Cairo, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — Amnesty International is urging Sudan's military rulers to hand over longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court to stand trial for war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict.
Amnesty's statement on Friday — just two days before al-Bashir is to go on trial on corruption charges before a Khartoum court — says the former president "has evaded justice for far too long."
The ICC first issued an arrest warrant for him a decade ago.
The statement quotes Amnesty's Joan Nyanyuki as saying that while al-Bashir's trial in Khartoum "is a positive step ... he remains wanted for heinous crimes committed against the Sudanese people."
Al-Bashir was overthrown in April but Sudan's military rulers have said he would not be extradited to the ICC in The Hague.
Zimbabwe (AP) — Police are clashing with a few hundred anti-government protesters who gathered in central Harare. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd at Africa Unity Square but many protesters moved into nearby streets. The square is engulfed in tear gas. Police are chasing demonstrators and arresting some. One woman was beaten by police and is lying on the street.
Zimbabwe's High Court has upheld the police ban on the opposition demonstration planned for Friday. The court rejected the application from the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, to declare the planned protest action to be legal.
Zimbabwe's police patrolled the streets of the capital, Harare, Friday morning while many residents stayed home and shops were shut fearing violence from an anti-government demonstration.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has launched a legal challenge, urging the courts to declare their protest to be lawful and to dismiss the police ban on their street demonstration, said party spokesman Daniel Molokele.
Police in riot gear and with water cannons maintained a heavy presence in downtown Harare and in residential areas across Harare early Friday morning. Police cordoned off central Africa Unity Square, where the demonstrators had planned to gather. Police and government officials warned that the demonstration would be illegal and protesters would "rot in jail."
To avoid any possible trouble, many residents avoided going out. Many shops were closed and Harare's streets were unusually quiet Friday morning.
The opposition party had planned what it said would be a peaceful protest to press President Emmerson Mnangagwa to set up a transitional authority to address economic problems and organize credible elections. The protests will spread to other cities next week, the opposition said.
Zimbabwe's economic turmoil with inflation at 175%, widespread power cuts lasting up to 19 hours a day and shortages of water are blamed for the rising political tensions. From the hope that swept across the country with the forced resignation of repressive ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017, the nation has returned to widespread resentment and fear, according to government critics and residents.
Six anti-government activists were abducted and tortured this week ahead of the protests, according to human rights groups.
Zimbabwe's president urged the opposition to engage in dialogue, but at the same time his government pushed parliament to quickly adopt new security legislation criticized as repressive.
To discourage the protests teams of police officers searched vehicles at checkpoints on roads leading into the city. Police said the protests are likely to be violent, and warned people to stay away.
"Do not take part, you will rot in jail," shouted police officers through megaphones on Thursday in downtown Harare and some residential areas.
Mnangagwa, 77, came to power with promises of sweeping political and economic reforms. But now his government is widely viewed as an extension of Mugabe's economic mismanagement and even more heavy-handed on security, according to human rights groups.
In addition to the debilitating shortages of power and water, about a third of Zimbabwe's 15 million people are in dire need of food aid, according to aid agencies.
Amnesty International Thursday accused Mnangagwa's administration of "using some of the brutal tactics seen under the government of Robert Mugabe," said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International's deputy regional director for southern Africa. "Instead of listening to protestors' concerns about the economy, the authorities have used torture and abduction to crush dissent and instill fear."
Moscow, Aug 15 (AP/UNB) — The captain of a Russian passenger jet was hailed as a hero Thursday for landing his plane in a cornfield after it collided with a flock of gulls seconds after takeoff, causing both engines to malfunction. While dozens of people sought medical assistance, only one was hospitalized.
The event drew comparisons to the 2009 "Miracle on the Hudson," when a captain ditched his plane in New York's Hudson River after a bird strike disabled his engines.
The Ural Airlines A321 carrying 226 passengers and a crew of seven hit the birds as it was taking off Thursday from Moscow's Zhukovsky airport en route for Simferopol, in Crimea.
Russia's Rosaviatsiya state aviation agency chief Alexander Neradko told reporters that the crew "made the only right decision" to land the fully loaded plane immediately after both of the plane's engines malfunctioned.
