Sule Square in downtown Yangon was the location of a pro-democracy protest in FebruaryA high-end office block in Myanmar linked to the country’s military leaders is seeing an exodus of international organisations.Coca-Cola, the World Bank and McKinsey have told the BBC they have moved out or are reviewing their leases at the Sule Square complex in Yangon.The United Nations said the complex was built on land owned by the military.Myanmar’s military seized power from the democratically elected government in February.It has been 100 days since the early morning coup, sparking mass protests across the country in which hundreds have died.However, even before they took power on 1 February, Myanmar’s military – which initially ruled the country for almost half a century after seizing power in 1962 – owned large areas of land and controlled companies involved in everything from mining to banking.The land on which the building stands was leased from the military, according to a 2019 United Nations fact-finding mission report. Last month, activist group Justice for Myanmar called on 18 tenants of the complex of offices and shops in the heart of Myanmar’s commercial hub Yangon to stop indirectly supporting the army.”Sule Square has big-name tenants that continue to lease office space in the building, indirectly supporting the army,” Justice for Myanmar said in a report.According to news agency Reuters, six of the companies have said they have moved out or were reviewing their plans, but only one mentioned the military link. Other firms cited various reasons, including business prospects.In a statement via email, Coca-Cola told the BBC that it would not renew its lease when it ends in the middle of next month due to “changing business requirements”.”Our office-based employees at Coca-Cola Limited (Myanmar) will continue to work from home for the rest of 2021 as part of overall safety measures. We will be communicating our new office location at a later date,” it added.Story continuesIn a statement sent to the BBC, consultancy McKinsey & Company said: “We no longer have space in a serviced office leased in Sule Square. We terminated our lease in early 2021.”Reuters said it is not currently using its Sule Square office and was reviewing its tenancy.A spokesperson for the World Bank Group, which also has an office in the complex, told the BBC that it was “assessing the situation in Myanmar, according to internal policies and procedures”.Norway’s state-owned telecoms operator Telenor said it had known that the military owned the land Sule Square is built on before it moved in but it had picked the location due to a number of reasons, including safety. Telenor has not said whether or not it plans to move out of the building.Sule Square, which is close to the historic Sule Pagoda in Yangon, opened in 2017. It was developed by a local affiliate of Hong Kong listed Shangri-La Asia, which also manages the building and a neighbouring hotel.Shangri-La said in 2017 that it had invested $125m (£88.5m) in the development.
From New York and London to Karachi and Rabbat, thousands of people have gathered in big cities across the world to protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Demonstrators on Tuesday also rallied to denounce the ongoing crackdown at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, as well as Israeli plans to forcefully expel Palestinians from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem.
Some protesters carried banners reading “Free Palestine”, “Israel is a terrorist state”, and “Occupation No More”.
The Israeli raids on Gaza come after weeks of mounting tension over the looming forced expulsion of Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem that Jewish settlers have been trying to expel them from for decades.
The situation escalated when Israeli police stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City – the third-holiest site in Islam – and wounded hundreds of Palestinian worshippers during several days of violence. Protests broke out across the occupied territories and inside Israel. The Palestinian faction Hamas, which governs Gaza, launched rockets towards Israel.
