- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

INDIA

Islamist rebels warn against execution

SRINAGAR — Islamist rebels warned yesterday of “dire consequences” if India executes a Kashmiri Muslim convicted over a 2001 attack on Parliament, amid a paralyzing protest strike in Indian Kashmir’s main city.

The turmoil erupted in the Muslim-majority state after a New Delhi judge ordered that Mohammed Afzal, found guilty last month of helping to mastermind the attack, should be hanged Oct. 20.

“We warn of dire consequences if the death sentence is carried out,” said Sadaqat Hussain, a spokesman for the United Jihad Council, Indian Kashmir’s main militant alliance that is resisting New Delhi’s rule here.

BANGLADESH

Government seeks talks on reforms

DHAKA — The Bangladeshi government has invited the opposition for talks in a bid to defuse a major dispute over electoral reforms ahead of looming elections, an opposition spokesman said yesterday.

The invitation came as the opposition threatened nonstop protests and strikes to force the reforms through. It insists the changes are crucial for “free and fair” parliamentary elections in January.

The 14-party opposition alliance led by the Awami League has threatened to boycott the elections if Prime Minister Khaleda Zia refuses to replace the proposed chief of an interim government and top election commission officials.

BURMA

Junta asked to free democracy activists

GENEVA — A U.N. human rights expert have demanded that the military junta in Burma release three pro-democracy activists detained at midweek, hours before a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the country’s opposition. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, said Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and Htay Kway must be released.

The activists had planned to attend a ceremony commemorating the 18th anniversary of Aung San Suu Kyi’s creation of National League for Democracy, at its Rangoon headquarters.

Weekly notes …

A 61-year-old cancer patient in India died after fasting for two weeks in an ancient rite that a human rights activist went to court to stop, news reports said. Villa Devi stopped eating on Sept. 14 as part of a Jain salvation ritual. She died Thursday in the western city of Jaipur as the state high court was considering the petition. Jainism, which originated in India, has nearly 4 million followers in the country. … Shymkent, an industrial city in Kazakhstan is reeling after learning that at least 63 children have contracted AIDS through medical negligence. At least five toddlers have died after receiving injections or blood transfusions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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