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BNP against ban on student politics

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Stating that the entire student community should not be blamed for the ‘misdeeds’ of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), BNP on Monday voiced strong opposition against imposing any ban on student politics, Agencies report.

“A move to ban student politics on the pretext of bad politics, including terrorism, corruption and bloodshed, is part of a deep-rooted master plan,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.

Speaking at a press conference at the party’s Nayapaltan central office, he further said, “Those who spoiled the student politics and demeaned it by encouraging violence, grouping and abetting in establishing supremacy on campuses are now trying to ban it.”

He said students are the enlightened section of society who identify the anomalies of the state and put up resistances against those. “The student community has been standing against unfairness, injustice and inequality in society for ages. They sacrificed blood by joining the Language Movement, Liberation War and other democratic movements.”

The BNP leader alleged that the ruling party has faded that glorious tradition of the student community. “After the country’s independence, the journey of Chhatra League began through snatching ballot boxes and assaulting female students at the Shaheed Minar. Their successors have now developed cruel and destructive torture system at university halls ignoring the rules and regulations.”

Rizvi also accused the ruling party student wing BCL of setting up torture cells at different halls with the backing of the government. “Students were killed one after another by Chhatra League. The killing of talented student Abrar Fahad is the manifestation of such dangerous acts (of Chhatra League).”

He also alleged that Chhatra League has been raised over recent years in such a way that they do not bother about any social values and ethics. “The student community or student politics cannot be blamed for their (BCL’s) misdeeds.”

The BNP leader said a negative impression has created among common people about student politics due to the ‘unruly activities’ and intra-party violence of the BCL. “The government has created such a situation in a planned way. Chhatra League is nothing but an oppressive organisation without self-respect. So, it’s not appropriate to put student politics on the dock due to Chhatra League’s activities.”

About the elections to Chattogram’s Satkania and Jhenaidah’s Maheshpur Upazila Parishads, he said the ruling party men indulged in vote rigging’ by driving out the agents of BNP candidates from polling stations and obstructing voters.

He said the ruling party ‘cadres’ obstructed voters from going to the polling stations taking position on the streets with roads, sticks and sharp weapons. “There has been a festival of deception in the two upazilas in the name of voting.”

14 held in Pabna

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Police in a drive arrested 14 people, including 13 members of Islami Chhatri Sangstha, from Mansurabad in the district town early Monday, Agencies report.

The arrestees are Anwar Hossain, 45, a Madrasa principal of Sathia uapzila, Rabeya Khatun, 25, Luna Khatun, 28, Taslima Khatun Suraiya, 18, Mahfuza, 22, Nazma Khatun, 27, Fatema, 22,  Asmaul Hosna, 25, Uma Khatun, 30, Lucky, 24, Sharmin, 26, ArifaKhatun, 28, Shamima Nasrin, 20 and Tanzila Khatun, 20.

They are students of different colleges and universities.

Tipped off, a team of police conducted a drive at a house in the area and arrested them in the dead of night for their involvement in anti-state activities, said Rafiqul Islam superintendent of Pabna Police.

Police also recovered some books, leaflets, some documents and mobile phone sets from their possession.

Voting at Satkania UZ, Boalkhali UP elections ends

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The voting of Satkania Upazila and Boalkhali UP elections under Chattogram district ended peacefully without any untoward incident reported today, Agencies report.

The voting began from early 9 am today in 125 polling centres across the upazila and it continued up to 5 pm without break.

Election commission sources said 3 candidates for one chairman post, 3 for one women vice chairman and 6 for one male vice chairman contested in Satkania upazila election.

On the other hand, the voting of Kadurkhil Union Parishad election under Boalkhali upazila also ended peacefully.

Upazila election officer sources said 3 candidates for one chairman post, 11 women candidates for 3 women reserved member posts and 53 candidates for 9 member posts contested the UP election.

Adequate members of law enforcement agencies, including BGB, RAB, police and Ansars, were deployed in the polling centres to conduct the vote casting peacefully.

