Iran executes alleged British spy Alireza Akbari
Today's news: Japan intends to dump more than a million tonnes of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant into the sea; the Shrine of St Anne in Penang becomes Malaysia first (minor) basilica; the Supreme Court of India warns the central and state governments against hate speech; China plans to introduce exams for professional journalists; one Russian in three depends on pensions or state benefits.
Iran hanged Alireza Akbari, a former deputy minister, with Iranian and British nationality. Arrested in 2019, he was convicted and sentenced to death for spying on behalf of the United Kingdom. He allegedly played a role in the killing of scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Before the execution, the authorities granted his family a "final visit”.
Japan plans to dump this year more than a million tonnes of radioactive water into the sea from the Fukushima plant destroyed by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011. After treatment, the levels of most radioactive particles meet the national standards. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given the green light to the proposal, but neighbouring countries are concerned.
The Church of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam, Diocese of Penang, was declared the first (minor) basilica in Malaysia. The solemn celebration was held on 9 January, led by Card William Goh Archbishop of Singapore. The shrine, built in 1846 by Fr Adolphe Couellan, is a famous pilgrimage centre, very popular among local Catholics.
The Supreme Court of India has issued a warning to the central government and individual states, calling hate speech a "menace" that must be faced before it turns into a "monster". Christian organisations have called for an investigation into sectarian violence that displaced more than a thousand people among the Adivasi residents of two districts in Chhattisgarh.
Thousands of Indonesians took to the streets today in Jakarta to protest a job decree signed by President Joko Widodo last month. The law will have to go through Parliament for final approval. According to critics, the law affects workers' rights and reduces environmental protection.
China will introduce an exam for professional journalists starting 1 July. To pass, candidates will have to show "loyalty" and political "correctness". Anyone who fails the test, who engages in "unhealthy practices" or does not comply with directives will not have press card. Exams will include written questions, and be organised by the Ministry of Human Resources.
According to data released by Rosstat, Russia’s statistical institute, one Russian in three (over 40 million) depend on pensions or state benefits, and 31 million consider state aid to be their main income. Some 70 per cent of people who rely primarily on state assistance are 60 years of age and older.
Former Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, now president of the Senate, has proposed a reform of parliament that involves the elimination of one of the two chambers. The Halk Maslahaty, the upper house he leads, should become an independent and "representative" institution of government, with the power to change the constitution and guide foreign policy.