Month in brief

Change afoot for Turkey?

The decisive victory of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), following a re-run of a mayoral election in Istanbul, has dealt a political blow to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and raised hopes for economic and political change in the country. Ekrem Imamoglu, the CHP candidate, won 54 per cent of the vote, nearly 10 per cent more than Binali Yildirim, representing Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party. In the wake of Imamoglu’s win, the Turkish lira was up nearly two per cent.

Mosque killer’s ‘not guilty’ plea

The man charged with the March shootings of worshippers at two New Zealand mosques has pleaded not guilty to 92 indictments, including 51 counts of murder.Australian citizen Brenton Tarrant, 28, appeared via audiovisual link at the Christchurch High Court and remained silent but smiling as his lawyer entered the not guilty plea to 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one under the Terrorism Suppression Act – the first time such a charge has been laid inside the country.

Rohingya report whitewash

Human rights groups have urged ASEAN leaders to hold honest talks at an upcoming summit on Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya, after a report by the bloc was denounced for whitewashing the persecution of the Muslim minority.The report, commissioned by ASEAN, gives a glowing assessment of Myanmar’s repatriation efforts so far for Rohingya driven into neighbouring Bangladesh. But the repatriation deal has stalled, and almost no Rohingya have chosen to return to Myanmar due to security fears and the government’s refusal to grant them citizenship or basic rights.

MH17: four to face trial

Dutch prosecutors are to put four people on trial for murder next March over the July 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, in which 298 people were killed.The Dutch-led joint investigation team (JIT) named the suspects – Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov from Russia, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko – saying they were responsible for transporting the missile system used to shoot down the plane as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Friendlier ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s June 20-21 visit to North Korea marked the first by a Chinese president in more than ten years. President Xi made the trip to Pyongyang at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, amid a protracted dispute with the US over the North’s denuclearisation. China is North Korea’s sole major ally and the two nations have been working to improve relations in the past year after they deteriorated following Beijing’ssupport for a series of UN sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear activities.

Everest clean-up

An expedition to clean up Mount Everest has seen 11,000 kilos of rubbish removed from the mountain, along with four dead bodies. A team of cleaners took weeks to clear away litter including food wrappings, bottles and empty toxic cylinders, the Nepal Tourism Department said. The corpses, uncovered by melting snow, were taken to Everest’s base camp and then flown to a hospital in Kathmandu for identification. Some of the rubbish was transported flown to Kathmandu, where it will be recycled.

Vanishing act

An Indian magician who disappearedafter being lowered into a river bound in chains and ropes in a Houdini-type feat is feared drowned. Chanchal Lahiri, 40, known by his stage name ‘Jadugar Mandrake’ (Wizard Mandrake), was lowered by winch into the river in Kolkata, but failed to emerge. Rescue workers haveyet to trace him. Before the stunt, Lahiri said he had successfully performed a similar one 21 years ago at the same place.


Feline silly

A Pakistani politician’s press conference was streamed live on Facebook with the ‘cat filter’inadvertently turned on, making him appear with on-screen whiskers and pointed ears.The stream of regional minister Shaukat Yousafzai speaking to journalists went viral on June 14 after a member of his social media team accidentally activated the filter.Humorous comments poured in as Facebook users noticed that the heads of the minister and two accompanying officials bore the feline features.

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