Looking back 2014

N A T I O  N A L

Hasina vs Khaleda
01The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on December 17, came down heavily on BNP vice chairman Tarique Rahman for his disparaging remarks about the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. ‘I would like to tell the BNP chief, ask your spoiled son to hold his tongue…He is uttering heinous words, people will not tolerate this…,’ she said. The next day, Khaleda defended her son and asked her arch rival to hold her tongue first. ‘Even foreigners are not spared from their (ruling party men’s) badmouthing in addition to hurling abuses at us constantly. I want to ask Hasina “hold your tongue first” before advising others to do so,’ she said.

 

Yet more of Quader’s directives
02The road, transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader spent the year like the years before giving ‘directives’ on improvement of roads, bridges etc. He gave one of his promising directives on July 12 to repair all roads and highways in eight days before the Eid-ul-Fitr. On July 21 he claimed they had repaired about 80 per cent of highways and roads across the country, though commuters and the media thought otherwise. On January 22 he audaciously claimed that the number of road accidents had been reduced by 53 per cent since 2008.

 

Muhith’s ‘rubbish’ rubbished
03Finance minister AMA Muhith’s indiscriminate use of words like ‘bogus’, ‘totally rubbish’ and ‘utterly nonsense’ came under fire this year from planning minter AHM Mustafa Kamal and former Janata Bank chairman Abul Barakat. In Aril, Kamal called Muhith an ‘old man’ who talked ‘rubbish’. Barakat on September 10 branded Muhith an ‘intellectual fraud’, ‘agent of neo-liberal economy’ and a ‘liar’.

 

Imam promises BCS jobs to BCL activists
04Prime minister’s political adviser HT Imam, addressing a seminar at Dhaka University on November 12,  assured Bangladesh Chhatra League activists that their recruitment to class I gazetted government official posts will be ‘taken care of’ once they sit for Bangladesh Civil Service exams. Imam’s remarks drew severe criticism from all quarters including the press, civil society, and ruling party leaders and ministers.

 

Shakib gets handy punishment
05Maverick all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was suspended by the BCB from all cricket for six months on July 7. BCB also put an embargo on his playing in overseas competitions until the end of 2015. The punishment was handed out because of Shakib’s alleged ‘serious misbehaviour’  in a series of incidents. Later, on September 15, the BCB partially lifted the ban and allowed Shakib to play for Bangladesh and on December 5 BCB lifted the ban on Shakib’s playing in overseas events.

 

Shahjahan pours water over Sundarbans worry
06While the world worried about the damage to Sundarbans due to the oil-spill, shipping minister Shahjahan Khan on December 13 said Sundarbans will not suffer any major damage due to the spill from a crashed tanker on river Shela. Environmentalists were left outraged by the minister who has history of making controversial remarks.

 

Ashraful’s indignity towards dignitaries
07Awami League general secretary and LGRD and cooperatives minister Syed Ashraful Islam on November 29 called US assistant secretary of state for bureau of South and Central Asian affairs, Nisha Deshai Biswal, a ‘minister of two pennies’ and said that Nisha had no influence on American policymaking. He also called the immediate past US envoy Dan W Mozena ‘housemaid Morzina’ and said that the US envoy had ‘tried his best to thwart the January 5 polls’ but failed.

 

Asaduzzaman Khan joins predecessors
08Asaduzzaman Khan joined a long line of predecessors who have a tendency to put their foot in the mouth. The junior minister took spotlight for his remarks on the victims of enforced disappearance claiming most of the incidents were found to be false. Towards the end of the year, while the body 4-year-old Zihad was being pulled out of the well he fell into, Khan proclaimed confidently there was nothing inside the well.

 

Mohsin Ali sets the stage on fire
09Social Welfare Minister Syed Mohsin Ali hit the headlines after smoking in public while attending a programme at the BGB Public School and College in Sylhet city on January 27. Then on on August 9, at a programme at Sylhet District Council auditorium, he termed journalists as ‘dirty chaps and of bad character’. 2015 promises to bring more from the Minister prone to public singing.

 

Tarique ignites a fire
010BNP senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman on December 15 at a programme in London called the founding president of the country Sheikh Mujibur Rahman a ‘big Razakar’. Tarique said, ‘Awami League claims it’s a party of War of Independence, but it’s Sheikh Mujib who had banned Awami League describing it as a party of thugs. So, if it’s a party of Liberation War, Sheikh Mujib is a big Razakar for obliterating Awami League’.

 

Nahid’s public denial of question leak
011Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid shocked people nationwide when he told the Parliament on June 26 that there were no allegations of question paper leak in any public examination in the last five years. Over the last few years, several question papers of public examinations were leaked, sold and even appeared on Facebook pages.

 

BCL general secretary threatens BNP leaders through FB
012Chhatra League general secretary Siddique Nazmul Alam on December 24 put up a status on his Facebook wall reading ‘We will counter the attack on Chhabi Biswas in three days and beat up top BNP leaders like stray dogs.’ The threat came a few hours after a clash between Chhatra League and BNP men at capital’s Bakshibazar area where the Awami League lawmaker Biswas was injured. The status gained several thousand likes and 270 comments in an hour.

 

Bodi threatens to ‘unmask’ ACC
013Controversial ruling party lawmaker from Teknaf and Ukhiya Abdur Rahman Bodi threatened the Anti-corruption Commission saying he would reveal ‘all secrets’ of the ACC and its chairman Mohammad Badiuzzaman if they tried to prove him corrupt. ‘I am requesting at this meeting…. respected Mr Badiuzzaman, the ACC chairman, your name is Bodi while mine is Bodi too. If one Bodi wants to drive out another Bodi, every secret will be disclosed,’ the lawmaker said while addressing a discussion on September 16. However, a Dhaka court on October 12 sent Bodi to jail in a case filed by the ACC.

 

AK Khandker under fire for war memoir
014Former planning minister Khandker, BirUttam, also Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bangladesh Armed Forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War, was in the thick of things this year with the publication of his war memoir ‘1971: Bhetare Baire’. In the book, Khandker alleged the country’s founding president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had concluded his historic March 7 speech uttering ‘Jai Pakistan’. He also claimed Awami league had not prepared politically for liberation. The former Air Vice Marshal came under scathing attack from ruling party lawmakers for a number of days before and after the publication, while he also resigned from the Sector Commanders Forum – an organisation he founded – amidst the controversy.

 

Latif comes down with a remark
015Former post and telecommunications minister Abdul Latif Siddique landed in a soup for his controversial remarks in New York on September 28 ‘I am more against hajj and Tabligh Jamaat than Jamaat-e-Islami.’ On October 24, ruling AL expelled Latif’s primary membership of the party and he was also dropped from the cabinet in the face of protests. He is currently in jail.

 

Voterless landslide
016The much-talked-about controversial 10th parliamentary election was held on January 5 amidst the boycott of the country’s major opposition political parties which led to election of 153 MPs uncontested and widespread violence across the country, leaving 18 people killed on election day. The election was marked by record low turnout of voters and stuffing of ballot boxes by ruling party men across the country. The ruling Bangladesh Awami League formed the government with a huge majority bagging as much as 231 seats in parliament with Ershad’s faction of Jatiya Party in the opposition.

Clampdown
017The police on January 16 evening sealed off the office and printing press of the Bangla daily Dainik Inqilab causing suspension of the publication of the newspaper from January 17 to February 2. Police detectives raided the office of the daily and picked up four newsmen from there over the publication of a ‘rumoured’ report on presence of Indian troops in the bordering district of Satkhira. They were later released.

Death sentences for Ctg arms haul
018A decade after the country’s biggest arms haul, a special court in Chittagong on January 30 handed down death sentence and life term to former ministers Matiur Rahman Nizami and Lutfozzaman Babar, 11 senior and influential civil-military bureaucrats and Indian separatist leader Paresh Baruah in two arms and smuggling cases. Apart from Nizami and Babar, the others who would walk the gallows are the military commander of United Liberation Front of Asom, Paresh Baruah, former director general of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence retired major general Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury, former director general of National Security Intelligence retired brigadier general Abdur Rahim, former NSI director retired wing commander Shahabuddin Ahmed, former NSI deputy director retired major Liakat Hossain, NSI field officer Akbar Hossain, former managing director of the Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Factory Limited Mohshin Talukder and its former general manager AKM Enamul Haque, former industries secretary Nurul Amin, transport and labourer suppliers Hafizur Rahman Hafiz and Din Mohammad and trawler owner Hazi Abdus Sobhan.

BCL menace
Activists of ruling Bangladesh Awami League’s student front Bangladesh Chhatra League fired gunshots at random to terrorise around 5,000 Rajshahi University students protesting against increased fees and move to introduce evening courses on a commercial basis at the university. The BCL activists continued their terror activities on the campuses at different universities across the country—most often causing closure of academic activities. Several students, including one each in Shahjalal University of Science and Technology and Chittagong University, were killed in infighting of ruling party backed student organisation.

Road deaths
The country witnessed several deadly road mishaps in the year.  At least seven primary schoolchildren died and 71 others were wounded as a picnic bus carrying them ran off the road and fell into a ditch at Chaugachha in Jessore on February 15 night. In another deadly road accident, at least 34 passengers were killed and 25 injured as two buses collided head-on on the Banpara-Hatikumrul highway in Boraigram upazila of Natore on October 20. In other incidents, four were killed as a train ploughed through a crowd on a rail track in Karwanbazar on September 11 and at least 11 were killed and 55 others injured as a train rammed into a bridal party bus in Jhenaidah on August 1.

