‘Rohingya citizenship’ plan irks Myanmar extremist Buddhists

Extremist monks demonstrate against a government push to speed up the citizenship verification process for the stateless Rohingya minority in Sittwe, Myanmar, on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2017
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‘Rohingya citizenship’ plan irks Myanmar extremist Buddhists

SITTWE, Myanmar: Hundreds of hard-line Buddhists in Myanmar wracked by religious violence protested against the government’s plan to give citizenship to some members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority community.
Rakhine state’s dominant Arakan National Party led the protest in Sittwe, the state capital, where many Rohingya lived before an outbreak of inter-communal violence in 2012 forced them to flee their homes.
“We are protesting to tell the government to rightfully follow the 1982 citizenship law and we cannot allow the government giving citizenship cards to these illegal migrants,” said Aung Htay, a protest organizer.
The Rohingya face severe discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, with many in Rakhine and elsewhere considering them to be illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh, even though Rohingya have been in Myanmar for generations. The 2012 violence killed hundreds and drove about 140,000 people — predominantly Rohingya — from their homes to camps, where most remain.
Rakhine, one of the poorest states in Myanmar, is home to more than 1 million stateless Rohingya.
Sunday’s protest took place three days after the Rakhine Advisory Commission (RAC), led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, urged Myanmar’s government to reconsider a failed program to verify Rohingya for Myanmar citizenship and to remove restrictions on freedom of movement.
“We also look at the question of citizenship, and we also call for all those who have been recognized as citizens to have all the rights attached to that citizenship,” Ghassan Salame, an RAC member, said last week.
Myanmar’s new civilian government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, welcomed the RAC’s proposal. Suu Kyi’s office said that most of the RAC’s recommendations would be “implemented promptly.”
The government withdrew the Rohingya’s so-called white cards two years ago as part of a plan to expel them from the country and cancel their citizenship under the 1982 law.


Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Updated 26 April 2018
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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

NORRISTOWN-PENNSILVANIA: Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era,
completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.
Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an “a--hole” after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. Cosby denied he has an airplane and shouted, “I’m sick of him!“
The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.
Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.
“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”
The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?“
The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors’ decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.
Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.
Constand, 45, a former Temple women’s basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.
It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.
“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.”
Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was “nothing like the image that he played on TV” as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”