Connect with us

World

Myanmar frees U.S. journalist after negotiations with ex-U.S. diplomat

Published

on

November 15, 2021

(Reuters) -American journalist Danny Fenster was released from prison on Monday in Myanmar and has left the country, his employer and family said, after negotiations between former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson and the ruling military junta.

Fenster, 37, the managing editor https://www.reuters.com/world/five-facts-about-danny-fenster-us-journalist-jailed-myanmar-2021-11-12 of independent online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was sentenced to 11 years https://reut.rs/3HqVKmY in prison on Friday for incitement and violations of laws on immigration and unlawful assembly, a ruling that drew international condemnation.

Fenster left Myanmar on Monday with Richardson on a flight headed to Qatar. The Richardson Center posted a picture on social media of the two of them together about to board the jet.

Advertisement

“We are so grateful that Danny will finally be able to reconnect with his loved ones, who have been advocating for him all this time, against immense odds,” Richardson, who visited Myanmar earlier this month, said in a statement.

Fenster was among dozens of media workers detained in Myanmar since a Feb. 1 coup that led to an outpouring of public anger over the military’s abrupt end to a decade of tentative steps towards democracy.

According to rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 10,143 people have been arrested since the coup and 1,260 people killed in violence in the country, most of them in a crackdown by security forces on protests and dissent.

The military has accused many media outlets of incitement and spreading false information.

Myanmar’s military-owned Myawaddy TV late on Monday announced Fenster had been granted an amnesty after his conviction, saying it was due to requests from Richardson and also two Japanese representatives “to maintain the friendship between the countries and to emphasize humanitarian grounds”.

Advertisement

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken commended U.S. officials as well as Richardson for facilitating Fenster’s release.

“We are glad that Danny will soon be reunited with his family as we continue to call for the release of others who remain unjustly imprisoned,” he said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether there were conditions attached to the release of Fenster, who was arrested while trying to leave the country in May. The U.S. Embassy in Yangon did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the ruling military council did not immediately respond to Reuters request.

Richardson, a former New Mexico governor, U.S. energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, made the surprise Nov. 2 visit to Myanmar in a humanitarian capacity https://reut.rs/3njmeix, offering COVID-19 assistance.

Advertisement

TALKS WITH JUNTA CHIEF

He is one of only a few foreigners to have met junta leader Min Aung Hlaing in Myanmar since he led the coup. The general is among several under sanctions from the United States and Western allies.

His organisation said Fenster’s release came after that private visit and “face-to-face negotiations” with Min Aung Hlaing.

Frontier’s editor-in-chief, Thomas Kean, said in a statement: “We are relieved that Danny is finally out of prison – somewhere he never should have been in the first place.”

“But we also recognise Danny is one of many journalists in Myanmar who have been unjustly arrested simply for doing their job since the February coup.”

Advertisement

Fenster’s brother, Bryan, said the family was overjoyed.

“We cannot wait to hold him in our arms. We are tremendously grateful to all the people who have helped secure his release.”

Fenster was the first Western journalist sentenced to prison in recent years in Myanmar, where the coup against the elected government of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has left the country in chaos, with the generals struggling to consolidate power and facing growing international pressure.

Human rights groups condemned the junta over the court’s sentencing, which came days after additional charges https://reut.rs/3c2GGxJ of sedition and breaches of a terrorism law.

The junta has made no comment on the case since Friday nor responded to the international criticism, and state media has not reported on it.

Advertisement

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Martin Petty, Editing by Kay Johnson, Angus McSwan and Philippa Fletcher)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

World

Germany’s Free Democrats back coalition agreement

Published

on

December 5, 2021

BERLIN (Reuters) – Members of Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) voted on Sunday by a large majority to back a coalition agreement with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, paving the way for the three-way alliance to form a new government next week.

