Pak denies visas to 30 Indian intellectuals
Taliban regrouping in Afghanistan
Relief after 17 years
Pakistan, Iran to go ahead with pipeline
NRI among top 100 most influential people
March in Washington to stop Darfur killing
Jakarta, May 1
Workers staged protests in a dozen cities across Indonesia, including one in Jakarta, that attracted more that 10,000 people, against government plans to revise a 2003 labour law that businesses say is too worker-friendly and hinders investment.
Most of the Jakarta protesters massed at the capital’s main roundabout, the presidential palace and the national Parliament, where workers burned a mock coffin.
Barbed wire and water cannon were visible at those central Jakarta locations, but no significant violence was reported.
Similar protests with thousands of participants hit at least 12 other cities in the world’s fourth most populous country, local media reported. Several Opposition legislators met rally representatives and promised to knock down the government draft amendments if they reached Parliament. The 2003 law was a product of the country’s first democratic Parliament after the 1998 fall of autocratic President Suharto, who kept unions on a tight leash. In the Philippines, thousands marched in central Manila under the eye of 5,000 anti-riot police ready to thwart any repeat of May Day riots in 2001 when supporters of former president Joseph Estrada stormed the presidential palace. In today’s sweltering heat, a crowd of labour groups and Estrada supporters waved flags and banners calling for higher ages, lower fuel prices and the ousting of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Estrada is under house arrest while facing trial for corruption. In Cambodia, anti-riot police broke up a peaceful but unauthorised May Day march by hundreds of workers in Phnom Penh led by Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, which brought the capital to a standstill for a couple of hours. Japanese workers marched in a May Day rally in Tokyo.
Similar protests with thousands of participants hit at least 12 other cities in the world’s fourth most populous country, local media reported.
Several Opposition legislators met rally representatives and promised to knock down the government draft amendments if they reached Parliament.
The 2003 law was a product of the country’s first democratic Parliament after the 1998 fall of autocratic President Suharto, who kept unions on a tight leash.
In the Philippines, thousands marched in central Manila under the eye of 5,000 anti-riot police ready to thwart any repeat of May Day riots in 2001 when supporters of former president Joseph Estrada stormed the presidential palace.
In today’s sweltering heat, a crowd of labour groups and Estrada supporters waved flags and banners calling for higher ages, lower fuel prices and the ousting of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Estrada is under house arrest while facing trial for corruption.
In Cambodia, anti-riot police broke up a peaceful but unauthorised May Day march by hundreds of workers in Phnom Penh led by Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, which brought the capital to a standstill for a couple of hours. Japanese workers marched in a May Day rally in Tokyo. — Reuters
Karachi, May 1
At least 30 intellectuals and poets from India could not reach Karachi, as they were not issued visas from the Pakistani diplomatic mission in New Delhi, the Daily Times quoted one of the moot organisers as saying.
“Some 24 intellectuals and six poets could not get Pakistani visas and could not participate in the conference,” the Daily Times quoted moot’s chief organiser Professor Saleem Memon as saying while talking to reporters in Karachi.
The absence of these writers has affected the conference as very few of them had sent their writings to the organisers, said the paper.
Earlier, a couple of months back, a group of Indian scientists who were invited to participate in an international conference in Islamabad were also denied visas in a similar fashion. —ANI
Kabul, May 1
Lately, there has been a spate of skirmishes and attacks on the coalition forces and the Afghan government by the Taliban, the latest being the kidnapping and brutal murder of Indian telecom engineer K. Suryanarayana on Sunday.
The resurgent ambitions of the Taliban, known for its puritan code and fanaticism, can be gauged from the fact that it gave an ultimatum to the Indian government to withdraw nearly 2,000 Indian workers from Afghanistan in return for releasing the captive.
Recently, two Taliban fighters and two Afghan soldiers died in a gun battle in Zhawara district of Afghanistan’s volatile eastern province of Khowst. The Taliban targets aid and reconstruction projects in the region.
Zabul province, one of the key areas from where the Taliban men cross into Afghanistan via Pachena and Anganay from neighbouring Quetta, is the main route for the militia to go to other southern provinces. The Taliban has been controlling most of the area in this region. There are reports of the Taliban finding new supporters among locals who see them providing better security to people than the government does.
Even the voting for parliament from these areas last year could not be conducted as the election material and the polling parties could not reach their respective places due to the militants’ control over the routes.
Dai Chopan district is one of the worst districts as far as insurgency is concerned. The insurgency is headed by Mullah Dadullah, who has about 400 fighters. The guerrillas have weapons from AK-47 rifles to heavy machine guns to rocket launchers and mines. Lately, they have been making their own bombs, sources said. In Atghar district, Mullah Razaq is heading Taliban operations in the area and his deputy is Mullah Agha.
Around 40 Taliban fighters are working in small groups in Nawbahar district.
In Khake Afghan district, foreign fighters, mostly Arabs and Chechens, have their base. It is being headed by a Taliban commander, Mullah Qahar, who was the commander for a Taliban frontline during the fight against the Northern Alliance.
Qalat, the provincial capital of Zabul province, is headed by Taliban commander Mullah Assadullah who has around 300 fighters. Five months ago, Assadullah masterminded the killing of a Turkish engineer and kidnapped Indian engineer Maniyappan Ramankutty in the Tarnak area.
Recently, Afghan President Hamid Karzai confronted Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf with evidence of Islamabad’s continued patronage of the Taliban.
