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Iranian President Rouhani blasts US for preventing Iran’s access to Coronavirus vaccine

Tehran, Dec 26: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Washington has obstructed Iran’s efforts to purchase coronavirus vaccine, and warned officials to control borders to prevent infection of the country’s people with the mutated COVID-19 virus which has spread in the European states.

“Iran is definitely looking to make a vaccine and at the same time we are looking to buy an approved vaccine. The Americans rocked the boat, and evil and vicious activity everywhere is on the part of the Americans. We prepared the money, but the World Health Organization said that OFAC (the US Office of Foreign Assets Control) should license the trade,” President Rouhani said on Saturday, addressing a meeting of the national coronavirus campaign headquarters in Tehran.

“How could one trust you. You are notorious for theft and are you are looking for tracing our funds to seize them,” President Rouhani said addressing the American officials.

He, meantime, said that based on the guidelines of the Supreme Leader, the government is making its utmost efforts to defuse the US sanctions.

President Rouhani referred to the mutation of coronavirus in a number of European states, specially Britain, and stressed the need for the Iranian officials to impose strict health and hygiene protocols, specially at the borders, to prevent the spread of the new virus to Iran.

Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnasser Hemmati said on Thursday night that nearly 200 million euros have been earmarked to purchase 16.8 million doses of coronavirus vaccine.

“We are doing our best to buy medicine and medical equipment by circumventing the cruel US sanctions, and $2.7 billion have so far been allocated for the purchase of medical equipment and medicine,” Hemmati said in a televised program, adding, “Today, in cooperation with the Health Ministry, we have transferred the funds needed to import 16.8 million doses of coronavirus vaccine.”

“After 10 days of efforts, we finally sent some 180 million euros to a bank in Switzerland through an American and Korean bank,” he continued.

“We were able to send this remittance through three banks in Turkey, Europe and a branch of an Iranian bank with the permission of OFAC, as the Americans have always caused a lot of problems for remittances and we were careful that they do not encroach on our financial resources this time either,” the official stressed.

Pointing to the Health Ministry’s talks with the Chinese to supply vaccine, he said that whenever an agreement was signed with China, the CBI would provide the money needed to buy the vaccine from them.

Earlier on Thursday, Iran’s Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee said that the license for transferring money to purchase coronavirus vaccine was issued.

Rabiyee added that 200 million euros have been allocated and CBI would provide foreign exchange resources for buying the vaccine as much as necessary.(Fars News Agency)

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COVID-19: Strict week-long Lockdown in Bangladesh from April 14

(Asian News Hub) – A strict 7-day lockdown is going to be enforced in Bangladesh, from April 14, allowing only emergency services to remain in operation, it was announced on Friday.

All government and private offices, and factories will remain closed during the week-long lockdown to curb the Covid-19 spread, Public Administration Farhad Hossain said.

A gazette notification in this regard will be issued soon, he added.


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Myanmar: 114 civilians killed in deadliest day since Coup

(Asian News Hub) – At least 114 civilians were killed across Myanmar on Saturday as the military junta continued to crackdown on peaceful protests, CNN reported citing Myanmar Now.

The killings in 44 towns and cities across the country would represent the bloodiest day of protests since a military coup last month.

Among those killed is a 13-year-old who was shot in her house after the junta’s armed forces opened fire in residential areas of Meikhtila.

State television had said on Friday that protesters risked being shot ‘in the head and back.’

Despite this, demonstrators against the February 1 coup came out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other towns.

On February 1, Myanmar’s military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency while detaining civilian leaders including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

The coup triggered mass protests which were met by the junta’s deadly violence.

The United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres and the UN office in Myanmar spoke out against the violence.

‘The continuing military crackdown, which today resulted in the highest daily death toll since demonstrations against the coup began last month, is unacceptable and demands a firm, unified and resolute international response. It is critical to find an urgent solution to this crisis,’ said a statement issued by Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general.

‘The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the killing of dozens of civilians,’ Haq said.

The UN office in Myanmar said it ‘is horrified by the needless loss of life today with reports of dozens of people shot dead by the military across the country, in the bloodiest day since the coup.’

‘The violence is completely unacceptable and must stop immediately. Those responsible must be held to account,’ the UN office added.

‘As the Special Envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener has said, ensuring peace and defending the people should be the responsibility of any military, but the Tatmadaw has turned against its own people,’ it added.

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Horrifying day of bloodshed in Myanmar

(Asian News Hub) – Security forces killed more than 90 people, including some children, across Myanmar on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days of protests since a military coup last month, news reports and witnesses said.

The lethal crackdown, which took place on Armed Forces Day, drew strong renewed criticism from Western countries. British Ambassador Dan Chugg said the security forces had “disgraced themselves” and the U.S. envoy called the violence horrifying.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, said during a parade to mark Armed Forces Day that the military would protect the people and strive for democracy.

State television had said on Friday that protesters risked being shot “in the head and back”. Despite this, demonstrators came out on the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and other towns, as they have done almost daily since the Feb. 1 coup that ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Myanmar Now news portal said 91 people were killed across the country by security forces.

At least 29 people, including a 13-year-old girl, were killed in Mandalay, and at least 24 people were killed in Yangon, Myanmar Now said. A boy as young as five was earlier reported among the dead in Mandalay but there were conflicting reports later that he may have survived.

Another 13-year-old was among the dead in the central Sagaing region.
“Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,” Dr. Sasa, a spokesman for CRPH, an anti-junta group set up by deposed lawmakers, told an online forum.

Meanwhile, one of Myanmar’s two dozen ethnic armed groups, the Karen National Union, said it had overrun an army post near the Thai border, killing 10 people – including a lieutenant colonel – and losing one of its own fighters.

A military spokesman did not respond to calls seeking comment on the killings by security forces or the insurgent attack on its post.

“They are killing us like birds or chickens, even in our homes,” said Thu Ya Zaw in the central town of Myingyan, where at least two protesters were killed. “We will keep protesting regardless… We must fight until the junta falls.”

The deaths on Saturday would take the number of civilians reported killed since the coup to well over 400.


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