World Digest: Oct. 1, 2013

October 1, 2013
BURMA
Sectarian violence flares up in Rakhine

Buddhist mobs killed a 94-year-old Muslim woman and torched more than 70 homes Tuesday as sectarian violence again gripped Burma’s Rakhine state despite a visit by President Thein Sein, officials and residents said.

More than 700 rioters, some swinging swords, took to the streets in Thabyuchaing, 12 miles north of the coastal town of Thandwe, on Tuesday afternoon, police said, adding that an elderly Muslim woman died of stab wounds in the clashes that followed. Violence also flared in Shwe Hlay and Linthi, both 10 miles from Thandwe.

The visit by Thein Sein to the divided region was his first since sectarian violence erupted in Rakhine in June 2012. The clashes have since morphed into an anti-Muslim campaign that has spread to towns and villages nationwide, leaving 240 people dead and more than 140,000 displaced, most of them Muslims.

— Associated Press

BANGLADESH
Opposition figure sentenced to death

A special war crimes tribunal in Bangladesh ruled Tuesday that a senior member of the main opposition party should be executed for his role in the killing of hundreds of people during the county’s independence fight against Pakistan in 1971.

The verdict against Salauddin Quader Chowdhury came amid tight security in the capital, Dhaka. Fearing a backlash from opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party supporters, authorities deployed paramilitary forces in the southeastern Chittagong district, where Chowdhury was elected to Parliament six times.

Hours after the verdict, Chowdhury’s supporters attacked ruling party activists and smashed and burned vehicles in Chittagong, news media reported.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has criticized the conduct of the tribunal, saying the trials of Chowdhury and others are not up to international standards.

— Associated Press

EUROPE
Snowden shortlisted for major rights prize

Nelson Mandela, the Arab Spring activists and . . . Edward Snowden. In 10 days, they could share space on a prestigious list assembled by the European Parliament honoring those “who combat fanaticism, intolerance or oppression.”

The first two are past winners of the Parliament’s top human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The third is a fugitive former National Security Agency contractor who has been charged with espionage by the United States but is seen as a hero by Europe’s political left.

Snowden, 30, has been named a finalist for this year’s Sakharov award, along with a group of jailed Belarusan political activists and Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls’ education who survived a Taliban assassination attempt.

The winner will be announced by Oct. 10.

— McClatchy Washington Bureau

Embassy denounces expulsion
of envoys from Venezuela:
The U.S. Embassy in Venezuela defended three diplomats, including the acting head of the mission, Kelly Keiderling, a day after they were expelled by President Nicolás Maduro, rejecting charges they had engaged in espionage and efforts to undermine the government. The U.S. government may take reciprocal action in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the embassy said, adding, “We completely reject the Venezuelan government’s allegations of U.S. government involvement in any type of conspiracy to destabilize the Venezuelan government.”

U.N. reports nearly 1,000 Iraqis killed in September: The U.N. mission in Iraq said 979 people died in September, most of them civilians caught up in the violence by insurgents led by al-Qaeda in Iraq. The toll pushed the total number of people killed since April to more than 5,000, of whom 887 were civilians and the rest security forces. The figure was slightly lower than the toll in July, which was the highest since 2008 at 1,057, but underscored the rising violence in the country after a long period of relative calm.

Berlusconi faces revolt from own party: Senior party figures in Silvio Berlusconi’s fractious center-right movement urged Italian lawmakers to defy the billionaire media tycoon and back Prime Minister Enrico Letta in a confidence motion expected on Wednesday. Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party has come close to breaking apart after he pulled his ministers out of the ruling coalition at the weekend and called for new elections amid rising tension over his conviction for tax fraud.

— From news services

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