.

“Each country has its own sovereignty to regulate its citizens. The Indonesian government won’t interfere in the domestic affairs of China.” Moeldoko said.

His comments came after The Wall Street Journal reported that Beijing had launched a “concerted campaign” to convince Indonesia’s religious authorities and journalists that the Xinjiang camps were a “well-meaning effort” to provide job training.

Expatriate communities in Turkey, other nations

Thousands of Uyghurs have fled China since their alleged persecution began in 2012, and made their way to Turkey and other countries.

IPAC’s Deka said that between 2014 and 2016, at least 13 Uyghurs had entered Indonesia illegally via Malaysia and joined radical groups.

They had left China, via the border with Laos, for Thailand, and then continued their journey to join the thousands of Uyghur asylum seekers in Malaysia, Deka said.

“In Malaysia, they got help to forge documents so they could go to Turkey. However, many of those who made it to Turkey were eventually deported back to Kuala Lumpur. Some of them then crossed to Batam via Johor,” said Deka, referring to an Indonesian island near Singapore.

“In Batam, they were picked up by members of the Bahrun Naim network,” he added, referring to an Islamic State fighter from Indonesia who died in Syria in 2018.

The four Uyghurs convicted in 2015 came to Indonesia with the intention of joining the militant MIT group and “performing acts of terror,” said the judge who led a panel of jurists that convicted the men.

While the Uyghurs’ lawyer had argued that they were Turkish citizens vacationing in Indonesia, government lawyers said the men had fake Turkish passports and were en route to meet Indonesia’s most wanted terrorist of that time, Santoso, when they were arrested in Central Sulawesi in September 2014.

Santoso was killed by security forces in July 2016.

Deka and Taufiqurrohman said the four Uyghurs were among the last Uyghur militants in Indonesia after others were killed by police and troops hunting for MIT militants in Central Sulawesi.

Six Uyghur men who joined MIT were killed in 2016 during a large security operation in Poso regency.

Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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