Myanmar says 2,000 Rohingya to arrive in November despite doubts


Myanmar says 2,000 Rohingya to arrive in November despite doubts

Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh): A top Myanmar official said Wednesday that his country would take back a first group of 2,000 Rohingya refugees from camps in Bangladesh in November despite widespread doubts over the proposal. Officials from the two countries announced on Tuesday that some of the 720,000 Muslim Rohingya who fled a deadly military clampdown in the Buddhist-majority country last year would start returning next month.

Myanmar foreign secretary Myint Thu visited the camps in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday to discuss the repatriations with refugees. Most repeated demands that they be given Myanmar nationality with full rights before they return.

Thu said Myanmar has verified 5,000 names on a list of 8,032 Rohingya that Bangladesh authorities sent in February. “From that 5,000, the first batch will be about 2,000 people. And then a second batch will follow. So in mid-November we will receive the first batch,” Thu told reporters. Bangladesh officials said a new list of 24,342 Rohingya names was handed over in talks this week.

But Rohingya representatives expressed strong doubts about going back despite the announcement. “We would rather die in the camp in Bangladesh. We will not return without any guarantee of citizenship or fully restored rights,” Abdul Hakim, one refugee from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, told AFP. The United Nations, aid groups and even Bangladesh authorities have said any repatriation must be voluntary.

Oxfam spokesperson Rachael Reilly said the refugees “want to see justice served and an end to the violence and discrimination that have caused this crisis”. “It is deeply concerning that Rohingya people may be sent back to Myanmar to face the same persecution they fled,” she said.

The 720,000 joined about 300,000 who fled earlier violence in Myanmar, where the Rohingya are refused citizenship and rights. Many brought harrowing tales of rape, murder and burning of villages. Investigators have said senior Myanmar military officials should be prosecuted for genocide, but Myanmar has rejected the calls, insisting it only targeted militants. The two neighbours first announced a large-scale repatriation plan in November 2017. But it has failed to advance, with each government blaming the other.




Protests after Pakistan Christian woman’s blasphemy death sentence overturned


Protests after Pakistan Christian woman’s blasphemy death sentence overturned

Islamabad: Radical Islamist groups protested on Wednesday in a number of Pakistan cities against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the death sentence of Christian woman Asia Bibi, who had been convicted in 2010 of blasphemy. The top court acquitted Asia Bibi, a mother of five from Pakistan’s Punjab province, earlier in the day and overturned her death sentence, Geo News reported. She was accused in 2009 of defiling the name of Prophet Muhammed during an argument with her neighbours.

Bibi maintained her innocence, but spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement. The landmark ruling set off violent protests by hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws. Demonstrations against the verdict were being held in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Multan. Clashes with the police were also reported, the BBC said.

“The protest for the sanctity of the Prophet has started. We will die (for the sanctity). We are not going to step back,” radical Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) — which had threatened the judges with dire consequences if Asia Bibi was acquitted — said in a statement. The TLP statement cited by Efe news warned that train stations and airports would be blocked.

The Red Zone in Islamabad, where the Supreme Court is located, was sealed off by the police. Paramilitary forces were deployed to keep protesters away from the court. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, who read out the ruling, said Asia Bibi could walk free from jail in Sheikupura, near Lahore, immediately if not wanted in connection with any other case.

“The appeal is allowed. Sentence of death set aside. Asia Bibi acquitted of charges,” said Justice Nisar. Asia Bibi’s lawyer, closely flanked by a policeman, told the BBC that he was “happy” with the verdict, but also afraid for his and his client’s safety. A police spokesperson in Lahore said that around 500 protesters had gathered outside the provincial Assembly and blocked roads in the area. “They are committing vandalism,” he said.

Protests with up to 300 participants, most of them supporters of the TLP, were going ahead in many other places in Lahore. In Karachi, demonstrations were organized in at least five places, city spokesperson Abid Hussain said. Around 300 people blocked the main entrance to Islamabad, which connects it to neighbouring Rawalpindi.

Under the Pakistan penal code, the offence of blasphemy is punishable by death or life imprisonment.  Bibi’s case has attracted widespread outrage and support from Christians worldwide and condemnation from conservative Islamist groups in Pakistan, who have demanded the death penalty for her. In 2011, senior politician Salman Taseer was shot dead by his own bodyguard for voicing support for Bibi.  Also in 2011, a Christian minority minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, was shot dead at his home for defending Bibi and opposing anti-blasphemy legislation.




Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli admitted to hospital


Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli admitted to hospital

Kathmandu: Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been admitted to Manmohan CardioVascular Center, Maharajgunj due to worsening health condition.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is now undergoing treatment in ICU. He has been suffering from cold and cough since Saturday and he was brought in here Sunday night with increased complications? Dr Arun Sayami from the hospital informed.

