Tag Archives: Asia

U.S. citizen shot and killed in Pakistan courtroom during the trial blasphemy | Instant News


Tahir Ahmed Naseem, 47, died Wednesday in the northwestern city of Peshawar, after a member of the Public came into the courtroom and opened fire in front of a judge, according to the officials. The assailant was arrested at the scene.

Nazim was in the dock on charges of blasphemy after allegedly claiming to be a prophet, a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment under the Penal code of Pakistan.

In a statement, the US State Department said that officials were “shocked, saddened and outraged by” the death of Nasim at. The statement said that Nazim was “lured to Pakistan from his home in Illinois to persons who then used the blasphemy laws of Pakistan, to lure him into a trap.”He did not offer any additional details. Nasim was receiving consular assistance since his detention in 2018.

“We extend our condolences to the family of Nazim Tahir, an American citizen who was killed today in a courtroom in Pakistan,” Bureau of the Department of state for South and Central Asia, said in a separate statement posted online on Thursday. “We call on Pakistan to adopt urgent measures and carry out reforms that will prevent such a shameful tragedy will never happen again”.

According to the representative of police of Peshawar, the alleged killer told Nazim that he was an “enemy of religion” and deserves to be killed before opening fire.

Police are investigating how the suspect was able to enter the courtroom with a loaded weapon. The guards usually stationed outside the court buildings and police officers guard a separate courtrooms.

Weapons are difficult to obtain in Pakistan-the civilian population can not buy weapons or carry without a license. Members of society also, as a rule, not allowed in the local court facilities such as the one where he was shot.

Blasphemy, violent

This case has once again highlighted the tension due to the strict laws of the country about the blasphemy that have been associated with a number of acts of violence, including at least one fatal shooting in recent years.

International human rights organizations have widely condemned the law, which critics say disproportionately used against groups of religious minorities and to prosecute journalists who are critical of Pakistani religious organizations.

According to the country reports for the non-commercial organization “human rights Watch” last year at least 17 people former death row on charges of blasphemy. Most members of religious minorities.
However, violence against those who criticize the blasphemy law was “the cooling effect“in efforts to reform legislation, HRW said.

There are also fears that hardline Islamist groups can ultimately catch the attacker Nazim as a hero, as they did in the past to murderers those associated with accusations of blasphemy.

In 2010, a Christian mother of five Asia Bibi was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. The following year, the Governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer was assassinated by a bodyguard spoke out in support of Bibi and condemnation of the strict laws of the country, blasphemy.

His killer, Mumtaz Qadri immediately surrendered to police and was later executed. But for many conservative Islamists, Kadri was a Martyr, and his grave became a place of pilgrimage for those who support the death penalty of Asia Bibi.

After the Supreme court acquitted Bibi in 2018, Maulana Sami ul-Haq, the Pakistani political and religious figure, known as the “father of the Taliban” was killed for appeals to cancel its decision.

At that time, Rabia Mahmood, a former employee of the organization “Amnesty international” reports business Bibi became so acute because the Pakistani government failed to take action to curb “a campaign of hatred and violence provoked by certain groups in the country.”

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The head of Samoa in New Zealand was sentenced to 11 years in prison for slavery but experts say he is just the tip of the iceberg | Instant News


They were told that they would leave Samoa – a small island nation in the South Pacific – for their larger neighbor, a country with a population of around 25 times. Once there, they will work and send money back home to their loved ones.

Most work long hours picking fruit from the garden, but they don’t receive the money they make. Instead, it was given to people who had directly or indirectly lured them to New Zealand: a Samoan leader named Joseph Auga Matamata.

On Monday, Matamata was sentenced to 11 years in prison for 10 counts of human trafficking and 13 counts of dealing with slaves – the first case in New Zealand where someone was convicted of human trafficking and slavery at the same time.

He was also ordered to pay 183,000 New Zealand dollars ($ 122,000) in compensation to his 13 victims to partially compensate them with about 300,000 New Zealand dollars ($ 200,000) which his family obtained from his criminal acts. Matamata has maintained his innocence.

But while Matamata’s sentence ended more than two decades offensive, experts say that his case is only the tip of the iceberg.

They say that although human trafficking and slavery punishment are rare in New Zealand, the cases are broader than those shown by the sentence. And they warned that more people could become vulnerable to human trafficking in the post-epidemic world.

