Bangladesh bans single-use plastic in Unesco heritage mangrove forest

Today's headlines: Iraq blocks a Ramadan TV series deemed offensive to tribal leaders; Vietnamese activist sentenced to six years for 'propaganda against the state'; Israel launches an upgraded version of the spy satellite; territorial tensions between Moscow and Beijing in the South China Sea; police in Kyrgyzstan raid a church, fining a nun.


BANGLADESH
Dhaka has banned single-use plastic in the world's largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997 and the habitat of some of the most endangered species such as the Bengal tiger and the Irrawaddy dolphin. The remains left by tourists, about 200,000 each year, jeopardise its fragile balance and damage its ecosystem. 

IRAQ
The Iraqi media watchdog has cancelled a TV series broadcast on the occasion of Ramadan, because it was accused of casting tribal leaders - who still enjoy power - in a bad light, calling them despots. Al Kasser (The Predator), broadcast by broadcaster UTV, was closed after three episodes due to the wave of outrage and anger among some politicians and local leaders. 

VIETNAM
A Vietnamese land rights activist was sentenced to six years under Article 88 of the Penal Code for giving interviews to a programme (Saigon Dallas Radio) broadcast from the USA between 2015 and 2022. According to the indictment, Truong Van Dung also allegedly kept illegally printed books and conducted 'propaganda against the State'. 

ISRAEL - IRAN
This morning, Israel unveiled a new version of the Ofek spy satellite, which improves the monitoring of the entire region (h24) compared to its predecessor, amid growing tension with Iran. The satellite was launched on a Shavit missile from the Mediterranean Sea, heading west, to prevent 'sensitive' technologies from falling into 'enemy' hands in the event of a malfunction. 

RUSSIA - CHINA
Beijing sent a control division to the South China Sea area where the extraction plants of the Russian companies ZarubeĹžneft and Gazprom are located. With this gesture, it wanted to reiterate that these are 'areas under China's jurisdiction', although they are actually located on maritime lines that have been disputed since the 1940s. 

TURKEY - ARMENIA
The Armenia-Turkey match on 25 March, valid for the 2024 European Championship qualifiers and won by the Turks 2-1, was of historical importance for the two countries. The borders have been closed to each other for 30 years, with historical grudges over the Armenian genocide and fears over the ongoing conflicts, but today they are even closer because of the aid provided to earthquake victims.

KYRGYZSTAN
Kyrgyzstan's security services police raided the parish Catholic Church of St Nicholas in the village of Talas for checks and searches. The officers also fined Slovak Franciscan Sister Daniela Cincilova almost 100 euro for "violating the law on religious organisations" by proselytising without authorisation.