The BBC’s Vikas Pandey has called Delhi home for more than a decade – but life in India’s capital has changed beyond recognition under a deadly second wave of Covid-19 infections. For more than a month now, people have been desperately trying to find help for their loved ones amid acute shortages of hospital beds, crucial drugs and oxygen. But thousands have died, many without receiving the treatment they needed.Here Vikas Pandey, along with his colleague Anshul Verma, take us on a journey through the city, and the daily struggle of finding medical care, oxygen cylinders and even a space at a crematorium. Additional footage: Reuters and AFP news agencies
“One of the important things is don’t ever underestimate the situation,” Dr Fauci said about IndiaWashington: India made the “incorrect assumption” that it was finished with the COVID-19 pandemic and opened up prematurely that has left the country in such “dire straits”, America’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has told senators.India has been severely affected by the unprecedented second wave of the coronavirus and hospitals in several states are reeling under the shortage of health workers, vaccines, oxygen, drugs and beds.”The reason that India is in such dire straits now is that they had an original surge and made the incorrect assumption that they were finished with it, and what happened, they opened up prematurely and wind up having a surge right now that we’re all very well aware of is extremely devastating,” Dr Fauci told the US Senate Health, Education, Labour and Pensions Committee during a hearing on Tuesday on the COVID-19 Response.Dr Fauci, who is the Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is also the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.Chairing the hearing, Senator Patty Murray said that the surge of COVID-19 that is devastating India is a painful reminder really that the US can’t end the pandemic in America until it ends it everywhere.”I’m glad the Biden administration is leading that global fight by rejoining the World Health Organization and funding global vaccine efforts and committing to donate 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines to other countries by July 4,” she said.”India’s outbreak underscores the need for a robust public health infrastructure in the US to respond appropriately to this pandemic and future outbreaks, as well,” Senator Murray said as she asked Dr Fauci what can the US learn from India’s outbreak.”One of the important things is don’t ever underestimate the situation,” Dr Fauci said as he referred to India’s incorrect assumption and premature opening up.”The second thing is preparedness with regard to public health, preparedness, which we, as a lesson learned for future pandemics, have to realise that we need to continue to build up our local public health infrastructure, which over the last decades we have let actually in many respects go into disarray, likely because of our successes in controlling so many diseases,” Dr Fauci said.”The other lesson that is learned is that this is a global pandemic that requires a global response, and one has to pay attention to the responsibility that we have, not only for our own country but to join with other countries to make sure that we have the access to interventions, particularly vaccines throughout the world,” he said.”Because if it continues to have dynamics of virus anywhere in the world, we have a threat here in the United States, particularly with variants, and you know there’s one variant in India that is also a new variant So those are just a few of the lessons that I believe we can take from what’s going on in India, the 80-year-old leading physician and immunologist said.India saw a record rise in COVID-19 deaths with 4,205 fresh fatalities taking the number of deaths in the country to 2,54,197, while 3,48,421 new coronavirus infections were reported, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday.The total tally of COVID-19 cases in India now stands at 2,33,40,938.Senator Murray said that the deadly outbreak in India is a heartbreaking reminder of what can happen when this virus spreads unchecked, when it mutates into more contagious, more deadly strains and when it overwhelms healthcare systems.”It’s a reminder this pandemic won’t fully be over for our country until it is over for the world, which is why I’m glad the Biden administration is sending medical support to India, sharing some of our excess doses globally and even considering other steps to remove barriers to vaccines for countries that need them, including a targeted waiver of COVID-19 patent protections,” she said.”These moves won’t just save lives in India; they will ultimately save lives in Washington State, North Carolina and across the country because people get that when there is a fire down the street, it’s in their best interest to put it out before it gets to their family’s home. Not to mention that helping your neighbour is always the right thing to do,” Senator Murray said.Meanwhile, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 58 per cent of US adults — and nearly 46 per cent of the country’s total population — have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. More than 34 per cent of the US population is fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.Dr Fauci has previously estimated that about 70-85 per cent of people need to be immune for the country to reach a “total blanket of protection,” he told CNN late last month.”However, even before you get to that, as you get more and more people vaccinated, you will reach a point … where you’ll start to see the number of cases going down dramatically,” Dr Fauci said at the time. (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
Maori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi was ejected from New Zealand’s parliamentary chambers after accusing a fellow MP of engaging in racist rhetoric, and then performing a ceremonial dance to express his displeasure.
Waititi took offense after National Party leader Judith Collins pressed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about the government’s plan to introduce a separate health service for indigenous people. The initiative has been billed as an attempt to improve the quality of medical care for the Maori community. Debate over the controversial changes has raged for several weeks, with Collins accusing the government of promoting a “separatist agenda” that was being introduced “by stealth.”The Maori politician interrupted Collins as she questioned the prime minister, asking House Speaker Trevor Mallard to note the “racist propaganda and rhetoric” aimed at indigenous people. He argued that views on indigenous rights should only come from members of the Maori community, adding that non-indigenous people should stay in their lane. “If we find this attitude acceptable in this House, the constant barrage of insults to tangata whenua, then I find this House in disrepute,” he said, using the Maori term for indigenous people. Mallard then called for order, adding that Waititi’s microphone had been turned off. It was then that Waititi launched into a Haka, a ceremonial dance of the Maori that can be used to issue a challenge. Dressed in a pink blazer and wearing a cowboy hat, the politician planted himself in front of his desk as he began to loudly chant. The frustrated House speaker then ordered the MP to leave the chamber. Waititi later told the media that Collins was “bashing” the Maori in order to gain the votes of her non-indigenous constituents. This isn’t the first time that Waititi has caused a ruckus in parliament. He was ejected from the House in February for not wearing a necktie. He defended his decision by claiming that the garment was a “colonial noose,” choosing instead to wear a traditional Maori necklace. New Zealand’s parliament later scrubbed the tie requirement from its dress code.
