Greece to deport nine European nationals over pro-Palestinian protest

Greece to deport nine European nationals over pro-Palestinian protest
Nine protesters from Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain, arrested during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the University of Athens School of Law last week are set to be deported from Greece, their lawyers said on Monday. (X/@YousefAlsweisi)
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Updated 20 May 2024
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Greece to deport nine European nationals over pro-Palestinian protest

Greece to deport nine European nationals over pro-Palestinian protest
  • The protesters have denied any wrongdoing
  • The Greek protesters were released pending trial on May 28 but the nine foreign nationals remained in custody pending an administrative decision on their deportation

ATHENS: Nine protesters from Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain, arrested during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the University of Athens School of Law last week are set to be deported from Greece, their lawyers said on Monday.
Police last week detained a total of 28 Greek and foreign protesters occupying the building, on charges including disrupting the operation of a public entity and assistance in damaging foreign property, according to court documents.
The protesters have denied any wrongdoing.
Evidence included leaflets, Palestinian flags, two smoke flares, gas masks, helmets, paint cans and banner poles, along with a statement uploaded on a website in Greek and English urging others to join the protest, according to the documents.
The Greek protesters were released pending trial on May 28 but the nine foreign nationals — one man and eight women, aged 22 to 33 — remained in custody pending an administrative decision on their deportation.
The foreigners’ lawyers said in a statement that deportation orders had been issued, which would prevent the defendants attending their own trial.
Lawyers Ioanna Sioupouli and Anny Paparoussou said that their clients who live and work in Greece planned to appeal.
Lawyer Vassilis Papadopoulos, representing a 33-year-old Spaniard, called the decision “arbitrary and illegal.”
Pro-Palestinian supporters have staged several protests in Greece since Israel’s war with Hamas began in Gaza in October.
Greece in 2019 scrapped legislation that prohibited police from entering universities, as the conservative government said it was used as a cover for lawlessness.
The Academic Sanctuary Law, a legacy of the crackdown on a 1973 student revolt by the military junta of the time, was designed to protect protesting students and freedom of ideas. Critics decried its abolition as a clampdown on democracy.


Nigeria warns over cholera outbreak that kills 30

Nigeria warns over cholera outbreak that kills 30
Updated 3 sec ago
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Nigeria warns over cholera outbreak that kills 30

Nigeria warns over cholera outbreak that kills 30
  • Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that spreads through contaminated food and water
  • In 2021, an epidemic killed more than 2,300 people, especially children under the age of 14
LAGOS: Nigerian health officials are issuing warnings over a cholera outbreak that has killed at least 30 people, many of them in the commercial capital Lagos, since the start of the year.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that spreads through contaminated food and water. It typically causes severe diarrhea, vomiting and muscle cramps — and sometimes death.
Lagos State health officials reported 15 deaths so far and 350 suspected cases, according to a statement on X, formerly Twitter this week.
Lagos Water Corporation warned against consuming water from unreliable or untreated courses.
“According to the Lagos State Ministry of Health, the primary cause of the cholera outbreak has been linked to the consumption of contaminated water and inadequate sanitation,” it said in a statement.
Last week, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control and Prevention alerted the public of the increasing trend in cases of the disease across the country as the rainy season intensifies.
The agency said 30 people had died since the start of the year. An outbreak killed 128 people with more than 3,600 suspected cases across Africa’s most populous country last year compared to two deaths in 2022.
Nigeria is particularly vulnerable to cholera outbreaks.
In 2021, an epidemic killed more than 2,300 people, especially children under the age of 14, according to health authorities.

