Activist gets refugee status
The Seoul Administrative Court has granted refugee status to a woman who fled China after helping escapees from North Korea there, saying she could face severe punishment from Beijing if sent back. The court ruled in favor of the woman, an ethnic Korean identified only as Lee, a court spokesman said yesterday. It reversed the justice ministry’s decision to deny her refugee status. Lee, who lived near the border, said she had helped about 20 refugees flee North Korea until police raided her house in March last year. Her husband was arrested, but Lee escaped with her daughter.
Carr defends US troops
China must respect Australia’s sovereign right to have US Marines deployed in the Northern Territory as Washington enhances its presence in the Pacific, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said yesterday. Canberra last year agreed to host up to 2,500 US Marines in the north, a significant strategic shift by Washington that irritated China. Carr told the Australian Financial Review the decision was not aimed at China. “Just as Australia has taken a balanced view of China’s rapid military modernisation, China should recognise Australia’s sovereign right to reframe its alliance with the US as part of its own defence policy,” he said.
PCCW keeps Syria online
A firm that tracks the pathways of the Internet says a Chinese company is keeping war-torn Syria connected to the Internet as other telecoms companies withdraw. The Syrian government ultimately controls Internet connection to the outside world, but it’s a major route for rebel communications and news from the country, as the civil war intensifies. Hong Kong-based PCCW Ltd (電訊盈科) is now carrying most of the Internet traffic to and from Syria, US-based Renesys Corp said. PCCW has shouldered the load as Turk Telecom, the main phone company in Turkey, dropped away on Aug. 12. It’s not clear what killed that connection, but Turkey has protested the Syria regime’s actions. China is one of Syria’s few international allies.
Ten dead from fighting
The death toll from fighting between Sunni Muslims and Alawites in Tripoli climbed to at least 10 overnight, medical sources said yesterday, in clashes that the city’s residents described as some of the heaviest since the civil war. More than 100 people have been wounded in the fighting that erupted this week along a sectarian fault line between the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Alawite area of Jebel Mohsen. After a lull, Tripoli was rocked by about two dozen explosions between 2am and 6am, apparently caused by rocket-propelled grenades, witnesses said. The fighters have also been using automatic machine guns.
Man freed after 27 years
The longest-serving Syrian prisoner in Israel has been freed after 27 years behind bars, official news agency SANA said yesterday. It said Sedki al-Maket, who was arrested in August 1985 for resisting the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, was released and had returned to his home town on the strategic plateau. He was jailed by a military court for 27 years and served his sentence in several prisons in Israel, SANA said. Maket, 45, comes from Majdal Shams, the largest town on the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and unilaterally annexed in 1981.