Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Peace Corps Bangladesh evacuated

The day has come. Nearly from the day my group arrived in Bangladesh there was talk that the program wouldn't last for the full two years we were supposed to stay. When there were suicide bombings at the end of 2005, Peace Corps gave us the option to interrupt our service if we wanted to serve in another country, but they didn't pull the program. Personally I thought they should have evacuated then, but apparently PC didn't think it was bad enough then. However, things in the past week have escalated enough that they finally suspended the program. I'm posting one news article about the situation below. I've heard rumors about some other things that were going on as well, but until I talk to someone in person who was there (everyone is in transit right now I think), I can't be sure if it's true or not. Rumor spreads FAST in the Peace Corps, and it's not always quite right! But this is real, and I'm so glad all my friends are out and safe. It's just so sad that things turned out this way though.

U.S. Peace Corps suspends activities in Bangladesh
15 Mar 2006 11:14:00 GMT
Source: Reuters

DHAKA, March 15 (Reuters) - The American Peace Corps has suspended its operations in Bangladesh for fear of terror attacks, the U.S. embassy said on Wednesday.

The announcement came a day after U.S. Charge-d'Affaires Judith Chammas commended Bangladesh for its recent capture of top Islamist militants, who headed two outlawed groups fighting for the introduction of sharia law in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority democracy.

"The peace corps in Washington, D.C. has decided to suspend indefinitely its programme in Bangladesh due to the possibility that terrorist elements might attempt to attack peace corps volunteers in Bangladesh, perhaps in relation for the recent captures," the embassy said in a statement.

"The peace corps made this decision following a careful assessment of Bangladesh's prevailing security environment, and did not base its conclusions on any single threat or incident," the statement added.

As many as 100 members of the U.S. peace corps were engaged in providing English language training to school teachers in Bangladesh, according to a peace corps official.

"We have welcomed the capture of (Shayek) Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai as significant steps forward in the campaign against terrorism and extremism" the statement said.

"Ironically, one consequence of that success is concern over possible reprisal attacks against Americans or other Western nationals by activists still at large" it said.

And here is another article from earlier (January) that I hadn't posted yet. Remember, Gazipur is where the sixty people in my group had training for three months.

Security beefed up as JMB plan
to kill Peace Corps members

Security for members of the US Peace Corps in Bangladesh has been heightened after the embassy of the United States informed the foreign ministry of a plot by the banned Islamist organisation Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh to kill them, said sources in the home ministry.
The Peace Corps members have already been warned of the Jamaatul Mujahideen plot, Sanaul K Chowdhury, security investigations officer of the embassy, told New Age on Monday. ‘We have also informed the foreign ministry of the plot to take necessary measures.’
The embassy sent a letter to the foreign ministry a couple of days back, claiming that the suicide squad of the militant organisation had plans to kill the Peace Corps members, confirmed sources in the ministry.
‘The Foreign Office, in its turn, informed the home ministry of the plan and asked it to look into the matter and take necessary steps,’ said a foreign ministry official.
The embassy took note of a
January 18 report in the local media that Jamaatul Mujahideen was planning to assign suicide squads to kill Peace Corps members. The report was based on the confessional statement of a Mujahideen leader.
‘We came to know about the plot after a national daily had carried the report in the third week of January and immediately notified the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US State Department in Washington,’ said an embassy source.
More than 100 members of the Peace Corps are currently working in Bangladesh and a security investigations officer has been assigned for their security, he said. ‘We have also advised them [Peace Corps members] to move with caution.’
The Ministry of Home Affairs has, meanwhile, ordered heightened security at the embassy and all other institutions of the US in Bangladesh, said intelligence sources.
Enayetullah Jewel, an explosives expert of Jamaatul Mujahideen who was arrested at village Telipara of Joydevpur in Gazipur on December 5, 2005 with a huge quantity of bomb-making materials and a 10-kilogram bomb, is reported to have confessed during interrogation that the organisation had plans to kill the Peace Corps members.


At Thursday, March 16, 2006 5:50:00 PM, Blogger Joel + Sarah said...


My husband and I are in the application process and have been thinking we'd be going to Asia (TESL). Sorry to hear about the volunteer time cut short but I think it was probably the best idea. Good luck wherever you go next!



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