Abduction
019A businessman and husband of green activist Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Abu Bakar Siddik, was abducted by an armed group at Bhuigarh on the Dhaka-Narayanganj Link Road on April 16 on his way back to Dhaka from his apparel factory at Fatullah in Narayanganj, triggering deep concerns among green campaigners and rights groups. Following widespread hue and cry from almost quarters, he was freed nearly 35 hours after his abduction at Mirpur in the capital. Police could neither arrest the kidnappers nor dig out the motive behind his abduction till now.
Getaway
An armed terror group ambushed a prison van and snatched away three convicted militants—Salahuddin alias Salehin, Raquibul Hasan alias Hafiz Mahmud and Jahidul Islam alias Mizan—of banned militant outfit Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh, killing a police constable in the attack in Trishal on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway on February 23. Of them, the very next day, Raquibul Hasan was killed in an alleged gunfight six hours into his recapture.

Lawmen turns hitmen

020
The talk of the year was the seven-murder in Narayanganj. Seven people, including Narayanganj city councillor Nazrul Islam and lawyer Chandan Kumar Sarker, were abducted on April 27 on their way back from Narayanganj court and later on May 1, six of them were found afloat in the River Sitalakhya and the other was found in a ditch. Till now, 17 RAB personnel, including the then commanding officer of RAB 11, Tareque Sayed Mohammad, and two of its top company commanders, were arrested in this connection and 16 of them made confessional statements about their involvement in the court. The prime accused in the killing case, Narayanganj city councillor Noor Hossain, was arrested in Kolkata, West Bengal, on June 14 and he is still languishing in Kolkata jail.

Drowned
021Incidents of two big ferry capsize took place in the year in which at least 150 people were killed altogether and nearly 200 passengers went missing. A ferry carrying nearly 300 passengers sank in stormy weather in the River Meghna in Munshiganj on May 15 leaving over 100 passengers dead. The unfit vessel was carrying about 200 passengers against its capacity of 85 only. In another ferry capsize, Dhaka-bound ferry—ML Pinak 6—overcrowded with nearly 300 passengers capsized in river Padma near Louhajang in Munshiganj on August 4. After nearly a weeklong search, the authorities on August 10 winded up rescue operation without spotting the sunken ferry as well as finding other bodies. The authorities were able to recover only 46 bodies while the number of missing passengers was believed to exceed 120, though the local administration put the number at 61 saying there were some ‘fake claims’ in the previous list of missing people.

Murder in daylight
022Miscreants shot at and hacked Phulgazi upazila chairman Ekramul Haque to death in Feni on May 20. Three others, including a journalist, who were accompanying Ekramul Haque in the microbus on his way to the upazila council office from his house, were also injured as a group of about 30–40 people first exploded crude bombs and then shot at the vehicle. As the car stopped, the group dragged and chased away the three, and hacked Ekramul and burnt the car with him lying inside it. The police later recovered the charred body of Ekram.

Burned
023At least 10 Urdu-speaking community people, including seven of a family, were killed and many injured in an arson attack after clashes in the Kurmitola relief camp at Mirpur in the capital on June 14. Nine people, mostly women and children, were killed as Bengalis from slums nearby burnt the houses after scuffles and altercations said to be centring on the display of fireworks and explosion of crackers on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat.

Media gag
The government on August 4 approved the country’s first national broadcasting policy stipulating restrictions on news transmission and advertisements by all TV and radio networks, sparking off widespread outcry from different quarters, including media professionals, right activists, politicians, journalists and activists. They censured the government for adopting the national broadcasting policy saying the policy was not about broadcasting, rather about suppressing.
Fighting for pay
024The owner of the Tuba Group, aided by the government and the apparel exporters’ group Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, broke the movement that workers of five clothing factories of the group had waged since July 28, a day before Eid-ul-Fitr that was celebrated the next day, for the payment of wages for May, June and July and the festival allowance, before the movement could finish. The police and hired goons barged into the Tuba Group factory at Badda in the capital Dhaka on August 7 and drove out people, apparel workers and some political and rights group leaders, who had been on hunger strike demanding the payment of the workers.

Marooned
Several thousand people got marooned for weeks from mid-August in several northern districts of Nilphamari, Kurigram, Rangpur, Gaibandha, Bogra, Sirajganj, Jamalpur, in the devastating flood caused by the onrush of waters from upstream rivers.

Murder mystery
025A presenter of private television Channel-i Islamic programme, Nurul Islam Faruqi, also the imam of Supreme Court jam-e-mosque, was killed after miscreants slit his throat inside his apartment in the capital’s Rajabazar on August 27 night.