Position of trust

As spies – or heads – Matamata has a position of authority. In Samoan culture, matai – people who hold the title of family head – are highly respected.

But, according to the judge who sentenced Helen Cull, Matamata abused that belief.

Beginning in 1994, Matamata began inviting family members or people from his village in Samoa to come to New Zealand to work and live in his property in Hastings, a city on the North Island of New Zealand where there are a number of gardens and wineries. All were poorly educated, most could not speak English and some could not read.

The first victim was a brother and sister who were 17 and 15 at the time. The brother hopes to get money to send home to his family, while his sister hopes to complete his education in New Zealand.

Instead, the brother worked for days in the garden, while the sister cooked, cleaned, and helped care for the children – and no one was paid for their work. Matamata limited their movements and physically abused them.

The other 11 victims – aged between 12 and 53 when they came to New Zealand – had the same experience, according to the judgment.

In many cases, Matamata organizes three-month visit visas for victims, rather than work visas that they need to work legally.

The victims were told not to leave the property without permission, and not communicate with their families in Samoa unless Matamata allowed it. They do not communicate with passersby or relate to others at weekly church services. If they do not obey, Matamata “attacks them and creates a climate of fear and intimidation,” Judge Cull said.

Matamata contracts all – except his 15-year-old sister – to the horticultural operator, but then pocketes the money they make for himself. One is given for only 10 New Zealand dollars ($ 7) per week. Others received 850 New Zealand dollars ($ 565) for work over 17 months.

Eventually, many victims were deported to Samoa because they did not have the correct visa.

When they returned home, many felt ashamed because they “had nothing to show when they left and were criminalized because of their illegal immigration status,” Judge Cull said in his sentence, adding that shame was exacerbated by especially Matamata status.

“They cannot return to New Zealand to work and many feel this stigma and history will limit their ability to work … for the rest of their lives,” he said, noting that in many cases, coming to New Zealand has worsened their families. ‘financial situation. “Some victims hope for their future, but many still feel guilty and hurt for what happened to them at the hands of (Matamata).”

In a statement after the sentence, the New Zealand immigration and general compliance manager for New Zealand Immigration, Stephen Vaughan, said the sentence acknowledged that Matamata’s violations were contrary to all basic human decency.

“Violations of his beliefs, physical abuse and overt neglect for the welfare of those he means to help are not compassionate and must be condemned,” Vaughan said.

New Zealand and human trafficking

For a long time, there was a perception that human trafficking and slavery did not occur in New Zealand, said Natalia Szablewska, a senior lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology law school specializing in human trafficking.

Human trafficking was only added to the country’s Crime Act in 2002, and more recently in 2010, the head of immigration said there was there is no evidence of human trafficking in New Zealand, according to a paper by one of the country’s top judges.
But it was only after New Zealand expanded the definition of human trafficking in 2015 to include domestic trade, which means there is no need to cross borders, that the country has The first conviction of human trafficking. In 2016, a man named Faroz Ali was found guilty of trafficking Fijian workers into the country.
Experts say that the low number of sentences does not capture the whole picture. According to the Global Slavery Index from the Walk Free Foundation, which is based on estimates using surveys, there is more to it 40 million victims modern slavery throughout the world – and 3,000 victims in New Zealand.

Like all countries, it is difficult to collect accurate statistics because of the hidden nature of crime.

The Matamata case was only purchased for the attention of the authorities in 2017, according to New Zealand Immigration, and court documents say most victims are too shy to talk about their experiences even after they returned to Samoa.

Detective Inspector Mike Foster said the case – which needed help from Samoan authorities – was one of the most complex joint investigations between New Zealand Immigration and the police.

But while we don’t know the true extent, research shows exploitation is happening.

A a report by two academics published in 2019 found that people in New Zealand on student visas or visas assisted by employers were most vulnerable to exploitation. Some interviewees from India said that the education agency had sold them “dreams” of permanent residence in New Zealand. Some borrow heavily to get to New Zealand, and become so desperate when they cannot find a legitimate job that they accept exploitative conditions.

The majority of the 64 migrant workers interviewed as part of this study have been paid low at least one of their jobs, with some wages as low as 3 New Zealand dollars ($ 2) per hour – well below New Zealand minimum wages.

So, if there are more cases, why aren’t more people coming forward?

One reason, according to Rebekah Armstrong, director of the New Zealand-based Business and Human Rights Consultant, is that victims are often afraid that if they complain, they will lose their visa status – and potentially their path to residence. In New Zealand, immigration and labor issues are handled by the same ministry – and Armstrong thinks that it might make some victims not report abuse.

