Today's headlines: Pyongyang punishes unmarried couples with labour camps; For the Buddha's birth festival, the military junta pardons over 2,000 political prisoners; Eight Indians jailed in Qatar for pro-Israel espionage; Laotian activist critical of government killed in execution, authorities fail to open investigation; Tehran uses new "weapons" to punish women who do not wear the hijab.
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza agreed to a ceasefire after a night of air strikes by Star of David fighter jets in the Strip, from which rockets had earlier been fired in response to the death in prison by hunger strike of Khader Adnan, a leader of the Islamic Jihad. The "mutual and simultaneous" ceasefire came into effect at 3:30 a.m. local time, thanks to the mediation of Egypt, Qatar and the UN.
Pyongyang sends unmarried cohabiting couples to labour camps, accusing them of 'poisoning' the socialist society on which the country was founded. If the union under the same roof, Rfa reports, lasts less than a year, the punishment is three months. If cohabitation lasts for more than three years, the punishment rises to three years. The repression aims to eliminate the 'capitalist' culture.
The military junta in Myanmar pardoned more than two thousand political prisoners today, on the occasion of the Kasone festival (full moon day, Buddha's birth). Weeping families were able to re-embrace their relatives outside the prisons, in one of the rare moments of clemency by the generals in the context of a fierce crackdown since their return to power in a coup in February 2021. .
INDIA - QATAR - ISRAEL
Eight Indian nationals who are senior employees of Dahra Global Technologies and Consulting Services have been in Qatari prisons for months for spying on a submarine programme on behalf of Israel and theoretically face the death penalty. They are former naval officers who were arrested in August 2022. The first hearing was held at the end of March and another session is scheduled for May.
A well-known activist and voice critical of the government was shot dead in an execution in Vientiane. 25-year-old Anousa 'Jack' Luangsuphom, promoter of the social page Kub Kluen Duay Keyboard, was shot point-blank in the face and chest while outside a café. The murder took place on the night of 29 April, the authorities have not yet opened an investigation.
Fearful of reinvigorating the wave of pro-Mahsa Amini protests for rights and freedoms, Tehran is resorting to new tactics to punish women who do not wear the hijab, with the use of security cameras and the denial of basic services eventually replacing the morality police. For analysts and critics, the new policy risks worsening the economic crisis by closing businesses and activities.
CHINA - RUSSIA
Beijing publicly recognised Russia as an 'aggressor country' against Ukraine for the first time, passing a UN General Assembly resolution on the subject instead of maintaining the usual abstention. The text also condemns the previous aggression against Georgia, and calls for 'reparation for the damage caused'.
The plebiscite victory in the referendum on constitutional changes in Uzbekistan, with only 9.35% of the more than 16 million voters out of 19 who went to the polls voting against, will allow President Mirziyoyev to stand for the presidency again by 'resetting' his previous terms. The five-year term will now be increased to seven and he will be able to remain in power until 2040, following Putin's example.