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Tens of thousands flee homes in flood-hit Myanmar as landslide toll hits 59

HONG KONG: All flights in and out of Hong Kong were canceled on Monday after thousands of pro-democracy protesters flooded the city’s airport to denounce police violence.The abrupt shutdown at one of the world’s busiest hubs came as the Chinese government signaled its rising anger at the protesters, denouncing some of the violent demonstrations as…

Tens of thousands flee homes in flood-hit Myanmar as landslide toll hits 59

HONG KONG: All flights in and out of Hong Kong were canceled on Monday after thousands of pro-democracy protesters flooded the city’s airport to denounce police violence.The abrupt shutdown at one of the world’s busiest hubs came as the Chinese government signaled its rising anger at the protesters, denouncing some of the violent demonstrations as “terrorism.”The developments marked yet another dramatic escalation in a 10-week crisis that had already become the biggest challenge to Chinese rule of Hong Kong since the 1997 British handover.A crowd of protesters that authorities said numbered more than 5,000 descended on Hong Kong airport on Monday carrying placards and chanting slogans denouncing police violence at previous rallies.Although other rallies had been held over the previous three days, the airport authority said Monday’s one had caused significant chaos.“Airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly at the airport today,” it said in a statement.“Other than the departure flights that have completed the check-in process and the arrival flights that are already heading to Hong Kong, all other flights have been canceled for the rest of today.”It warned that traffic to the airport was “very congested” and the facility’s car parks were completely full.“Members of the public are advised not to come to the airport.”At the airport, protesters held signs reading “Hong Kong is not safe” and “Shame on police.”They were responding to allegations that police were using increasingly violent tactics to suppress protests.Over the weekend police fired tear gas into subway stations.Protesters were also enraged at police apparently dressing in the black T-shirts worn by the pro-democracy movement to infiltrate the rallies and make surprise and violent arrests.Protesters responded on the weekend by hurling bricks and spraying riot police with fire extinguishers and water hoses.A government official said 45 people were injured in the clashes, including two who were in serious condition.Among them was a woman who suffered a serious face injury, reportedly after being hit by a bean bag round, with rumors circulating that she had lost her vision in the incident.Images of her lying on the ground with blood pouring from her face quickly went viral and featured on posters calling for new demonstrations.It was the 10th consecutive weekend that protesters have taken to the streets in a movement that began over opposition to a bill allowing extradition to mainland China.The protests have morphed into a broader bid to reverse a slide of democratic freedoms in the southern Chinese city.In Beijing, authorities slammed violent protesters who had thrown petrol bombs at police officers and linked them to “terrorism.”“Hong Kong’s radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging,” said Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.“This wantonly tramples on Hong Kong’s rule of law and social order.”

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Kosovo declares Nobel laureate Handke ‘persona non grata’

Harvey Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film studio have reached a tentative $25 million settlement with dozens of women who accused the former Hollywood producer of sexual misconduct, The New York Times said on Wednesday, citing lawyers involved in the negotiations.The accord would end nearly all civil lawsuits by actresses and former Weinstein…

Kosovo declares Nobel laureate Handke ‘persona non grata’

Harvey Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film studio have reached a tentative $25 million settlement with dozens of women who accused the former Hollywood producer of sexual misconduct, The New York Times said on Wednesday, citing lawyers involved in the negotiations.The accord would end nearly all civil lawsuits by actresses and former Weinstein employees who accused him of offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape, the newspaper said. Weinstein would not be required under the settlement to admit wrongdoing or to pay anything, and insurers for the former Weinstein Co. studio would fund the payout, the newspaper said.Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct dating back decades by more than 70 women. He has denied the allegations, saying any sexual encounters were consensual.Accusers involved in the tentative accord would make their claims in bankruptcy court, and the $25 million payout would be part of a $47 million settlement to close out the studio’s obligations, the newspaper said, citing six lawyers.Weinstein’s representatives could not immediately be reached for comment; they had declined to comment to the Times.The litigation is separate from criminal charges that Weinstein faces in New York, where prosecutors have accused him of sexually assaulting two women, one in 2006 and another in 2013.A trial is scheduled for Jan. 6, 2020, and Weinstein could face life in prison if convicted on the top counts.

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Harvey Weinstein reaches tentative $25 mln settlement with accusers -NY Times

PRISTINA: Kosovo declared Peter Handke a ‘persona non grata’ on Wednesday in the latest protest against his induction as a Nobel literature laureate, barring the Austrian writer from a place he has visited numerous times.The Swedish Academy’s pick for the 2019 prize has reopened old wounds in the Balkans, where many see Handke as an…

