Month in Brief

Crackdown after Karachi turmoil


The Karachi headquarters of the powerful MQM party were closed and several senior members arrested after party followers attacked two television stations, leaving one person dead. They had been addressed from exile in London by AltafHussain, the party’s leader, who denounced Pakistan as “a cancer on the world” and urged them to “get justice” from the private channels for failing to report his speeches. Though he later apologised, the MQM in Pakistan said he had been deposed as leader of the party he founded.

North Korea launches submarine missile


North Korea fired a submarine-launched missile that flew over 300 miles and landed inside Japan’s air defence identification zone. Kim Jong Un’s regime had earlier fired a land-based missile that landed inside Japanese waters for the first time, but the ability to launch missiles underwater marked a significant increase in capability. Tensions on the Korean peninsula rose after the United States and South Korea began annual military exercises, and Pyongyang’s deputy ambassador in London defected to the South.


Activist ends long hunger strike


A dab of honey ended a nearly 16-year hunger strike by IromChanuSharmila, an activist from India’s Manipur state who was protesting against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958, a law that protects members of the military from prosecution in the troubled north-east and other areas of conflict.Sharmila, 44, who had been force-fed in judicial custody for years, now intends to seek election to the state assembly.



China opens ‘longest and highest’ glass bridge

 China-glass-bridgeA glass-bottomed bridge, claimed by China to be the world’s highest and longest, opened to visitors. The 430metre-long bridge spans a drop of 300 metres between two cliffs in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province. Visitors will walk over 99 panes of glass on the bridge, designed by an Israeli architect,HaimDotan. To reassure the public, officials invited people to attack the glass with sledgehammers, and even drove a Volvo car filled with passengers across the bridge.


Rights activist flees Bangladesh


Rosaline Costa, a human rights activist, fled Bangladesh after harassment and death threats from Islamist militants. Costa, 67, a former Catholic nun, is editor of Hotline Bangladesh, a monthly newsletter which chronicles abuses, and executive director of Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh, which she founded. The activist joined relatives in New York who quit Bangladesh earlier. Her two nephews were told to convert to Islam or ‘face consequences’.


Beijing shuts down independent news websites

 China-news-websiteChina shut down several of the country’s main news websites for reporting their own news instead of publishing official statements. Sites such as News Geek, Click Today and People in News were supposed to reproduce news from officially-sanctioned outlets such as Xinhua, the state news agency, but had recruited their own journalists. Official newspapers said the websites had ‘published large amounts of independently-gathered news reports, in serious violation of the rules’, and could be fined.


Super Mario? No, the PM


Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, surprised spectators at the Rio Olympics by appearing at the closing ceremony as the popular video-game character, Super Mario. Tokyo, as the next host of the Olympics in 2020, participated in the closing pageant. Among traditional Japanese scenes and characters such as Hello Kitty appeared Super Mario, whose costume fell away almost instantly to reveal the Prime Minister.

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