Gauhati, July 30 (AP/UNB — India on Monday released a final draft of a list of its citizens in the northeastern state of Assam, leaving some 4 million people on edge to prove their Indian nationality.
India says hundreds of thousands of people have illegally entered the country from neighboring Bangladesh over decades and settled down in the northeast. Bangladesh rejects the claim.
The application process for inclusion in India's national register started in 2015. Of 32.9 million applicants, the names of 28.9 million have been approved and included in the draft, Sailesh, India's registrar general, told reporters in Gauhati, the capital of Assam state.
Sailesh, who uses one name, said more than 4 million left out can file appeals by Sept. 30 and prove their Indian nationality by providing documents. Until then, no one will be declared an illegal migrant.
"Adequate and ample scope will be given to people for making objections. No genuine Indian citizen should have any fear," said Sailesh.
Allegations of illegal movement of people from India's porous border with Bangladesh have triggered sectarian tensions between the state's indigenous population and Bengali-speaking Muslims. Hundreds of Bengali-speaking Muslims whose nationality is suspect are living in half a dozen detention camps in Assam state.
People were asked to provide documents proving that they or their family members lived in India before March 24, 1971, but excluded those who arrived during and after the 1971 war leading to Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan.
The final national register containing the names of only Indian nationals after weeding out illegal migrants will be published after the disputed claims are settled.
"Nowhere else in India have we carried out such an exercise to have a list of (Indian) nationals," said National Register of Citizens Coordinator Prateek Hajela.
Moscow, Jul 28 (AP/UNB) — Vladimir Putin says the adoption of Christianity more than 1,000 years ago in territory that later became Russia marked the starting point for forming the Russian nation itself.
Putin's comments came Saturday in a ceremony marking the 1,030th anniversary of the adoption by Christianity by Prince Vladimir, the leader of Kievan Rus, a loose federation of Slavic tribes that preceded the Russian state.
Speaking to thousands of clergy and believers at a huge statue of the prince outside the Kremlin, Putin said adopting Christianity was "the starting point for the formation and development of Russian statehood, the true spiritual birth of our ancestors, the determination of their identity. Identity, the flowering of national culture and education."
The comments underline the strong ties between Putin's government and the Russian Orthodox Church.
Paris, July 28 (AP/UNB) — The former presidential security aide at the center of a firestorm over his violent behavior toward a protester on May Day says President Emmanuel Macron is not to blame and that he committed "a form of betrayal" of his boss.
The identification 10 days ago of Alexandre Benalla as the man in a video acting violently toward a protester has swelled into a political crisis for Macron. Benalla was embedded with police as an observer that day.
In his first TV interview, Benalla told TF1 that he didn't feel he had committed a "reprehensible" act, but conceded his actions were "not the role of a collaborator" of the president who "has nothing to do with May 1."
Among charges Benalla now faces is "violence in a group."
Washington, July 28 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday for "fulfilling a promise" to return the remains of U.S. soldiers missing from the Korean War, as a U.S. military plane made a rare trip into North Korea to retrieve 55 cases said to contain remains.
Close to 7,700 U.S. soldiers remain unaccounted for from the 1950-53 Korean War, and about 5,300 of those were lost in North Korea.
North Korea's move signals a positive step in Trump's diplomacy with Pyongyang, and may restart efforts to send U.S. teams into the country to search for additional war dead.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis cautioned that the transfer of remains "is separate" from what has so far been troubled efforts to negotiate the complete denuclearization of North Korea. But he said it was a step in the right direction following the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore.
"This is obviously a gesture of carrying forward what they agreed to in Singapore and we take it as such," Mattis told reporters Friday. "We also look at it as a first step of a restarted process. So we do want to explore additional efforts to bring others home."
Despite soaring rhetoric about denuclearization before the Singapore meeting, the summit ended with only a vague aspirational goal for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how that would occur.
Subsequent talks between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and senior North Korean officials got off to a rocky start earlier this month, with the North accusing the Americans of making "unilateral and gangster-like" demands on denuclearization. On Wednesday, Pompeo said a great deal of work remains ahead of a North Korea denuclearization deal, but he declined to provide any timeline.
Trump, addressing reporters on the South Lawn, said Vice President Mike Pence would greet the families and the remains of the soldiers.
"We have many others coming, but I want to thank Chairman Kim in front of the media for fulfilling a promise that he made to me, and I'm sure that he will continue to fulfill that promise as they search and search and search," Trump said.