In a 2016 report, a migrant worker interviewed was quoted as saying: “I feel like they (the employer) have me because of a visa.”

What to do New Zealand

With millions of people worldwide losing their jobs due to the corona virus, experts warn that it could make more people vulnerable to trafficking – including in New Zealand.

“As soon as they are desperate, (people) will go for what are called opportunities where what you are asked to do or the way you are asked to do it is very unfair and below labor standards,” Szablewska said. “Those who are vulnerable will become more vulnerable.”

What is #MyFreedomDay?

Gary Jones, manager of trade policy and strategy for the New Zealand Apple and Pear industry group, said that 350,000 migrant workers currently in New Zealand could become vulnerable to exploitation if their work dried up.

The current climate also worries the government. On Monday, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment the word the government will invest 50 million New Zealand dollars ($ 33.2 million) to reduce the risk of exploitation, which it says is increasing because of Covid-19. The changes include making a new visa to help migrants leave the exploitative situation and increase the number of immigration investigators.

But Szablewska wants New Zealand to follow in the footsteps of other countries such as Australia by introducing the Modern Slavery Law which requires companies to conduct due diligence on their own supply chains. New Zealand businesses operating in Australia that have a turnover of certain thresholds are also subject to regulations.

Szablewska thinks that the Modern Slavery Act will help raise awareness about this problem in New Zealand – and perhaps encourage more victims to come forward.

“I don’t think most businesses in many cases want to rely on forced labor,” he said.

Jones thinks that commercial pressure can be more effective than changing the law.

New Zealand Apples and Pears, for example, have adopted an international framework in which companies must prove that they treat workers well to get their products in supermarkets overseas. If they do not meet the criteria, their product will not be stocked.

The shift – along with other changes such as visa schemes carried over more than a decade ago that provide more protection for Pacific Islanders working in the horticulture industry – make it difficult for people like Matamata to offend, Jones said. But that can still happen, he said.

“If you want to hide something, you can certainly hide something,” he said.

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Tajikistan has exported more than 2.7 million medical masks to Italy, Serbia | Instant News


Tajikistan has exported more than 2.7 million medical masks to Italy, Serbia

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AKIPRESS.COM – Tajikistan produced more than 8 million medical masks in 6 months this year, Industry Minister Zarobiddin Faizullozoda said, Avesta reported.

50 companies and workshops produce medical masks in the country, the Minister said.

The volume of domestic production is quite possible to export masks abroad. More than 2.7 million medical masks were exported to Italy and Serbia for 1 Euro for masks.

“The agreement was reached with European partners about mask exports in the future,” the Minister said.

Domestic producers are starting antiseptic production, the Minister added.

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Fire in Australia: Nearly three billion animals are killed or displaced | Instant News


That figure includes about 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 180 million birds, and 51 million frogs, a report commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) was found.

The number of reptiles is much higher than the others because they are generally more per hectare (10,000 square meters) than mammals or birds.

“The interim findings are surprising. It’s hard to think of other events in the world in living memory that have killed or displaced many animals,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman. “It ranks as one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.”

With more than 15,000 fires in each state of Australia, this is the worst fire season ever recorded, according to the report.

Researchers are still working to complete the report, titled “Forest Fires 2019-2020 in Australia: The Wildlife Toll,” but the three billion figure is likely not to change, according to a WWF statement.

The research was conducted by scientists from the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, the University of Newcastle, the University of Charles Sturt, and BirdLife Australia.

“When you think about nearly three billion native animals in the path of fire, this is really big, this is a number that is difficult to understand,” said Chris Dickman, a professor at Sydney University, who oversees the research.

Project leader Lily Van Eeden, also from the University of Sydney, said the new report saw the impact of fires on more than 11.46 million hectares (28.32 million hectares).

“We believe that assessments across the continent of the number of animals that might be affected have never been done in Australia before or anywhere in the world,” Van Eeden said in a statement.

“Other countries can build on this research to increase understanding of the effects of forest fires everywhere.”

This will “give other countries a window into the future of major fires and their devastating effects on wildlife,” said O’Gorman, which is important because extreme fires are becoming more common due to climate change.

The Australian Prime Minister acknowledged mistakes in the forest fire crisis amid growing criticism

Dickman called for policy changes, such as stopping “manual land clearing,” to reduce the risk of large fires that deplete native biodiversity.