The coalition, the first at federal level between the environmentalist Greens, the FDP and Olaf Scholz’s centre-left SPD, will end 16 years of conservative governments led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The SPD approved the agreement on Saturday and the Greens are due to announce the outcome of a member survey on the deal on Monday. The three parties hope the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, will vote Scholz in as chancellor on Wednesday.

Advertisement

The “traffic light” alliance, named after the parties’respective colours, will usher in a new era of relations with Europe, and plans to speed up digitalisation of the continent’sbiggest economy and put a focus on fighting climate change.

(Reporting by Alexander Ratz; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Continue Reading

World

Gambian President Barrow on course for resounding election win

Published

on

December 5, 2021

By Bate Felix

BANJUL (Reuters) – Gambia’s incumbent president, Adama Barrow, was on course for a resounding election win on Sunday, partial results indicated, that could help to draw a line under recent political turmoil.

Saturday’s vote was the first in 27 years without disgraced former president Yahya Jammeh, who lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept defeat to Barrow in 2016.

Advertisement

Jammeh, whose 22-year rule over the tiny nation of 2.5 million people was characterised by killings and torture of political opponents, had tried to persuade supporters to vote for an opposition coalition in telephoned speeches that were relayed to campaign rallies.

But his lingering influence was not enough to dent Barrow’s showing. The president, who only needs to win more votes than the second-placed candidate, won 36 of the first 41 constituencies announced, taking 315,547 votes.

His nearest rival, political veteran Ousainou Darboe, had 133,177 votes, with four other candidates far behind.

Only 12 constituencies remained to be announced.

The election was seen as a test of Gambia’s democratic progress and its ability to leave the Jammeh era behind.

Advertisement

Barrow’s first term was marked by the coronavirus pandemic, which damaged an economy that relies heavily on tourism, as well as exports of peanuts and fish.

(Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Continue Reading

World

S.Africans protest against Shell oil exploration in pristine coastal area

Published

on

December 5, 2021

By Siyabonga Sishi

PORT EDWARD, South Africa (Reuters) – South Africans took to their beaches on Sunday to protest against plans by Royal Dutch Shell to do seimsic oil exploration they say will threaten marine wildlife such as whales, dolphins, seals and penguins on a pristine coastal stretch.

A South African court on Friday struck down https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/shell-wins-court-case-start-seismic-surveys-offshore-south-africa-2021-12-03 an application brought by environmentalists to stop the oil major exploring in the eastern seaboard’s Wild Coast, rejecting as unproven their argument that it would cause “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, especially migrating hump-back whales.

Advertisement

The Wild Coast is home of some of the country’s most undisturbed wildlife refuges, and it’s stunning coastal wildernesses are also a major tourist draw.

At least 1,000 demonstrators gathered on a beach near Port Edward, a Reuters TV correspondent saw.

“It’s just absolutely horrendous that they are even considering this. Look around you?” said demonstrator Kas Wilson, indicating an unspoilt stretch of beach. “It’s unacceptable and … we will stop it.”

Shell officials were not immediately available for comment, but the company said on Friday that its planned exploration has regulatory approval, and it will significantly contribute to South Africa’s energy security if resources are found.

But local people fear the seismic blasting conducted over 6,000 square kilometres will kill or scare away the fish they depend on to live.

Advertisement

“I don’t want them to operate here because if they do we won’t be able to catch fish,” said 62-year-old free dive fisherwoman Toloza Mzobe, after pulling a wild lobster from the ground. “What are we going to eat?”

Environmentalists are urging Shell and other oil companies to stop prospecting for oil, arguing that the world has no chance of reaching net zero carbon by 2050 if existing oil deposits are burned, let alone if new ones are found.

Earlier this year, a Dutch court ordered Shell to reduce its planet warming carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels, a decision it plans to appeal.

South Africa’s environment ministry referred Reuters to a statement late last month that “the Minister responsible for environmental affairs is … not mandated to consider the application or to make a decision on the authorisation of the seismic survey.”

(Writing by Tim Cocks;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

Advertisement

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending