World

World NOTES

August 31 1998
World

World NOTES

August 31 1998

World NOTES

World

HONG KONG ASSAULT

Radio talk show host Albert Cheng, 52, was attacked by two men armed with a meat cleaver while on the way to his morning broadcast. Surgeons had to work eight hours reconnecting muscle and nerve tissues in one arm and a leg. Cheng, once a prominent member of Vancouver’s Chinese community, is highly popular for his sharp-tongued attacks on the rich and powerful.

TOURIST RELEASED

Canadian tourist Donaldo Joanes Reid, 54, was released unharmed by Rwandan rebel kidnappers. Her tour group was travelling in mountains on the border where Uganda, Rwanda and Congo meet-an area that is home to endangered gorillas-when the rebels seized them on Aug. 11. Three other foreign tourists and seven Congolese employees remained captive.

CAMBODIAN COMPLAINT

Cambodian opposition politicians accused Theo Noel, a senior Canadian adviser to their country’s National Election Committee, of bias in favor of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling party. A leaked document sent by Noel to the Canadian ambassador sharply criticized opposition parties for failing to recognize Hun Sen’s July election victory. Noel said the letter contained his personal views.

ANNE FRANK DISCOVERY

Five missing pages from Anne Frank’s famous diary were found in Amsterdam. Frank was the Jewish teenager who movingly recorded her family’s attempt to hide from the Holocaust in Amsterdam. She died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at age 15, only weeks before its liberation. The pages were removed by her father, the family’s only survivor, before he published the diary in 1947, because they contain a harsh description of the Franks’ marriage.

BURMESE PROTEST

Supporters of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi vowed to open the parliament elected in 1990, a direct challenge to the military government. Nobel Prize winner Suu Kyi, whose party won but was not allowed to take office, remained in a car at the side of a road outside Rangoon, where she has stayed since Aug. 12 protesting restrictions on her right to travel.

RIVER BÄ I I LES* Chinese soldiers struggle to build a sandbag dike along the Songhua River to prevent floods from inundating the city of Harbin, 1,300 km northeast of Beijing. In the largest military mobilization since the Communist victory in 1949, troops across northeast and central China fought to hold back rain-swollen rivers. The country’s worst flood season in 50 years has left 2,000 dead and millions homeless. Much of the Yangtze River in central China has stood above emergency levels for a month, and water could cover surrounding farmland until mid-September. Farther north, the Nen River overwhelmed two dike systems and submerged more than 1,200 wells at the Daqing oilfield—the site of 25,000 wells producing more than a third of the nation's oil. At week’s end, soldiers were piling more sandbags on to a third embankment, the last defence protecting the oilfields and Daqing city's 2.3 million people.

An apology for Ulster's horror

As the people of Omagh, Northern Ireland, completed three days of funerals for the 28 victims of a car bomb that ripped through their city centre, the self-styled Real IRA—a splinter group that rejects the Irish Republican Army’s 1997 ceasefire—admitted responsibility for the blast. But not for the appalling casualty toll—in addition to the dead, more than 220 people were injured in the worst terrorist act since the Irish conflict began in 1969. That, a spokesman claimed, was the fault of the authorities, who either ignored or misunderstood the group’s warnings. Police, meanwhile, said the bombers deliberately gave them false information that led officers to shepherd people directly into the path of the Aug. 15 explosion.

The Real IRA offered “apologies to the civilians” and proclaimed a ceasefire. But the announcement was greeted by revulsion in religiously mixed Omagh, where both Catholics and Protestants had victims to mourn. “There are so many dead because of them,” said one resident. “No words or statements can put that right.” The politicians were just as unified in their response. The British and Irish governments co-ordinated their search for the bombers. And Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern announced what he called “draconian” anti-terrorist legislation, including the power to detain suspects for up to 96 hours.

Fears rise of a wider African war in Congo

Central Africa neared the brink of a regional war as Zimbabwe began deploying troops in support of besieged Congolese President Laurent Kabila. His forces have been under attack since earlier this month, when rebel troops that Kabila says are backed by Rwanda began their assaults in the east of the country. The conflict threatened to engulf Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, where residents were already struggling through power outages and dwindling food stocks. According to radio reports, Angolan soldiers also began arriving in Kinshasa to help Kabila. “If Rwanda does not withdraw,” Health Minister Jean-Baptist Sondgi said, “we risk a war of a hundred years.”