RSF calls on democracies to step up pressure on China to end censorship
Five years after the passing of 2004 RSF Award laureate and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Liu Xiaobo, who embodied the Chinese people’s fight for press freedom and died on July 13, 2017 of an untreated cancer while in detention, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the international community to significantly step up pressure on the Chinese regime to put an end to its policy of censorship and media surveillance and to ensure the full exercise of press freedom, a right enshrined in Article 35 of its Constitution.
Liu Xiaobo, political commentator and writer, author of nearly 800 essays, was a long-time advocate of political reforms and human rights, including press freedom. During the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, Liu had taken an active role as a pro-democracy protester and launched a hunger strike in support of the students.
In the following years, in retaliation for his writing and activism, he was imprisoned many times, sent to reeducation facilities and put in house arrest.
In 2009, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” for contributing to the Charter 08, a 19-point programme initially signed by 303 academics and intellectuals that called for greater political freedoms, including the enforcement of press freedom.
Liu died in 2017, six weeks after diagnosis that he was terminally ill and the regime’s refusal of overseas treatment.
The regime also persecuted Liu Xiaobo’s widow, poet and photographer Liu Xia, who was kept under house arrest from 2010 to 2018 until she was finally allowed exile in Germany.
In China, detained journalists are almost systematically subjected to mistreatment and denied medical care: in 2017, political commentator Yang Tongyan died from an untreated cancer while in detention. Kunchok Jinpa, a leading source of information about Tibet for journalists, died in 2021 as a result of ill-treatment in prison.
In 2021 RSF published an unprecedented investigative report which reveals the campaign of repression led by Beijing against journalism and the right to information worldwide.
FIRST ROZA ON THURSDAY IN SAUDI ARABIA & JERUSALEM OR PALESTINE
JERUSALEM: The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, Mohammad Hussein, declared that Thursday, March 23, will be the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
RIYADH: The crescent moon was not sighted on Tuesday evening in Saudi Arabia and Thursday, March 23, will be the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the Kingdom’s Supreme Court has said.
The court called on all Muslims in the Kingdom to look for the Ramadan crescent on Tuesday evening that corresponds to Shaban 29, 1444.
The Ministry of Justice announced it has launched an electronic system for crescent sighting “with the aim of automating and governing the moon sighting processes, and unifying work procedures between the courts of first instance and the Supreme Court.”
The service aims to unify the data source of the observatory through a robust electronic system that provides speed and integration with the relevant authorities, raising the quality of the observatory operations, and speeding up the issuance of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding new moon sightings.
More than 1.9 billion Muslims around the world will mark the holy month, during which believers abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn until sunset.
Indian flag pulled down by pro-Khalistani protesters at London mission; MEA summons UK diplomat
The tricolour flying atop the Indian High Commission in London was pulled down by a group of protesters waving Khalistani flags and chanting pro-Khalistani slogans on Sunday evening.
Scotland Yard, headquarters of Metropolitan Police, said it was “aware” of an incident in the area but is yet to issue an official statement.
India has, meanwhile, registered its strong protest with the British government over the safety of its diplomatic mission and questioned the lack of sufficient security at the premises.
Images of shattered windows and men climbing the India House building were circulating on social media and videos from the scene show an Indian official grabbing the flag from a protester through the first-floor window of the mission, while the protester is seen waving a Khalistan flag hanging off its ledge.
MEA summons UK diplomat
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the senior-most UK diplomat in New Delhi was summoned late evening on Sunday to convey India’s “strong protest” at the actions taken by separatist and extremist elements against the Indian High Commission in London.
“An explanation was demanded for the complete absence of the British security that allowed these elements to enter the High Commission premises. She was reminded in this regard of the basic obligations of the UK Government under the Vienna Convention,” the MEA said in a statement.
“India finds unacceptable the indifference of the UK government to the security of Indian diplomatic premises and personnel in the UK. It is expected that the UK Government would take immediate steps to identify, arrest and prosecute each one of those involved in today’s incident, and put in place stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents,” it said.
The banned terrorist organisation, Sikhs For Justice, is conducting a so-called “Referendum 2020” amid a crackdown on pro-Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh in Punjab.
Hamas warns Israel against any change in Al-Aqsa status quo as Ramzan nears
As the Muslim holy month of Ramzan is approaching, Hamas has warned Israel against any change in the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, saying any change “would turn the area into an earthquake”.
Marwan Issa, deputy chief of staff of Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, made the remarks amid warnings of increased tensions between Israel and Palestine, especially in Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, reports Xinhua news agency.
“There is no political process, and the enemy (Israel) has annulled Oslo treaties (signed between Israel and the Palestinians in 1993), so that the coming days will be full of events and incidents,” Issa said.
He called for “igniting and supporting resistance action in all Palestine, mainly in the West Bank and Jerusalem,” adding: “We will defend the Palestinian people with all force when direct intervention is required.”
In April 2022, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound witnessed violent clashes between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police forces when Jews visited the holy s
ite. Dozens of Palestinian worshipers were injured.
The Hamas threats also came amid escalating tensions in the West Bank which flared up in January.
Since January, 84 Palestinians and 14 Israelis have been killed in the ensuing violence.
The Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the most sacred site, is regarded by Muslims as their third holiest site.
The holy site has been administered by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian body, since 1948.
Under a 1967 agreement between Israel and Jordan, non-Muslim worshippers can visit the compound but are prohibited from praying there.
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