KP Sharma Oli, who had earlier undergone a kidney transplant, is now struggling with an infection in the chest as his immunity has declined. Oli was rushed to the hospital on late Sunday evening after he complained about the difficulty in breathing. As he was absent from the public functions for a couple of days, a press note was released on Sunday itself about his health conditions.

Honorable Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been suffering from seasonal flu and slight fever. As per the suggestions from the doctors, he has been taking rest since two days and keeping out from the public engagements and sights, a press note from the Prime Minister Media Advisor Dr Kundan Aryal stated.




1 dead, two injured as shots fired in Sri Lanka amid political crisis


1 dead, two injured as shots fired in Sri Lanka amid political crisis

Colombo: The political crisis in Sri Lanka took an ugly turn on Sunday when bodyguards of Petroleum Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, a loyalist of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, fired live rounds at the supporters of the new premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, leaving one person dead.

One person succumbed to his injuries and two others were hospitalised in the shooting incident and a security personnel was arrested at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) premises in Dematagoda following a tense situation on Sunday, police said. The incident took place when the cricketer-turned-politician visited the CPC office, with several Ceylon Petroleum Corporation workers objecting to his presence at the office. When Ranatunga entered the building the supporters of the new prime minister Rajapaksa took exception to him visiting the office and shouted slogans.

When they were not allowed to move out, shots were fired which injured three persons. Unconfirmed reports said that two of Ranatunga’s security personnel have been arrested. Ranatunga is a supporter of Wickremesinghe who was sacked by Sirisena. Wickremesinghe holds his sacking was illegal and unconstitutional. Sri Lanka is facing a political crisis after President Sirisena sacked prime minister Wickremesinghe on Friday, and appointed former strongman Rajapaksa as the new prime minister. A new caretaker government is expected to be sworn in on Monday. Sirisena also suspended parliament till November 16 after Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority. His office also announced that with Wickremesinghe’s sacking the Cabinet stands dissolved.




Have you news of my boy: Rudyard Kipling’s vain search for lost son


Have you news of my boy: Rudyard Kipling’s vain search for lost son

Paris: The British poet and writer Rudyard Kipling, an ardent supporter of his country’s entry into World War I, did everything he could to make sure his only son would join the fight. Yet just a few weeks after John Kipling touched French soil on the day of his 18th birthday, he was reported missing during the devastating Battle of Loos on September 27, 1915.

His father and mother Carrie would spend the next several years desperately searching for him, hoping against all odds that he might have survived. It was not until 1919 that Kipling publicly acknowledged his son was probably dead, one of the 1.1 million soldiers lost by the British Empire in the war. The author of “The Jungle Book”, the first Briton to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, fiercely defended the war as a patriotic duty for all able-bodied men.

He threw himself into the government’s propaganda efforts, and is believed to have popularised the slur “Hun” in reference to the German foe. But John, who hoped to enlist in the Royal Navy, was rejected because of poor eyesight. “As his wife said: How could their son not go to war when all the other sons were?” said David Richards, who has published a bibliography of the author’s work and letters. It was only thanks to his father’s connections as one of the country’s most popular writers that he finally got a commission in the Irish Guards, and shipped out to France in August 1915.

Shortly afterwards came the Battle of Loos, which proved a disaster for Britain as waves of soldiers were cut down by German machine guns or choked on their own poison gas being blown back into their lines. An estimated 15,000 British soldiers were killed and 35,000 wounded in a matter of days.

It was John’s first combat experience, and he disappeared after “going over the top”, leaving the trenches to attack enemy lines. “A telegram from the War Office to say John is ‘missing'”, reads an entry in Carrie’s diary from October 2, 1915. From that day on, Kipling moved heaven and earth to find out what happened to his son. Hoping he might just be wounded or captured, Kipling spent months tracking down members of his regiment to try to learn where John was last seen.

He even managed to have leaflets dropped over enemy lines asking for news of his son. “He begged the War Office not to declare the boy dead, only missing, to spare his wife’s feelings,” Richards said. Kipling would return repeatedly to French battlefields hoping to learn his son’s fate until his death in 1936. But it was only in 1992 that John’s grave was finally identified thanks to archival research, at St Mary’s cemetery in Haisnes, near the battlefield where he disappeared.

His name has since replaced the inscription “Known unto God”, a phrase suggested by Kipling himself to the Imperial War Graves Commission, which he joined after his son’s disappearance. After the war, Kipling’s writing took on a generally more serious tone, including several stories about soldiers suffering from what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder,” according to Mike Kipling, one of the author’s descendants and chairman of the Kipling Society.

In 1916 he would write the haunting lines of “My Boy Jack”: “Have you news of my boy… What comfort can I find?” Whether a sign of his own regrets or criticism of those responsible for the carnage, Kipling would later write in his “Epitaphs of the War”: “If any question why we died, Tell them, because our fathers lied.”




