TIME indonesia

Over 430 Migrants Taken to Indonesia After Months at Sea

Migrants sit on their boat as they wait to be rescued by Acehnese fishermen on the sea off East Aceh, Indonesia, May 20, 2015
S. Yulinnas—AP Migrants sit on their boat as they wait to be rescued by Acehnese fishermen on the sea off East Aceh, Indonesia, on May 20, 2015

More than 430 migrants stranded at sea were brought ashore to safety by Indonesian fishermen

(SIMPANG TIGA, Indonesia) — A flotilla of Indonesian fishermen rescued more than 430 migrants who were stranded at sea and brought them ashore to safety Wednesday, the latest victims of a humanitarian crisis confronting Southeast Asia. Hoping to find a solution, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia held an emergency meeting to address the plight of the migrants who are fleeing persecution in Burma and poverty in Bangladesh.

The migrants were rescued early Wednesday by more than a dozen fishermen’s boats, said Herman Sulaiman, from East Aceh district’s Search and Rescue Agency.

It was unclear if the migrants were on one boat or had come from several, but an initial batch of 102 people were the first brought to shore in the village of Simpang Tiga in Indonesia’s eastern Aceh province, Sulaiman and other rescuers said.

“They were suffering from dehydration, they are weak and starving,” Khairul Nove, head of Langsa Search and Rescue Agency in Aceh province. Among the 102 passengers were 26 women and 31 children, he said.

One of the migrants, Ubaydul Haque, 30, said the ship’s engine had failed and the captain fled, and that they were at sea for four months before Indonesian fishermen found them.

“We ran out of food, we wanted to enter Malaysia but we were not allowed,” he said.

One of the fishermen who led the rescue was 40-year-old Razali Puteh. He said he spotted a green wooden trawler crammed with people who were screaming, waving their hands and clothes at him to get his attention.

As he neared the trawler, people aboard began jumping into the water, trying to reach his boat. He said he asked them to stay on their boat, which apparently had no motor, and promised to return with help. He then returned with other fishing boats and brought the migrants to shore.

The rescue after Indonesia’s foreign minister said late Tuesday that the country had “given more than it should” to help hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants stranded on boats by human traffickers.

The foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, was meeting Wednesday with his counterparts from Malaysia and Thailand in an emergency meeting called to discuss how to solve the migrant problem. Representatives from the U.N. refugee agency and the International Office for Migration were also expected to attend the meeting.

“This irregular migration is not the problem of one or two nations. This is a regional problem which also happens in other places. This is also a global problem,” Marsudi told reporters after a Cabinet meeting at the presidential palace.

Marsudi said Indonesia has sheltered 1,346 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants who washed onto Aceh and North Sumatra provinces last week. The first batch came on May 10 with 558 people on a boat, and the second with 807 on three boats landed on Friday. Even before the crisis, nearly 12,000 migrants were being sheltered in Indonesia awaiting resettlement, she said, with most of those Rohingya Muslims who have fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Burma. No more than 500 of those migrants are resettled in third countries each year, she said.

“Indonesia has given more than it should do as a non-member-state of the Refugee Convention of 1951,” she said.

The crisis emerged this month as governments in the region began cracking down on human trafficking. Some captains of trafficking boats abandoned their vessels — and hundreds of migrants — at sea. About 3,000 of the migrants have reached land in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, but all three countries have pushed some ships away. Aid groups estimate that thousands more migrants — who fled persecution in Burma and poverty in Bangladesh — are stranded in the Andaman Sea.

Burma’s cooperation is seen as vital to solving the crisis, but its government has already cast doubt on whether it will attend a conference to be hosted by Thailand on May 29 that is to include 15 Asian nations affected by the emergency.

Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta contributed to this report.

TIME Bangladesh

Another Bangladeshi Blogger Hacked to Death, Third Such Murder in Three Months

BANGLADESH-UNREST-RELIGION
Munir uz ZAMAN—AFP/Getty Images Bangladesh police escort two men accused in the murder of blogger Washiqur Rahman for a court appearance in Dhaka on March 31, 2015

Ananta Bijoy Das was a banker by profession but also an online crusader against religious extremism

A Bangladeshi blogger was killed by knife-wielding attackers in the country’s northeast on Tuesday, the third such murder in less than three months and further evidence of spiraling religious fundamentalism and intolerance of free speech in the South Asian nation.

