Shanxi, Covid rules violated: Christians arrested for a prayer meeting

Today's headlines:  Victims from storm Megi in the Philippines rise to 58; Sri Lanka's Central Bank says its impossible to repay debt; the Taiwan army publishes a survival manual in case of war (with China); Tehran sends two human rights activists back to prison; more and more young Russians seek legal ways to avoid war in Ukraine; the president of Azerbaijan discusses peace plans with Armenia with Putin.



Chinese police raided a prayer house during a Sunday service, arresting seven Christians for violations of Covid-19 anti-covid rules. The  April 3 raid targeted the Zion Reformed Church, Shanxi province but remained secret for days. Molecular tests on the 21 present, including seven children, were negative.


The victims from floods and landslides caused by the tropical storm Megi in the Philippines, so far the most devastating since the beginning of the year, have risen to 58. Rescuers are still on the lookout for missing persons and the toll could rise in the next few hours. The most affected is the central province of Leyte: at least 47 victims and 27 missing from a flood that hit the agricultural areas of Baybay City.


For the Central Bank of Sri Lanka it has become an “impossible” challenge to repay the debt and it seeks to use its dwindling foreign exchange reserves to import essential resources such as fuel. Taxes and the Covid-19 pandemic have strongly impacted a nation dependent (also) on tourism, fueling street protests against the lack of petrol, food and medicine.


The Taiwan Army first published a manual aimed at citizens, providing a survival guide in the event of war. The fear is that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has accelerated Beijing’s plans to attack the island. China has never given up on the use of force to bring Taipei back to its sovereignty. The volume indicates how to find shelter, water and food.


Thai authorities have detained Vietnamese dissident and activist Chu Manh Son, who enjoys the status of a UN political refugee, in an immigration center. The flight from the country dates back to 2017, following a 30-month sentence for "propaganda against the state". Not having a passport, Royal Thai Police officials arrested him ignoring the UN document.


Tehran sent human rights activist Narges Mohammadi and photojournalist Alieh Motalebzadeh back to prison after giving them a short period of freedom for medical treatment. The Iranian police ransacked the house and arrested both women. According to the Hrana agency, they were transferred to the Qarchak Women's Prison, famous for abuse and violations.


The Russian army struggles to recruit soldiers to fuel the war actions in Ukraine, looking for volunteers or forcing young conscripts, also because more and more soldiers refuse to participate in the invasion. The head of the “Aurora” humanitarian group Pavel ─îikov revealed that he had received requests for legal support for the refusal from 17 regions of the Russian Federation.


The president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliev discussed the issues of the peace negotiation with Armenia on the phone, concerning among others the border boundaries and the results of the recent meeting in Brussels with the "Minsk group", devoid of Russian representatives. However, Moscow still claims to have the last word on the conflict in the Caucasus.