Pyongyang celebrates deceased Covid soldiers as 'war victims'
Today's headlines: Cambodian Church celebrates ordination of first Phnong priest; monsoon death toll rises to 77 in Pakistan, more rain on the way; Chinese Christian activist Cheng Yuan in solitary confinement and tortured in prison; opposition Chp party overtakes Erdogan's Akp in polls ahead of 2023 elections.
Soldiers who died from Covid-19 have been granted privileges that are 'special but without substance' with Pyongyang returning cremated corpses to their families with the mention 'honourable war death'. Among the causes of the contagions was the large military parade in April that allegedly encouraged the circulation of the virus after the leadership had denied its presence in the country for two years.
Catholics celebrated the ordination of the first ethnic Phnong priest. He is Fr Jean-Baptiste Bun Prak Hong, who received the sacrament on 29 June. He is originally from Busra, Pech Reada district, in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri. During the ceremony, the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh announced the ordination of three deacons in September.
At least 77 people have been killed by the monsoons that have hit Pakistan in the last three weeks, according to the Minister for Climate Change. From the ministry comes the warning of new, heavier rains expected in the coming days. Sherry Rehman speaks of a 'national tragedy'. Most of the dead are concentrated in the south-western province of Baluchistan.
Christian activist Cheng Yuan suffered 'torture' in Chishan prison, Hunan province. According to family members, he suffered "constant sleep deprivation" while in solitary confinement to make him confess the names of other "accomplices". Founder of the NGO Changsha Funeng, he was tried in September 2020 for 'subversion' together with two colleagues.
Two different polls mark the overtaking of the main Republican opposition party (Chp) by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Akp ahead of the general elections in June 2023. According to Piar, 29.6 per cent of respondents would vote Chp compared to 27.8 per cent for the Akp. For the Yöneylem company, the Chp stands at 27.7% compared to 27.1% for the Akp.
RUSSIA - ISRAEL
The Russian authorities have decreed the closure of the country's main Jewish agency Sokhnut, which according to the letter sent "attracts the best minds, in order to convince them to emigrate to Israel". The decision is intended to stop the flow of Russians into Israel; to date, many are waiting for a visa to emigrate.
ARMENIA - AZERBAIJAN
The Armenian church of Šuši in Nagorno-Karabakh known as Kanač žam, the 'green church' because of the colour of its domes, which had suffered no damage during the 44-day war in 2020, has now been reduced to ruins by the Azerbaijani authorities. A similar fate has befallen other places of worship in the area, to be turned into mosques or Russian Orthodox churches.