Showing posts from November 24, 2019

Marooned by a dam and persecuted as Maoist sympathisers, Malkangiri’s tribal people feel isolated

Thousands live without subsidised food, access to schools or healthcare. Many did not even get polling booths to vote in this year’s general election Prafulla Das The highlands around the Balimela reservoir in Odisha’s Malkangiri district have all the elements of a tourism hotspot. The rolling hills are lush, many of them emerging ethereally from the green waters. On the hill slopes grow paddy, ragi and pulses, and quite a lot of cannabis. The mustard fields are blazingly in bloom right now. But this idyll belies a disquieting reality: the 30,000-odd tribal people of the 151 villages in this area live with a deep sense of being cut off, forgotten and persecuted.  It started in the early 70s, when the construction of the Balimela dam picked up speed on the Sileru river at Chitrakonda. Several families who would have lost their homes to submergence were given land in resettlement colonies.  But thousands, including many who did not have land pattas, moved further up into the

New Zealand gun owners stage protest over tighter controls

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A group of about 50 New Zealand firearm owners protested further gun reforms on Saturday, sounding a note of discord over the tightening of the country's gun laws after the mass shooting in Christchurch in March that killed 51 Muslim worshippers. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's efforts on gun control have gained global praise, but at home - with a general election next scheduled for year - she has faced resistance from the federal opposition National Party, gun lobby groups and ordinary citizens over planned legislation introduced in September. On Saturday, the group of firearms owners staged a protest at a gun buy-back event in Auckland, according to media reports, carrying placards bearing slogans including "This bill hurts ordinary Kiwis!" and "Be safe: reject arms bill". The new legislation now moving through parliament would create a gun register and tighten vetting of owners, among other changes. In April parliament passed

China arrests Belizean, Taiwanese citizens over alleged meddling in Hong Kong affairs

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has arrested a citizen of Belize for allegedly colluding with people in the United States to meddle in the affairs of Hong Kong, the official Guangdong Communist Party newspaper reported on Saturday, citing local authorities. Lee Henley Hu Xiang, a Belizean businessman who lives in China, had funded key members of "hostile forces" in the United States to undermine China's national security, and supported activities that led to chaos in Hong Kong, the Southern Daily said. It did not give details. Lee was arrested in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Nov. 26 by the Guangzhou State Security bureau, the report said. Authorities in Guangzhou could not be immediately reached for comment. Separately, the newspaper confirmed that a Taiwanese man, Lee Meng-Chu, was also arrested by police in nearby Shenzhen city on Oct 31, for allegedly stealing state secrets for foreign forces after he made a trip to Hong Kong in August to support &qu

London attacker released last year after terrorism offences, prompting recriminations

LONDON (Reuters) - The 28-year-old British man who killed two people in a stabbing spree on London Bridge before police shot him dead had been released from prison after a previous conviction for terrorism offences, prompting recriminations ahead of an election. Wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, Usman Khan went on the rampage on Friday afternoon at a conference on criminal rehabilitation beside London Bridge. He was wrestled to the ground by bystanders and then shot dead by police. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has called a snap election for Dec. 12 and is due to host NATO leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump next week, said it was a terrorist attack and that Britain would never be cowed. Khan, whose family is from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, was convicted in 2012 for his part in an al-Qaeda-inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange. He was released in December 2018 subject to conditions. "This individual was known to authorities,

Hong Kong elders, youths vow to keep up pro-democracy fight

HONG KONG (AP) — Hundreds of silver-haired activists joined young Hong Kong protesters for a unity rally Saturday, vowing that their monthslong movement will not fade away until there is greater democracy in the Chinese territory. The rally at a park downtown was among several peaceful gatherings by protesters this week to keep up pressure on the government amid a lull in violence following a local election victory by the pro-democracy bloc and the gaining of U.S. support for their cause. A local boys’ band belted out songs to tell protesters that “the whole Hong Kong is supporting you.” Speakers reminded the crowd that it wasn’t time to celebrate and that the fight for real autonomy must persist. The protesters are angry over creeping Chinese interference in Hong Kong that they say is eroding their rights promised when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. “The government wants us to desert the front-liners and young protesters, but we will stick wi

Afghan official: Roadside blast kills senior army commander

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan official says a roadside bomb in the southern Helmand province has killed two security personnel, including a senior border commander. Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, says Saturday that the blast in the Marjah district wounded two other security officials and a local TV reporter when it struck a passing convoy. The spokesman said the attack likely targeted Gen. Zahir Gul Muqbil, the army border unit commander who was killed in the explosion. He added that a reporter with the Shamshad TV network, Sardar Mohammad Sarwary, was among the wounded, and had been accompanying security forces on an operation in Marjah. Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack. The militant group controls most districts in Helmand. Source:

Red Cross sides with terrorism criticises UK for stripping Isis recruits of citizenship

The head of the international Red Cross has sharply criticised Britain’s policy of stripping the citizenship of people held in Syria after the fall of Islamic State, saying it is “not conducive” to long-term peace in the region. Related:  Rescue of all 60 children of the ‘caliphate’ urged as winter nears Peter Maurer said the UK and other western countries also needed to consider repatriating children held with their mothers in Syria’s overcrowded refugee camps – at a time when the UK Home Office has said  no more returns of British minors are in the pipeline . Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told the Guardian that he “failed to see” how denying people such as  19-year-old Shamima Begum  their nationality would help a crisis made more complex by the recent Turkish invasion. “There are things which are probably not conducive to a solution and I fail to see at the present moment how stripping citizenship and making people stateless

‘When they come, they will kill you’: Ethnic cleansing is already a reality in Turkey’s Syrian safe zone

The brutal killings were not hidden, nor were they meant to be. From the very beginning of Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, the fighters it sent across the border to carry out the mission have proudly documented their own war crimes.  Videos posted online by soldiers of the  Turkish -backed Syrian National Army (SNA) – showing summary executions, mutilation of corpses, threats against Kurds and widespread looting – have struck terror into the tens of thousands who find themselves in the path of the offensive. The ethnic dimension to many of the crimes has resulted in a mass exodus of Kurds and religious minorities from these once diverse borderlands.  Now, stranded in displacement camps across northeast  Syria  and in neighbouring  Iraq , they fear they may never be able to return home. And that, they believe, was precisely the point .  “No one can go back there now, it’s impossible,” says Muhammad Amin, 37, a Kurdish man who fled with his family from the city of Ras al-A