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Yaba drug smuggling, addiction rates record alarming rise in Bangladesh

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Dhaka (Bangladesh), April 23: Smuggling of the highly-addictive drug yaba — and its soaring acceptance among the youth and even celebrities — is a challenge Bangladesh faces increasingly as Rohingya refugees from neighbouring Myanmar are suspected to be peddling it as a means of survival, say border guard officials.

On a recent trip to the border areas of Bangladesh, an Indian media group was told that a wave of yaba use has swept over the country as young people from the middle and upper income classes are experimenting with this “crazy medicine” and fuelling an alarming surge in addiction rates.

Officials of the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) said they have seized 5,297,234 pieces of yaba pills this year up to March and arrested 151 smugglers, including 15 Myanmar nationals, as a massive influx of Rohingya refugees brought increased smuggling from that country. The number of seized pills was around 14,997,570 in 2017 when 649 people, including 15 Myanmar nationals, were held.

Raids on fishing boats on the Naff river– which divides Bangladesh and Myanmar, countries that share a 271-km boundary — have reaped a massive haul of yaba pills, which is a rage among Bangladeshi youth.

“In one raid on March 15, we seized 1.8 million yaba pills abandoned in four sacks in the Naff river,” Brigadier General S.M. Rakibullah told IANS.

Rakibullah, Additional Director General and Regional Commander of BGB’s Adhoc Region Headquarters in Cox’s Bazar, said: “It is the biggest ever yaba seizure by the BGB. The guards arrested 11 smugglers in March, including seven Rohingyas.”

Shahidur Rahman, Director, BGB Battalion, Feni region, said yaba pills have become an easy source of income for the Rohingyas who have poured across the border since the Myanmar military launched a crackdown in their native Rakhine state on August 24-25 night last year.

Rohingya refugees act as carriers of yaba, which is known as “crazy medicine”, and hand over the pills to dealers on the Bangladesh side of the border who then take them to the country’s main cities, Rahman said.

Three young Rohingya refugees — identified as Mohammed Saddam, Masud Talukder and Jamil Hossein — were arrested last week in separate drives and over 100,000 yaba pills (worth in crores) were recovered from their possession in the Cox Bazar area, the official said.

He said “it is a way to make easy money as one tablet is sold illegally for 300 Taka”.

A BGB official, on condition of anonymity, said the force has been facing tough times to stop the yaba smuggling because of the difficulty in patrolling the 54 km of the Naff river.

“Smuggling of yaba came to light some time towards the end of 2015, but the menace has grown since the influx of Rohingyas who are lured by Myanmar crime syndicate as carriers. The internal carriers have increased. Some of them are desperate just for survival,” the official said.

The Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh has called for “zero tolerance” on smuggling of yaba, which has one too many nicknames and was outlawed in Thailand in the early 1970s.

Another BGB official said Thailand is one of the largest sources of yaba while Myanmar is one of the biggest producers of it. “Yaba pills are produced in labs on the Myanmar side.”

He said Yaba is mostly popular among those who suffer from sexual or mental problems. “Some unscrupulous doctors and chemists prescribe and sell pills laced with yaba for immediate relief.”

The drug is believed to have led to organised crime rackets, official corruption, street violence and broken families, said the official.

Many syndicates are bringing yaba pills from Teknaf to Dhaka through new routes after the contraband tablets are smuggled from Myanmar. From Teknaf, the pills first reach Patuakhali’s Kuakata in fishing boats and then make their way through different modes of transport.

Acting regional commander of south east region of BGB, Colonel Gazi Md Ahsanuzzaman, said that yaba smuggling had gone up since last year.

“Tablets worth Taka 1.25 crore are smuggled per day into Bangladesh. Earlier the number was in a few lakhs. The tablets are smuggled through the Naff river via no-man’s land near Gumdhum village in the Cox region of Bangladesh.”

Yaba is spreading from urban to rural areas with drug abuse particularly increasing among street children, he said.

According to drug control authorities, from 2007 to 2010, illicit trafficking and abuse of yaba has increased almost 40 times in Bangladesh.

(Rajnish Singh visited Bangladesh between April 15 and 18 as part of BSF-sponsored Indian media group. He can be contacted at [email protected] )

America

US sanctions Myanmar military personnel, units over human rights abuse

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Rohingya Muslims

Washington, Aug 18 (IANS) The US Treasury Department on Friday announced to sanction four commanders and two military units in Myanmar, accusing them of being related with human rights abuse cases in the country.

In a statement, the Treasury said the targeted commanders were from Burmese military and Border Guard Police (BGP), Xinhua reported.

Together with the 33rd Light Infantry Division (LID) and the 99th LID, the commanders were punished over the alleged involvement in ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State and “other widespread human rights abuses” in Kachin and Shan States.

These individuals and entities were designated according to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016 that targeted “perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.”

Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in the statement that the US government “will continue to systematically expose and bring accountability to human rights abusers in this region.”

As a result of these actions, any property, or interest in property, of those designated within U.S. jurisdiction is blocked.

Additionally, US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with blocked persons, including entities 50 percent or more owned by designated persons.

Building upon the act, US President Donald Trump signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, or “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption.” To date, 84 individuals and entities have been sanctioned under the order.

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Imran Khan elected as Pakistan Prime Minister

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Imran Khan

Islamabad, Aug 17: Cricketer-turned-politician PTI chief Imran Khan elected as Pakistan’s 22nd Prime Minister by the National Assembly on Friday. 

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief won with 176 seats while his opponent, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) President Shehbaz Sharif, secured 96 votes , Dawn online reported.

Khan, whose party attained victory in the July 25 general election, will take the oath of office on Saturday.

According to the poll body’s figures, the PTI has 158 members in the National Assembly after the joining of nine Independents and bagging of 33 seats reserved for women and minorities.

With the support of the country’s smaller and regional parties, a total of 175 lawmakers backed Khan.

WeForNews 

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India

Flags in Mauritius at half mast in Vajpayee’s honour

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mauritus inadin flag

Port Louis, Aug 17: In an unprecedented gesture, the government of Mauritius will fly both the Mauritian and Indian national flags at half mast on Friday in honour of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Following the passing away of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the government has decided that both the Mauritius and India flags will remain at half-mast from sunrise to sunset on Friday,” a directive issued by the office of Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said.

“An appeal is also being made to the private sector for ll flags to be flown at half-mast during the same period,” it said.

Vajpayee passed away in Delhi on Thursday at the age of 93 after prolonged illness.

Around 68 per cent of Mauritius’s population of nearly 1.3 million are of Indian descent. Many are descendants of Indian indentured labour brought to work on sugarcane plantations on the Indian Ocean island nation in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In a condolence message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jugnauth said that Vajpayee “shaped the destiny of India through his bold leadership and his deep-rooted empathy for the common man”.

“Today, as India shines as a beacon of progress and development on the global stage, we cannot forget the strong and able stewardship of Vajpayee,” Jugnauth stated.

“His was a leadership characterised by determination, perseverance, fairness and equity.”

Jugnauth also recalled Vajpayee’s deep affection for Mauritius and its people and said that “we were honoured to receive him in March 2000 as chief guest at the National Day celebrations and whenever he visited Mauritius”.

“Mauritius mourns the loss of a man who stood not only for India but also for Mauritius,” he said.

IANS

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