The authors call for increased habitat connectivity so animals can get out of the fire lane. The report also said that a wildlife rapid response team must be formed “that will act to reduce the impact on threatened species.”

The final report must be completed by the end of August, according to WWF.

Previous studies have concluded that there is now a significant and immediate threat of extinction to the Australian koala population after the fire.

At least 5,000 koalas are thought to have died, according to a report released by the global conservation group International Fund for Animal Welfare in March.

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Pakistan: PM Khan warns of possible surge of Eid al-Adha coronavirus Coronavirus pandemic news | Instant News


Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned residents to continue to strictly follow government guidelines on limiting interaction, warning of possible new spikes in cases after the Idul Adha holy day this weekend.

Khan’s warning came when the country recorded the lowest one-day increase in cases in nearly three months, according to the latest government data released on Tuesday.

Pakistan watched COVID-19 cases increase by 936, the lowest one-day increase since April 29. Pakistan recorded a total of at least 275,000 cases, according to official data, with almost 6,000 deaths.

Khan addressed the nation from his office in the capital Islamabad on Monday, urging residents to continue to follow the social distance protocol so the economy can be reopened.

“If we have to enforce more lockdowns, it will greatly affect our economy … We will have difficulty finding work for our people,” he said.

Since July 2, the number of cases of active corona virus has decreased dramatically, mainly driven by a surge in recovery and lower rates of new infections. At present, the country has 26,834 active cases, according to official data.

The death rate reaches 2.16 percent, consistent with other countries in the region and far lower than many European or North American countries.

“Our intensive care beds, our oxygenated beds … the pressure is greatly reduced on them,” Khan said.

“The way we see the trend going, is God’s grace … that today Pakistan is among several countries that have managed to control the spread of this virus.”

Prevent ‘second wave’

Khan warned, however, that public gatherings around Eid al-Adha – when Muslims sacrifice animals, distribute their meat to droppings, and gather with extended families and friends – and during Muharram, one month of mourning and mass religious gatherings for Shiite Muslims, can cause a spike in infection.

“The world now knows that when your case falls, if you are not careful, then your case can rise once more,” he said, giving an example of a “second wave” of cases in Spain, Australia and Iran.

“Today, I want all Pakistanis to listen to my words carefully: […] You must understand that both of these events, from Muharram and Eid, if we are not careful, then our case can rise again. It will really damage us. “

A man wears a mask when selling cows for Eid al-Adha at a cattle market in Peshawar, Pakistan [Fayaz Aziz/Reuters]

Also on Monday, the provincial government in Punjab, the country’s most populous province, imposed a surprise full closure, closing all businesses and shops besides grocery stores and pharmacies until August 5.

Punjab Provincial Health Minister Yasmin Rashid said the move was taken to control the possibility of spreading the virus during Eid al-Adha.

“The key announced today is to prevent a surge in post-Idul Adha coronavirus cases,” he said. “To keep the curve flat, given the lack of SOPs followed by the public, this step cannot be avoided to protect us all.”

The number of cases can be higher

Early seroprevalence studies show that the rate of coronavirus infections in Pakistan is much higher than official figures, but the vast majority of those infected are asymptomatic and suffer only a few adverse effects.

According to one such study, conducted by multinational pharmaceutical company Getz Pharma among office workers, health care workers and coronavirus patient contacts in the southern city of Karachi, the number of cases in Pakistan could be far higher than officially reported.

Research conducted using antibody tests, showed that among the 24,210 people tested, 17.5 percent had antibodies for the virus, indicating that they were carrying or had recovered from it.

Extrapolating based on the specific demographics of the categories tested, this study shows the total number of cases in the country could reach 4.2 million, 15.2 times the number recorded by the government.

Pakistan’s testing regime has come under fire in recent days, this number has fallen rapidly from the June 19 level from 31,681 tests to between 18,000 and 25,000 last month.

On Monday, Pakistan conducted 19,610 tests, registering a positive test rate of 4.8 percent. Government officials point to the latest figures as a sign that testing is at an adequate level.

Last week, Dr Zafar Mirza, head of Pakistan’s health ministry, cited a smaller number of patients seeking treatment or testing in hospitals as the main reason for lower testing rates.

On Monday, Khan said that his government had plans to reopen the country’s struggling economy, but that depends on the period during Eid and the month of Muharram.