Child brutally killed in Sunamganj

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Miscreants brutally killed a five-year-old boy, dismembering his ear, genital and the throat in Derai upazila of Sunamganj, Agencies report.

His body was found dangling from a tree of his house at Kejaura village under Rajanagar union of the upazila on Monday morning.

According to family sources, 5-year-old Tuhin was seen missing in his bed deep at night, but the door of his room left open. After an exhausted search in the neighborhood, he was found in the morning. Some unknown miscreants killed him at night, leaving behind two knives thrust into his belly.

Apart from regular police, Detective Branch of police is also investigating the death. Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is, as it was learnt, also on the way for further investigation.

Baser Miah, father of the deceased, said: “I don’t know who took my son away at night and why killed him so mercilessly. I’m just a farmer and don’t have such enmity with anyone.”

Derai Police Station’s sub-inspector (SI) Rupak Kormakar told Banglanews: “We visited the site. CID is also joining us. Samples were collected.”

Abrar’s parents at Ganabhaban

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The parents and brother of BUET student Abara Fahad, who was beaten to death at his dorm Shere-E-Bangla Hall, arrived at Ganabhaban to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Agencies report.

They reached the official residence of the Bangladesh premier around 5pm.

Abrar Fahad, aged 21, a student of electrical and electronic engineering department at BUET, was tortured to death reportedly by BCL leaders at Sher-e-Bangla Hall on October 7.

Later on that day, police arrested 10 BCL leaders of its Buet unit over the alleged involvement in the killing of fellow student Abrar Fahad. 

On Oct 8, a Dhaka court placed ten leaders of BCL on a five-day remand and fixed November 13 for submission of probe report of the case filed over the murder of Abrar Fahad.

There was a wave of criticism across the country following the murder incident. Referring to her position for the trial of the murderers, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also said, “Whatever the political identity of the culprit is, maximum punishment will be ensured.”

2 killed in ‘BGB firing’

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Two people were killed in firing reportedly by members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) during the by-election to a ward of Ghumdhum union parishad in Naikkhongchhari upazila of Bandarban on Monday, Agencies report.

The deceased were identified as Aung Chaimong Tonchongya, 45, and Monky Tonchongya, 55, of Fatrajhiri in the union.

Anwar Hossain, officer-in-charge of Naikkhongchhari Police Station, said the supporters of Ajmat Ali and Babul Kanti Chakma, two member candidates in the by-election to ward-8 of the union parishad, locked into a clash at Fatrajhiri polling centre around 3:30pm over casting fake votes.

He said the BGB members who were deployed in the election duty fired gunshots to control the situation, leaving Aung Chaimong dead on the spot while Monky injured.

Monky was taken to Sadar Hospital in Cox’s Bazar where doctors declared him dead.

Police recovered the bodies.

Martin Scorsese defends decision to make deal with Netflix for The Irishman

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Martin Scorsese has wrapped up the London film festival with a defence of the streaming giant Netflix, who stepped in to finance his new film when other backers dropped out, The Guardian reports.

Speaking at a press conference before the international premiere of The Irishman, his new film starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci that closes the festival, Scorsese said that while it was vital to defend the “communal experience” of watching films in cinemas, Netflix were prepared to give him full backing after more traditional studios dropped out.

Scorsese said: “There’s no doubt that seeing a film with an audience is really important. There is a problem though: we have to make the film. We’ve run out of room, in a sense; there was no room for us to make this picture, for many reasons. [But] having the backing of a company that says that you will have no interference, you can make the picture as you want – the trade-off being: it streams, with theatrical distribution prior to that. I figure, that’s a chance we take, on this particular project.”