China: 14 kids injured after woman attacks with kitchen knife in kindergarten


China: 14 kids injured after woman attacks with kitchen knife in kindergarten

Beijing: A woman attacked and injured at least 14 children with a kitchen knife at a Chinese kindergarten in Chongqing on Friday, police said. She was arrested. The 39-year-old woman entered the school in Banan district when the children were in the playground, the BBC reported.

Although the authorities have not said anything about the motive behind the attack, social media reported that the woman had a grievance against the government. Mentioned by her surname, Liu, was arrested from the scene. The police have denied media reports that said two children were killed. They also urged social media users to refrain from passing on “rumours”, the BBC report said. China has faced a string of unrelated knife attacks in schools and kindergartens over the last few years. They have usually been carried out by people seeking revenge against officials or individuals, or those ailing from mental illnesses.




Sahle-Work Zewde elected as Ethiopia’s first female President


Sahle-Work Zewde elected as Ethiopia’s first female President

Addis Ababa: Ethiopia on Thursday appointed a woman to the largely ceremonial position of president for the first time. In a unanimous vote, Ethiopian lawmakers picked career diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde to replace Mulatu Teshome who resigned.

Sahle-Work, who is in her late 60s, has been Ethiopia’s ambassador to France, Djibouti, Senegal and the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Just prior to her appointment as president she was the UN’s top official at the African Union.

She is fluent in English and French as well as Amharic. As president she is expected to serve two six-year terms. Political power in Ethiopia is wielded by the prime minister with the president’s role is restricted to attending ceremonies and functions.

Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last week appointed a slimline 20-person cabinet in which half the posts are held by women. They include defence minister Aisha Mohammed and Muferiat Kamil who leads the newly-created Ministry of Peace, responsible for police and domestic intelligence agencies.




Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s son arrives in US from Saudi Arabia


Journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s son arrives in US from Saudi Arabia

Washington: The son of murdered Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has arrived in the US after leaving Riyadh with his family, an informed source told CNN on Thursday. Salah bin Jamal Khashoggi, a dual US-Saudi citizen, had previously been unable to leave Riyadh after his passport was restricted by the Kingdom few months ago.

A State Department spokesman said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the Saudis to release the dead journalist’s son and Deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said the US was “pleased” that he was allowed to leave the country. Salah Khashoggi is the eldest son of The Washington Post columnist who Saudis officials now admit was killed in a pre-meditated murder executed by a squad of men with close ties to the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Initially, Saudi Arabia denied all knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance inside their consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi officials later announced that they had identified 18 men involved in the operation, leading the State Department to announce it was freezing visas for 21 Saudi nationals.

On Thursday, Palladino said the additional three people targeted by the US belonged to Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services, royal court and a government ministry. On Tuesday, the Crown Prince and his father King Salman bin Abdulaziz  were pictured shaking hands with the Salah at an investment conference in Riyadh, CNN reported.

Salah Khashoggi’s departure came hours after the public prosecutor’s office admitted, based on a report from Turkey, that the killing of the journalist had been planned in advance, adding that those responsible for the crime would be punished. Turkey said it believed a hit squad of Saudi nationals had travelled to Istanbul with the sole purpose of killing Khashoggi, a former member of the Saudi elite who became critical of the current government’s administration in his country.




Police: 2 girls planned to kill classmates, drink their blood


Police: 2 girls planned to kill classmates, drink their blood

Bartow (US): Authorities in central Florida say two middle school girls brought knives to school in a foiled plot to kill classmates, cut them up and drink their blood. Arrest affidavits released Wednesday by the Bartow Police Department say the two girls, ages 11 and 12, were armed with knives Tuesday at Bartow Middle School before they were caught. No one was hurt.

Investigators say the girls planned to stake out a bathroom and wait for smaller students to enter. The affidavit says the students planned to cut their victims’ throats, cut up their bodies, eat the flesh and drink their victims’ blood. Authorities say the students then planned to kill themselves. Police say the plot was foiled when administrators searched for them after they didn’t show up for class.




Major airline Cathay Pacific says up to 9.4 million passengers data stolen


Major airline Cathay Pacific says up to 9.4 million passengers data stolen

Hong Kong [China]: Cathay Pacific, the Hong Kong flag carrier revealed that it suffered a data leak affecting almost 9.4 million passengers. According to Al Jazeera, the airline on Wednesday confirmed that the leaked data included passport numbers, identity card numbers, email addresses and credit card details of the passengers.

In a statement released on the airline website, Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg stated, “We are in the process of contacting affected passengers, using multiple communications channels, and providing them with information on steps they can take to protect themselves.” He also asserted that the airline did not have any evidence on the misuse of the leaked data. “The following personal data was accessed: passenger name, nationality, date of birth, phone number, email, address, passport number, identity card number, frequent flyer programme membership number, customer service remarks, and historical travel information,” Hogg added. He further asserted that the combination of data accessed varies passenger to passenger.




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