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Commuters walk along the Thames Path in view of Tower Bridge in London, U.K., on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020.Hollie Adams | Bloomberg via Getty ImagesLONDON — The U.K. economy contracted by 1.5% in the first quarter of 2021 as nationwide lockdown measures continued to weigh on activity, preliminary estimates revealed on Wednesday.Economists polled by Reuters had expected GDP to shrink by 1.7%, with stringent restrictions having been in place throughout the first three months of the year as the country tried to contain spiraling Covid-19 cases.However, with lockdown measures now being phased out and the economy reopening, the country is expected to see a sharp rebound for the remainder of the year.The International Monetary Fund expects U.K. GDP to grow 5.3% in 2021, partially recovering from last year when the economy saw its largest annual contraction since the Great Frost of 1709.Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday that the next stage of lockdown easing will go ahead as planned on May 17, with international travel permitted in most circumstances and hospitality venues allowed to welcome customers indoors, a lifeline for the country’s dominant services industry.The economy grew 2.1% month-on-month in March, slightly exceeding expectations, and the level of GDP now sits 8.7% below its pre-pandemic level at the end of 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics. On a year-on-year basis, GDP shrank by 6.1% in the first quarter.Both services and production output contracted over the first quarter, but construction output grew.
More than six years after Houthi rebels seized Yemen’s capital and forced its government into exile, a bloody civil war still rages across the country. Despite a Saudi-led bombing campaign that has destroyed Yemeni infrastructure and crippled its economy, the Houthis remain in control of most of the country’s population centres. The Guardian’s Middle East correspondent, Bethan McKernan, explains why a new Houthi offensive could heap more misery on the millions of civilians caught in the crossfire
WASHINGTON: Donald Trump took a solidly pro-Israel stance Tuesday amid an escalation of deadly Mideast violence, as the former US president accused successor Joe Biden of “weakness” and lack of support for the Jewish state. “Under Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies,” Trump said in a statement. Hailing his own administration as “the Peace Presidency,” Trump said Israel’s adversaries knew there would be “swift retribution if Israel was attacked” when he was the US president. “America must always stand with Israel and make clear that the Palestinians must end the violence, terror, and rocket attacks, and make clear that the US will always strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself.” The violence has killed at least 28 Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip and three Israelis. Several nights of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police, particularly around the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, spiraled on Monday night into a barrage of Islamist rocket fire from Gaza and deadly Israeli air strikes in retaliation. The Biden administration on Tuesday called for calm and restraint by Israel and the Palestinians, and urged both sides to avoid “deeply lamentable” civilian deaths. But “Israel does have a right to defend itself,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. FacebookTwitterLinkedinEMail
I’ve been to Israel and talked with Israelis, most consider that the land is theirs by divine right, including the West Bank. They are even conducting architectural digs to justify their historical claim (city of David in Jerusalem for example).They consider they have a claim of anteriority on the land compared to Palestinians and Jordanians. I kinda find it silly, it’s like if Greece claimed Marseille since they founded the city 2000 years ago.However, I don’t know why Israel should be treated differently than every other country : they had the military strength to create a state through arms so its existence is a fact. Just like any other country in the world.The situation is just fucked up all around but in my opinion the only way out would be for Palestinians to accept the status quo and negotiate a stop to colonization in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel. It may be unjust for Palestinians but might makes right and Gaza doesn’t have the means or support (past lip service from other arab states) to gain anything from war with Israel.
The proposed bill would aim to restrict Zimbabweans from criticising the country abroadZimbabwe is planning to introduce a law to punish people who are deemed “unpatriotic” because they criticise the country when abroad – and it has left activists feeling nervous.Constitutional lawyer and opposition politician Lovemore Madhuku calls the proposal “dangerous”, saying that “no state can define patriotism”.People seen as unpatriotic for allegedly undermining the national interest abroad could face criminal charges if the measures being considered are passed.The move is part of a plan to improve the government’s international reputation but campaigners and opposition parties argue it is another “vehicle for oppression”, in the words of Dr Madhuku.”Activists travel – we are the voice of the voiceless and speak the truth,” says campaigner Rita Nyampinga, who spent years in the trade union movement.”The government has always tried to persuade its citizens to behave in a patriotic way to maintain unity””, Source: Pupurai Togarepi , Source description: Zanu-PF Chief Whip, Image: Pupurai Togarepi But those who back the proposed Patriotic Bill, as it has been called, say that it is about national cohesion.”The government has always tried to persuade its citizens to behave in a patriotic way to maintain unity,” Chief Whip for the governing Zanu-PF party Pupurai Togarepi told the BBC.”But after the coming in of opposition parties [in 1999] many agendas came to the fore and it led to a situation where you are at war as a country.”It is difficult to manage behaviour and you cannot arbitrarily arrest people without a law to back that.”The MP, who seconded a motion in parliament in March calling for the law, said the measures should also apply to the media and NGOs.Pariah statusThe reputations of both Zanu-PF and the government have been damaged over the past two decades.Controversial policies, such as the seizure of white-owned farms, economic mismanagement and alleged human rights abuses, including the killing of opposition activists, have led to its pariah status among Western nations.The US and EU imposed economic and travel sanctions on party officials, military figures and companies over the alleged abuses and also election irregularities.Story continuesThe government, however, believes the sanctions were a result of pressure from opposition activists and civil society groups.Opposition supporters and police clashed in the wake of 2018’s disputed election resultsFor years the government has accused the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, of getting too close to Western diplomats. It says that its representations to US congressional hearings as well as other foreign meetings have tarnished the image of the country.Those who back the measure think that a patriotism law would address this negative portrayal, which they say has discouraged foreign investment.Outlining the proposals, government official Virginia Mabhiza told the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper that “conniving with hostile foreign governments and nationals to inflict harm on the country and its citizens will be criminalised”.”In the event of a conviction, stiff penalties will be imposed,” the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary added.More from Zimbabwe:This has had a chilling impact on people like Ms Nyampinga, the 63-year-old veteran campaigner.She has been arrested a number of times over the past 40 years and was left traumatised by her last detention in May 2019.Talking to the BBC about the debate in parliament over the plans for a Patriotic Bill, she broke down and cried remembering her arrest, along with six others, after returning from a peace-building workshop in the Maldives.They were charged with subverting the government and accused of undergoing insurgency and weapons training.”Even those who live in the diaspora, when they speak about their experiences in Zimbabwe it does not mean they are not being patriotic””, Source: Rita Nyampinga, Source description: Civil society activist, Image: Rita NyampingaThough released on remand, after 15 months the charges still hang over her and she believes a new law could shrink civil liberties further, restricting freedom of expression.”If I cross the border and people ask me why I am shopping in South Africa and I say these items are not there in Zimbabwe, am I being unpatriotic?” she asks, suggesting that people could be unfairly targeted.”Even those who live in the diaspora, when they speak about their experiences [in Zimbabwe] it does not mean they are not being patriotic.”Zanu-PF MP Mr Togarepi denies that the law will be used to stifle criticism, but acknowledges that people will be expected to express those views in Zimbabwe only.”We are not saying we are not going to be criticised but we cannot allow a Zimbabwean to go and meet those who are hostile to us… You can criticise me here in Zimbabwe, just don’t go there and do it,” he says.An increase in arrests in Zimbabwe, though, seems to contradict the view that people are free to speak out at home.Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested last year after he was accused of tarnishing the reputation of the president’s familyOver the last year, more than a dozen journalists, civil society activists and opposition members have been detained.Neither have private citizens been spared, according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. It says it has represented a number of people charged for criticising President Emmerson Mnangagwa using a law which criminalises “undermining the president”.The government has said there is international precedent for the Patriotic Bill, citing the US Logan Act.This is a rarely invoked measure enacted in 1799 aimed at preventing private citizens from conducting foreign affairs without the permission or involvement of the US government.Several people have been accused of violating the law, including Reverend Jesse Jackson for travelling to the Kremlin in the 1980s. None of the accusations led to prosecutions.”Look at [Julian] Assange. Why is he being arrested and taken to America? It is because he has violated their interests,” Mr Togarepi says.It is not clear when the proposed bill will be brought before parliament, but presidential spokesman George Charamba has said that it is next on the legislative agenda.If it is passed, lawyer Dr Madhuku says it will be challenged in court, where he feels it would be deemed unconstitutional. He wonders why the government and MPs are even considering this.”It is unnecessary, undesirable and dangerous,” he adds.