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Guterres backs UN refugee agency on concern over Rohingya repatriation

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations, Oct 5 (IANS) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stands behind the UN refugee agency (UNRA)’s expression of concern over India repatriating seven Rohingyas to Myanmar, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Friday.

After reading out an abbreviated version of a statement issued earlier in Geneva by the UNRA, he said at his daily briefing in answer to a question that Guterres stands behind the agency, which is the UN body dealing with refugees.

“The UN refugee agency is greatly concerned for the safety and security of seven Myanmar nationals who were returned from India to Myanmar on Thursday,” its spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said in Geneva.

The office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi requested Indian authorities for access to the seven Rohingyas detained in India since 2012, he said.

UNHCR “regrets that the agency did not receive a response to this request and was unable to secure access for a lawyer from a state legal service.”

“UNHCR continues to seek clarification from the authorities on the circumstances under which these individuals were returned to Myanmar,” he added.

The Supreme Court had earlier turned down an appeal by a prominent lawyer, Prashant Bhushan, to stop the deportation.

India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that the government had reconfirmed the seven Rohingyas’ “willingness to be repatriated” before arranging their return.

Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said in a statement: “Forcing any Rohingya back to Myanmar now puts them at grave risk of oppression and abuse.”

“The Indian government has disregarded its long tradition of protecting those seeking refuge within its borders,” she added.

According to HRW, 32 Rohingya refugees, including seven minors, are in detention in Assam.

“They are mostly believed to be from the Rakhine state in Myanmar and were apprehended in 2014 by the railway police,” it said.

The seven, who were deported on Thursday, had come to India before the outbreak of violence in August last year in Rakhine state that led to more that 700,000 Rohingyas fleeing to Bangladesh, where they now live in squalid camps.

Attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an organisation led by Pakistan-born Ataullah abu Ammar Jununi, on Myanmarese security posts sparked retaliatory attacks by security forces and civilian vigilantes.

Several thousands of Rohingyas were killed in the attacks and their villages destroyed leading to the exodus.

Guterres has called it a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” and demanded punishment for those responsible.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

Tech

US judge declines to block Commerce Department WeChat order

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TikTok WeChat

NEW YORK : A United States judge in California declined to block the Commerce Department order issued on Friday that will prohibit U.S. app stores from offering Tencent Holding’s WeChat for download starting late Sunday.

Judge Laurel Beeler said the request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by U.S. WeChat users appeared moot after the Commerce order but said in an written order “the court is available today for a hearing on any emergency motions.” A lawyer for the WeChat users did not immediately comment.

Beeler issued a follow-up order that said lawyers for the WeChat users “will file something by 10:45 a.m. (PDT) about why the motion is not moot.” She tentatively sets a Zoom hearing for 11:00 a.m. (PDT)(1700 GMT).

The Justice Department said Friday in a court filing that Beeler should reject the request, saying President Donald Trump “has invoked his emergency powers to address (the WeChat) threat, and plaintiffs have articulated no legal basis for the Court to take the extraordinary step of enjoining his exercise of that authority.”

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Disaster

Pakistan reports 752 new cases of coronavirus: Health Ministry

So far 3,090,660 tests have been done across the country, including 33,865 in the last 24 hours.

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pakistan coronavirus

Islamabad, Sep 18 : Pakistan has reported 752 new cases of coronavirus, taking the total number of infections to 304,386, the health ministry said on Friday.

The Ministry of National Health Services said nine more people succumbed to the virus in the last 24 hours due to which the toll stands at 6,408.

“The coronavirus cases continue to rise with the current figure standing at 304,386. The death toll also has touched 6,408,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said at least 579 were in critical conditions and it showed that 291,683 people have fully recovered so far, which meant that the number of active patients was 6,295.

Sindh reported 133,125 cases, Punjab 98,142, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 37,242, Islamabad 16,033, Balochistan 13,991, Gilgit-Baltistan 3,381 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir 2,472 cases.

So far 3,090,660 tests have been done across the country, including 33,865 in the last 24 hours.