Fake freedom fighters
The Jatiya Muktijoddha Council on September 14 cancelled freedom fighter certificates of five top public servants citing that they had not followed the procedure required for enlistment. The move came after Anti-Corruption Commission sent a report to the cabinet division, the liberation war affairs ministry and the public administration ministry for action against the senior bureaucrats for obtaining the certificates allegedly showing forged documents.

Death commuted
026The Supreme Court on September 17 commuted Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami nayeb-e-amir Delwar Hossain Sayeede’s death sentence to imprisonment until his death. The apex court gave the verdict five months after hearing two appeal petitions — one filed by Sayedee in March 2013 seeking acquittal and the other filed by the government seeking his conviction on six other charges the trial court found him guilty. Sayedee, detained in a death-row cell at Kashimpur Central Jail, is the second Jamaat leader who has to spend the rest of his life in prison, after Ghulam Azam, for committing crimes against humanity during the War of Independence.

Power of parliament
Parliament on September 17 unanimously passed the Constitution (Sixteenth Amendment) Bill restoring its power to remove Supreme Court judges on grounds of misconduct or incapacity, scrapping the existing constitutional provisions for Supreme Judicial Council inquiry into such allegations, triggering a widespread criticism and debate in the political arena.

Slip!
027Awami League presidium member and the then posts, telecommunications and information technology minister Abdul Latif Siddique at a meeting in New York on September 29 said he was dead against Hajj and Tabligh. The comments led to his expulsion from the cabinet on October 12 and later from the party following widespread protests from all quarters, particularly from Islamists. Following filing of a series of cases against him on charge of hurting religious sentiment, several courts issued arrest warrants for Abdul Latif. He stealthily arrived in Dhaka on November 23 and went into hiding, deceiving law enforcers at Dhaka airport, but surrendered to police on Nov 25 and finally landed in jail.

Ghulam Azam dies
War crimes convict and former Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami amir Ghulam Azam, who was serving a 90-year imprisonment for the war crimes he had committed in 1971 and kept at the prison cell of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University since January 11, 2012,  died at the BSMMU at the age of 92.
Finally let off
028On October 16, Lemon Hossen, who had one leg amputated after being shot at by Rapid Action Battalion, was relieved of the last case filed against him for allegedly obstructing an ‘operation’ by law enforcers in a Jhalakati village. Jhalakati chief judicial magistrate court disposed of the second and last case filed against him and seven others in 2011 by the RAB for allegedly attempting to obstruct the operation in his village home at Jamaddarhat in Rajapur upazila of the southern district.

Death to Nizami
An international crimes tribunal in Dhaka on October 29 awarded death penalty to Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami amir Motiur Rahman Nizami, who headed the notorious Al Badr during the country’s Liberation War, for committing war crimes, including genocide, killings and rape, in 1971.

Blackout
The whole country on November 1 morning went into a rare power blackout which continued for hours together as the national grid collapsed after the 400kv power transmission line between India and Bangladesh tripped. It took at least 15 hours for the authorities to restore the national grid. The government put the power blackout down to a technical glitch in the ‘western power grid’ in place of a disruption in power transmission from India to Bangladesh through a 400kv transmission line. Many areas of the country were out of electricity supply for nearly 24 hours as a consequence of the blackout which added to the sufferings of the people and disrupted health services, industrial production and business activities.

Heart-breaking loss
Three-and a-half year old Zihad fell into the well at Shajahanpur railway colony, left abandoned by the railways, while playing with other boys.  The boy was finally pulled up dead to the surface from deep inside the well over 24 hours later, on December 27, by locals and volunteers, after the fire service had abandoned the rescue operation.

Golden airport!
Gold smuggling increased alarmingly this year as Customs Intelligence alone seized over 800kg of smuggled gold and detained around 100 people. Top officials of Bangladesh Biman were also found linked with smuggling syndicates and detectives on November 19 arrested three senior Biman officials including Biman’s flight service deputy general manager Emdad Hossain, chief of planning and scheduling, captain Abu Mohammmad Aslam Shahid, manager scheduling Mohammad Mozammel Hossain.

Teacher murdered
029Unidentified miscreants on November 15 hacked to death a Rajshahi University professor, AKM Shafiul Islam, former vice-president of the Rajshahi University Teachers’ Association, on his way home, sparking protests on the campus. The police the next day rescued a female student of Rajshahi University who was found under lock and key at the house of the deceased teacher where he used to live alone. Investigators suspect that five professional and trained killers killed the professor.

Oil spill
030An oil tanker—OT Southern Star-7—sank in the Shela River near Mrigamari in Sundarban on December 9 and spilled almost the entire 3.58 lakh litres of furnace oil it had been carrying into the river and its canals affecting 350 square kilometres of the unique mangrove forest creating concerns worldwide and prompting the United Nations to send its expert team to visit the spot to assess the extent of damage due to the oil spill and recommend measures to recover from it. Forest officials said the spilled oil poses a serious threat to the Sunderbans and in money terms, the damage caused to the Sundarban’s biodiversity would cross Tk 100 crore.

