Myanmar coup opponents in big show of rejection of military claims

Myanmar coup opponents in big show of rejection of military claims
The Myanmar unrest has revived memories of bloody suppression of protests under previous juntas. (AP)
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Updated 17 February 2021

Myanmar coup opponents in big show of rejection of military claims

Myanmar coup opponents in big show of rejection of military claims
  • Protesters are deeply skeptical of the junta’s assurances that there would be a fair election and it would hand over power

Opponents of Myanmar’s military coup, including celebrities, veteran activists and students, rejected on Wednesday an army assertion that there was public support for overthrowing elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and said their campaign would not burn out.
Protesters are deeply skeptical of the junta’s assurances, given at a news conference on Tuesday, that there would be a fair election and it would hand over power, even as police filed an additional charge against Suu Kyi.
The Nobel Peace laureate, detained since the Feb. 1 coup, now faces a charge of violating a Natural Disaster Management Law as well as charges of illegally importing six walkie talkie radios. At a hearing by video conference on Tuesday, her next hearing was set for March 1.
“We’re showing here that we’re not in that 40 million they announced,” Sithu Maung, an elected member of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) told a cheering crowd at the Sule Pagoda, a central protest site in the main city of Yangon.
Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, spokesman for the ruling council, told the Tuesday news conference that 40 million of the 53 million population supported the military’s action, which he said was in line with the constitution. The army alleges there was fraud in a Nov. 8 election won by Suu Kyi’s party that had been expected to pave the way for democratic reform.
A protester who gave her name as Khin was scornful of that.
“What they said was totally untrue ... They said there was vote fraud but look at the people here,” said Khin.
The coup that cut short the Southeast Asian country’s unsteady transition toward democracy has prompted daily demonstrations since Feb. 6, some drawing hundreds of thousands of people.
The takeover has also drawn strong Western criticism, with renewed anger from Washington and London over the additional charge for Suu Kyi. Although China has taken a softer line, its ambassador in Myanmar on Tuesday dismissed accusations it supported the coup.
UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said he feared the possibility of violence against the protesters and made an urgent call on any country with influence over the generals, and businesses, to press them to avoid it.
In Yangon and elsewhere, motorists responded to a “broken-down car campaign” spreading on social media, stopping their supposedly stalled cars, with bonnets raised, on streets and bridges to block them to police and military trucks.
“We want the truth ... and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint,” said Ko Ye, 26, whose taxi was part of the break-down protest at the Sule Pagoda.
The president was also detained on the day of the coup.
Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners group said more than 450 arrests had been made since the coup, many of them in night-time raids. Those arrested include much of the NLD’s senior leadership.
The suspension of the Internet at night has added to a sense of fear.
Zaw Min Tun told the news conference, the junta’s first since the coup, the military was giving a guarantee that at an election would be held and power handed to the winner. He gave no time frame, but said the army would not be in power for long.
The last stretch of army rule lasted nearly half a century before democratic reforms began in 2011.
Suu Kyi, 75, spent nearly 15 years under house arrest for her efforts to end military rule.
The United States was “disturbed” by reports of the additional criminal charge against Suu Kyi, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. Washington imposed new sanctions last week on the Myanmar military. No additional measures were announced on Tuesday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also decried the new criminal charge, saying it was “fabricated” by the military.
The unrest has revived memories of bloody suppression of protests under previous juntas.
Police have opened fire several times, mostly with rubber bullets, to disperse protesters. A protester who was shot in the head in Naypyitaw last week is not expected to survive.
A policeman died of injuries sustained during a protest in the city of Mandalay on Monday, the military said.
As well as the demonstrations in towns across the ethnically diverse country, a civil disobedience movement has brought strikes that are crippling many functions of government.
Activist Min Ko Naing, a veteran of 1988 protests that the military crushed, said the disobedience campaign was key this time.
“They think if the leader is arrested, nothing can be done, but that’s not working anymore,” he said in a taped message to the crowd.
Actor Pyay Ti Oo said opposition could not be doused.
“They say we’re like a brush fire and will stop after a while, but will we? No. Won’t stop until we succeed,” he told the crowd.


