- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

INDIA
Holy men brawl after peace rally
BHOPAL Indian priests engaged in a six-week prayer rally for world peace torched the tents where they met after a pay dispute, prompting a free-for-all brawl, according to police.
About 200 Hindu priests from across India began the 45-day prayer ceremony in mid-December with the stated goal of bringing peace to the world, an event promoted by India's ruling Hindu nationalists and opposition parties alike.
But as the ceremony neared its finale, the priests grew agitated because they had not been paid, police said. Emotions spilled over Thursday when several of the holy men set fire to tents set up for the rally.

NEPAL
Young Tibetan refugees imprisoned in Nepal
KATMANDU Three Tibetans, two of them minors, who were trying to flee to India were sentenced in Nepal to three years in jail each for entering without valid travel documents, a Tibetan official said Wednesday.
The three Tibetans 13-year-old girl Yamo Tso, 15-year-old boy Samdup, and 30-year-old man Tashi were detained Dec. 13 outside Katmandu and put in the custody of the immigration department.
They were sentenced last week to three years in jail after they each failed to pay a $320 fine for traveling without documentation and a $52 visa fee, said Wangchuk Tsering, Nepalese representative of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

AFGHANISTAN
Tensions rise among northern factions
KABUL A troubled disarmament program to strip squabbling factions of their weapons and halt a long-running power struggle in northern Afghanistan has stalled after a fresh outbreak of disputes, the United Nations reports.
U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said long-simmering rivalries between the two main northern power bases which have frequently taken the area to the brink of open conflict had resurfaced.
The region is jointly controlled by an uneasy alliance between Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostum's Junbish militia and the Jamiat party of warlord Atta Mohammad. Although the two men claim to enjoy a good relationship, this is often undermined by conflicts between their troops.

Weekly notes …
Burmese refugees of military rule are living in fear for their lives amid a border crackdown by Thailand on illegal immigrants before a visit to Burma next month by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The Thai army began rounding up illegal immigrants including pro-democracy activists in the town of Sangkhlaburi late last month. … A former Sri Lankan defense minister was ordered held indefinitely as a court investigates charges he and others were involved in mass murder. The Colombo High Court rejected a request for bail by Anuruddha Ratwatte, an uncle of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, amid a probe into the killing of 10 Muslim men during December 2001 parliamentary elections.


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