“If you are careful in Eid, and [in] “Muharram … then we will get the chance to reopen restaurants and tourism,” he said. And then … we need to reopen our universities, our schools and our colleges. “

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweeted @AsadHashim.

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Tourism, diplomacy faces pushback when the coronavirus virus increases | Instant News


BERLIN (AP) – The revival of tourism in Europe has just been a turbulence just weeks after countries reopened their borders, with increasing infections in Spain and other countries causing increased concern among health authorities regarding people who bring home corona virus from their summer vacation.

European countries began to open themselves up to tourists in the middle of June, but recent events show that the new freedom to travel is subject to setbacks. Over the weekend, the UK imposed a 14-day quarantine on travelers coming from Spain, Norway ordered a 10-day quarantine for people returning from the entire Iberian peninsula, and France urged its citizens not to visit Spain’s Catalonia region.

In Austria, the seaside resort town of St. Wolfgang shortened bar opening hours after an outbreak was detected on Friday. On Monday, 53 people have tested positive, including many who work in the tourism industry.

In Germany, officials decided last week to set up a testing station at the airport to encourage people coming from a long list of countries deemed to be at high risk – including popular destinations such as Turkey – to be tested. They will also allow people to be tested elsewhere for free within three days of arrival.

Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder said he was worried about travelers returning from vacation. Referring to the Austrian ski resort which was Europe’s initial hot spot in March, he said: “My concern is not that there will be a large Ischgl, but there will be many mini-Ischglls.”

Soeder called for tests of travelers returning from risk areas to be required, something the federal government is considering.

“Most of them are attentive people who have behaved very cautiously on holidays as well who take voluntary offers, while those who are more careless do not take voluntary tests,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, told RBB Inforadio.

New infections in Germany are traveling higher than low levels.

The tourism industry employs 2.6 million people in Spain and produces 12% of the country’s economic activities.

Juan Molas, head of the national association of tourism companies, Mesa del Turismo, said the Spanish tourism sector has lost an average of 5 billion euros ($ 5.8 billion) a week since March.

Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said the Spanish government was trying to persuade Britain to free the Balearic Islands, which have low infection rates, from quarantine rules.

“We live side by side with a virus. That doesn’t mean we can’t travel. We can, if we are careful,” Maroto said.

The Catalonia and Aragón regions have the most alarming Spanish virus groups, prompting authorities to tighten restrictions in Barcelona, ​​in rural areas around Lleida and in the relaxed Zaragoza just a month ago.

Catalonia faces “the 10 most decisive days this summer,” said regional leader Quim Torra, warning that it was in everyone’s hands to prevent the “critical situation” from worsening.

Elsewhere in Europe, authorities in Belgium say cases of COVID-19 are growing at an alarming rate amid a surge in infections in Antwerp. Greek authorities said they would likely extend the use of masks in churches and shopping centers.

And in North Africa, Morocco has banned most trips to and from several major cities – including Tangier, Casablanca and Marrakech, usually popular tourist destinations – to stem the small spike in the case.

In the Asia-Pacific region, many countries basically still prohibit foreign travelers or, if they allow them to enter, require them to submit to stringent tests and quarantine. That includes Australia, where Victoria’s prime minister, Daniel Andrews, said the biggest drivers in the outbreak in the region are people who continue to work after showing symptoms.

Border crossings are linked to other outbreaks in Asia. South Korea said 16 of the 25 new cases confirmed on Monday were related to people coming from abroad. Over the past few days, the country has reported dozens of cases among crew members of Russian-flagged cargo ships and hundreds of South Korean construction workers flown in from Iraq.

A count by Johns Hopkins University shows around 16.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and around 650,000 deaths. The actual number is considered to be much higher due to testing limits and many small cases that are not reported.

The World Health Organization says the pandemic continues to increase, with doubling of cases over the past six weeks.

The head of the emergency UN health agency, Dr. Michael Ryan, stressed the need to “maintain pressure against viruses.”

“Every country where the pressure has been lifted on the virus, where the virus is still at the community level, there is a leap back in the case,” he said.

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Kurtenbach reports from Mito, Japan. Barry Hatton in Lisbon and Associated Press journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow the AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Asia Today: The Australian outbreak was caused by sick workers | Instant News


The badly hit Australian state has posted another daily record of 532 new COVID-19 cases

MELBOURNE, Australia – Victoria’s hard-hit state of Australia on Monday set a new daily record of 532 new COVID-19 cases, and government leaders warned that the closure in the city of Melbourne would continue while infected people continued to work.

