News Wrap


From about 242 detainees in Guantanamo, five years earlier, the number has now fallen to 166. The detainees have been held for up to eleven years, without charge or trial. Of the 86 inmates considered to be low-risk, 56 are Yemeni. There is a self-imposed ban on repatriating people to Yemen, where al-Qaeda is still active. Since February 2013, there have been wide spread protests at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre over the Pentagon’s ban on transfers. USA has breached international law by force feeding hunger strikers at Guantanamo. It has been admitted by the Pentagon that 100 inmates are now on hunger strike, with 23 being fed through nasal tubes. Some of the hunger strikers have lost up to 40 lbs in weight, since the protests began in February 2013. With conditions in the camp coming under renewed scrutiny, the Pentagon despatched additional 40 nurses and other specialists to Guantanamo in May 2013. After being tied hand-and-foot, the prisoners are subject to forcible insertion of drips, on their hands. Artificial feeding is perceived by the UN as torture or inhuman treatment. It can be used only where the prisoner agrees, or if the detainee is ruled unable to make a competent decision, and gave no advance instructions refusing the treatment.

Meanwhile, Cuba has demanded that Guantanamo Bay should be returned to Havana. Cuba is concerned about the permanent and atrocious violation of human rights at the illegal naval base in Guantanamo, a Cuban territory, that was usurped by the United States.

North Korea’s March
Experiments with the free market were introduced in North Korea in 2002. Kim Jong II had relaxed price controls and rationing, after years of famine that killed millions. But by the middle of the decade, they had been reimposed. Under the communist economic system, farmers are required to hand over almost all the produce from collective farms, to the state distribution system. Young leader Kim Jong UN has restricted relaxation of rules to a few experimental farms. Within the socialist economic system, the methods of economic management are being improved and perfected.

Besides the familiar denunciation of USA and Japan, Mr Kim has made gestures of verbal reconciliation towards South Korea. North Korea has conquered space with the launch of rocket borne satellite in December 2012. Nuclear tests by North Korea boost its ability to strike at ‘‘imperialist aggressors’’. UN sanctions against Pyongyang have been tightened. If North Korea goes ahead with planned nuclear tests, then its sole major ally China has threatened that it would decrease aid to Pyongyang. China is North Korea’s leading energy supplier and trade partner.

Crackdown in Tunisia
A relatively moderate Islamist Government came to power in Tunisia in October 2011, replacing the staunchly secular regime of Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali. Seeking to impose on societies a more purist interpretation of islam, the Salafis have disrupted cultural events, destroyed centuries old religious sites they consider idolatrous, staged sit-ins at university campuses, and engaged in street violence. The radical Islamists are viewed as a threat to security in Tunisia’s nascent democracy. Recently the Tunisian authorities have deployed massive force to prevent public meetings by the hard-line Salafi groups. Police have been firing shots in the air and used tear gas to disperse supporters of Ansar al-Sharia, when they have been trying to rally in Tunis, the Capital; and in Kairouane, a city considered holy by some Muslims. However, earlier the Salafis were given a free rein in order to neutralise secular politicians and change the country’s cultural atmosphere.

Easter Island
Easter Island in the South Pacific Ocean has nearly a thousand monolithic moai strewed around volcanic craters and sandy shorelines, guarding the secrets of an island, settled more than nine centuries ago by Polynesian explorers. Not long ago, horses were the dominant mode of transport. The island’s Polynesian language enjoyed dominance in most spheres of life. After Chile annexed the Easter Island in 1888, Spanish prevails across much of the island. New luxury hotels cater to rich Chileans and moneyed foreign visitors. The local Rapanui people are demanding political autonomy, and call the island as Rapanui, and not Easter Island. There are unresolved disputes between the Rapanui and the Chilean continentals, and even among some of the Rapanui themselves, over land and sovereignty. The Ropa Nui parliament claims that the island’s annexation, by Chile under an 1888 treaty, was made illegitimate, by Chile’s inequitable administration. The Rapanui people were removed from ancestral land. They were forcefully confined to the town of Hango Roa. For decades, the entire island was leased to the Williamson–Balfour Company, a Scottish sheep ranching concern. In the 1950s, the Chilean Navy prohibited Rapanui from leaving the island, and publicly flogged islanders as punishment.

New arrivals from mainland Chile have caused a sharp increase in Easter Island’s population, raising it by 54%, to 5,800 over the past decade

Vol. 46, No. 2, Jul 21- 27, 2013

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