- The Washington Times - Friday, February 27, 2004

AFGHANISTAN

Low status plays role in women’s suicides

KABUL — Forced marriages and lack of education contributed to a recent spate of suicide attempts among women in Afghanistan, Dr. Suraya Sobah Rang, deputy minister of women’s affairs, said Thursday.

In response to reports that dozens of women in the western city of Herat had committed suicide by immolation in the past year, Dr. Sobah Rang said there had been 52 cases of women being hospitalized in Herat with burns, but only four had been confirmed as suicide attempts.

Of the 52 women between 14 and 60 years of age who were hospitalized, 35 died, she said. She deemed it was possible more of these cases were deliberate acts but the women refused to discuss it. “You know, according to Afghan tradition, people are not ready to talk about suicide. It is taboo,” she added.

BURMA

U.S. shuns talks until progress shown

BANGKOK — The United States will not join a second round of international talks on Burma to be held in Bangkok, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Darryl Johnson told reporters Washington would not change its position on the military government in Rangoon until it saw progress on democracy there. “No, we’re not interested,” he said when asked if the United States was willing to take part in the “Bangkok Process” talks brokered by Thailand.

Thailand hosted a 12-nation meeting on Burma in December at which the generals in Rangoon promised to embark on a “road map to democracy” by convening a constitutional convention this year. All political parties, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy would be invited to the convention, it said.

Weekly notes

Pakistani officials drew a veil of silence this week over their reasons for shifting Ahmed Saeed Sheikh Omar, an Islamic militant facing death for the murder of American reporter Daniel Pearl, from Hyderabad in the south to a jail in the northern city of Rawalpindi. “I have asked from the senior government quarters, who said the matter is confidential and cannot be divulged,” state attorney Anwar Mansoor Khan told a two-judge High Court bench in Sindh. … An Indian film director whose hard-hitting documentary on the 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat took awards at the Berlinale film festival after the film was shunned at home told the Asian Age newspaper he reveled in the international recognition as “sweet revenge.” The film “Final Solution,” a gripping documentary on the riots that killed nearly 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, won two prizes at the Berlinale for filmmaker Rakesh Sharma.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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