Ananta Bijoy Das was set upon by four assailants with machetes in Sylhet district, a local police official told Reuters. The 33-year-old, who worked as a banker, was a blogger who advocated secularism through his writing.

Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country liberated from Pakistan by the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, has seen a sudden increase in attacks by Islamic fundamentalists against writers and intellectuals speaking out against religious extremism. The country is also in the midst of larger political unrest, with violent clashes between supporters of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her political rival opposition leader Khaleda Zia claiming dozens of lives this year. At least 64 people have been killed by law enforcement since January, the head of a Bangladeshi human-rights organization told al-Jazeera America.

“These are only the deaths that we know about,” Sultana Kamal of the organization Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) said. “Usually, they go unreported.”

The rise of religious fundamentalism is worrying. Das’ assassination is similar to those of fellow writers Washiqur Rahman and Avijit Roy, killed by the same method on March 30 and Feb. 26, respectively. Das was also a contributor to Mukto-Mona or “Free Mind,” a well-known secular blog that Atlanta-based Roy founded, according to the local newspaper Daily Star.

Roy’s wife Rafida Ahmed, who was with him when he was killed and was seriously injured in the February attack, called it a “global act of terrorism” and criticized the Dhaka authorities for their lackluster response. “What almost bothers me more is that no one from the Bangladesh government has reached out to me,” she said in an exclusive interview with Reuters published Monday. “It’s as if I don’t exist, and they are afraid of the extremists,” she said. “Is Bangladesh going to be the next Pakistan or Afghanistan?”

TIME movies

San Andreas Is Still Going to Be Released in May Despite the Nepal Earthquake

Dwayne Johnson, a cast member in the upcoming film "San Andreas," poses before the Warner Bros. presentation at CinemaCon 2015 at Caesars Palace on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Las Vegas
Chris Pizzello—Invision/AP Dwayne Johnson, a cast member in the upcoming film San Andreas, poses before the Warner Bros. presentation at CinemaCon 2015 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on April 21, 2015

Warner Bros. says it will disseminate information about how people can donate to Nepal earthquake relief

Warner Bros. will stick to the original release date of May 29 for its earthquake blockbuster San Andreas despite the devastating tremblor in Nepal, Variety reports.

A studio spokesperson said Wednesday the company debated over moving the release date, but instead chose to alter promotional materials to include information about how people can donate to relief efforts in Nepal. They also accelerated an original public-service campaign that educates people on natural disaster safety and adjusted the messaging to encompass events in Nepal, Variety said.

The trailers and posters, however, will not be changed.

“We will continue to evaluate our worldwide marketing campaign to ensure that we are sensitive to those affected by this tragic event,” a Warner Bros. spokesperson told Variety.

The movie features Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Carla Gugino as an estranged couple who travels from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their daughter after California’s San Andreas fault suffers a magnitude-9 earthquake. The trailer features scenes of Los Angeles skyscrapers tumbling and a massive tsunami bearing down on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Nepalese police said Thursday morning the death toll from the magnitude-7.8 earthquake had topped 5,500 people across India, Bangladesh, China and Nepal, with an estimated 11,440 injured.

[Variety]

TIME Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, the Slaying of Another Blogger Spotlights Spiraling Extremism

BANGLADESH-UNREST-RELIGION
MUNIR UZ ZAMAN—AFP/Getty Images A relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman reacts after seeing his body at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka on March 30, 2015, after he was killed in an attack in the Bangladeshi capital.

Monday's attack is the second of the same nature within five weeks

A young blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in the Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka on Monday — the second such murder in just over a month and yet another case indicative of rising religious extremism in the South Asian nation.

Washiqur Rahman, 27, a secular writer known for openly criticizing Islamic fundamentalism, was attacked by three students in one of the sprawling city’s busiest areas.

Police caught two of the perpetrators on the spot with the weapons still in their possession, while a third reportedly escaped.

Monday’s killing bears eerie similarities to the murder of another blogger, Bangladeshi-American Avijit Roy, five weeks earlier. Roy died in late February after being attacked with machetes by two assailants while he was returning from a book fair in Dhaka with his wife.

The incident prompted widespread fear in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, and also criticism of the government for not doing enough to protect freedom of speech.