Melbourne is almost halfway through a six-week lockdown aimed at limiting the spread of the community corona virus. Wear a mask AustraliaThe second largest city became mandatory last week.

New cases and six deaths reported on Monday surpassed the previous record of 484 new infections reported on Wednesday last week.

Prime Minister Victoria Daniel Andrews said the biggest driver of new infections was that people continued to go to work after showing symptoms.

“This is what drives these numbers and the locking will not end until people stop working with symptoms and instead go and be tested,” Andrews said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked for patience in Victoria.

“There has been a significant community transmission in Victoria. “It will take time to reach its peak,” Morrison said.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

– Vietnam has delayed hosting the biggest security forum in Asia, which includes North Korea, and the annual meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers a month to September due to the coronavirus pandemic. Two Southeast Asian diplomats said Monday that Vietnam, which chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year, hoped to hold a face-to-face meeting in mid-September instead of doing it via online video because of travel restrictions if the annual meeting would be held as originally scheduled for the end this week. The 10-nation bloc hosts the ASEAN Regional Forum, which unites its top diplomats with colleagues from the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India, two Koreas and other Asia Pacific countries to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and others. security problem. Most of the 1,300 ASEAN meetings this year have so far been shifted online due to the coronavirus pandemic, including the annual summit of ASEAN leaders last month. More sensitive talks, including secret negotiations between China and ASEAN member countries for the so-called “code of conduct” in the disputed South China Sea, have been postponed indefinitely, said two diplomats, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. . due to lack of authority to discuss this issue openly.

– China on Monday reported 61 new cases of coronavirus, spreading between the northeast and northwest. The northwestern Xinjiang region reported 41 new cases, while the northeastern Liaoning and Jilin provinces experienced 16 cases. The other four cases were brought by Chinese travelers from abroad. China has reported 4,634 deaths among 83,891 COVID-19 cases.

– South Korea reports 25 new cases, bringing the total number of national cases to 14,175 infections and 299 deaths. The South Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 16 new cases were related to people who came from abroad. The country has in the past few days reported dozens of cases among crew members of Russian-flagged cargo ships anchored in Busan and hundreds of South Korean construction workers flown in from the virus-ravaged Iraq. Eight of the nine local transmissions are from the Seoul metropolitan area.

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Vietnam has banned imports and wildlife markets amid fears the spread of the corona virus | Instant News


Vietnam has announced it will ban wildlife imports and close the wildlife market in response to new concerns about threats from diseases that can jump from animals to humans, such as the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Morrison government welcomed an order signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday banning all imports of dead or living wildlife, including eggs and larvae.

It also deserves tougher penalties for crimes involving wildlife trade.

Vietnam has become a popular destination for wildlife products – often from endangered species – used in traditional medicine or in preparing exotic dishes.

This step was taken amid increasing surveillance of health risks from wildlife trade when the world deals with new corona viruses, which are thought to have jumped from animals to humans.

Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Vietnam’s crackdown was a huge victory for global public health.

“Vietnam reduces the risk of a pandemic in the future and shows the world how we can manage this market in the future,” Littleproud said.

He said the Vietnamese Government must be congratulated on its leadership in taking “an evidence-based approach to reducing the risk of spreading disease from animals to humans. Australia will also continue to pursue global reforms on this issue where there are other opportunities.”

A shop in Thuy Ung village in Vietnam that sells wildlife products displays ivory ivory as possible.(ABC News: Ben Bohane)

“The existence of wildlife markets in many locations has been a big problem in Vietnam for a long time,” said Phuong Tham, state director for Vietnam’s International Human Society.

“A greedy appetite for wildlife not only endangers the survival of this species, but, as we have seen with the coronavirus outbreak, it also endangers human life. So this ban will not happen immediately,” Tham said.

The new directives include recommendations made by conservationists over the years, including cracking down on the domestic market, said Steve Galster, director of Freeland, a group working to end wildlife trade.

“COVID-19 is increasing the problem of wildlife trade, so that Vietnamese MPs have been involved with this issue in recent months and helped push forward directions,” he said.

The directive is not perfect because it still has exceptions that will allow trade in wild animals to continue, but this is a good start and hopefully can become stronger over time, Galster said.

The Australian Government previously said believe there is a “very real possibility” that a coronavirus outbreak came from the wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Mr Littleproud said in a virtual meeting of G20 agriculture ministers in April that the government needed to “acknowledge risks and take action” regarding wet markets.

“Our people must have confidence that the food they eat is safe, we owe it to our domestic population and our international market.”

AP / ABC

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Pakistan: China-backed hydroelectric project has angered locals, environmentalists in Asia | An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | Instant News


Prime Minister Imran Khan last week promised to build “the largest dam in Pakistan’s history” after he inaugurated the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. He said the project would benefit people living in the area. “The decision to build this dam was taken 50 years ago. There is no better place to build a dam; it is a natural dam,” the prime minister said.

The controversial dam is being built jointly by companies run by the Chinese government, China Power, and the Pakistan Military Border Work Organization (FWO), according to media reports.

A number of other hydroelectric projects are also underway in this area, with the Kohala and Neelum Jhelum projects being the most controversial. The first is still under construction while the latter was completed more than a year ago.

Pakistan has faced an electricity crisis for several years. As a result, there have been significant discharges of electricity applied throughout the country in urban and rural areas. The shortage has caused a lot of factory closures and hampered foreign investment in the country, resulting in low employment, economic output, and exports.

Read more: Water crisis: Why has Pakistan dried up?

Increasing public dissatisfaction has sparked mass protests and destruction of public property repeatedly. However, this problem is expected to worsen in the coming years because the mismatch between energy supply and demand in the country is projected to widen.

In 2015, Beijing announced China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of the Intercontinental Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with the aim of expanding its influence in Pakistan and throughout Central and South Asia. CPEC includes plans to build roads, rails and oil pipelines to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East through Pakistan. As Pakistan grapples with an acute economic crisis, experts say that the CPEC has the potential to stimulate much needed economic activity in the country.

Opposition to the project

Opposition parties, nationalist Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir, and environmentalists have voiced concern about the construction of these large dams, saying the projects will destroy the environment and the livelihoods of the local population.

“Our worst fears come true [Neelum] the river has dried up at a number of points, forcing locals to migrate elsewhere. More than 800,000 people will be affected by these projects in the next 25 to 30 years. First India diverted about 21% of water from our territory and now Pakistan is also taking our water, “Tauqeer Gilani, head of Jammu and the Kashmir Liberation Front in Pakistan-run Kashmir, told DW.

“This is not just about environmental degradation. We must not forget that this region [Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan] disputed, with a pending resolution with the United Nations. How can Pakistan let China build any project here? “Gilani said.

Read more: Skepticism in Gilgit-Baltistan over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA) condemned construction work at the Diamer-Bhasha Dam when it was announced in May.

“Our position is consistent and clear that the whole territory of the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Territories has been, is and will continue to be an integral and irrevocable part of India,” MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava told reporters on May 14.

“We consistently express our protests and share concerns with Pakistan and China on all such projects in the Indian territory under the illegal occupation of Pakistan,” he said.

Read more: Kashmir: The most dangerous conflict in the world

Environmental hazards

Environmentalists say large dams in the region damage water sources, causing acute water shortages for local residents.

“This [Neelum-Jehlum] the project was built in haste. The authorities ignored all recommendations from Pakistan’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the government did not bother to conduct an initial environmental impact assessment by a credible international company, “Amjad Ali Khan, a spokesman for the Pakistan-run River Protection Movement in Kashmir, managed, said DW.

“The Kohala project will also disrupt the ecosystem. We see heaps of garbage and waste water in some parts of the river that are drying up due to this project,” Khan added.

According to some experts, the Neelum-Jhelum area is prone to earthquakes, which makes it unsuitable for building dams. In 2005, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake shook Kashmir, killing around 87,351 people and displacing around three million.

Read more: Pakistan dams threaten mangroves and livelihoods

‘Exaggerated’ claim

Arif Mahmud, an environmental expert and former professor at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, said that some people exaggerate the negative impacts of these projects. “In the past, people raised concerns about the environmental consequences of this dam, but in many cases they turned out to be wrong. Pakistan differently needs energy and the dam is one of the cheapest and best ways to get it,” he said.

Syed Asif Hussain Shah, former EPA director general and current additional chief secretary for development in Pakistan-run Kashmir, dismissed critics’ claims that the hydroelectric project would have a negative impact on the local population.

“They [projects] will create income and jobs. After completion of these projects, their ownership will be transferred to the local government. We believe that they will help Pakistan overcome the blackouts that have damaged our economic growth, “Shah stressed.

Lieutenant General (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa, PM’s special assistant for information, also said the project would produce 4,500 MW of energy and provide at least 16,000 jobs.

Read more: Crowdfunding for dams – why Pakistan’s Pakistani PM drive is not feasible

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Former Manus Island prisoner Behrouz Boochani gives refugee status in New Zealand | Instant News


Behrouz Boochani was sent to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) after arriving in Australian waters in 2013, under the government’s policy of holding asylum seekers arriving by ship.

While in custody, Boochani used his cellphone to write the book “No Friend But The Mountains,” which last year won the Victoria Prize for Literature – the most lucrative literary award in the country.

Boochani was told on Thursday that he had been granted refugee status in New Zealand. This date is important – it marks the 37th anniversary and seven years since he was placed on a naval ship while trying to reach Australia.

“Now after exactly seven years, this story for me has finished. But of course my story is only part of the whole story,” he told CNN from Christchurch.

“That is a big thing for me, because it makes me feel stronger now and feel stable, feeling that now I can be part of this society,” he said. “I have a place. So that’s a great feeling.”

However, Boochani said it was difficult to fully enjoy his reception in New Zealand.

“On the other hand, I always think about people living in detention in Australia, in Port Moresby, in Nauru, which is really sad and makes me angry,” he said, referring to the PNG capital and Pacific Pacific island of Nauru, where the other prisoners were sent.

In a statement, New Zealand Immigration confirmed that Boochani had been granted refugee status. CNN has contacted the Australian Department of the Interior, which handles immigration in the country, to provide comments.

‘State-approved hostage’

Boochani was detained on Manus Island after escaping persecution in Iran in 2013.

In the same year, the Australian government has announced that no asylum seekers arriving by ship will ever settle in this country. They have the choice to settle in Nauru or in PNG, or return to their home countries. Some have been accepted to be resettled in the US, based on an agreement with former US President Barack Obama.

Canberra says tough border protection policies are needed to avoid deaths at sea at the hands of people smugglers – but human rights groups have criticized the poor living conditions and the high incidence of mental health problems among prisoners.

While on Manus Island, Boochani was an outspoken critic of Australia’s refugee policy, calling himself and fellow prisoners victims “state-approved hostage. “
As well as winning Victorian Prize for LiteratureBoochani’s book won the Non-Fiction Prize at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. He was awarded 125,000 Australian dollars (about $ 90,000) for work which the award committee called the “cry of resistance.”
Every room at this hotel is booked.  But guests are not allowed to leave

Boochani is given limited entered New Zealand last November to speak at a literary festival in Christchurch. After arriving, he applied for protection.

Boochani said he was still in contact with some of his fellow prisoners on Manus Island, and felt responsible for helping fellow refugees. He is currently working on a project with the University of Canterbury in Christchurch where he is researching colleague, and is writing a collection of short stories – but not about Manus Island, he said.

‘A day for celebration’

Iranian-born New Zealand politician Golriz Ghahraman – the first refugee to become a member of parliament – welcomed Boochani in a tweet.

“Today Aotearoa is a place where justice and compassion prevail,” he said the word, using the word Maori for New Zealand. “We stand together for freedom today.”

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand’s Executive Director, Meg de Ronde, said, “It is truly remarkable to hear that New Zealand offers him the freedom and opportunity to rebuild his life here.”

“Today is a day of celebration. Today is the first day in Behrouz’s life that he is free,” he said. “His commitment to freedom for everyone trapped in Australian detention is an example for us all.”

In June last year, UN human rights officials urged Australia to provide immediate medical assistance to more than 800 asylum seekers and migrants detained offshore after a series of suicide attempts.

There have been several cases of attempted suicide or self-injury on Manus Island, according to claims made by refugees and advocates, including Boochani. Human rights monitors such as Amnesty International have reported “hellish” conditions, harassment and neglect.

New Zealand has offered to resettle 150 refugees each year from Australia’s offshore detention center, but Australia has refused to accept the offer.

Australian Home Minister Peter Dutton said the New Zealand agreement was a “a total disaster,” because it would offer prisoners “back door” entry into Australia.

Rights groups say the government’s fear is baseless.

“It’s time for Australia to accept New Zealand’s offer,” de Ronde said.

Sandi Sidhu and Angus Watson from CNN contributed to this story.

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