Top diplomats from Israel, UAE, Greece, Cyprus meet

Israeli, Emirati, Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers held meetings in Cyprus for two days starting from Friday. (Supplied/Greek MOFA)
Israeli, Emirati, Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers held meetings in Cyprus for two days starting from Friday. (Supplied/Greek MOFA)
Updated 1 min 55 sec ago

Top diplomats from Israel, UAE, Greece, Cyprus meet

Israeli, Emirati, Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers held meetings in Cyprus for two days starting from Friday. (Supplied/Greek MOFA)
  • The ministers were discussing economic and security issues, the coronavirus pandemic, and possible travel corridors

PAPHOS: The Israeli, Emirati, Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers held meetings in Cyprus for two days starting from Friday, Cyprus and Israel said.

Israel said the talks in Paphos on the island's west coast would be the first meeting of its kind involving the four nations, as part of efforts to advance regional strategic interests.

The ministers were discussing economic and security issues, the coronavirus pandemic, and possible travel corridors to encourage tourism, Israel's foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

Cyprus said the unprecedented four-way talks, lasting into Saturday, would "take advantage of the prospects opened" by "the recent normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates."

The UAE and Israel formalized ties last year, one of four deals the US brokered between Israel and Arab countries.

The talks also follow tensions between Turkey and its neighbours over gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Cypriot ministry said the meetings would touch on the "pandemic and its effects, economic cooperation, energy (and) tourism", among other issues, and aimed "to enhance peace, stability, and security in the wider region."


Myanmar’s ousted MPs form new shadow government

Myanmar’s ousted MPs form new shadow government
Updated 16 April 2021

Myanmar’s ousted MPs form new shadow government

Myanmar’s ousted MPs form new shadow government
  • Helming the so-called ‘National Unity Government’ is Aung San Suu Kyi, in her position as State Counsellor, and President Win Myint — who is also under house arrest
  • The junta has said anyone working with the CRPH is committing ‘high treason,’ and have announced arrest warrants for hundreds of prominent activists and politicians

YANGON: A “parliament” working in hiding to oust Myanmar’s junta from power announced a new shadow government Friday, with deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi at its helm alongside ethnic minority politicians.
The country has been in turmoil since the military detained Suu Kyi and seized power, triggering a massive uprising that the junta has sought to quell with lethal force.
Besides demanding for democracy’s return, protesters are also increasingly calling for more of a governing role for the country’s minority groups — which have long seen their voices marginalized by the ethnic Bamar majority.
The Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) — a group of lawmakers mostly from Suu Kyi’s party attempting to govern underground via a shadow parliament — on Friday announced its leaders.
Helming the so-called “National Unity Government” is Suu Kyi, in her position as State Counsellor, and President Win Myint — who is also under house arrest and facing a barrage of charges from the junta.
They are flanked by a vice president who is ethnic Kachin and a prime minister who is ethnic Karen, said Min Ko Naing, a prominent democracy leader, in an address on the CRPH’s official Facebook page.
“We have organized a government which has the largest number of ethnic minority groups,” he said.
A list of appointed ministers also included prominent leaders from the Chin, Shanni, Mon, Karenni and Ta’ang ethnic groups.
The politicians were chosen based on results from the 2020 election, input from a nationwide anti-coup protest movement, and ethnic minority groups — including armed rebels in the country’s border territories, said Min Ko Naing.
“We have to pull it from the root... we must try to eradicate it,” he said, as he raised the three-finger salute — the symbol of resistance
“Only the people can decide the future.”
The junta has said anyone working with the CRPH is committing “high treason,” and have announced arrest warrants for hundreds of prominent activists and politicians — some of whom now hold positions in the new “National Unity Government.”
Myanmar has more than 130 official ethnic minority groups.
But the country’s political fate has long been tightly held by the Bamar majority — first under a nearly five-decade junta regime which forced a so-called “Bamarization” on minorities; and then under Suu Kyi’s administration.
Since the coup, more than 720 people have been killed in anti-coup unrest, according to the local monitoring group.