“We condemn the government’s failure to protect bloggers, especially those who cover or comment on religion, fundamental freedoms and extremism of all kinds,” Benjamin Ismail, head of the Asia-Pacific desk of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, said in a statement.

The rising instances of violence against secular writers over the last few years — another writer Ahmed Rajib Haider was assassinated in 2013 — has many of the country’s online activists running scared. Omi Rahman Pial, another prominent blogger, told the New York Times that several of his colleagues may seek asylum outside Bangladesh. Several others are beginning to take down their blogs, another activist said.

“There is definitely a level of worry among the people who are involved in blogging and expressing themselves on social networks,” Mohammad Golam Rahman, a journalism professor at the University of Dhaka, and no relation of the murdered blogger, tells TIME.

While Rahman said sudden attacks of this nature can be difficult to prevent, he conceded that the government should be doing more to protect bloggers and ensure freedom of speech. Although Bangladesh is over 90% Muslim, he adds, those espousing an “extremist ideology” only form a “small segment” of the population.

“The general view and general psyche of the population is that they condemn these activities,” says Rahman.

However, many of the comments on the blogger Rahman’s Facebook page belie that notion. “I felt sorry when I first learned of your death. But then I saw what you wrote and I am not,” reads one, according to CNN.

“Get ready for the afterlife,” says another, while a third simply reads: “See you in hell.”

Abdullah Fahim, a business student at Dhaka’s North South University, told the Times that 80% of Bangladeshis are probably against Rahman’s writing. “I don’t know why our government gave him the liberty to write against Islam,” he said.

TIME Bangladesh

North Korean Diplomat Caught Smuggling $1.4 Million in Gold in Bangladesh

Son Young Nam was carrying 60 pounds of gold

Bangladesh seized about $1.4 million worth of gold from a North Korean diplomat at Dhaka airport Friday, according to a senior official.

Customs officers detained Son Young Nam, the First Secretary of the North Korean Embassy in Dhaka, upon his arrival from Singapore with nearly 60 pounds of gold, according to Reuters. The chairman of the National Board of Revenue, Najbur Rahman, said that Nam had told officials there was nothing to scan in his hand luggage.

“Later we informed our foreign ministry and he was released on Friday under the Vienna Convention,” Rahman said.

The Vienna Convention grants diplomatic immunity to envoys like Nam, but Bangladesh said it will file charges in this case.

[Reuters]

TIME Bangladesh

Bangladesh Authorities Arrest Suspect in American Blogger’s Murder

BANGLADESH-UNREST-RELIGION
Munir Uz Zaman—AFP/Getty Images Bangladeshi Rapid Action Battalion personnel produce Farabi Shafiur Rahman (C), arrested over the machete murder of an atheist American blogger, during a photocall in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 2, 2015.

Avijit Roy was hacked to death in Dhaka last week

Bangladeshi authorities have arrested a primary suspect in the murder of atheist blogger Avijit Roy.

Farabi Shafiur Rahman was taken into custody by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, Agence France-Presse reported. He allegedly threatened the victim on social media and spoke to another individual online about killing him.

A spokesman for the RAB — the country’s elite security force that mainly counters religious insurgency — described Rahman as a “fundamentalist blogger.” A source within the agency claimed that its officials had seen messages between Rahman and another person discussing Roy’s murder.

Roy, a Bangladeshi American living in Atlanta for the past 15 years, founded the Mukto-Mona blog — a collection of liberal writings that drew the ire of many hard-liners in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

The 42-year-old writer was assaulted by two unidentified attackers while returning from a book fair with his wife in Dhaka last week. The assailants hacked him to death with machetes. His wife survived but was grievously injured.

TIME Bangladesh

An American Atheist Writer Has Been Hacked to Death in Bangladesh

Police forensics investigate the scene where U.S. blogger of Bangladeshi origin was hacked to death by unidentified assailants in Dhaka on February 27, 2015.
Munir Uz Zaman—AFP/Getty Images Police forensics investigate the scene where U.S. blogger of Bangladeshi origin was hacked to death by unidentified assailants in Dhaka on February 27, 2015.

Avijit Roy had received several threats from Islamic fundamentalists over his secular writing

An American atheist blogger was hacked to death on Thursday in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

Two unidentified assailants attacked Avijit Roy and his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonna with machetes as the couple returned from a book fair, reports Agence France-Presse.