The Irishman, which tells the story of real-life mafia hitman Frank Sheeran (played by De Niro) who is suspected of befriending and killing celebrated union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) in 1975, was acquired by Netflix in 2017 after its previous backers Paramount and STX dropped out in 2017. It is thought the studios got cold feet after the cost of pioneering “de-aging” CGI, used to make the central characters appear younger in extensive flashback scenes, caused the budget to balloon to a rumoured $200m, as well as the disappointing returns for Scorsese’s previous film, the martyrdom drama Silence.Advertisement

However, Netflix have incurred the wrath of other sectors of the film industry which are committed to defending the cinema experience. Several major US chains, including AMC and Regal, and two UK chains (Vue and Picturehouses) are likely to refuse to screen the film, as part of a long-running boycott of the streaming giant and its failure to respect the cinemas’ traditional 90-day window of exclusivity. Netflix has also been excluded from the Cannes film festival for the last two years (due to France’s even more stringent rules), while Scorsese’s fellow director Steven Spielberg is recently thought to have suggested that their films should not be eligible for Oscars. Partly to compensate for its limited presence in cinemas, The Irishman will screen for a month at New York’s historic Belasco theatre on Broadway.

Scorsese also renewed his criticism of “Marvel-type pictures”, repeating his assertion they were “not cinema”. They are “theme-park films”, he said, “where theatres become amusement parks”. “That’s a different experience: it’s not cinema, its something else, and whether you [like] them or not we shouldn’t be invaded by it. That’s a big issue and we need theatre owners to step up, to allow theatres to show films that are narrative films.” Directors James Gunn and Joss Whedon, and actor Samuel L Jackson defended Marvel, after Scorsese first broached the subject in a magazine interview earlier in October.

The director also expressed doubts that longform TV would replace the filmgoing experience. “I thought for a while that long form TV was going to be cinema, but it’s not. It simply isn’t. It’s a different viewing experience: you can go to episode 3, 4, then 10; one one week, another the next – it’s a different kind of thing. What’s got to be protected is the singular experience, ideally with an audience.”

The Irishman is released on 1 November in the US and 8 November in the UK, before being avaialble on Netflix on 27 November.

Trump and Erdoğan risk a resurgent Isis thanks to their recklessness in Syria

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Kurds protest at the United Nations building in Beirut, Lebanon, on 11 October 2019 against Turkey’s attacks on Syria. Photograph: EPA

Hassan Hassan

Future historians might remember Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, launched last week, as the second time that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan provided Islamic State with a lifeline, intentionally or not. The first was when Turkey opened its borders to foreign jihadists entering Syria, which ultimately enabled Isis to build a caliphate the size of Britain in 2014.

Both the time and manner of the intervention risk unravelling the situation in Syria beyond the buffer zone that Turkey intends to establish in the north-east. It will take the pressure off extremist forces and disturb a delicate equilibrium and the relative quiet that have existed in the country for about two years.

The move comes at a critical time in the fight against Isis, merely seven months after the collapse of the caliphate and while stabilisation and recovery are still in their early stages. In recent months, the US has stepped up efforts to improve local forces’ capabilities in detecting and removing sleeper cells linked to Isis and, under these circumstances, the group seemed to have been struggling to mount a large-scale insurgency.

President Donald Trump’s decision – allowing Ankara to invade areas previously protected by the US and controlled by a Kurdish-dominated coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – took almost everyone involved in the Syrian conflict by surprise; the Wall Street Journal reported that a commander of the Kurdish force that spearheaded the fight against Isis stormed out of a meeting with the Americans after declaring: “You sold us!”

The Kurdish-dominated local forces still needed to learn how to deal with an underground insurgency that Isis and its previous incarnations so perfected in the years after the US invasion of Iraq. The counter-insurgency efforts proved different from and, at times, more challenging than the street-to-street fighting that the SDF conducted over the past five years.

The military intervention in northern Syria disrupts this process and distracts militia in charge of securing the former Isis areas that make up one-third of the country. Despite flaws, the Kurdish-led local forces chased down Isis from town to town and village to village. This operation involved a complex effort of collecting information and intelligence. These forces learned a great deal about how Isis operates and established counter-measures and a communication mechanism for reaching out to local tribes.

The change of hands in the north alone will probably leave gaps for Isis to exploit. A similar scenario took place in Iraq, after government forces with militias beholden to Iran seized Kirkuk from the Kurdish peshmerga this time two years ago. The patterns after that were indisputable: Isis found an opportunity to stage a prolonged insurgency in that area, which expanded to adjacent areas. The attack on Kirkuk was one of many factors that enabled Isis to recover relatively faster in Iraq than in Syria. Kirkuk provided an opening and Isis seized it.

The same is likely to happen in north-eastern Syria, no matter how capable the Turkish-backed forces prove. The mere disruption of an established security architecture opens cracks for an extremist group that watches diligently for chances to regroup and attack. Once such attacks become steady, they spread to other areas. Making this scenario even more likely is the nature of Trump’s decision to allow Turkey to proceed, made impulsively, without deliberation and consultation with his team, much less with US allies on the ground.

Also, Ankara does not seem to have an endgame in mind. From a Turkish perspective, the destruction of a nascent Kurdish statelet to the south of its borders, established by a group that it views as an extension of the PKK, the separatist insurgents that it battled for four decades, has always been a top national security priority. The invasion is informed by this national priority, regardless of the costs. But beyond that calculation, Turkey has no exit strategy. In fact, the absence of an endgame by both the US and Turkey increases the risks for a security vacuum, the re-emergence of extremists and renewed chaos.

Another factor to consider is that Turkey also received a clearance from Russia before intervention, framed by Russia as part of the agreement between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran about the Syrian conflict. According to a well-placed Syrian source, the intervention in the Kurdish areas was part of a Russian-Turkish understanding about the fate of Idlib in the north-west, the last stronghold of the rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Idlib is dominated by the group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra and various stakeholders in the Syrian conflict have struggled to agree on how to deal with the challenge of having jihadists in charge of a significant swath of the country. The source claims that Turkey also reassured the Americans that the intervention would be followed by serious steps to deal with the dilemma in Idlib, by enabling a Russia-led incursion and that any expected mass displacement from Idlib will move to the Turkish zones inside Syria, not to Turkey itself.

Until now, Turkey and the US have asserted control over two separate zones in eastern and northern Syria. In both zones, extremists pose a serious lingering challenge if the situation spins out of control. The Turkish intervention could provide this trigger in both zones concurrently.

Unless the US and western powers move to prevent such a disruptive and unpredictable scenario, the Turkish move will probably unleash the spectre of both the reheating of Syrian civil war and a resurgence in the threat of jihadist extremists, long thought to have been put under control.

Hassan Hassan is co-author of Isis: Inside the Army of Terror and the director of the non-state actors programme at the Center for Global Policy thinktank in Washington DC

Imrul hits double ton against Rangpur, Barisal beat Sylhet in NCL

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Imrul Kayes hits double century for Khulna Division against Rangpur Division at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium in Khulna on Sunday. Photo: UNB.

Barisal Division made a good start in the four-day National Cricket League (NCL) beating Sylhet Division by an innings and 13 runs on the 4th and final day at the Shaheed Qamaruzzaman Stadium in Rajshahi on Sunday, reports UNB.

The other three matches of the first round ended in a draw at different venues across the country.

Imrul Kayes grabbed the limelight on the final day of the first round hitting a double-ton for Khulna Division against Rangpur Division.

Tier-1

Rajshahi Division vs Dhaka Division:

The first round match of the four-day National Cricket League (NCL) between Rajshahi Division and Dhaka Division ended in a draw on the 4th and final day at Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah on Sunday.

Dhaka resumed the second innings with overnight 206 for 6 and were all out for 254 in 99.2 overs with overnight batsman Taibur Rahman (67) scoring the team highest 88 runs.

For Rajshahi, Taijul Islam bagged five wickets to bring his wicket-tally to nine in the match while Farhad Reza took three.

Rajshahi opened the second innings with the target of 298 in the final day. However, they scored 106 for five in 64 overs when the bails were drawn for the final day (Sunday) with Jahrul Islam batting onj 40 and Mushfiqur Rahim 21.

Sumon Khan and Shuvagata Hom took two wickets each.