Goodbyes
ABM Musa, Mahbubul Alam, Sardar Fazlul Karim, Bhasha Matin, Feroza Begum, Mainul Hossain,  Zillur Rahman Siddiqui, Piash Karim, Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury and Qayyum Chowdhury – the country lost several distinguished citizens in the year. Of them, veteran journalist and columnist ABM Musa died on April 9 at 83 after protracted illness, noted journalist Mahbubul Alam died on June 6 at 78 due to old-age complications, educationalist and scholar Sardar Fazlul Karim died aged 89 years on June 15, language movement hero Abdul Matin, popularly known as ‘Bhasha Matin’ at 88 passed away on October 8, eminent singer Feroza Begum passed away at 84 on September 9, BRAC University’s economics and social sciences department professor and political analyst Piash Karim died of cardiac arrest at 56 on October 13, architect of the National Monument Mainul Hossain passed away on November 10 at 62, eminent educationist Zillur Rahman Siddiqui passed away on November 12 at 86, senior journalist Zaglul Ahmed Chowdhury died after he was badly injured while getting down from a passenger bus at Karwan Bazar in Dhaka on November 29 at 67 and eminent artist Qayyum Chowdhury died on November 30 at 82.

 

I N T E R N A T I O  N A L

 

India takes aim at privileges held by US diplomats
India chipped away at America’s diplomatic perks on January 8, ordering the envoys to obey local traffic laws and warning that a popular US Embassy club violates diplomatic law because it is open to outsiders. The move was the latest in a campaign to exert pressure on the US following the arrest and strip search of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian diplomat based in New York City. Indian officials have called the strip search barbaric and unnecessary. AP New Delhi

Hollande having affair with actress : magazine

Francois Hollande and Julie Gayet

Francois Hollande and Julie Gayet

French magazine Closer said president Francois Hollande was having an affair with actress Julie Gayet, backing its claim with photographs after months of swirling rumours. Closer’s January 10 edition carried a seven-page report on the 59-year-old president’s alleged infidelity under the headline ‘Francois Hollande and Julie Gayet – the president’s secret love’. AFP, Paris

Thai opposition protesters launch Bangkok ‘shutdown’
Huge crowds of Thai opposition protesters occupied major streets in central Bangkok on January 13 in an attempted ‘shutdown’ of the capital, escalating a campaign to unseat the embattled premier  Yingluck Shinawatra. AFP, Bangkok

Nepal elects Sushil Koirala as new PM
Nepal’s fractious lawmakers elected veteran politician Sushil Koirala as prime minister on February 10, with the 75-year-old promising to steer through a long-delayed new constitution for the Himalayan nation within a year. AFP, Kathmandu

103 dead as military plane crashes in Algeria
A military transport plane carrying relatives of members of the armed forces crashed in eastern Algeria on February 11, killing 103 people, the private Ennahar TV station reported, citing ‘informed sources’. The plane crashed in a mountainous area in the Oum El Bouaghi province, about 500 km from the capital Algiers, the report said. Reuters, Algiers

China-bound Malaysian jet vanishes with 239 aboard
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact over the South China Sea on March 10 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn’t located the jetliner several hours later. The Malaysian Airlines plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said. AP, Kuala Lumpur

Kejriwal announces resignation
The Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, announced his resignation on February 14 to protest the blocking of an anti-corruption bill, fewer than 50 days after taking power in the Indian capital. ‘My cabinet has decided that we are quitting. Here is my resignation letter,’ Kejriwal told supporters of his fledgling Aam Aadmi (‘Common Man’) Party in the capital, brandishing a white sheet of paper. AFP, New Delhi

Myanmar says ‘Rohingya’ term banned from census
Myanmar said on March 29 that Muslims would not be allowed to register as ‘Rohingya’ in its first census in three decades despite UN assurances, on the eve of a survey that has fanned sectarian tensions. The move came as Buddhists in an unrest-hit western state vowed to boycott the census over fears it could lead to official recognition for the Rohingya. AFP, Sittwe, Myanmar

India’s Sahara group boss sent to jail

he Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy, centre with his face smeared in ink thrown by an unidentified man upon his arrival at the Supreme Court in New Delhi March 4.   — Reuters photo

he Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy, centre with his face smeared in ink thrown by an unidentified man upon his arrival at the Supreme Court in New Delhi March 4.
— Reuters photo