“He died as he was brought to the hospital. His wife was also seriously wounded. She has lost a finger,” said local police chief Sirajul Islam.

Roy, a Bangladesh-born U.S. citizen, had received multiple threats from Islamic fundamentalists in the past for his writings.

He founded Mukto-Mona, a secular blog that featured liberal writings from around the Muslim-majority nation. He had published several well-known books including Biswasher Virus (Virus of Faith).

There has been a string of attacks on secular writers and academics in the South Asian country. In 2013, atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was hacked to death by fundamentalists, sparking nationwide protests.

Hard-line Islamists in the country have long called for the slaying of writers critical of Islam.

Police have not yet identified the assailants but have launched an investigation and recovered the machetes used in the attack.

[AFP]

TIME Bangladesh

Arson Attack on Bus in Bangladesh Kills at Least Seven

Bangladesh Political Violence
A.M. Ahad—AP Hospital staff attend to the victims of a predawn firebomb attack on a bus as they receive treatment at the Medical College hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Feb. 3, 2015

Petrol bombs were thrown onto a packed bus

At least seven people died and 16 others were injured in an arson attack Tuesday on a crowded bus in Bangladesh, which is facing spiraling unrest amid strikes called by opposition parties demanding fresh elections.

The predawn attacks targeted sleepy passengers returning to the capital Dhaka from the eastern city of Cox’s Bazar. Many of those hurt have been admitted to hospital burn units, according to the Associated Press.

Since Jan. 5, the one-year anniversary of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s re-election, 53 people have died from arson attacks during violent opposition strikes known as hartals. Instability and violence during hartals killed approximately 300 in 2013 in the lead-up to the last election.

The government blames the current wave of arson attacks on supporters of ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which boycotted the 2014 polls and is now calling for a citywide transport shutdown to compel Hasina’s resignation. However, Zia denies any role in instigating the violence.

A new election is scheduled for Bangladesh in 2019.

[AP]

TIME Bangladesh

Political Turmoil Sparks Fresh Violence in Bangladesh

BANGLADESH-POLITICS-UNREST-OPPOSITION
STRDEL—AFP/Getty Images Burning vehicles, set on fire by opposition demonstrators, are pictured during violent protests in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Jan. 6, 2015

Street protests erupt a day after a senior opposition politician was shot and injured by unidentified assailants

The Bangladeshi capital Dhaka was hit by fresh violence on Thursday morning, with antigovernment protestors torching at least two vehicles a day after an opposition politician was shot and injured in what was reported to be a botched assassination attempt.

The attack on Riaz Rahman, a close aide to former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, drew international condemnation, with U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf condemning the “use of violence for political objectives.” The U.S., she said, was “shocked and saddened” by the attack on the former Bangladeshi Foreign Minister.

A 20-party alliance led by Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has called for a general shutdown today to protest the attack, the Daily Star, a local newspaper, reported.

Earlier, on Wednesday, antigovernment protesters firebombed a packed bus, killing four passengers, including a young child, according to the news agency Agence France-Presse.

Violence in the South Asian nation flared earlier this month when the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina blocked opposition plans to hold antigovernment demonstrations on the anniversary of national polls that are disputed by Zia and her supporters. Authorities also confined Zia to her office in Dhaka, where she remains.

The BNP is calling on Prime Minister Hasina to step down and hold fresh elections.

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 27, 2014

Photojournalism Daily is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Mark Peterson‘s work on American megachurches. These churches are growing in popularity and Peterson photographed the phenomenon in Las Vegas on assignment for MSNBC, capturing how the vibrant worship and stage show draw crowds in a town also known as Sin City.


Mark Peterson: Megachurches (MSNBC)

Michael Robinson Chavez: Stratford, California (The Los Angeles Times) Compelling photographs from a Californian town hit hard by the state’s drought.

Annalisa Natali Murri: Emotions Reverabate After The Sky Crashed (The New York Times Lens) Poignant double exposures on the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse victims and their relatives.

Photojournalist Muhammed Muheisen awarded $10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Award for journalism (The Washington Post InSight) The Associated Press gives its chief photographer in Pakistan the highest staff honor

Jon Tonks (Verve Photo) The British photographer writes about the cover image of his book The Empire.

René Burri, Photographer of Picasso and Che, Dies at 81 (The New York Times) The Times obituary for the legendary Magnum photographer.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com