Former Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina was blocked from boarding a flight home from London after the military-backed government barred her from returning.
Hasina had vowed to return to fight murder and corruption charges after the country's military-backed interim government moved last week to force her and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia -- who together have dominated Bangladeshi politics for the past 15 years -- into exile.
"This is my country, and I don't understand why they should stop me," Hasina said after being told by British Airways at London's Heathrow Airport on Sunday that she could not travel.
Bangladeshi media reported last week that Hasina would be refused entry to the country, and that authorities had told airlines not to allow her to board any flight to Bangladesh.
In the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, Hasina's Awami League party said it plans to fight in court the government ban on her return.
"How can a free citizen be barred from coming home? We will challenge this in court," said Zillur Rahman, a senior Awami League leader. He did not specify when the party will petition the court.
British Airways said in a statement that it -- along with other airlines -- had been notified by the Civil Aviation Authority in Bangladesh that a passenger had been banned from entering the country.
"As a result we're not able to accept them for travel on BA," the airline said.
Hasina's close aide, Abdus Sobhan Golap, accompanied her to the airport. He said she argued for an hour and a half with airline officials who showed her documents issued by the Bangladeshi government.
"They said there were other passengers on the plane and it was going to be very insecure for her," Golap said. "They said it was better not to fly."
Hasina said she wanted to return to Bangladesh to fight the allegations against her.
"I want to face the case," she said. "This is totally fake, false, I didn't commit any murder. So it is absolutely [a] false case, and that's why I'm going to face it."
Rahman also said the party plans to challenge the arrest warrant issued on Sunday against Hasina.
"She is willing to come back to face the charges against her, but the government is barring her. How can she appear in court if she is not home?" he said.
Many Bangladeshis blame the political rivalry between Hasina and Zia for making the country's widespread poverty and corruption worse. The interim government hoped forcing them into exile would calm the bitter division between their political camps, which has derailed the country's fragile democracy.
Hasina, who was prime minister from 1996 to 2001, was charged with murder on April 11 while she was in the US on a visit.
The government on Wednesday accused her of issuing "inflammatory statements" against the country's military-backed interim government while she was outside the country.
The murder case involves the deaths of four protesters in a riot in October. The riot broke out at one of a series of demonstrations by her supporters accusing the government of her rival, Zia, of stacking the committee that was supposed to oversee January elections and rigging voter rolls.
More than 30 people died in the protests, which eventually led to the cancellation of the polls and the takeover by the current military-backed government under emergency powers.
Metropolitan magistrate Meer Ali Reza issued the arrest warrant for Hasina on Sunday, her counsel Kamrul Islam told reporters. But he didn't make any further comment.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting