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French journalist forced to leave China after article on Xinjiang

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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French journalist forced to leave China after article on Xinjiang | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

French journalist forced to leave China after article on Xinjiang
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: A French journalist has been forced to leave China after the government said it would not renew her press credentials for the new year in response to a critical report on Beijing’s policies in the troubled western region of Xinjiang.

The departure of Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French current affairs magazine L’Obs, marked the first time in more than three years that a journalist has been forced to leave China due to a refusal by authorities to renew accreditation.

China’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that Gauthier could no longer work in China because she did not make a public apology for an article she wrote on Nov. 18.

Hours after President Xi Jinping told his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, that China stood by France in the wake of the Paris attacks in November, the article said, China’s public security ministry announced the capture of suspects over a coal mine attack in September in Xinjiang.

“Beautiful solidarity, but not entirely free of ulterior motives,” Gauthier wrote in her article.

On Nov. 20, the government announced that security forces in Xinjiang had killed 28 “terrorists” from a group that carried out a deadly attack at a coal mine in September under the direction of “foreign extremists”. The government has given no details of the composition of the group.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify that the suspects were Muslim Uighurs, or if they had a role in the mine attack due to tight government reporting restrictions in Xinjiang.

Hundreds of people have died in unrest in Xinjiang, home to the Uighurs, and other parts of China over the past three years.

On Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Gauthier’s article “openly supports terrorist activity, the killing of innocents and has outraged the Chinese public”.

Gauthier said the government’s decision meant that she had to leave Beijing on a 1 a.m. flight on Friday to Paris.

When asked whether Gauthier would be allowed to return to China, Lu told reporters on Thursday it was “up to her”. He did not elaborate.

The European Union, in a statement released by its mission in Beijing, urged China to review its decision.

“The EU supports the principles of freedom of expression and independence of the media as underpinning every free society,” it said.

Gauthier, who has been based in China for six years, said she met foreign ministry officials three times starting in late November after the state-run Global Times published a commentary criticizing the article she had written on China’s policy in Xinjiang in the wake of attacks in Paris.

“DEATH THREATS”

Gauthier, who said she had received death threats after her report, told Reuters she had told the foreign ministry that the Global Times had distorted the meaning of her article.

“They wanted me to apologize publicly for my wrongs,” Gauthier said. “But I said my wrongs were all invented by the Global Times. I cannot apologize for crimes I did not commit.”

When asked to confirm the meetings, Lu said the ministry did not want to “publicize the situation”. He noted that Gauthier did not call the police.

“This is not that usual, unless she’s got other considerations,” he said at a briefing.

Gauthier said she did not report the death threats as she “did not expect the police to take the case seriously”.

The Global Times declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

France’s ambassador to China, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, has raised Gauthier’s case with China’s foreign ministry, said a spokeswoman for the French embassy in Beijing.

China requires all foreign journalists to renew their accreditation annually.

In May 2012, Melissa Chan, a reporter for Al Jazeera’s English language channel in Beijing, was forced to leave after authorities refused to renew her press credentials over unspecified alleged violations of regulations – the first such case in 13 years at the time.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Chiang Rai

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin

Greeley Pulitzer

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Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | The Thaiger

An 49-year-old Italian has been charged with drug smuggling after arriving at Perth Airport from Chiang Mai. He allegedly had about 300 grams of heroin, worth about 135,000 Australian dollars, hidden inside his body.

After trace technology during a baggage examination showed positive for narcotics, Australian Border Force officers referred him to the Australian Federal Police for an internal exam.

The man was taken to hospital where 63 pellets of heroin were allegedly found in his stomach. X-Rays also revealed three more pellets of heroin had been internally inserted into his rectum.

Italian busted in Australia smuggling heroin | News by The Thaiger

Photo: Australian Border Force

He was charged with importing a controlled drug and faces 25 years in prison.

A spokeman for the Australian Border Forcesaid the ABF is fully aware of the lengths people are willing to go to bring drugs into Australia.

“They not only risk lengthy jail time, but are playing Russian roulette with their own lives and health,” he said.

“Smuggling drugs internally is an incredibly stupid endeavour. Furthermore there is a risk that stomach acid will eat through the wrapping of the heroin, consequently risking a fatal drug overdose,” according to federal police.

SOURCE: chiangraitimes.com

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World

Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios

The Thaiger

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Brexit latest – Five possible scenarios | The Thaiger

Britain’s three year Brexit saga, the UK’s most challenging and debilitating political debacle in decades, has taken another dramatic twist with the outcome still difficult to predict. In a landmark vote, MPs finally backed an EU divorce deal – only moments later rejecting British PM Boris Johnson’s rushed timetable to turn it into law ahead of the country’s scheduled October 31 departure date.

The decision makes that deadline almost impossible to meet, but it does not kill the deal – the first that has got a majority in parliament.

Here are some possible scenarios ahead…

A technical extension

Legislation passed last month stated that unless MPs backed a divorce deal by October 19, Johnson must write to EU leaders asking for Brexit to be postponed for three months to January 31, 2020. The PM reluctantly sent the letter last Saturday, and EU leaders are still considering their response.

European Council President Donald Tusk said yesterday, following the drama in Westminster, that he was now recommending they accept the request. Johnson had earlier told lawmakers who had just defied his bid to fast-track his deal through parliament that he would “pause” the ratification process while the EU decides on an extension.

Although he insisted Britain should still leave on October 31, he may have little choice but to accept a short “technical” delay to allow for a new parliamentary timetable to pass the legislation in the coming weeks.

More delays

Despite Johnson being adamant he will not delay Brexit for months, the EU may also offer Britain the option of a longer extension – which opposition MPs argue the premier would be compelled by law to accept. European leaders could claim a longer delay is necessary to give the country enough time to resolve the issue.

Legislation of this type would normally take months and must be approved again by the House of Commons as well as by the upper House of Lords. There is a real risk MPs could try to hijack its passage and attach various amendments, for example to make approval subject to negotiating a future customs union with the bloc or even to hold a new referendum.

A longer delay could also allow for a general election.

A crash and burn exit

The default legal position is that Britain leaves the EU on October 31 unless the other 27 member states agree to a delay.

Business and markets across Europe fear the shock of a sudden Brexit that even the government’s own assessment says would cause economic damage, raising the chances that the EU will offer an extension.

Despite EU leaders claiming they would never cause a no-deal Brexit, their decision to offer a delay must be unanimous and any one of the 27 member states could block such a move. In that highly unlikely scenario, Britain would crash out of the bloc at the end of next week.

Another general election

Johnson warned MPs ahead of the votes yesterday that he would pull his Brexit deal legislation and try to hold a general election if they rejected his timetable – although he did not repeat the threat afterwards.

Riding high in the polls, he has already unsuccessfully tried twice to get an early election to win back a majority in parliament, and seemed buoyed by having secured MPs’ initial approval for his new Brexit deal. But he needs the support of the main opposition Labour Party for an election to be called and it has so far resisted.

Labour says it would back an election when the threat of a “no deal” Brexit is off the table.

Another referendum

Labour says any deal should be subject to a new referendum, and has promised to call one if it takes office. Some MPs may try to force the issue during the passage of the Brexit deal legislation, although it is far from clear that they have the numbers to succeed.

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse

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ASEAN

Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women

Greeley Pulitzer

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Human hair trade exploits ASEAN women | The Thaiger

Hair extensions have become an essential part of the multi-billion-dollar hair industry, with estimated annual sales of 250 million to over 1 billion USD. Based on a 2018 Research and Markets report, the global hair, wigs and extension market is expected to surpass 10 billion USD by 2023.

Raw human hair has significant commercial value: it’s a coveted commodity to be processed into hair extensions and wigs. According to a report by the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), the global value for human hair exports in 2017 was 126 million USD. Asia exported 72.4 million USD, accounting for 58 percent of the global trade.

In India, the Tirupati Balaji temple earns 10 percent of its income through auctioning hair donated by devotees, raking in a profit of 25 million to 40 million USD annually.

There are three categories for collected hair: Remy, non-Remy and virgin hair. Remy is usually obtained from temple donations and is of the highest grade. Non-Remy hair is a lower grade, collected from individuals, and is typically broken or short. Virgin hairhas never been chemically treated.

In Southeast Asia, long hair is esteemed as a mark of beauty with deep religious and social meaning, especially in Buddhist countries. While most brands opt to acquire hair from India where it’s donated for religious reasons, in Southeast Asia, traders target impoverished areas to buy hair from desperately poor people whose poverty makes them easy prey. Hair extensions in the US can cost 500 to 2000 USD, but the owner of the hair usually receives only a fraction of that. For example, Nguyen Thi Thuy of Vietnam says the highest she has ever been offered for her hair is 70,000 Vietnamese dong, or 3 USD. Pheng Sreyvy from Cambodia fared slightly better at 15 USD for her locks.

According to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, women don’t know how to bargain over the price of hair. “They decided to sell their hair because they are poor, and they don’t know where to sell their hair for international market price,” a spokeswoman said.

The high value of human hair has made hair-theft muggings a recurrent problem in some countries, and some companies have resorted to chemical processing or a mixture of human and goat hair.

Increased awareness of exploitation has prompted many companies to collect hair from more transparent and ethical sources. While the human hair trade has provided many communities with income and opportunities, practices that exploit and deprive women of opportunities continue.

SOURCE: theaseanpost.com

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