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Chinese imperialism poses incurable threat to the world

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Xi Jinping

New Delhi: Two viruses have taken over the world. One, a minuscule creature called Covid-19, has killed more than 8,00,000 people around the globe, but is slowing down and will most likely be eliminated in the coming months.

Vaccines have already been developed against it and once inoculated, citizens of the world can expect to go on with their normal lives. However, it is the second virus, that of Chinese imperialism, which poses a long term and a much more potent and incurable threat to the world at large.

China’s shadow looms large over the world. Not only geopolitically, but also in the economic and cultural realms, the Chinese are attempting to remake the world as per their conception of a master-serf relationship. Though in international relations, politics, economics and culture are interrelated, it is important to discuss them separately in order to bring out the nuances of Chinese imperialism.

The age of colonisation and imperialism ended for good in the wake of the breakup and reordering of the international order. This order was based on liberal principles of free trade, respect for international law, prevalence of democratic norms and a security architecture underlined by the presence of two superpowers. Intra and inter country disputes did happen but they were generally localised at best or limited to particular regions.

It is only with the entry of China on the world stage in force that global disruptions have started to manifest themselves brutally. The 2008 financial crisis decimated economies of the West and the East Asian Tigers but China emerged unscathed, riding on the success of its impervious wall which prevented (and still prevents) foreign investments unless approved by the Big Brother Xi. China by then had established mass manufacturing bases in major parts of the country and unimpeded by human rights or basic minimum wages, yoked its population to work tirelessly. The end result: China now mass produces everything from a needle to an airplane.

This has enabled it to dump its produce on other countries initially through the pretensions of free trade (now censored by the WTO) and later through the mega-ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). BRI has been used by China to weasel its way through national sovereignties like a hot knife through butter. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are best examples of what international observers euphemistically call “Debt Trap Diplomacy” but in reality is a gross usurpation of national authority.

China’s tentacles, unlike Covid-19’s, reach far and wide. In fact, Europe faces a double whammy of being repeatedly hit by the coronavirus and China almost simultaneously. With access to the Piraeus port of Greece, China has already started dumping products of all kinds in the European Common Market system. Italy’s untimely submission to Covid-19 was also made possible due to its proximity to the Chinese trading system. After all, Covid-19 and China have become synonymous with each other. In terms of politics, China has undertaken a multi-pronged attack across international borders of many countries.

India has been the first to bear the brunt of Chinese Janus-faced policies of illegal aggression on one hand, while calling for normalisation of trade and other relations on the other. However India is not the only one. The US faces a challenge of another kind. There is a real threat of China’s disinformation campaign affecting the outcome of the US elections in November.

China’s Thousand Talents Program has already ensured massive theft of data and exclusive technology from the US, the latest being Zhengdong Cheng of College Station, Texas who has been charged with making false statements and hiding his affiliations to the PLA. With Taiwan, China is playing the waiting game, pushing its ships and jets closer to the island nation with every passing week under the garb of exercises. Hong Kong for all matters has stopped existing as an autonomous region with only its nomenclature remaining unchanged.

China has also been active on the cultural front. The various China Study or Culture Centres opened in a number of countries act as both espionage and propaganda centres. There is a proactive effort to disseminate Xi Jinping Thought, a constricting ideology that aims to cement the Chinese President as the centre of China’s absurdist and all-encompassing universe.

The number of mushrooming Confucius Institutes all over the world teach everything but Confucian values. They are a front to propagate Chinese communist ideology under the facade of an educational institution and are now being investigated by a number of governments for their links to “The Party”. Chinese Students Associations have also been implicated in a number of countries to stifle criticism of Tibet and Xinjiang by expatriate Chinese students through use of violence and coercion.

Covid-19 is something that will ultimately have a cure. As it is, its lethality is very limited. However, the bigger virus of Chinese Communist Party keeps growing potent everyday and to counter it, the entire world needs to come together. The vaccination to get rid of the Chinese communist virus, though much more painful than the Covid-19 affliction, will have to be undertaken.

(Binay Kumar Singh is a columnist and researcher. Views expressed are personal)

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