06/13/2024, 10.46
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Tehran sentences Armenian to 10 years for 'evangelical Christianity'

Today's news: For the World Bank, war freezes Myanmar's economic growth. In Kuwait massacre of migrants in the burning of a building. Drought alarm in several provinces of China. Nobel laureate Yunus investigated for embezzlement with 13 others. In Tajikistan, the wearing of the hijab is officially banned.

An Armenian Christian was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In their verdict, the judges, having found no clear evidence, used a provision of the Penal Code punishable by simple "supposition" of a crime. Hakop Gochumyan, who had been in a cell since last summer, ended up on trial for "proselytising activities" defined as "deviant" that "contradicts the sacred law of Islam" due to his membership and leadership of "a network of evangelical Christianity". 

Myanmar has the highest level of poverty in six years, with growth stunted by the war and standing at a paltry 1% in the fiscal year (down from forecasts of 2%), according to the World Bank's latest report. Escalating violence, labour shortages and a depreciating currency make it more difficult to do business. 

Migrant tragedy. At least 49 people died in Kuwait after a fire broke out in a building housing foreign workers. Among them are a number of Indians and some people of another, as yet unspecified nationality. The deputy prime minister accused the building owners of safety violations behind the incident. Dozens of people were injured and admitted to hospitals. 

Weeks of low rainfall in parts of China, accompanied by scorching heat, have led to severe drought from the northwest to the east. Authorities are trying to minimise the impact on agriculture and water and energy supplies, record temperatures are expected. Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan and Shandong provinces are affected.

Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus (who denies all charges) and 13 other people are indicted for embezzling about two million dollars, embezzled - according to the indictment - from the workers' welfare fund of his telecommunications company Grameen Telecom, which holds a 34.2 per cent stake in Grameenphone. The defendants also face charges of money laundering. 

After years of repression, with women forced to choose between a career and adhering to the precepts of the Muslim faith, the authorities in Tajikistan have officially banned the wearing of the hijab, the Islamic veil. Parliament adopted amendments to the law on 'Traditions and Celebrations' that prohibit the import, sale and advertising of 'clothes foreign to the local culture'. 

The Moscow Duma has passed a law providing for fines and deprivation of liberty for up to four years for participation in all 'undesirable' organisations. Not only foreign NGOs are in the crosshairs, but rules have been added to allow any foreign organisation to be declared such, to 'fill a legislative hole' according to Speaker Vjačeslav Volodin.

The session of the Strategic Dialogue between Armenia and the United States was held in Yerevan, which was also attended by the Deputy Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Affairs, James O'Brien. At the end of the meeting, Armenia's Foreign Minister, Ararat Mirzoyan, spoke of a "historic opportunity" to conclude peace with Azerbaijan and establish security in the region for a long time.

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