"These incredible American heroes will soon lay at rest on sacred American soil," he added.
Pence, the son of a Korean War combat veteran, said in a statement that he will participate in the ceremony when the remains arrive in the U.S. United Nations Command said the remains will be flown to Hawaii immediately after a full honors ceremony in Seoul on Wednesday.
"It is deeply humbling to be part of this historic moment," Pence said. "We will never forget the sacrifices these brave service members and their families made for our nation and our freedoms."
Early Friday morning in Korea, a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane made a rare trip into North Korea to retrieve 55 cases of what are believed to be remains from the Korean War. The aircraft then flew from Wonsan to Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, near the South Korean capital of Seoul.
At the air base, U.S. servicemen and a military honor guard lined up on the tarmac to receive the remains, which were carried in boxes covered in blue U.N. flags. Officials in North Korea had no comment on the handover, which came on the 65th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
Once the cases arrive in Hawaii, a series of forensic examinations will be done to determine if the remains are human and if the dead were American or allied troops killed in the conflict.
Mattis underscored that looming question, saying "we don't know who's in those boxes." But he said the gesture is important for families of the fallen, which could include any of the allies that also fought in the war.
"We have families that when they got the telegram, have never had closure," Mattis said. "They've never gone out and had the body returned."
More than 36,000 U.S. troops died in the conflict, including those listed as missing in action.
The repatriation of remains could be followed by stronger North Korean demands for fast-tracked discussions to formally end the war, which was stopped with an armistice and not a peace treaty. South Korea's Defense Ministry also said the North agreed to general-level military talks next week at a border village to discuss reducing tensions across the countries' heavily armed border.
The remains are believed to be some of the more than 200 that North Korea has held in storage for some time, and were likely recovered from land during farming or construction. The vast majority of the war dead, however, have yet to be located and retrieved from cemeteries and battlefields across the countryside.
Efforts to recover American war dead had been stalled for more than a decade because of a standoff over North Korea's nuclear program and a previous U.S. claim that security arrangements for its personnel working in the North were insufficient.
From 1996 to 2005, joint U.S.-North Korea military search teams conducted 33 recovery operations that collected 229 sets of American remains. The last time North Korea turned over remains was in 2007, when Bill Richardson, a former U.N. ambassador and New Mexico governor, secured the return of six sets.
Washington has said Pyongyang wouldn't get sanctions relief and significant security and economic rewards unless it firmly commits to a process of completely and verifiably eliminating its nuclear weapons. There are lingering doubts about whether Kim would ever agree to fully relinquish his nukes, which he may see as a stronger guarantee of survival than whatever security assurance the United States could offer.
Dhaka, July 28 (UNB) - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged all to work together around the key issues of prevention, protection and prosecution to build a future ending trafficking in persons.
“On this World Day against Trafficking in Persons, let us come together around the key issues of prevention, protection and prosecution to build a future where this crime cannot exist,” he said.
The UN chief made the call in a message marking the World Day against Trafficking in Persons that falls on July 30, according to UN headquarters.
Guterres said trafficking in persons is a vile crime that feeds on inequalities, instability and conflict. “Human traffickers profit from peoples’ hopes and despair. They prey on the vulnerable and rob them of their fundamental rights.”
He said children and young people, migrants and refugees are especially susceptible and women and girls are targeted again and again.
“We see brutal sexual exploitation, including involuntary prostitution, forced marriage and sexual slavery. We see the appalling trade in human organs,” said the UN chief.
He said human trafficking takes many forms and knows no borders. “Human traffickers too often operate with impunity, with their crimes receiving not nearly enough attention.”
“This must change,” said the UN secretary general mentioning that the United Nations is committed to advancing action to bring traffickers to justice while protecting and supporting their victims.
The rights of victims must come first - be they the victims of traffickers, smugglers or of modern forms of slavery or exploitation, he said.
“In their proposed Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to be adopted in December, Member States have also demonstrated resolve to prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration,” said the UN chief.
UN human rights expert Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, in separate message, said States around the world must act now to strengthen their efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings, including by ensuring that victims and potential victims are considered and treated as rights holders.
In many countries, human rights activists and civil society organisations have been criminalised and ostracised for acting in solidarity with migrants and victims and potential victims of trafficking, she said.
“On World Day against Trafficking in Persons, my message is that, even in difficult times, inclusion, not exclusion, is the answer,” said the UN expert.