- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2008

CHINA

Democracy activist held for subversion

SHANGHAI | The founder of a political group calling for the establishment of a multiparty democracy in China was detained Thursday, and police told his wife he would be charged with subversion of state power.

China routinely uses the charge of subversion to imprison dissidents for years.

Guo Quan, who started the China New Democracy Party last year, was arrested in Nanjing after he sent his son to school, said his wife, Li Jing.

Mr. Guo has been detained several times - but only for several days at a time - since founding the party. This time, he could be held much longer, Mrs. Li said.

Mr. Guo was also detained in May shortly after the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province. At the time, he said he was held for 10 days for articles he wrote criticizing the government’s response to the massive quake that killed more than 69,000 people.

Mr. Guo, a specialist on Chinese literature, lost his teaching duties at Nanjing Normal University after launching the China New Democracy Party.

BURMA

13 dissidents sent to prison

RANGOON | Courts in Burma sentenced more than a dozen activists to prison Thursday in a continued judicial crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy movement that has drawn international condemnation.

The verdicts were announced after the United States, the United Nations and Britain denounced long prison terms given to more than 30 democracy activists in military-run Burma earlier this week. Some were sentenced at closed-door trials to 65 years in prison.

They included several who played prominent roles ahead of mass pro-democracy demonstrations that were crushed by the ruling junta in September 2007.

Thirteen members of the opposition National League for Democracy party were given prison terms Thursday ranging from 4 1/2 to 9 1/2 years on various charges, including disturbing public tranquility, party spokesman Nyan Win said.

International human rights groups say Burma - officially known as Myanmar - now holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, compared with nearly 1,200 in June 2007, before the September 2007 pro-democracy demonstrations.

They include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest. She has been in detention for about 13 of the past 19 years.

THAILAND

Blast wounds 13 at market protest

BANGKOK | Assailants hurled explosives at vendors protesting a rent increase by new managers of a government-owned market in Thailand’s capital early Thursday, wounding 13 people, police said.

Hundreds of vendors who operate stalls at the outdoor Klong Toey market in Bangkok have been staging a protest since Wednesday against Legal Professional Co. Ltd., the facility’s new privately contracted management company.

The company denied involvement in the attack.

The blast occurred at about 1 a.m. when some protesters were sleeping in makeshift tents and others had gathered outside, police said. Two men were seen dropping a plastic bag from an overpass bridge onto the protest site before the blast occurred, police said, citing witnesses.

There was no claim of responsibility and no indication that the blast was related to Thailand’s ongoing political strife. Protesters have been camping out for months at the Thai prime minister’s office in hopes of forcing the government to resign.

The market’s land is owned by the Port Authority of Thailand, which recently hired new managers for the market. The protesters said the bidding process for the hiring was not transparent, and that they have been treated unfairly by the new management.

SINGAPORE

3 white tigers kill zoo cleaner

SINGAPORE | Three white Bengal tigers mauled a zoo cleaner to death Thursday after the man jumped into a moat surrounding their enclosure, the zoo said.

The tigers, each weighing more than 220 pounds, pounced on Nordin bin Mondong, a 32-year-old Malaysian, said Biswajit Guha, Singapore Zoo’s assistant director.

Fellow zoo workers managed to distract the tigers and pull away Mr. Nordin, but he died on the way to a hospital.

The zoo has temporarily closed the tiger exhibit,

Mr. Guha did not say why Mr. Nordin may have jumped into the tigers’ area. Straits Times newspaper said on its Web site that Mr. Nordin was seen behaving in an agitated manner before he fell into the moat.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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