Colombo cracks down on protesters

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Updated 14 November 2013
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Colombo cracks down on protesters

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s military stopped scores of ethnic Tamil protesters from entering the capital on Wednesday before a Commonwealth summit as a British TV crew also faced problems traveling around the island.
Roman Catholic priest Emmanuel Sebamali, who organized the visit by minority Tamils to the capital, said their buses were stopped initially by police and later by troops who forced them to return.
“We have been forced to turn back,” the priest told AFP by telephone. “They’ve refused to give us a reason. They just won’t allow us to travel to Colombo.”
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), set to begin on Friday, was hit by a new pullout Tuesday as the prime minister of Mauritius joined those of India and Canada in boycotting the event.
Sri Lanka had hoped the three-day summit would showcase its post-war revival but it is turning into a PR disaster as some of the 53 Commonwealth members and rights groups focus attention on the island’s human rights record.
Sebamali said that about 200 Tamils were en route to a meeting to draw attention to the plight of thousands who lost loved ones in a decades-long separatist war which ended in 2009. The final government offensive has been dogged by war crimes allegations, with Sri Lankan troops accused of murdering surrendering rebels and shelling hospitals. Colombo denies any wrong doing.
There was no comment from police or the military on the Tamil protest, but Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the authorities prevented them from traveling to Colombo fearing a “breach of the peace.”
“There were intelligence reports that this is a politically motivated protest and these (Tamil) people came to Colombo during the summit, it would have led to a breach of the peace,” Rambukwella told reporters.


24 bodies retrieved from flooded Zimbabwe gold mine: report

A rescued artisanal miner is carried from a pit as retrieval efforts proceed for trapped illegal gold miners in Kadoma, Zimbabwe, February 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 February 2019
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24 bodies retrieved from flooded Zimbabwe gold mine: report

  • Formal unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent and artisanal gold mining, mostly in mines long abandoned by big corporates, is widespread providing a source of income for many

HARARE: Rescue workers retrieved 24 bodies and eight survivors Saturday from two flooded gold mines in Zimbabwe where officials fear dozens more illegal miners are still trapped, state television reported.
“Eight of the trapped minors have been rescued ... while 24 bodies have been retrieved to date as rescue efforts continue at Battlefields Mine,” the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The two disused mines are situated near the town of Kadoma, 145 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of the capital Harare.
The rescued received medical attention on site before being take to hospital, but were in a stable condition, the report added.
Television footage showed some of the men, in soaked, muddy clothes, being helped to a makeshift clinic.
In a clip posted on Twitter, one survivor told journalists that the waters had risen to neck level, forcing them to stand for days until it receded.
On Friday the government said that between 60 and 70 “artisanal” miners were trapped in two shafts.
It launched an appeal for $200,000 to be used “to pump out water, feeding the bereaved families and the (rescue) teams on the ground, transportation and burial of the victims,” local minister July Moyo said in a statement.
“Given the magnitude of this disaster, we kindly appeal to individuals, development partners and the corporate world for assistance in cash and kind,” he said.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of a deep economic crisis, the worst in a decade.
Annual inflation shot to 56.90 percent up from 42.09 percent in December 2018, according to official statistics released Friday, the highest increase in a decade. Economists say in reality prices have gone up more than three fold in recent months.
Formal unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent and artisanal gold mining, mostly in mines long abandoned by big corporates, is widespread providing a source of income for many.
Artisanal mining is not banned outright in Zimbabwe, and is largely unregulated.