"The crew has shown courage and professionalism and deserve the highest state awards," he said.
The plane was fully loaded with 16 tons of kerosene, he added.
"Just imagine what the consequences would be if the crew didn't make the correct decision."
The airline said the captain, 41-year old Damir Yusupov, is a highly experienced pilot who has logged over 3,000 flight hours.
Yusupov, a son of a helicopter pilot, worked as a lawyer before he changed course and joined a flight school when he was 32. A father of four, he has flown with the Ural Airlines since his graduation in 2013 and became the captain last year.
Yusupov's wife told Rossiya state television from their home in Yekaterinburg that he called her after landing before she had heard about the emergency.
"He called me and said that everyone is alive," she said. "I was horrified and in panic and burst into tears."
Russian television stations carried footage of passengers standing in the cornfield next to the plane, hugging the pilot and thanking him for saving their lives.
"It was quite a feat to keep the plane from stalling and quickly find a place to land," Viktor Zabolotsky, a former test pilot, said in televised remarks.
The crew received swift accolades. Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, hailed the pilots as "heroes" and said they will receive state awards. And Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev opened a session of Cabinet by praising the crew and asking the transport minister to explain what happened.
The Emergencies Ministry said that 55 people asked for medical assistance after the incident. The health authorities said 23 people, including five children, were taken to the hospital, but all but one were released following check-ups and quick treatment.
Plane engines are designed to withstand occasional bird strikes, but a collision with a flock of birds can result in serious trouble. Bird strikes on planes occur regularly around the world, and airports use bird distress signals, air cannons and other means to chase birds away — measures which aren't always efficient.
In 2009, a US Airways Airbus A320 hit a flock of geese after takeoff from New York City's LaGuardia Airport and both of its engines shut down. The crew made an emergency landing in the Hudson River off Midtown Manhattan, and everyone survived.
The "Miracle on the Hudson" was immortalized in the Hollywood movie "Sully," based on the autobiography of Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and starring Tom Hanks.
Some media reports suggested that the birds could have been drawn to Zhukovsky by an unauthorized garbage dump in the vicinity, but there was no immediate confirmation of the claim.
Muzaffarabad, Aug 14 (AP/UNB) — Pakistan's prime minister assured Kashmiri people living in the Indian-administered part of the divided region that he supports them in their struggle for self-determination.
In his statement Wednesday, Imran Khan condemned New Delhi's decision Aug. 5 to downgrade Kashmir's status, as he began celebrations marking Pakistan's independence day.
Khan is marking the day in Pakistan's part of Kashmir to express solidarity with Kashmiris on the Indian-controlled side. He will make a speech in the Legislative Assembly to denounce Indian human rights violations in Kashmir.
India and Pakistan gained independence in 1947 when British colonialists left the subcontinent. The next year, they fought the first of two wars over control of Kashmir. It ended with the region divided between them though both claim it entirely.
India has maintained an unprecedented security lockdown to try to stave off a violent reaction to Kashmir's downgraded status. Protests and clashes have occurred daily, thought the curfew and communications blackout have meant the reaction is largely subdued.
Pakistan has called for an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council, saying the move by India's Hindu nationalist-led government threatens international peace and could lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide. Poland holds the council presidency this month and Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said members would discuss the letter.
Pakistan's president, celebrating Pakistan's independence in Islamabad, condemned India's downgrading of Kashmir's status as a violation of international law and says Pakistan "will not leave Kashmiri people alone."
India celebrates its independence on Thursday and was finalizing preparations for the festivities in New Delhi and in Indian-administered Kashmir on the 10th day of a near-total security lockdown in the Himalayan region. The lockdown is expected to last at least through Thursday.
Tehran, Aug 14 (AP/UNB) — Iran's state TV reports that the country's supreme leader is urging support for Yemen's Houthis against a Saudi-led coalition that he says is trying to "disintegrate" the country.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Mohammad Abdul Salam, the spokesman for Yemen's Ansarallah Movement, in Tehran on Tuesday. The group is commonly referred to as the Houthis.
Khamenei says Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their supporters seek to break up Yemen, "which must stand firm against this conspiracy."
A Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthis in northern Yemen since March 2015 on behalf of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's government.
The conflict in the Arab world's poorest country is largely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.