Month in brief

Bid to impeach Duterte fails

A parliamentary committee in the Philippines rejected an attempt to impeach President Rodrigo Duterte on charges of instigating mass killings in his crackdown on drugs. Since Duterte took office in June 2016, police and vigilantes have killed more than 4,000 people in anti-drug operations. The decision bars any further impeachment effort until March 2018, but an action has also been brought against Duterte in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

 

Indian doctor’s son may lead Ireland

Leo Varadkar, 38, son of a Mumbai-born medical doctor, was in line to become Ireland’s next Taoiseach, or Prime Minister, after the incumbent, Enda Kenny, abruptly stood down. Varadkar was born in Dublin after his father and Irish mother, a nurse, met in England, and also trained as a doctor. Social protection minister in the Fine Gael government, he took an early lead in the contest to succeed Kenny as party head.

 

Jakarta’s Christian governor jailed

Jakarta’s governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – known as Ahok – was jailed for two years for blasphemy. The case against Ahok, a ‘double minority’ ethnic Chinese Christian, was seen as a mark of growing intolerance in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. Vigilante groups had demanded he be punished for quoting the Koran at a rally, and judges rejected a prosecution recommendation that he be put on probation, with a suspended sentence.

Japanese princess to wed commoner

Princess Mako of Japan is to give up her royal status and marry a commoner. Emperor Akihito’s eldest granddaughter, who is 25, met Kei Komuro, also 25, when they were studying at the International Christian University in Tokyo. This does not affect the succession, since only male royals are eligible. Akihito hinted last year that he wanted to stand down, but the imperial law would have to be amended to permit abdication.

 

‘Triple talaq’ faces challenge

India’s Supreme Court began hearing a challenge to ‘triple talaq’, which entitles Muslim men to end a marriage by using the Arabic word for divorce to their wives three times, even by email or text. The practice is banned in much of the Islamic world. The case, which raises constitutional issues, is being heard by five judges – a Hindu, a Sikh, a Christian, a Zoroastrian and a Muslim.

 

China frees human rights lawyer

Li Heping, one of China’s leading human rights lawyers, was released after nearly two years in detention. He was arrested in a July 2015 crackdown described as Beijing’s ‘war on law’. Li, who was given a three-year suspended sentence for ‘subversion’, was forcibly medicated and kept in shackles for a month during his detention, according to his wife. His sentence prevents him from practising law or speaking to the media.

 

Indian woman claims new Everest record

Anshu Jamsenpa, a 37-year-old Indian mother of two, climbed Mount Everest twice in under a week, claiming a new world record for the fastest double ascent of the world’s highest mountain by a woman. She reached the summit twice in five days, on May 16 and 21. In 2011 she climbed the mountain twice in 10 days. With another ascent in 2013, she has reached the summit five times.

Nepal destroys seized animal parts

More than 4,000 animal body parts, including rhino horns and the skins of tigers and leopards, among them a snow leopard and two clouded leopards, went up in flames at Chitwan National Park as the Nepalese authorities sought to discourage illegal hunting and wildlife trading. Nepal’s Foreign Minister, Prakash Sharan Mahat, said the message was that ‘the body parts are valuable only when the wild animals are alive’.

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