Brief score: Dhaka: 1st innings 240 all-out in 76.1 overs, 2nd innings (overnight 206 for six) 254 all-out in 99.2 overs (Raqibul Hasan 65, Tabiur Rahman 88, Taijul 5/105, Farhad Reza 3/41).

Rajshahi Division: 1st innings 197 all-out 77.5 overs, 2nd innings 106 for five in 64 overs (Jahurul batting 41, Mushfiqur 21; Sumon 2/21, Shuvagata Hom 2/24).

Rangpur Division vs Khulna Division: The match between Rangpur and Khulna also ended in a draw at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium in Khulna on Sunday.

Khulna resumed 1st innings with the overnight score 192 for 3 and declared the innings on 454 for nine with left handed overnight batsman Imrul Kayes (29) hammering a polished innings of 202 runs off 319 featuring 19 fours and six sixes.

For Rangpur, Suhrawardy Shuvo scalped three wickets while Robiul Haque took two.

In reply, Rangpur ended the final day scoring 33 for 1 in nine overs to settle for a draw with Nasir Hossain making unbeaten 23.

For Khulna, Al Amin Hossain took one wicket.

Brief score: Rangpur: 1st innings-227 all-out in 100.1 overs, 2nd innings: 33 for 1 in 9 overs (Nasir 23; Al Amin 1/10).

Khulna: first innings: 454 for 9 (declared) in 138.3 overs; (Imrul Kayes 202, Robiul Islam Robi 76, Imran Uzzaman 71; Shohrawordi 3/76, Robiul 2/66).

Tier-two:

Sylhet Division vs Barisal Division:

In the first round of NCL Tier-2 match, Barisal earned a massive innings and 13 runs victory over Sylhet at Shaheed Qamaruzzamand Stadium in Rajshahi on Sunday.

The first day of the match was washed out due to rain on Thursday. Despite this, Barisal managed a comfortable win riding on the tremendous performance by their bowlers.

Sylhet resumed their 2nd innings with the overnight score 27 for 2 and were bundled out cheaply for 132 in 63.5 overs.

Jakir Ali was the highest scorer for Sylhet posting 45 but his effort went in vain due to poor batting of his team mates.

For Barisal, Tanvir Islam bagged four wickets while Monir Hossain grabbed three to lose the game by an innings and 13 runs.

Brief score: Sylhet: 1st first innings: 86 all-out in 43.1 overs, 2nd innings: 132 all-out in 36.5 overs (Jakir 45, Imtiaz 35; Tanvir 4/29, Monir 3/21).

Barisal: 1st innings: 231 for 8 (declared) in 58.3 overs (Shahriar Nafees 63, Fazle Mahmud 70; Rejaur Rahman 3/74).

Chattogram Division vs Dhaka Metro:

The day’s other Tier-2 first round match between Chattogram and Dhaka Metro also ended in a draw at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur on Sunday.

Dhaka Metro resumed their first innings with the overnight score of 349 for 7 and added only five runs in the final day losing last three wickets. They ended on 354 all-out in 126.4 overs.

For Chattogram, Minhajul Abedin Afridi took three wickets while Noman Chowdhury and Mehdi Hasan bagged two wickets each.

In reply, Chattogram posted 227 for five in 76 overs at the end of the final day. Masum Khan was batting on 61 while Pinak Ghosh and Tasamul Haque hit 57 and 53 runs respectively.

For Dhaka Metro, Mahmudullah bagged three wickets conceding 25 runs. The right-arm offspinner bagged three in the first innings as well.

Brief score: Chattogram: 1st innings 290 all-out in 122.5 overs, 2nd innings: 227 for five in 76 overs (Masum 61*, Pinak 57, Tasamul 53; Mahmudullah 3/25).

Dhaka Metro: 1st innings: 354 all-out in 126.4 overs (Zabid 85, Shamsur 55, Mahmudullah 63; Minhajul 3/103, Mehedi 2/60).

Iraq War whistleblower film has Bush and Blair in its sights

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British actor Jack Farthing, British actor Hanako Footman, British journalist Martin Bright, British translator Katharine Gun, British film producer Ged Doherty, Chinese producer Melissa Shiyu Zuo, British actor Keira Knightley and South African film director Gavin Hood pose on the red carpet upon arrival for the European premiere of the film `Official Secrets` in London on 10 October. Photo: AFP

A British whistleblower responsible for a dramatic leak in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and now the subject of a Hollywood film hopes it will refocus attention on the flawed evidence that led to war, AFP reports.

Ex-spy Katharine Gun — played by British star Keira Knightley in the new movie “Official Secrets” — believes the dramatisation could also damage the partially repaired reputations of the UK and US leaders behind the military action.

Former British premier Tony Blair and US president George W Bush were dogged by criticism for years after launching a conflict that ultimately killed hundreds of thousands of people.

But in recent years they appear to have been able to move beyond the issue.

“This film might go some way to redressing that — let’s see,” Gun, a former intelligence translator, told AFP ahead of the screening at the London Film Festival this week.

The 45-year-old leaked a top-secret US intelligence memo in 2003 which requested Britain’s help in spying on non-aligned UN Security Council members to win a key vote authorising war.

The revelations caused a political storm at the time and saw Gun, who eventually admitted leaking the document, charged with breaching Britain’s Official Secrets Act and nearly end up in prison.

She and some of the film’s creators hope the movie will highlight again that invading Iraq was justified on the false premise Baghdad had illegal weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

“There’s no rehabilitating two leaders who have had to admit that the whole WMD thing was an absolute fabrication and a manipulation and a lie,” said director Gavin Hood.

“It’s terrible, this rehabilitation of George Bush only because (current US president Donald) Trump seems worse… We’ve got to stop this nonsense.”

Back to normal life 
“Official Secrets”, which opened in the United States in August and hits cinemas in Britain in October before being released elsewhere later in the year, chronicles how and why Gun leaked the memo and the fallout from it.

The British government eventually opted in 2004 not to prosecute Gun after she pleaded not guilty. It would have been forced to disclose key documents and decision-making related to the Iraq war.

A mum-of-one now based in Turkey, she and her husband remained living in the shadow of GCHQ, the government eavesdropping centre in southern England where she had worked as a Mandarin translator, until 2011.

“All I wanted to do was just to go back to normal life, and that’s what I did,” Gun said, who went on to work as a Mandarin tutor — even coaching former colleagues from GCHQ.

“It took me a long time to come to terms with the events… every time I tried to recount (them), my stress levels would go up again.”

Another central character in “Official Secrets” is Martin Bright, the journalist at The Observer newspaper who received the leaked memo and broke the story, and is played by actor Matt Smith.

“It was immensely exciting,” Bright recalled of the experience.

“It’s the journalist’s equivalent of scoring a goal at Wembley — getting a front page news story in a Sunday newspaper.

“I’ve subsequently felt that this is an extremely important story that risked being forgotten.”

Questions about loyalty 
Gun said she was initially hesitant about getting involved in the film, fearing another false dawn after numerous failed attempts to make a movie about the dramatic events that have shaped the last 16 years of her life.

But after spending several days forensically recounting it all to Hood, a South African-born director whose other politically driven films include “Tsotsi” (2005) and “Eye in the Sky” (2015), both were convinced of the importance of the collaboration.

“I’m telling this story because I think it raises interesting questions about loyalty… to what and to whom do we owe our loyalty?” the director said.

People’s loyalty should be to “fundamental values as espoused by the American constitution and its bill of rights and if you step outside of those, you don’t have my loyalty.”

For Gun, the film reminds audiences of the apparent lack of accountability for Bush and Blair over the Iraq War, which caused immense suffering and eroded regional stability.

She also sees a correlation between this and the prevailing political culture in Britain and the US, where Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are frequently accused of dishonesty.

“If they see that other people haven’t been held to account, it sets an extremely bad example,” Gun said.

“And human psychology says that you just emulate what you see.”