MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 11 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Labourers work at a salt factory. Pakistan is home to the world’s second largest salt mine which draws up to 250,000 visitors a year and dates back to 320BC.
Myanmar embraces Russian arms to offset China's influence
The military convoys captured on television cameras in the early hours of Myanmar's latest coup reveal deepening ties between the country's military and "loyal friend" Moscow. Many of the light armored vehicles on the streets were made in Russia. These imports are among a growing list of supplies that have deepened ties between Moscow's defense establishment and Myanmar's military, say researchers at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. By 2019, the most recent year for which data has been published, Myanmar's bill for Russian military assets totaled an estimated $807 million for the decade, according to the institute.
Sri Lanka faces renewed pressure over war crime accountability
The Sri Lankan government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been placed in the hot seat ahead of a U.N. Human Rights Council session beginning later this month amid a failure to ensure accountability for alleged war crimes toward the end of the country's quarter-century long armed conflict. In a stinging report released on Jan. 27, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the 47 member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council to impose targeted sanctions against top military officials for human rights violations and crimes against humanity after the South Asian island nation failed to ensure justice for thousands killed during the war that ended in 2009.
Myanmar coup clouds future of country's crucial garment industry
The military's seizure of power in Myanmar is poised to deliver a major blow to the country's $6 billion garment and footwear industry, threatening a vital source of jobs in a sector already reeling from the pandemic. A week after elected leaders were detained in early morning raids, experts say the consequences for the important industry could be severe, as sanctions loom and brands review future orders. "The coup in Myanmar is deeply concerning," said American Apparel & Footwear Association senior vice president of policy Nate Herman. "In the short term, our members will be focused on making sure workers are safe, and that their obligations to those workers are being met. Over the medium to long term, this coup will prompt re-evaluation of Myanmar as a stable sourcing partner."
Multinational military drill 'to give Pakistan diplomatic push'
Hosted by Pakistan, a week-long multination naval exercise is set to begin in the Arabian Sea from Thursday, a move that could set the tone for its enhanced bilateral relations with many countries, experts said. Naval forces from 45 countries, including the US, China, Russia and Turkey are participating in Aman-2021 from Feb.11-16. Russia will join the military drill with NATO members for the first time in a decade, a development considered significant. The last time Russian and NATO naval forces took part in a joint exercise was at the Bold Monarch 2011 off the coast of Spain. Organized under the slogan, 'Together for Peace,' Pakistan Navy says the exercise is aimed at “fostering international cooperation to fight piracy, terrorism, and other crimes,” which pose a threat to maritime security and stability.
Six Canadian MPs urge their foreign minister to speak up on farmers' protest in India
In a letter addressed to the Canadian foreign minister Marc Garneau, six Canadian MPs urged him to speak to his Indian counterpart over the farmers’ protests in India. The letter, which was sent to the minister’s office on February 8, requested Garneau to speak against the use of physical force, tear gas, water cannons on the protesters, and oppose restrictions on the Internet, electricity and water supply at the sites where the farmers are protesting. The letter also spoke about the barricading of the protest sites near Delhi’s borders, restricting the media’s presence and the arrest of freelance journalist Mandeep Punia and the detention of Dharmender Singh from the Singhu border on January 1.
India: Why aren’t we talking about this?
India has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. In 2019, a total of 10,281 farmers and farm laborers took their own lives across the country, according to statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau. Skyrocketing agricultural costs forced many farmers to take on more debt, and crop failures over the years eventually destroyed generations of rural families. Further, the government raised fuel prices in the middle of the pandemic, citing the costs of the lockdown, adding more problems for farmers.
Why aren’t we talking about this?
How did the farmers’ protests turn into an oppressed peoples’ Movement in India
Police baton charge and water torrents on elderly farmers, besides inclement weather, sometimes become freezing. Farmers’ local and diaspora sympathizers flooded them with food, fruit, and even 30 quintals of American almonds (from US-basedbrethren). The government is trying tooth and nail to sow seeds of discord among the kissan unions. Formidable Jat kissan leader, Rakesh Tikait, now on hunger strike, declared to continue the strike until his death. His brother Naresh Tikait held that it should end. To express solidarity with the farmers, 18 opposition parties had decided to boycott Indian president’s address (January 29, 2021) to joint sitting of the parliament at the start of the budget session.
India under attack over killings on Bangladesh border
A Catholic Church official has joined a global rights watchdog to condemn India's failure to deliver justice for scores of brutal killings by its forces along its border with Bangladesh. New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has made a fresh call for the investigation of new allegations of law violations against the Indian Border Security Force (BSF). HRW strongly criticized Indian authorities for failing to keep promises for justice more than 10 years after the rights group published a damning report, “Trigger Happy,” accusing India of turning the border into “South Asia’s killing fields.”
UK authorised £1.4bn of arms sales to Saudi Arabia after exports resumed
British officials authorised the export of almost £1.4bn of weapons to Saudi Arabia in the quarter after the UK resumed sales of weapons that could be used in the war in Yemen. Campaigners accused ministers of “putting profit before Yemeni lives” and said the figures highlighted the discrepancy between the UK and the US, which under President Joe Biden halted similar arms sales to Riyadh last week. Britain had resumed unrestricted arms sales early in July, after concluding there were only “isolated incidents” of civilian casualties from bombing raids conducted by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels.