Sunday, November 27, 2005

Burma 'extends Suu Kyi detention'

Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi had her house arrest extended for another 12 months, sources within the country's military government say.
Officials visited her home for a short time to read out a notice informing her of the decision, reports say.
The decision was widely expected following a similar 12 month order issued last November.
Ms Suu Kyi, 60, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been under house arrest since May 2003.
Under the terms of her house arrest, Ms Suu Kyi is routinely denied visitors and not allowed to use the telephone.
No reform
A spokesman for Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy could not immediately confirm whether the house arrest had been extended.
However, U Lwin told the Associated Press news agency that the date was right for another extension.
1990: National League for Democracy (NLD) wins general election while Suu Kyi under house arrest; military does not recognise the result
1991: Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1995: Released from house arrest, but movements restricted
2000-02: Second period of house arrest
May 2003: Detained after clash between NLD and government forces
Sep 2003 Allowed home after operation, but under effective house arrest
"The whole world has been calling for release of Suu Kyi, but the government has not been responding to any of the calls," he added.
The BBC's Kylie Morris in Bangkok says that neither the isolation policies of the US and Britain nor the attitude of engagement by neighbouring south east Asian nations appear to be having much effect in spurring the military government on to real political reform.
Ms Suu Kyi has spent 10 of the past 15 years under house arrest or in prison since returning to Burma from the UK.
Her party won a landslide victory in the country's first multi-party elections, in 1990, but Burma's ruling military junta did not allow the result to stand.
They had come to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy uprising.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/27 09:02:23 GMT© BBC MMV

China city water supply resumes

Mains water supplies in the Chinese city of Harbin have resumed five days after they were cut due to a toxic chemical spill.
Provincial governor Zhang Zuoji took the first drink after supplies were reconnected, Xinhua news agency said.
An 80km (50-mile) stretch of contaminated water passed through the city of 3.8m people after 100 tonnes of benzene spilled into the Songhua river.
The contaminated water is due to reach Russian cities downstream in two weeks.
Beijing has begun an inquiry into the spill caused by an explosion at a petrochemical factory on 13 November.
For the last five days, Harbin's residents have been relying on bottled water and water delivered by lorries.
China has apologised to Russia for the pollution heading towards Russian rivers.
Traffic lights
Inspections on Saturday evening revealed that water quality in the Songhua river upstream of Harbin had returned to national standards, Xinhua reported.
The restoration of supplies at 1800 (1000 GMT) on Sunday came five hours earlier than expected.
However correspondents pointed out it was not immediately clear whether this would continue or whether it was for the whole city.
13 November Explosion at petrochemical plant, Jilin city
21 Nov Water to Harbin city cut off; local government cites mains maintenance
22 Nov State media say water could have been contaminated after the blast
23 Nov Authorities admit very high levels of benzene have been found in the water
23 Nov Authorities say 100 tonnes of benzene emptied into the Songhua river
26 Nov China apologises to Russia where the pollution is expected to arrive within two weeks
Guidance on how safe it is to drink the water is to be available locally over the next few days.
TV stations will use a traffic light-style system to inform residents about water quality.
A red indicator will mean the water is unusable, yellow that it is suitable for bathing only, and green that the supply is fit for drinking.
To quicken the clean-up, water was discharged into the Songhua from nearby reservoirs to dilute the spill while the army installed new filters at Harbin's water plants.
Tests showed levels of nitrobenzene in the river, Harbin's main source of water, had dropped below the official safety limit.
On Friday, levels had been three times above the safety limit, China's state news agency Xinhua reported.
The toxic leak passed Harbin early on Sunday morning, said Lin Qiang, a spokesman for the provincial environmental protection bureau.
As it flows downstream, it is likely to contaminate Russia's Amur river, which feeds water to more than 500,000 residents of the Khabarovsk region.
In Khabarovsk, residents have been urged not to panic while the authorities plan to limit the damage from the approaching spill.
As soon as the presence of benzene is detected, a state of emergency will be introduced in Khabarovsk, Russian TV said.
Cold and hot water supplies will be cut off for at least 40 hours and schools, childcare organisations and restaurants will close.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/27 11:55:48 GMT© BBC MMV

Iraq abuse 'as bad as Saddam era'

Such abuses are as bad today as they were under Saddam Hussein, Mr Allawi told Britain's Observer newspaper.
Militias are operating within the Shia-led government, torturing and killing in secret bunkers, he said.
His comments come two weeks after 170 detainees were found at an interior ministry centre, some allegedly suffering from abuse and starvation.
Mr Allawi - who was displaced earlier this year by Shia factions - said the militias had infiltrated the police, and warned that their influence could spread throughout the government.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says Mr Allawi's remarks come as Iraq prepares for parliamentary elections next month, which he hopes could see him return as prime minister.
His comments are likely to heat up the election debate and will go down well within the Sunni community, our correspondent adds.
"People are doing the same as (in) Saddam Hussein's time and worse," Mr Allawi told the newspaper.
Iraq is the centrepiece of this region. If things go wrong, neither Europe nor the United States will be safe Iyad Allawi
"It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam.
"These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam Hussein, and now we are seeing the same things."
Mr Allawi said that if urgent action was not taken "the disease infecting [the interior ministry] will become contagious and spread to all ministries and structures of Iraq's government".
He also warned of the danger of Iraq disintegrating in chaos.
"Iraq is the centrepiece of this region," he said. "If things go wrong, neither Europe nor the United States will be safe."
Mr Allawi was Iraq's first interim prime minister, but he failed to win January's election which brought the current Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, to power.
He has since formed a coalition to contest next month's parliamentary elections.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/27 10:50:44 GMT© BBC MMV