Harvey Weinstein reaches tentative $25 mln settlement with accusers -NY Times

PRISTINA: Kosovo declared Peter Handke a ‘persona non grata’ on Wednesday in the latest protest against his induction as a Nobel literature laureate, barring the Austrian writer from a place he has visited numerous times.The Swedish Academy’s pick for the 2019 prize has reopened old wounds in the Balkans, where many see Handke as an apologist for Serb atrocities during Yugoslavia’s bloody collapse.One Nobel committee member resigned over the choice, while Tuesday’s award ceremony was boycotted by representatives of the embassies of Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Turkey.“Today I have decided to declare Peter Handke as not welcome in Kosovo. He is a non-grata person… Denying crimes and supporting criminals is a terrible crime,” Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli wrote on Facebook.The writer is not popular among Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian-majority, who fought Belgrade for independence in a 1998-99 war that claimed 13,000 lives.But he was a frequent guest in the tiny Serb enclave of Velika Hoca, one of several small ethnic Serb communities scattered around the former Serbian province.Handke has visited Velika Hoca at least five times and donated nearly €100,000 ($110,000) to the community of 500 people, whose village is nestled among the rolling hills of southern Kosovo.“Even if there are big problems, I think life has a good rhythm here,” the writer said during a 2014 visit.“I can be alone here. I can hide. I can walk very hidden behind the hills,” he added.Handke’s elevation to Nobel laureate has also been painful for many Bosnian Muslims, as he is accused of questioning the genocide in Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serbs slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995.On Wednesday he was formally barred from Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo, where the regional government said his appearance would “provoke the anger and humiliation” of war victims.Yet he is still welcome to visit the Serb-run zone that spans nearly half of Bosnia’s territory — a legacy of the war that left the country carved up along ethnic lines.On Tuesday Handke told RTRS, the public broadcaster in Bosnia’s Serb-run region that he would like to visit “in the spring.”Handke has defended his work and denied any allegiance to the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.Critics say Handke made his loyalties clear by speaking at the funeral of Milosevic, who died in 2006 while on trial in The Hague for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.Handke’s 1997 book “A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia” was also accused of minimizing Serb war crimes.But among Serb fans, Handke is still celebrated for taking note of their suffering during the conflicts and challenging the narrative that Serbs were the sole aggressors in the wars.In Belgrade, one politician suggested creating a human rights prize in Handke’s name on Wednesday.Handke was one of “very few who searched for the truth during the 1990s,” said MP Mirjana Dragas, describing the author as a “brave, but above all great, novelist.”

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Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

NEW DELHI: Protests erupted across various parts of India on Tuesday, a day after the lower house of Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which makes religion the basis for granting Indian citizenship to minorities from neighboring countries.  The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs,…

Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

NEW DELHI: Protests erupted across various parts of India on Tuesday, a day after the lower house of Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which makes religion the basis for granting Indian citizenship to minorities from neighboring countries. 

The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims.

“After the CAB, we are going to bring in the National Register of Citizens (NRC),” Home Minister Amit Shah said after the passage of the bill. 

The fear among a large section of Indians is that by bringing in the CAB and the NRC — a process to identify illegal immigrants — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to target Muslim minorities. 

They insist that the new bill protects all other communities except Muslims, who constitute around 14 percent of India’s total population.

The opposition Congress Party said that the bill was a move to “destroy the foundation” of India.

“The CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation,” party leader Rahul Gandhi posted in a tweet.

Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul’s sister and a prominent opposition leader, called the bill “India’s tryst with bigotry.”

However, BJP spokesperson Sudesh Verma said: “The opposition is communalizing the bill. 

The CAB saves minorities who owe their origin to India from being prosecuted on grounds of religious status. The same is not the case with Muslims since they have not been prosecuted because of their religion.”

Eight northeastern states observed a day-long strike against the CAB. 

“Once the bill is implemented, the native tribal people will become permanent minorities in their own state,” Animesh Debbarma, a tribal leader who organized the strike in the state of Tripura said.

“The bill is against our fundamental rights and it is an attack on our constitution and secularism,” he told Arab News.

In Assam, some places saw violence with a vehicle belonging to the BJP state president vandalized.

In New Delhi, different civil society groups and individuals gathered close to the Indian Parliament and expressed their outrage at the “open and blatant attack” on what they called the “idea” of India.

“The CAB is not only against Muslim minorities but against all the minorities — be it Tamils or Nepali Gurkhas — and is a blatant attempt to polarize the society in the name of religion and turn India into a majoritarian Hindu state,” Nadeem Khan, head of United Against Hate, a campaign to connect people from different faiths, said.

Rallies and protests were also organized in Pune, Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Patna and Lucknow.

On Tuesday, more than 600 academics, activists, lawyers and writers called the bill “divisive, discriminatory, unconstitutional” in an open letter, and urged the government to withdraw the proposed law.

They said that the CAB, along with the NRC, “will bring untold suffering to people across the country. It will damage fundamentally and irreparably, the nature of the Indian republic.”

Delhi-based activist and a prominent human rights campaigner, Harsh Mander, said: “I feel the CAB is the most dangerous bill that has ever been brought by the Indian Parliament. We need a mass civil disobedience movement to oppose this legislation.”

Meanwhile, the international community is also watching the domestic debate on the CAB. 

Describing the initiative as a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction,”  a federal US commission on international religious freedom has sought US sanctions against Shah and other Indian leaders if the bill with the “religious criterion” is passed.

EU ambassador to India, Ugo Astuto, in a press conference in New Delhi on Monday said that he hopes: “The spirit of equality enshrined in the Indian constitution will be upheld by the Parliament.”

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