Deadly fire at army ammo depot in Chad’s capital

Deadly fire at army ammo depot in Chad’s capital
Updated 36 min 55 sec ago
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Deadly fire at army ammo depot in Chad’s capital

Deadly fire at army ammo depot in Chad’s capital
  • President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno said people had been killed and wounded in the blaze, without giving precise figures

N’DJAMENA: A deadly fire erupted at a huge military ammunition depot in Chad’s capital N’Djamena, sending powerful explosions into the night sky and shaking buildings miles from the blast.
The explosions from the late Tuesday blaze turned the sky red and could be heard miles away as ordnance fired off in the flames at regular intervals, according to AFP journalists and witnesses on the scene.
President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno said people had been killed and wounded in the blaze, without giving precise figures.
“Peace to the souls of the victims, sincere condolences to the grieving families and a speedy recovery to the wounded,” Deby wrote on Facebook, promising to open an investigation into the fire.
The sky burst into flames above the Goudji area, where the army’s largest depot of ammunition is located, for several hours before tapering off and finally ceasing after midnight.
The explosions shook buildings as far as seven kilometers (four miles) away and the flames were visible for miles.
“The roof of our house was blown off by one of the explosions,” said resident Kadidja Dakou, who lives in the Amsinene area near Goudji.
The 36-year-old and her three children took refuge in the street alongside their neighbors, for fear their houses would collapse, she said by phone.
Authorities had cordoned off the area with a heavy security presence, where thick red smoke hung in the air long after the blasts stopped.
Foreign Minister Abderaman Koulamallah, who is also the government spokesman, said on Facebook that there were “huge explosions” at the site and urged the population to keep calm.
There are multiple homes in the neighborhood that is the site of the depot, which sits near the international airport and a base where French troops are stationed.
The blaze “caused explosions of ammunition of all calibres,” an official with the French forces said on condition of anonymity.
“For the moment, no French military personnel have been wounded,” he said.
Chad’s president officially won 61 percent of a May 6 vote that international NGOs said was neither credible nor free and which his main rival called a “masquerade.”
Deby was proclaimed transitional president in April 2021 by a junta of 15 generals after his father, president Idriss Deby Itno, was shot dead by rebels following 30 years in power.
Chad, one of the world’s poorest nations, is considered vital in the fight to stop the march of jihadists through the Sahel region.


Pope offers prayers for ‘noble, courageous’ Chinese people

Pope offers prayers for ‘noble, courageous’ Chinese people
Updated 45 min 9 sec ago
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Pope offers prayers for ‘noble, courageous’ Chinese people

Pope offers prayers for ‘noble, courageous’ Chinese people
  • Relations with communist China have historically been fraught
  • The Vatican’s overtures to China are controversial, as critics see them as a form of appeasement

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Wednesday called for prayers for the Chinese people, in unscripted remarks coming amid the Vatican’s desire to upgrade its relations with Beijing.
Relations with communist China have historically been fraught, but Francis has made it a priority to normalize them, building on a landmark 2018 pact on appointing bishops.
“This also makes me think about the beloved Chinese people: let us always pray for this noble and very courageous people who have such a beautiful culture,” the pope said.
Francis spoke during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square, adding to pre-written remarks as he greeted an association that honors a late Vatican envoy to Beijing.
The Vatican’s overtures to China are controversial, as critics see them as a form of appeasement toward a country accused of trampling on religious freedom and human rights.
Beijing has been following a policy of “Sinicization” of religion, trying to root out foreign influences and enforce obedience to the Communist Party.
There are an estimated 10 to 12 million Catholics in China. (Reporting by Alvise Armellini, editing by Alex Richardson)


US lawmakers meet with Dalai Lama in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China

US lawmakers meet with Dalai Lama in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China
Updated 55 min 44 sec ago
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US lawmakers meet with Dalai Lama in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China

US lawmakers meet with Dalai Lama in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China
  • Relations deteriorated even more following the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising military tensions in the South China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait
  • The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he only advocates substantial autonomy and protection of Tibet’s native Buddhist culture

