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The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #17, 20 June 2023, Tuesday

Bhutan: The National Assembly ratifies BIMSTEC Charter ​​​​​​​

Socialist Front Nepal formed with four leftist parties

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #17, 20 June 2023, Tuesday
By Imamculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George and Lakshmi Parimala H

Socialist Front Nepal formed with four leftist parties
On 19 June, the leftist forces- CPN(Maoist Centre), CPN (Unified Socialist), the Janata Samajbadi Party and the Communist Party of Nepal, announced the formation of the Socialist Front Nepal amid a function at Rashtriya Sabha Griha in Kathmandu. The united front of the four parties will make it the third most significant force in the parliament with 54 seats in the House of Representatives. Speaking on the failure of the Nepal Communist Party, PM Dahal stated that unlike in the past when hurried unity created problems, the new front “will move forward as one force while also maintaining individual parties’ independence. The Nepal Communist Party considered the most powerful communist party in Nepal, was dissolved in 2021. (Nishan Khatiwad, “Expectations low as the socialist front comes into being,” The Kathmandu Post, 20 June 2023)

The National Assembly ratifies BIMSTEC Charter
On 20 June, Kuensel reported on Bhutan ratifying the BIMSTEC Charter. Bhutan has been a member of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) since 2004. BIMSTEC is a regional multilateral organization, comprising 7 members: Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Maldives. It was formed in 1997 with the aim to develop an enabling environment for the economic development of the countries through collaboration and mutual assistance, along with cooperation in the fields of education, science, and technology. Recently, on 6 June, it marked its 26th anniversary. The Charter provides a solid legal foundation for BIMSTEC, establishing a formal framework and clear guidelines for its functioning. Bhutan's participation in BIMSTEC is expected to boost trade, economic cooperation, and connectivity. (Jigmi Wangdi, “NA ratifies BIMSTEC Charter,” Kuensel, 20 June 2023)

All major rivers of the northeastern region are rising rapidly: FFWC
On 20 June, the FFWC reported “all major rivers of this region are rising rapidly,” referring to the north-eastern region. Heavy rainfall forecasted could cause rapid river rise in the Teesta, Dharla, and Dudhkumar basins and upstream regions in the next 24 hours. Water levels in 16 rivers, including Brahmaputra, Dharla, Teesta, and Dudhkumar, are rising in Kurigram, causing flooding in low-lying char areas and inundating crops. Hundreds of families have been stranded in floodwater, and people are facing a shortage of pure drinking water due to sinking tube wells in char and low-lying areas. (“Water level of major rivers in north-eastern region rising: FFWC,” The Daily Star, 20 June 2023)

Seven union leaders arrested for protesting in Chinese garment factory in Yangon
On 10 June, Seven Union executive committee members were fired from their jobs for leading a protest demanding a daily wage raise in a Hosheng garment factory in Yangon’s Shwe Pyi Thar Township. From 12 to 13 June, around 600 workers protested for firing. On 14 June, five of the leaders were arrested after meeting the General Administration Department (GAD) office to settle the dispute and taken to an interrogation camp in Shwe Pyi Thar. The previous day the officials and military officers visited and called out for negotiation in the GAD office.  The European Union’s delegation to Myanmar said in a statement: “We are concerned about the ongoing detention and welfare of a number of workers and labor rights organizers in the garment sector who have been detained … as a consequence of a labor dispute at the Hosheng Myanmar garment factory last week.” A Spanish news agency reported that Inditex, a Spanish company that owns the brand Zara for which the garment factory receives supplies, has blocked the suppliers following the news. Inditex said “[it is] working on a gradual and responsible exit from Myanmar,” as the event “ represents a serious breach of our Code of Conduct for manufacturers and suppliers.” (“More Labor Union Leaders Arrested at Zara Factory in Myanmar,” The Irrawaddy, 20 June 2023)

Thai activists sues the government agencies for spying using Pegasus
On 20 June, AP News reported that Law reform advocate Yingcheep Atchanont and human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa sued the Thai government for breaching their privacy by using the Pegasus spyware to infiltrate their devices. They appealed an immediate court injunction barring the use of the spyware on the citizens and demanded compensation worth USD 72, 000 each. The lawsuit is against the Office of the Prime Minister, the Royal Thai Police, the Digital Economy and Society Ministry and the three branches of the military. The government said it is unaware of the incident. (Jintamas Saksornchai, “Thai activists sue government agencies for allegedly using Pegasus spyware against them,” AP News, 20 June 2023)

Sri Lanka, now a part of the UK’s Developing Countries Trading Scheme
On 19 June, the British High Commission in Colombo announced that Sri Lanka would be a beneficiary of the UK’s Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS). The scheme that came into force provides tariff reductions and simpler terms of trade. According to the BHC statement, “The DCTS allows Sri Lanka to now trade with the UK tariff-free on 92% of goods, leading to increased competitiveness of Sri Lankan products in the UK market.” It further pointed out that flexible rules of origin will ease the path for least developed countries to engage in trade with Sri Lanka. This in turn is believed to prevent the former from losing tariff-free status and increase the potential for supply chain development. (“SL among 65 beneficiaries of UK’s new trading preferences scheme now in force,” The Island, 20 June 2023)

Nasheed to leave state-appointed residence
On 19 June, Parliamentary speaker Mohamed Nasheed said that he will vacate Muraidhooge, the state-appointed residence after the notice period for the no-confidence motion against him ends. The statement comes after facing a series of criticism for enjoying the Speaker’s allowances and benefits while recusing from parliamentary duties. While addressing the reporters at the Parliament Secretariat, Nasheed said that he would “lay dead” if the government denies security after him vacating Muraidhooge. (“Nasheed to leave Muraidhooge at the end of the notice period,” Avas, 20 June 2023)



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