However, Musharraf denied the charges and said that Islamabad was as much a victim of terrorism as New Delhi and Kabul. — IANS
Beijing, May 1
Tang Deying campaigned for 17 years to win redress since her son, Zhou Guocong, died in police detention on June 6, 1989, in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, a Chengdu-based activist told Reuters on Sunday.
The Chengdu police recently gave Tang 70,000 yuan (8,735 dollars) as “hardship assistance’’, activist Huang Qi, who has publicised her case, announced on his Website (www.64tianwang.com) yesterday.
He and other Chinese rights campaigners said it appeared to be the first substantial compensation paid to relatives of a victim of the crackdown.
Ding Zilin, a Beijing professor whose teenage son was shot dead by troops in 1989, said the authorities might be making concessions toensure a ‘’harmonious atmosphere’’ as the anniversary of the June 4 crackdown looms, the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily reported yesterday.
Zhou, a 15-year old factory worker, was detained after soldiers and the police staged a nationwide sweep against protesters and bystanders caught up in the anti-government protests that erupted in Chinese cities in 1989, paralysing administration and dividing the ruling Communist Party.
The party leadership ordered troops to move on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the epicentre of the protests, early on
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of demonstrators were shot dead in the capital, and thousands of citizens were detained across the country, international human rights groups say.
Zhou was riding his bicycle home from work when the police detained him, according to a complaint lodged by his mother.
Zhou died after being beaten in a police cell, she said. Photos of his corpse showed bruises and cuts, but he was cremated without an investigation. Since then Tang has waged a constant campaign of petitions and visits to officials in a bid to win redress for her son.
Huang said the case might not presage other compensation payments to the families of crackdown victims.
“This was a special case because we have the photos [of Zhou’s corpse] on the Internet, and because his mother was so persistent,’’Huang said.
He said Tang and other members of Zhou’s family did not want to speak to the media, fearing recriminations. — Reuters
Islamabad, May 1
At the conclusion a three-day technical talks between Pakistan and Iran yesterday, both countries said the project would forge ahead despite US reservations.
Pakistan Petroleum Secretary Ahmad Waqar, who headed his side at the talks, told reporters here that Pakistan and Iran had reached an agreement on basic principles of a gas pricing formula and decided to work on a bilateral Iran-Pakistan pipeline, regardless of India’s involvement in the project.
Mr Waqar also played down the threat of sanctions against Iran. “Pakistan is viewing this project keeping in view its national interests. We need energy to sustain economic growth,” Daily Times quoted Mr Waqar as saying.
Mr Waqar said a “broad-based agreement” had been reached on pricing. However, Pakistan and Iran would continue to examine each others proposals on pricing, he said, adding that Iran would provide a Gas Sales Purchase Agreement (GSPA) to Pakistan in a week and “we will reciprocate as early as possible”.
Both sides agreed to a project structure wherein gas would be delivered at the Iran-Pakistan border under a supply agreement, the daily reported.
Mr Waqar said the pipeline would run through the Bhong area in Rahim Yar Khan district. — UNI
New York, May 1
Akula, 37, has made SKS one of the fastest-growing microlenders, having dispensed 52 million dollars to 221,000 clients since 1998.
In the citation, the magazine says loaning a few bucks may not sound like cutting-edge banking but Akula is using advanced technology in the areas where there are few land telephone lines and no ATMs.
In such areas, Time says, founder of SKS Microfinance started dispensing loans, typically 116 dollars, on smart cards which its land officers have been using to record repayment electronically.
The plastic approach, says the magazine, “intrigued” Visa International, which is now pairing SKS with cell phone-based card readers.
Akula, who grew up in upstate New York, says poverty in India is “disconcerting”. “I just thought that I must do something.”
“When you see people suffer, make sacrifices, and when you experience the unstated intimacy of this suffering, only then you realise the brute reality of poverty,” he says.
In 1990, Akula moved to Zaheerabad in Medhak district of Andhra Pradesh to work with Deccan Development Society, a non governmental organization.
He started Swayam Krishi Sangam (SKS) in 1998 in Medhak district and raised $ 52,000 from individual contributors in the United States
SKS supports 63 different activities divided into three categories: livestock, trading and agriculture. “About 40 per cent loans are for livestock, 20 goes to trading and about 15 per cent goes to agriculture in areas where villagers plough their own or leased land.”
The Time list includes 75 men and 25 women who hail from 29 different countries including Bhutan, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Great Britain, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, South Africa, Seoul, United Arab Emirates, United States, and Venezuela. — PTI
Washington, May 1
“Darfur deserves to live. We are its only hope,’’ Nobel PeacePrize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel told the crowd that converged on the National Mall in Washington, near the U S Capitol yesterday.
Other speakers at the rally included Washington’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Illinois Democratic Sen. Barak Obamaand actor George Clooney, who visited Darfur last week.
Beating African drums and waving posters saying ‘’Stop Genocide Now,’’ the mostly white crowd had responded to a call from 160 religious, political and humanitarian organizations representing virtually all shades of US opinion.
Smaller rallies were also taking place in 18 other U S cities, making this the largest public demonstration on the issue since the conflict in Darfur began three years ago.
Arab militia, backed by the Sudanese government, have terrorised non-Arab tribes in the region in western Sudan over the past three years, murdering and raping tens of thousands, burning villages and driving more than two million people into squalid camps in Darfur and neighbouring Chad.
The United States has labeled the violence in Darfur a genocide of the mainly African Muslim tribes by the government-backed militias known as Janjaweed.
President George W. Bush on Thursday issued an executive order freezing the assets of four Sudanese deemed to have posed a threat to the peace process in Darfur. But demonstrators called on the administration to do more. — Reuters