Thu, May 10, 2018 - Page 6 News List

World News Quick Take

Agencies

ISRAEL

HRW director ordered out

The Ministry of the Interior has given a Human Rights Watch (HWR) director two weeks to leave the country, accusing him of promoting a boycott. The ministry on Tuesday said it had terminated the residency permit of HRW’s Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir, a US citizen, over accusations that he supported a boycott of Israel. Israeli officials have clamped down on groups seen as supporting the global campaign for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), which aims to pressure the nation to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories. HRW has written several critical reports about the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. “This is not about Shakir, but rather about muzzling Human Rights Watch and shutting down criticism of Israel’s rights record,” the New York-based rights group said in a statement. “Neither Human Rights Watch nor its representative, Shakir, promotes boycotts of Israel.”

VIETNAM

Hanoi calls out Beijing

Hanoi has demanded Beijing remove military equipment from contested islands in the South China Sea, saying reported missile installations are a “serious violation” of the nation’s sovereignty. The warning follows a report from US network CNBC last week that China had installed anti-ship and air-to-air defenses on the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), which Taiwan also claims. China did not confirm the new military equipment, but last week affirmed its right to build defense facilities in the South China Sea. Hanoi called Beijing’s latest moves a threat to peace and asserted its historical and legal rights to the islands. “Vietnam requests China ... not to militarize [and] withdraw military equipment that were illegally deployed on structures under Vietnam’s sovereignty,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement late on Tuesday.

MALDIVES

Chief justice jailed

The Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed to four months and 24 days in prison on charges of obstructing government administration and justice. Saeed was found guilty of preventing the Supreme Court from receiving letters from the government. He was arrested in February during a political crisis that followed a Supreme Court order for the release and retrial of some of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s jailed political opponents because of alleged violations of due process during their earlier trials. He also faces charges of terrorism which carry a longer maximum sentence.

AUSTRALIA

More aid to Pacific nations

The nation is refocusing its foreign aid programs in a move to win hearts and minds in the island nations of the Pacific, as an increasingly assertive China flexes its muscles in the region. The government has pledged more than A$1.3 billion (US$970 million) — its largest ever aid commitment to the Pacific — to fund projects including an undersea communications cable to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The government said the reorientation of its aid priorities, revealed in a budget on Tuesday, reflected “the fundamental importance to Australia of the stability and economic progress of Pacific island countries.” Canberra and other regional capitals have become increasingly alarmed at China’s push into the Pacific, which could upset the strategic balance in the region. The Lowy Institute estimated that China provided US$1.78 billion in aid, including concessional loans, to Pacific nations between 2006 and 2016.

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