India’s top court jailed the head of Sahara business group, Subrata Roy, on March 4 after he apologised to the judges for failing to show up for a hearing over repaying billions of dollars to small investors. Flamboyant billionaire Subrata, who was remanded in custody for a week, said he was sorry for not personally attending a hearing last week, which had prompted the frustrated top court to order his arrest over the 18-month old case.  AFP, New Delhi

Pak court indicts Musharraf for treason
A Pakistani court on March 31 indicted former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for treason – a milestone for civilian authority in a country long dominated by the army. The charge carries the maximum penalty of death. But observers are uncertain whether authorities will allow the trial to be completed and risk angering the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for half its history. AFP, Islamabad

Crimea declares independence
Crimea declared independence on March 17 and applied to join Russia while the United States and Europe aimed sanctions directly at Vladmir Putin’s inner circle to punish Russia’s move to annex Crimea, deepening the worst East-West rift since the Cold War. Official results from disputed referendum showed 96.77 per cent of voters in the mostly Russian-speaking region of Ukraine opted to join Russia. AFP, Simferopol, Ukraine/Washington

284 missing in South Korea ferry sinking
South Korean rescuers and dive teams worked frantically under floodlights as fears rose for nearly 300 people missing after a ferry sank on April 16 with 462 on board, mostly high school students bound for a holiday island. National disaster agency officials said 174 people had been rescued, leaving 284 ‘unaccounted for’.  AFP, Jindo, South Korea

Scientists date Moon at 4.470b years
The Moon was formed about 95 million years after the birth of our Solar System, in a collision that also settled the structure of Earth as we know it, according to the latest attempt at dating that impact. A study in the journal Nature said on April 3 that the crash between an early, proto-Earth and a Mars-sized object that dislodged what would become the Moon, happened some 4.470 billion years ago – give or take 32 million years. AFP, Paris
Boko Haram kidnaps 100 girls from Nigeria school
Boko Haram Islamists have kidnapped more than 100 girls from a secondary school in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state on April 15, a senior security source said.  Asked to confirm media reports that 200 girls had been taken from a school in the Chibok local government area during an Islamist attack, the source said ‘the number is not up to 200, but it is over 100.’ AFP, Maiduguri, Nigeria

Tikrit falls to militants
Militants took control of the Iraqi city of Tikrit and freed hundreds of prisoners on June 11, the police said, the second provincial capital to fall in two days. AFP,  Tikrit, Iraq

World Cup forces homelessness on thousands in Brazil
The FIFA World Cup has forced homelessness on hundreds of thousands of people in Brazil, including vulnerable children, the sick and the elderly. The Al Jazeera network reports that over a quarter million people have been forcibly removed from their homes via eviction and countless more are still being threatened make way for World Cup related structures. Guardia Liberty Voice

Court removes Thai PM from office

Yingluck Shinawatra

Yingluck Shinawatra

Thailand’s Constitutional Court on May 7 dismissed prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine ministers for abuse of power, leaving the government clinging to power but the nation still locked in a political crisis. The cabinet swiftly appointed a deputy premier – Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan – to be Yingluck’s replacement as the ruling party struggled to regain its footing after the judicial blow.  AFP, Bangkok

Al-Qaeda splinter declares new Islamic caliphate
The al-Qaeda breakaway group that has seized much of Syria and Iraq has formally declared the establishment of a new Islamic state on June 30, demanding allegiance from Muslims worldwide in a move that could further strain relations with other militant groups. AP Baghdad

47 dead in Taiwan plane crash
A TransAsia Airways turboprop plane crashed on its second attempt at landing during a thunderstorm on an island off Taiwan on July 23, killing 47 people and setting buildings on fire, officials said. The plane, a 70-seat ATR 72, crashed near the runway on the island of Penghu, west of the mainland, with 54 passengers and four crew on board, they said. Reuters, Taipei

HK pro-democracy leaders shave heads in protest
To the sound of whirring clippers, Hong Kong democracy activists shaved their heads on Sept 9 in a symbolic act of protest against China’s increased political control over the city. AFP, Hong Kong

Modi sworn in as India PM

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

India’s Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister on May 26 with the strongest mandate of any leader for 30 years, promising to forge a ‘strong and inclusive’ country on a first day that signalled his bold intentions. The 63-year-old Hindu nationalist broke with tradition and invited his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to the ceremony. Sharif hailed a ‘great moment and a great opportunity’ for peace in the region. AFP, New Delhi

Malaysian jet with 295 crashes in Ukraine
A Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 in rebel-held east Ukraine, as Kiev claimed the jet was shot down in a ‘terrorist’ attack. AFP, Grabove, Ukraine

Widodo wins Indonesian election
The reform-minded governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo, has convincingly won Indonesia’s closely-fought presidential race against a controversial ex-general with deep roots in the era of strongman Suharto, final results showed on July 22. AFP, Jakarta

