Amnesty condemns treatment of Syrians

Saying that Egypt is “failing abysmally” to meet international obligations, Amnesty International called Thursday for the country’s military-backed government to stop detaining and deporting Syrian war refugees. Egypt denied doing so.

The international human rights group said in a new report that a recent spate of deaths involving refugees and asylum-seekers trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa “throws a spotlight on the tragic consequences” of Egypt’s increasingly harsh stance toward those seeking haven from Syria’s devastating conflict.

About 300,000 Syrians have fled to Egypt, where they were once welcomed. But as their numbers have swelled, public sentiment has shifted sharply. Official media outlets routinely revile the refugees as partisans of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that propelled now-deposed president Mohamed Morsi to power, and they are accused by authorities of representing a threat to public order.

Amnesty said in its report that Egypt’s behavior violates global human rights standards.

— Associated Press

Leader backs release of jailed ex-premier

Ukraine’s president signaled Thursday that his main rival, the jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, could be freed from prison and sent to Germany for treatment of a back problem.

The comments by Viktor Yanukovych were the strongest indication yet of his willingness to release Tymoshenko within weeks, but they appeared to fall short of what Tymoshenko and the European Union are pushing for.

The West condemns Tymo­shenko’s jailing on abuse-of-
power charges as politically motivated and has pressed Yanukovych to free her. The E.U. has refused to sign a landmark integration accord with Kiev if Tymo­shenko remains in jail.

— Associated Press

Hezbollah detains endangered eagle

Israeli eagles significantly endangered by pesticides, electrical wires and poachers now apparently face a new threat: Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.

Hezbollah said on its al-Manar Web site this week that it had captured an eagle with Israeli labeling that carried a transmission device on its back. It claimed the bird was an Israeli spy.

But Israeli ornithologist Yossi Leshem said Thursday that he had been tracking the bird for research and was “incredibly frustrated” it was harmed. Leshem has specialized in Bonelli’s eagles for decades and says they are in great peril, with just nine pairs of mating age remaining in Israel.

He said Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Turkey have made similar unfounded accusations against migrating birds. Egyptian officials recently arrested a stork they said was spying for Israel.

— Associated Press

Germany’s Merkel moves step closer to coalition: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats agreed to begin formal talks on a grand coalition government that is likely to ramp up public investment and introduce a minimum wage. Leaders from both camps said after a meeting in Berlin that there was enough common ground to try to reprise the right-left partnership that ruled Germany from 2005 to 2009, in Merkel’s first term.

Paris students protest migrant expulsions: Several hundred French teenagers erected barricades outside their schools and marched in Paris to protest the police expulsions of immigrant families, including some of their classmates. Anger erupted this week over the treatment of a 15-year-old Kosovar girl who was detained on a field trip after the government denied her family asylum and deported them.

Japanese mayor apologizes after typhoon: The mayor of a Japanese island devastated by a typhoon apologized for failing to issue an evacuation order. Typhoon Wipha killed at least 22 people along Japan’s east coast Wednesday, most of them on Izu Oshima.

— From news services