Daily Briefs

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The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #57, 05 August 2023, Saturday

Myanmar: Junta expands diplomatic ties to Guinea-Bissau

In Pakistan, Imran Khan arrested for illegal selling of state gifts

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #57, 05 August 2023, Saturday
Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George, Dhriti Mukherjee and Lakshmi Parimala

PM Dahal speaks with his Indian counterpart
On 5 August, PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, had a telephone conversation. The statement issued by India’s PMO stated that the two leaders “reviewed various aspects of the India-Nepal bilateral and followed-up on discussions,” held during the recent visit of PM Dahal to India, aiming at strengthening “the deep bonds of friendship between the two countries.” (PM Modi speaks with Nepalese counterpart, reviews various aspects of Indo-Nepal cooperation,” The Hindu, 5 August 2023)

The UN and Amnesty International urge Bangladesh authorities to refrain from use of force
On 5 August, The Daily Star reported that the UN and Amnesty International called on the Bangladesh authorities, telling them to refrain from using excessive force. The spokesperson of UN Human rights office, Jeremy Lawrence, condemned the usage of violence and rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. He further stated that the authorities must “allow people to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of opinion and expression." Similarly, Amnesty International urges the authorities to end the use of violence against the protestors. The opposition in Bangladesh has been holding protests and rallies, demanding the resignation of PM Hasina, and the upcoming elections to be conducted under a neutral government. (“Pre-Polls Violence: Don’t use excessive force,” The Daily Star, 5 August 2023)

Junta expands diplomatic ties to Guinea-Bissau
On 05 August, The Irrawaddy reported that Myanmar Junta’s ambassador to China and Guinea-Bissau signed a joint communique at Myanmar embassy in Beijing to forge diplomatic ties. Guinea-Bissau became the 126th nation to establish official relations with Myanmar. In the midst of international isolation, this move is seen as an attempt by the junta to expand relations into Africa. In five Middle Eastern and African countries - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai, Oman and Bahrain - Myanmar has embassies. On 31 July, Florence Buerki Akonor Ghana, based in Malaysia was accepted as the Ambassador Extraordinary to Myanmar. (“Junta Watch: Blackouts Eclipse Electricity Minister; Regime Boss Shamed by Sermon; and More,” The Irrawaddy, 05 August 2023)
Phuket hosts 26th ASEAN DGICM to discuss trans-border crimes
On 05 August, Bangkok Post reported that the meeting of officials of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be hosted in Phuket province. The meeting will discuss trans-border crimes in the region. The 26th ASEAN Directors General of Immigration Departments and Heads of Consular Affairs Division of Ministries of Foreign Affairs Meeting (DGICM) will be hosted by the Royal Thai Police (RTP) and the Immigration Bureau (IB) from 07 August to 11 August. The representatives from China, Japan, South Korea and Australia will be attending the meeting. The commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, Pol Lt Pakphumpipat Sajjaphan said that the meeting will discuss the suppression of transnational crimes, immigration issues, and threats against the national security of Thailand and its ASEAN counterparts.  Pakphumpipat said: “[Addressing] human trafficking, smuggling, terrorism and cyber crimes are the main target of the RTP.” (“Asean to discuss transborder crime,” Bangkok Post, 05 August 2023)

Iran installs its navy with drones and missiles
On 5 August, Iranian news agencies reported that Iran has installed its Revolutionary Guards’s navy with drones and missiles. This move comes as the recently stated that it could offer to put guards on commercial ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian armed forces spokesperson, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, stating that the countries in the region are capable of ensuring the security of the Gulf, further questioned "What do the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean have to do with America? What is your business being here?" The US has increased its presence in the region after Iran’s failed attempts to seize commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes. (“Iran boosts navy with missiles, drones as US offers guards for Gulf ships,” Reuters, 5 August 2023)

Mujahid calls going to fight abroad a war and not “Jihad”
On 5 August, TOLO News reported on interim defense minister Mawlawi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid’s speech on the definition of Jihad. Mujahid made it clear that leaving Afghanistan with the intention of Jihad would not be considered Jihad. He emphasized obeying the Amir’s order and reiterated: “If the Amir prevents the Mujahideen from going to battle and they still do it, this is war, not Jihad.” Further, he urged the Islamic Emirate members not to undertake actions that could affect the achievements of the acting government. (“Acting Defense Minister Says Going to Fight Abroad 'Not Jihad',” TOLO News, 5 August 2023)

UN Special Advisor calls for action against ban on girls’ education in Kabul
On 5 August, Afghanistan Times reported on the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General Leonardo Garnier’s remarks on Afghanistan made during the Transforming Education Summit. Garnier voiced the limitations placed on girls’ education in Afghanistan and urged the interim government to revoke the policies. He stated: “Vigilance is essential not only in extreme cases such as Afghanistan but also in regions experiencing emerging trends.” (UN chief advisor urges pressure on Taliban,” Afghanistan Times, 5 August 2023) 

Imran Khan arrested for illegal selling of state gifts
On 5 August, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested, following a trial investigating his illegal selling of state gifts. The time frame of the criminal activity is between 2018-2022, where gifts that he received from abroad were sold. Aside from his arrest, he has also been ordered to pay a $355 fine or serve six additional months. Khan’s lawyers are filing a petition in the high court, whilst Khan urged his supporters to protest and stand up for their rights, so that they do not “live lives of slaves.” His team maintains the stance that his trial was biased and unfair. (“Pakistan’s Imran Khan sentenced to three years in prison, arrested,” Al Jazeera, 5 August 2023)

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