- - Sunday, June 20, 2010


Hong Kong publisher halts Tiananmen book

HONG KONG | A Hong Kong publisher said Sunday he has scrapped plans to publish an insider account of Beijing’s decision-making behind its 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy student protesters in Tiananmen Square because of copyright problems.

Bao Pu said he had planned to release the purported memoir of former Premier Li Peng in the former British colony on Tuesday, but stopped the print run of 20,000 copies Friday.

“Relevant institutions have produced new information about the copyright holder. We have no choice but to stop right now,” he said, declining to elaborate.

The Chinese government has not commented on the authenticity of the book since excerpts were provided to the media on June 4, the 21st anniversary of the crackdown.

If authenticated, the manuscript would be one of the few accounts of high-level discussions on how to handle the demonstrations. In the purported memoir, Mr. Li claims armed rioters opened fire first at Chinese troops, forcing them to return fire in self-defense. He gives a precise death toll for the military action — 313 dead, including 42 students and 23 soldiers.

Mr. Li also quotes late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping as advocating martial law, saying the government would try to minimize casualties but “we have to prepare for some bloodshed.”


Double car bombing kills 28 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD | A double suicide car bombing tore through a crowded commercial district near a state-run bank Sunday in Baghdad, killing at least 28 people in the second strike on a major financial institution in a week.

The attack added weight to warnings that insurgents would try to create unrest as deadlocked politicians squabble over forming a new government more than three months after inconclusive national elections.

The bombers drove two cars packed with nearly 180 pounds of ammonium nitrate toward the gates of the Trade Bank of Iraq building and detonated the explosives after striking the blast walls protecting the building, said Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the main Iraqi military spokesman for Baghdad.


Freed dissident joins protest in wheelchair

HAVANA | A political prisoner Havana freed just a week ago, now weak and restricted to a wheelchair after six years in jail, joined activists Sunday pushing to see all Cuban prisoners of conscience freed.

President Raul Castro freed Ariel Sigler on June 13, just ahead of a five-day visit by the Vatican Foreign Minister Dominique Mamberti and following landmark talks between his government and the Catholic Church.

Mr. Sigler, 46, was one of a group of 73 political dissidents picked up in a broad crackdown by the communist government in March 2003.

After his release, he immediately vowed to push hard to win “freedom and democracy” for Cuba, which is ruled by the only one-party communist regime in the Americas.


Uribe protege wins presidential vote

BOGOTA | A former defense minister from a powerful political clan who oversaw a major weakening of leftist rebels won Colombia’s presidency Sunday, routing an eccentric outsider in a runoff.

The victory for Juan Manuel Santos, a 58-year-old economist and three-time government minister, was a ringing endorsement of outgoing conservative President Alvaro Uribe, whose U.S.-backed security policies he helped craft and promised to continue.

With nearly all polling stations reporting, Mr. Santos had 69 percent of the vote against 28 percent for former two-time Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus. It was the largest margin of victory in a presidential vote in modern Colombian history, said Carlos Ariel Sanchez, director of the national electoral council.

More than 3 percent of voters tendered protest ballots, indicating dissatisfaction with both candidates.

Mr. Mockus ran an anti-corruption campaign atop a fledgling Green Party that many Colombians considered naive if well-intentioned. But after catapulting into early contention he stumbled with a series of gaffes that had Colombians questioning his ability to run a country still mired in a half-century-old conflict.

Violence marred Sunday’s vote as seven police officers and three soldiers were killed in separate attacks blamed on leftist rebels.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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