Today's headlines: Hong Kong wants to share organ donation database with China, concern among activists; Pasdaran and Basji promote 'veil culture' during Ramadan; setback for Vietnam's economy in Q1 2023; Delhi asks Baghdad to renovate a historic Sikh temple; Union of intent between Moscow and Beijing to control and censor the internet.
INDONESIA - ISRAEL
Fifa, football's governing body, has removed Indonesia from the U20 World Cup scheduled for May following the controversy that has arisen over Israel's participation, but without specifying the details of the decision. A new nation will be named shortly to host the 24-team tournament. The country's presence at the draw scheduled for 31 March in Bali had caused protests.
HONG KONG - CHINA
Hong Kong's decision to share its database on organ donation for transplantation with Beijing worries activists and health experts. Strengthening supporters is the rescue of a young woman with a heart from a Chinese citizen. Critics point to concerns about illegal organ harvesting, especially of people sentenced to death or victims of trafficking.
At least 10 people were killed and more than 230 injured when a fire broke out on board a ferry last night in the southern Philippines, off the coast of Basilan. The fire started in the air conditioning of the cabins and spread to a large part of the vessel. The vessel has a total carrying capacity of about 430 people. Among the causes of accidents in the past was overcrowding.
Pasdaran and Basij militias garrison Qom during Ramadan to promote the Hijab "culture". Meanwhile, ultraconservative MPs want to strengthen the headscarf law, a symbol of repression after the death of Mahsa Amini. Fines of 6,000 euro, confiscation of passport and driving licence are planned; the use of cameras to monitor public use is demanded, under penalty of confiscation.
Vietnam's economy suffered a heavy setback in the first quarter of 2023, growing by 3.3%. Costs of exports and a drop in demand weighed heavily. The slowdown in the January-March period, from 5.9% year-on-year, is almost as severe as that recorded at the start of Covid-19. Total trade, including imports and exports, fell by 13%.
INDIA - IRAQ
India has sent a request to Iraq to renovate a historic Sikh temple (gurdwara), built in memory of Guru Nanak who had once visited Baghdad during his travels in the Islamic world. The matter was discussed during the visit of the Iraqi national security officer to Delhi last week. During the 2003 US invasion the building was looted and destroyed.
RUSSIA - CHINA
One of the points discussed by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping at their meeting in Moscow concerned mutual help in "strengthening controls over the Internet". According to the Russian pro-government magazine Oktagon, a team of Chinese cyber threat specialists is already operational in the capital and, together with the Russians, they are preparing to block YouTube.
In Amnesty International's report for 2022, several criticisms are levelled at Tbilisi, due to the deepening crisis in the country. The general situation of instability is causing an increase in persecution for political reasons, a lack of control of institutions and partiality of justice and investigation bodies, as well as an increase in gender-based violence.