Jayalalithaa jailed for corruption

Jayalalithaa Jayaram

Jayalalithaa Jayaram

An Indian court on Sept 27 sentenced Jayalalithaa Jayaram, a former film star who became one of the country’s most colourful and controversial politicians, to four years in jail in a corruption case that has run for nearly two decades. AFP, Bangalore

400 die in China quake
Rescuers laid out bodies in the streets on August 4 after at least 398 people were killed by an earthquake in China, leaving the idyllic mountain landscape littered with scenes of devastation AFP, Longtoushan, China

Thai army chief named prime minister
Thailand’s coup leader was elected prime minister on August 21 by the kingdom’s junta-appointed legislature without a single opposing vote, raising fears of a new era of ‘strongman’ leadership. Army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, 60, who ousted an elected government in a bloodless takeover on May 22, was the only contender for the premiership. AFP, Bangkok

IS claims beheading of journalist
Jihadists released on August 20 a video apparently showing the beheading of an American journalist kidnapped in Syria, in the most direct retaliation yet to US air strikes against them in Iraq. The video, in which the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group also threatens to kill another reporter if US air strikes in Iraq continue, sparked global outrage. AFP, Baghdad

Thousands rally worldwide over climate change
Celebrities, political leaders and the masses rallied in New York and across the globe on September 22 demanding urgent action on climate change, with organisers saying 600,000 people hit the streets. Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, UN chief Ban Ki-moon and mayor Bill de Blasio all marched down New York’s Sixth Avenue, as part of what was proclaimed the largest climate protest worldwide in history. AFP, New York

Ebola outbreak
Ebola outbreak in some west African countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Mali claimed at least 7,800 lives in more than 20,000 cases which was recorded by the World Health Organisation in 2014 since a two year-year-old boy died in the village Meliandou of southern Guinea in December 2013. On August 8, the WHO director general declared this outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.  AFP, Freetown

Afghan president Ghani takes oath
Ashraf Ghani, a one-time US-based academic, was sworn in as new president of Afghanistan on Sept 29 and used his inaugural speech to call for Taliban insurgents to join peace talks after 13 years of war. The militant threat in Kabul was underlined by a suicide attack outside the airport’s main entrance that killed four members of the security forces and three civilians shortly before the inauguration. AFP, Kabul

Pakistan school massacre

Pakistani lawyers and civil society activists shout slogans as they hold lighted candles during a vigil in Islamabad on December 22, held for schoolchildren children and teachers killed in an attack by Taliban militants on an army-run school in Peshawar.  — AFP photo

Pakistani lawyers and civil society activists shout slogans as they hold lighted candles during a vigil in Islamabad on December 22, held for schoolchildren children and teachers killed in an attack by Taliban militants on an army-run school in Peshawar. — AFP photo

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in a grisly attack at an army-led school in Peshawar killed 148, including 132 school children, on December 16. The incident shocked the
world immensely and heaped pressure on the existing Pakistan government to do more to tackle the insurgency in the country.  Reuters, Islamabad

Torrential rains kill more than 230 in Pakistan, India
More than 230 people in Pakistan and northern India have been killed in torrential monsoon rains which triggered flooding, landslides and house collapses, officials in the two countries said on September 6. Troops and other emergency personnel were deployed in both
countries to help with relief operations, with boats and helicopters being used to reach stranded people. AFP, Srinagar

Half S Asia’s girls marry before 18: UN
Nearly half of all girls in South Asia marry before they turn 18, according to a United Nations report that lays bare what it calls ‘glaring inequalities’. The report, published by the UN children’s agency UNICEF on Sept 12, also revealed that more than a million newborn babies still die every year in the region, often due to inadequate healthcare. ‘South Asia continues to be one of the riskiest places in the world to become pregnant or give birth, with the second highest number of maternal deaths worldwide,’ said Karin Hulshof, regional director for UNICEF in South Asia. AFP, New Delhi
Scotland rejects independence in historic referendum
Scots rejected independence on Sept 19 in a referendum that left the centuries-old United Kingdom intact but headed for a major shake-up that will give more autonomy to both Scotland and England. Despite a surge in nationalist support in the final fortnight of the campaign, the ‘No’ secured 55.30 per cent of the vote against 44.70 per cent for the pro-independence ‘Yes’ camp. AFP, Edinburgh

Doordarshan sacks newsreader over ‘Eleven Jinping’ blunder
Pronouncing foreign leaders’ names is a headache for newsreaders the world over but on September 19 it proved the downfall of one Indian newscaster, who mistook the visiting Chinese president’s name for the Roman numeral XI, calling him ‘Eleven Jinping’ on air. AFP, New Delhi

Nobel Prize 2014

Nobel Peace Prize laureates Malala Yousafzai, left, and Kailash Satyarthi, right, prepare to give a joint press conference on December 9 at the Norwegian Nobel Institute  in Oslo ahead of the ceremony to present them with the award. AFP photo

