At least eight journalists were arrested in the first week of May, facing charges under the dreaded Digital Security Act in cases filed by the law enforcers and ruling Awami League leaders. There has also been a surge in arrests and cases filed under the Digital Security Act against people who express their opinions on Facebook criticising the government, or even for the simple act of sharing authentic information that is already in the public domain, but happens to show ruling party men in a poor light.
According to Article 19, a free speech watchdog, so far 60 cases have been lodged under the DSA this year where over 100 people were sued for expressing their opinions on Facebook and other social media. Additionally 25 journalists have been sued under the DSA so far this year, already exceeding the number for both 2018 and 2019, the two previous years for which the law has been in the books.
Ninety-six garment workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since April 9 in the country, with over half of them infected since the resumption of work in the factories on April 26, according to a report of the Bangladesh Garment Shramik Sanghati (BGSS). Besides, 79 percent of the infected are workers of factories in Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanganj districts, it said.
The highest number of cases have been reported in Narayanganj with 26, followed by 24 in Savar and 14 in Gazipur. Also, seven workers were infected in Ashulia, six in Dhaka, two each in Mymensingh and Chattogram, one each in Manikganj and Jashore and the rest 14 in other areas, it added. While disclosing the findings, Taslima Akhter, president of BGSS, said coronavirus outbreak at the community level and rapidly increasing number of infected garment workers suggested that the factories were resumed without due preparations.
The coronavirus pandemic will drive an additional 13 million people into poverty, cut 3.7 million jobs, take the budget deficit to as high as 7.5 percent and inflict a minimum revenue loss of 2 percent of GDP in Bangladesh, as the killer bug is wreaking havoc throughout the economy, warned the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The grim picture was painted as the Manila-based development lender yesterday approved a $500 million loan for Bangladesh to bolster its efforts to manage the impact of the pandemic.
This is the first budget support availed by the government from any development lender in the wake of the coronavirus, as it seeks more than $3 billion initially from development partners to ward off the impact of the virus. This package will build on ADB's ongoing collaboration with Bangladesh on structural reforms by supporting the government efforts to speed up the country's social and economic recovery, said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa in a press release.
The government sent 280 Rohingyas who were adrift at sea following a refusal by Malaysian authorities to allow them to enter that country by boat, to Bhasan Char in Noakhali. A Bangladesh Navy ship towed the boat which was scheduled to reach Bhasan Char early Friday. “The boat would reach Bhasan Char with 280 people on Friday morning,” confirmed disaster management and relief secretary Md Shah Kamal.
These 280 people are part of about 500 people, who have been adrift at sea on two boats for almost three weeks, with no country apparently ready to take them in. The Navy intercepted the boat after it entered the Bangladesh territorial waters. They become the second batch of Rohingya sent to Bhasan Char as the government earlier sent 29 people of the same group to the island. They were captured after landing on another Bangladesh island after getting tied up with traffickers.