Pakistan appoints new finance minister in latest cabinet shake-up

Pakistan appoints new finance minister in latest cabinet shake-up
Updated 16 April 2021

Pakistan appoints new finance minister in latest cabinet shake-up

Pakistan appoints new finance minister in latest cabinet shake-up
  • Hammad Azhar, who was made finance minister less than a month ago, has now been replaced by Shaukat Tarin
  • Pakistan is currently working on national budget and on implementing economic reforms suggested by the IMF

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan appointed a new finance minister on Friday, replacing Hammad Azhar, who received the portfolio less than a month ago.

Shaukat Tarin, the new appointee, is a banker who also served at the same position from 2009 to 2010 under the Pakistan Peoples Party administration of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

The news was announced by the newly appointed information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain who shared the notification of the recent cabinet reshuffle in a Twitter post:

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has made changes in the cabinet, the details of these changes are attached.”

 

 

Azhar will now look after the Energy Ministry. He was given the additional portfolio of finance and revenue after Abdul Hafeez Shaikh was recently asked to step down last month over what the government described as rising inflation.

The change to the finance ministry comes at a time when the government is working on the annual budget which is likely to be presented in June. Pakistan's economic managers are also implementing structural reforms suggested by the International Monetary Fund to the country's economy.

Apart from the two cabinet changes, the prime minister also took the Economic Affairs Ministry from Makhdoom Khusro Bukhtiar and gave him the Ministry of Industries and Production.

Omar Ayub, who was previously supervising the Power and Petroleum Divisions, has now been tasked to take care of the Economic Affairs Ministry.

Senator Shibli Faraz has also been assigned the Ministry of Science and Technology which fell vacant when Chaudhry Fawad Hussain was appointed as federal minister for information and broadcasting.

“As info minister my task is to change misperceptions about Pak[istan] and highlight the vibrant effort of the Government,” Hussain wrote on Twitter.

 

 


Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed for 12 months over huge democracy rally

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed for 12 months over huge democracy rally
Updated 16 April 2021

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed for 12 months over huge democracy rally

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed for 12 months over huge democracy rally
  • Jimmy Lai currently in custody after his arrest under Beijing’s sweeping national security law

HONG KONG: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was jailed for 12 months on Friday over one of the city’s biggest ever protests in 2019.
It is the first time the 73-year-old – who is currently in custody after his arrest under Beijing’s sweeping national security law – has received a sentence for his activism.


Police: 8 dead in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis

Police: 8 dead in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis
Updated 16 April 2021

Police: 8 dead in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis

Police: 8 dead in shooting at FedEx facility in Indianapolis
  • The shooter wasn’t immediately identified
  • At least four were hospitalized, including one person with critical injures
INDIANAPOLIS: Eight people were shot and killed in a late-night shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, and the shooter has killed himself, police said.
Multiple other people were injured Thursday night when gunfire erupted at the facility near the Indianapolis International Airport, police spokesperson Genae Cook said.
At least four were hospitalized, including one person with critical injures. Another two people were treated and released at the scene, Cook said.
The shooter wasn’t immediately identified, and Cook said investigators were still in the process of conducting interviews and gathering information.
Police were called to reports of gunfire just after 11 p.m. and officers observed an active shooting scene, Cook said. The gunman later killed himself.
FedEx released a statement saying it is cooperating with authorities and working to get more information.
“We are aware of the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility near the Indianapolis airport. Safety is our top priority, and our thoughts are with all those who are affected,” the statement said.
Family members gathered at a local hotel to await word on loved ones. Some said employees aren’t allowed to have their phones with them while working shifts at the facility, making it difficult to contact them, WTHR-TV reported.
Live video from news outlets at the scene showed crime scene tape in the parking lot outside the facility.
A witness who said he works at the facility told WISH-TV that he saw a man with a gun after hearing several gunshots.
“I saw a man with a submachine gun of some sort, an automatic rifle, and he was firing in the open,” Jeremiah Miller said.
Another man told WTTV that his niece was sitting in her car in the driver’s seat when the gunfire erupted, and she was wounded.
“She got shot on her left arm,” said Parminder Singh. “She’s fine, she’s in the hospital now.”
He said his niece did not know the shooter.