DHARAMSHALA, India: A bipartisan United States congressional delegation met with the Dalai Lama Wednesday at his residence in India’s Dharamshala, sparking anger from China which views the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism as a dangerous separatist.
This comes as Washington and Beijing have recently restarted talks after several years of turmoil that began after the imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods under the Trump administration. Relations deteriorated even more following the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising military tensions in the South China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait.
The high-level delegation, led by Republican Rep. Michael McCaul and including Democratic former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, arrived Tuesday at the hillside town, which the Nobel Peace Prize laureate has made his headquarters since fleeing from Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. There, they met with officials from the Tibetan government-in-exile, which wants more autonomy for Tibet.
Beijing doesn’t recognize the exiled administration and hasn’t held any dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama since 2010.
After meeting the spiritual leader on Wednesday, the seven US lawmakers addressed hundreds who had gathered at a monastery just outside the 88-year-old Dalai Lama’s residence, waving American and Tibetan flags.
They told the crowd that a key focus of their visit was to underscore the Resolve Tibet Act, passed by the US Congress last week, and aims to encourage dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Chinese officials with the hopes of finding a peaceful resolution between Tibet and Beijing. The bill should now be sent to the White House to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
The bill is “a message to the Chinese government that we have clarity in our thinking and our understanding of this issue of the freedom of Tibet,” Pelosi said, eliciting applause.
McCaul, the Republican representative, said the bill reaffirms American support for the Tibetan right to self-determination. “Just this week our delegation received a letter from the Chinese Communist Party, warning us not to come here... but we did not let the CCP intimidate us for we are here today,” he said as people cheered.
However, the visit and newly passed bill have triggered swift backlash from Beijing.
Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, urged Washington on Tuesday not to support Tibetan independence and said the White House “must not sign the bill into law,” or China will take “resolute measures,” without elaborating on what these measures may be.
“It’s known by all that the 14th Dalai Lama is not a purely religious figure, but a political exile engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion,” Lin added, urging the US side to “have no contact with the Dalai group in any form, and stop sending the wrong signal to the world.”
The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he only advocates substantial autonomy and protection of Tibet’s native Buddhist culture.
The Tibetan spiritual leader has a history of engaging with US officials, including meeting American presidents — from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama — except for Donald Trump. He has yet to meet Biden since he took office in 2021.
The Dalai Lama is expected to travel to the US on Thursday for medical treatment on his knees, but it is unclear if he will meet any officials while there.
Meanwhile, Beijing has repeatedly asked the US not to interfere with Tibetan affairs and has argued that the people of Tibet have enjoyed social stability and economic growth under its rule.
While India considers Tibet to be part of China, it hosts Tibetan exiles.


Indian heatwaves, floods kill 11, with four buried alive

Indian heatwaves, floods kill 11, with four buried alive
Updated 58 min 19 sec ago
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Indian heatwaves, floods kill 11, with four buried alive

Indian heatwaves, floods kill 11, with four buried alive
  • India battling extreme weather that caused severe heatwaves, landslides and floods
  • Billions across Asia are grappling with extreme heat this summer, in a trend worsened by climate change

GUWAHATI, India: India was battling on Wednesday extreme weather that caused severe heatwaves, landslides and floods, killing at least 11 people this week, among them a woman and her three daughters buried alive in a northeastern state, officials and media said.
The capital, New Delhi, sweltered through its hottest night in six years on Tuesday, with hospitals in the city of 20 million reporting at least five deaths from heatstroke this week, the Times of India newspaper said.
Floods and landslides triggered by incessant rain in the northeastern state of Assam killed at least six people on Tuesday night, officials said.
“A landslide buried a woman and her three daughters alive,” a state disaster management official, Siju Das, said by telephone.
“Their house was on a slope, and they died on the spot around midnight,” he said, adding that the bodies were retrieved after a three-hour search operation by rescuers.
“A three-year-old was killed too.”
Billions across Asia are grappling with extreme heat this summer, in a trend scientists say has been worsened by human-driven climate change.
Since March, temperatures have soared to 50 degrees C (122 degrees F) in Delhi and the nearby desert state of Rajasthan, while more than twice the usual number of heatwave days were recorded this season in the country’s northwest and east.
These conditions stemmed from fewer thundershowers, as well as warm winds blowing in from neighboring arid regions.
In Assam, more than 160,000 people were affected, with waters surpassing the danger level in the Kopili, one of the largest tributaries of the Brahmaputra, which ranks among India’s biggest rivers.
More than 30 people in the state have died since the end of May in floods and landslides brought by heavy rain, officials said.