Nobel Peace Prize laureates Malala Yousafzai, left, and Kailash Satyarthi, right, prepare to give a joint press conference on December 9 at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo ahead of the ceremony to present them with the award. AFP photo

British-American researcher John O’Keefe along with Norwegian couple, May-Britt and Edvard Moser won the Nobel Medicine Prize for discovering an ‘inner GPS’ that helps the brain navigate. Three scientists from Japan won the Nobel Prize for Physics for pioneering energy-efficient LED lighting, a weapon against global warming and poverty. Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell, William Moerner won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for laying the foundations of an ultra-powerful microscope capable of studying tissue down to the molecular level. Patrick Modiano of France, who has made a lifelong study of the Nazi occupation and its effects on his country, won the Nobel Prize in literature. Malala Yousafzay and Kailash Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Jean Tirole won the Nobel Prize in Economics ‘for his analysis of market power and regulation’. AFP, Oslo

Thousands march for 43 missing Mexican students
Tens of thousands of people held protests in Mexico on Oct 9, joining tearful families of 43 missing students demanding their return amid fears a police-backed gang executed them. Crowds gathered from Mexico City to the violence-wracked state of Guerrero, where the students disappeared, and as far south as Chiapas. AFP, Mexico City

Tension sparked over black men killing in US
US experienced a year of ultimate racial tension in 2014 as disproportionate police violence took place against the unarmed Black Americans since July.  Eric Garner on July 17, Ezell Ford on August 11,  Michael Brown on August 9, Vonderrit Myers Jr on October 8 , Tamir Rice on November 23 – all of them were from black community, and fatally shoot dead by white policemen in different parts of the United Sates. Apparently in retaliation, two New York policemen, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were also shot dead by a black man who killed himself immediately after he had committed the incident. People took streets to protest against the killing, sometimes it was violent, while New York City policemen protested against the New York City mayor’s speech which could not satisfy the policemen.  AFP, Washington

Abe re-elected in low-turnout polls

Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe

The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, won comfortable re-election on December 14 in a snap poll he had billed as a referendum on his economic policies, but a record low voter turn-out threatened to cloud any mandate. AFP, Tokyo

India boss gives workers cars, home deposits, jewellery for festival
A generous boss in western India has given 1,200 of his workers new cars, deposits for flats and thousands of dollars worth of diamond jewellery as rewards for loyalty on October 20. The diamond merchant from the city of Surat presented the lavish gifts to the employees in a ceremony on Sunday before the major Hindu festival of Diwali. AFP, Ahmedabad

Two female ministers resign over cash scandals in Japan
Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe suffered a double setback on October 20 with the resignations of two female cabinet ministers over claims they misused political funds, dealing a blow to his proclaimed gender reform drive. Industry minister Yuko Obuchi and justice minister Midori Matsushima quit after days of allegations that they had misspent money in what opponents insisted was an attempt to buy votes. AFP, Tokyo

Debacle for Obama as Republicans take control of US congress
Republicans cruised to victory in US midterm elections, gaining control of both houses of Congress in a stinging setback for president Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats and ensuring fractious co-existence in the last two years of his presidency on November 4. AFP, Washington

Webcam sex with fake girl Sweetie leads to sentence
A man in Australia is believed to be the first to have been convicted as the result of an undercover sting in which charity workers posed online as a 10-year-old Filipina, reports BBConline on October 21. Details of 1,000 men who contacted the fake child, nicknamed Sweetie, were sent to police around the world.

Muslims, not Columbus, discovered Americas: Erdogan
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said on Nov 15 that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there.  AFP, Istanbul

AirAsia plane with 162 on board missing en route to Singapore
Rescuers scoured the Java Sea on December 28 for an AirAsia plane carrying 162 people which went missing in bad weather en route from Indonesia to Singapore, in the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year. Around 11 hours after it disappeared, Indonesian military aircraft had yet to find any sign of the Airbus A320-200 as dusk set in. AFP, Jakarta

Rousseff reelected Brazil president

Dilma Rousseff

Dilma Rousseff

Leftist president Dilma Rousseff vowed to reconcile Brazil, reboot the economy and fight corruption after narrowly winning reelection on October 27 in the most divisive race since the return to democracy in 1985. AFP, Rio De Janeiro

‘Zonkey’ named Telegraph born
A zoo in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea has welcomed its latest arrival – a ‘zebroid’, or ‘zonkey’, which was born after a lonesome zebra got intimate with a donkey on August 7. Named Telegraph by keepers at the Taigan zoo park in southern Crimea, the foal’s head and body are the solid brown of a donkey but his legs have the characteristic black stripes of a zebra.  AFP, Belogorsk

 

 

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