Month in brief

‘Occupy’ activists jailed

A Hong Kong court has jailed key leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy ‘Occupy’ movement as concerns heighten over declining freedom in the China-ruled city. The 16-month sentences meted out to law professor Benny Tai, 54, and retired sociologist Chan Kin-man, 60, followed a near month-long trial that was closely scrutinised as China’s Communist Party leaders put Hong Kong’s autonomy under growing strain, fuelling unease among foreign governments, rights groups and business people.


Iran-Pakistan: joint border ‘reaction force’

Iran and Pakistan have decided to set up a joint border ‘reaction force’ in the wake of a number ofdeadly attacks by militant groups on their frontier. The news was announced byIranian President Hassan Rouhani after he held talks with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. The border, which abuts the volatile southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan,has been the scene of frequent violent assaults on Iranian security forces.

Historic Kim-Putin summit

In their first ever summit, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian president Vladimir Putin met on April 25 to discuss issues includingdenuclearisation, bilateral ties, economic cooperation and humanitarian aid, as Kim looks to forge closer ties with Moscow amid the nuclear deadlock with the US. He arrived in the Russian city of Vladivostok aboard his private armoured train on April 24, after a stopover in the border town of Khasan. The three-day trip included visits to Russia’s Pacific Fleet headquarters and food factories.

From death to new life

Two Indonesian domestic workers sentenced to death for allegedly practising witchcraft against their employers’ families in Saudi Arabia returned home after their sentences were commuted.Sumartini and Warnah, who both have only one name, arrived back in Jakarta after serving more than ten years in a Saudi jail.A court in Riyadh issued the death penalty to the two women in 2009 but their punishment was reduced early this year after years of negotiations between Jakarta and the oil-rich kingdom.

Quakes rock Philippines

Two powerful earthquakes have struck the Philippines.The first, of magnitude 6.1, struck the capital Manila and provinces north of it on April 22, leaving 16 people dead.The following day an even stronger quake hit Samar island, to which seismologists assigned a magnitude of 6.5. No serious casualties were reported from the second quake, though at least four were said to be injured.

Singapore-China: tighter ties

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said there is‘great potential’ for his country’s ties with China, which have strengthened since they were established in 1990, to develop even further. Referring to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Mr Lee said Singapore was well-placed to make a ‘modest contribution’ in this area, adding that the country hoped to play a constructive role in financial services, third-country investments and human resources development.

China seizes ivory

Authorities in China have seized 7.48 tonnes of smuggled ivory tusks, the biggest haul in recent years, as Beijing intensifies a campaign against illegal wildlife trafficking. The seizures happened during an operation against an international criminal gang that has long specialised in smuggling ivory. China, the world’s largest importer and end user of elephant tusks, banned ivory sales in the country in 2017.

Sea dog

An exhausted dog was rescued by oil rig workers who found him paddling nearly 140 miles off the coast of Thailand. The little animal, named by his rescuers Boonrod (Thai for ‘survivor from karma’), was scooped from the ocean by the rig men, who spotted his head bobbing amid the waves in the Gulf of Thailand. There were no clues as to how he got there or for how long he had been floating at sea, though it is believed he may have fallen from a fishing boat. One of his rescuers plans to adopt him.

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