Global trade talks 'to drag on'

Rows over farm subsidies were still a major sticking point, Mr Lamy said in an interview with the BBC.
Wealthier countries that support their agriculture industries have to make more concessions, he said.
Mr Lamy added to the tide of opinion that sees little hope of a trade deal at next month's summit in Hong Kong.
A deal may not be agreed until late 2006, he said, but the situation would be reviewed next month.
Slow progress
However, he expected WTO members to be two-thirds of the way to an agreement by the end of the Hong Kong summit.
He stressed that it was important to make sure the progress of the negotiations was "balanced" at December's talks in Hong Kong before going forward.
Last year, he pointed out, WTO members were half-way there to agreeing a deal in the so-called Doha round of talks.
"But one thing that cannot change is that we must be ready to finish the negotiations by the end of next year," Mr Lamy said.
The Doha round of trade talks began in 2001.

Nostalgia marks BBC journalist's Uganda trip

By Prasun Sonwalkar, London: A routine assignment in Uganda for a BBC journalist of Indian origin turned out to be an emotional trip down memory lane - tears vied with nostalgia as she went in search for roots in the land of her birth.Leicester-based Rupal Rajani, 35, was born in Uganda but arrived in Britain as a baby when dictator Idi Amin expelled thousands of Asians from the country in the early 1970s.Now, more than 30 years after her family was forced out, Rajani recently went back to her birthplace and visited the people and places dear to her family.At some places, she could not hold back her tears and wept uncontrollably, Rajani told IANS.Rajani is one of the many British Asians whose families had settled in Uganda, engaged in trade, business, education and services, before being forced out by Idi Amin. The dictator died in August 2003."I know a lot of people who have been back to the country and have heard of a lot of people who would like to go and see where they were born and how their families lived there," she added."I would love to go again but this time I think with members of my family so they can show more of what they remember."She recalled how during the visit to a Hindu temple in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, a stranger fondly talked about her father who had passed away days before she left Britain on her Uganda assignment. Rajani would have liked to visit Uganda with her father but fate willed otherwise. Her father was in his late 50s when he bought his family to Leicester to set up a new life."I was chatting to people at a temple near where I was born and one of the first people I met was somebody who knew my dad and remembered buying supplies from his store," Rajani said.Rajani is the youngest of four children and had never been back to Uganda until she got the two-week journalistic assignment. She said: "Everything was organised the day before my dad passed away and he was really excited about me going over. I was nervous, scared, not sure what to expect, excited - a whole mix of emotions, but I was looking forward to finding out about Uganda and its people."During the visit, she went to the hospital where she was born and the house where her family once lived. At the airport, she tried to recall the conditions in which the Asian families had left Uganda to meet Amin's deadline to quit."Standing at the airport I felt overwhelmed. It was quiet, but I thought, 'Gosh what was it like when thousands of people were waiting to get on planes'?" Her father had narrated to her stories about the house they lived in but she found that in reality things were a little different."At first it was a huge disappointment. It wasn't how I imagined it to be at all. My birthplace was on a large sugar plantation where my dad managed the welfare shop and my brother worked on the plantation."I stood there wondering what my life would have been like had we stayed there. But it was great to be able to see the hospital I was born in and the cot that I probably slept in." Reporting for Radio Leicester, Rajani visited schools housing children whose parents had been murdered, saw grandparents looking after youngsters suffering from AIDS and unclean hospitals reeking of urine and overflowing with patients."African people are still treated badly, both by the Asians and rich Africans," Rajani said. "I had no idea that was the attitude. Asians don't treat Ugandans with the same respect or equality that they demand themselves."It's horrible, but I came away thinking I'm not surprised we got kicked out. Indians really haven't learnt from past experiences or integrated with the Ugandans." Rajani said she had heard rumours that one of the reasons why Idi Amin expelled Asians was that he had fallen in love with a woman from a wealthy Asian family but the family had rejected his offer for marriage.She said she had the rumours confirmed when she interviewed the minister for tourism and wildlife in Idi Amin's government."He described Amin as a brutal dictator, but very strong. He was an ex-boxer and had a strong presence and attitude. I also got to ask about the rumours of Amin's love affair with the Madhvani woman. "He said it was true and it was one of the reasons why he kicked Asians out. That was all quite exciting," Rajani remarked.