US Secretary of State Colin Powell dramatically increased pressure on the Sudanese government on Thursday by declaring the killings and destruction in its Darfur region to be genocide. \nPowell, directly blaming the Sudanese government, said: "This was a coordinated effort, not just random violence." \nThe US now has an obligation under international law to act. Labelling violence as genocide is relatively rare. \nPowell's declaration follows a report from US state department investigators who spent five weeks taking evidence from 1,136 refugees attacked by the government-backed Janjaweed militia. \nThe British government, after sifting through the state department's evidence, reached a different conclusion. \nA UK Foreign Office source said the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, while regarding the situation as dreadful, had not found incontrovertible evidence to justify calling it genocide. \nPowell is to press the UN to set up an international commission "with a view to ensuring accountability." Straw, who discussed this with Powell, is backing the proposal. \nPowell said: "I concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility and that genocide may still be occurring." \nThe Sudanese government rejected the charge. Najeeb al-Khair Abdel-Wahab, the deputy foreign minister, said he expected the international community to assist, "not put oil on the fire." \nThe US and British governments have been reluctant to declare the destruction of lives and villages in Darfur to be genocide because of the international legal obligations and to avoid unnecessarily antagonizing the Sudanese government. \nAn estimated 40,000 people have been killed and 1.2 million have fled their homes as a result of the violence. \nGenocide is defined under a law drawn up after World War II as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." \nPowell said the evidence corroborated the specific intent of perpetrators to destroy a "group in whole or part." \nHe said: "There is nobody prepared to send troops in there from the United States or the European Union or elsewhere to put it down in the sense of an imposition force." \nThe preferred option in Washington and London is to expand an African Union monitoring force already in Darfur. \nThe State Department report, released yesterday, said there was a "consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities committed against non-Arab villagers." \nThe report said: "Most respondents said government forces, militia fighters, or a combination of both, had completely destroyed their villages." It said 61 percent witnessed the killing of a family member, and 16 percent said they had been raped or had heard about a rape victim. \n"About one-third of the ref-ugees heard racial epithets while under attack," it said. \nThe Sudanese government claims it is simplistic to portray the violence as between Arab Janjaweed and black African villagers, and blames much of the trouble on anti-government rebels in Darfur. \nThe UN security council is discussing a draft resolution on Darfur calling for an expanded African Union mandate. \nThe US and British governments will include in the draft the setting up of the international commission. \nEU officials yesterday shared the British reluctance to use the word genocide.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big