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Exclusive Rohingya Refugee Leaders Draw Up Demands Ahead Of Repatriation

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– Rohingya leaders in a Bangladesh refugee camp have drawn up a list of demands they want Myanmar to meet before authorities begin sending back hundreds of thousands in a repatriation process expected to begin next week and last for two years.

The petition is the latest indication of the challenges ahead for Bangladesh and Myanmar as they try to engineer the return of refugees who fear continued military operations in Rakhine State and are dismayed about the prospect of a prolonged stay in “temporary camps” in Myanmar when they go back.

A half-dozen Rohingya elders, saying they represented 40 villages from Rakhine, showed the list of demands to a Reuters reporter at the Kutupalong refugee camp, where most of the 655,500 Rohingya refugees are staying.

The petition, handwritten in Burmese, said none of the Muslim Rohingya would return to mainly Buddhist Myanmar unless the demands were met.

The petition, which has still to be finalized, demanded the Myanmar government publicly announce it is giving Rohingya long-denied citizenship and inclusion on a list of the country’s recognized ethnic groups. It asks that land once occupied by the refugees be returned to them and their homes, mosques and schools rebuilt.

It wants the military held accountable for alleged killings, looting and rape, and the release from jails of “innocent Rohingya” picked up in counter-insurgency operations.

It also wants Myanmar to stop listing people with their photographs as “terrorists” in state media and on government Facebook pages.

Myanmar state newspapers this week issued a supplement listing the names and photos of alleged members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), whose attacks on security posts on Aug. 25 triggered a sweeping counter-insurgency operation.

The United Nations has described the Myanmar military operations in the northern part of Rakhine as a classic case of ethnic cleansing.

The military says it has only conducted legitimate operations and denies there have been cases of sexual assault.

But the military said last week soldiers had killed 10 captured Muslim “terrorists” during insurgent attacks at the beginning of September, after Buddhist villagers had forced the captured men into a grave the villagers had dug.

It was a rare acknowledgment of wrongdoing by the Myanmar military during its operations in the western state of Rakhine.

ARSA said in a statement last week the 10 Rohingya in the mass grave were “innocent civilians” and not members of their group.

CHALLENGES AHEAD

The Rohingya elders Reuters spoke to said they were still finalizing their list of demands before showing it to Bangladesh authorities and to aid agencies administering the camps.

They said the 40 village leaders they discussed the petition with represent the interests of all Rohingya at the camp, but that could not be independently verified and aid agencies were unable to comment pending formal issuance of the petition.

Bangladesh and Myanmar this week agreed to complete the return of the refugees over the next two years, with the process due to begin on Tuesday.

But even as preparations get underway for the repatriation, Rohingya Muslims continue to pour into Bangladesh.

More than 100 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since Wednesday and scores more were waiting to cross the Naf river that forms the border, newly arrived refugees in Bangladesh told Reuters.

The new arrivals said they fled Myanmar because of military operations in their village of Sein Yin Pyin, and gave accounts of young men being rounded up and of discovering dead bodies in a pond and a forest.

They said they fled out of hunger, after hiding in their homes for days, unable to go to work in the fields and forests that provided their livelihood.

Myanmar Police Colonel Myo Thu Soe, spokesman for the military-controlled Home Affairs Ministry, told Reuters on Thursday “there’s no clearance operation going on in the villages”.

But, he added, “security forces are still trying to take control of the area” in northern Rakhine. He declined to elaborate.

Aid agencies and rights groups have warned that the repatriation exercise cannot succeed unless the fears and concerns of the refugees in Bangladesh are addressed.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human RightsWatch, told Reuters in an email authorities cannot deal with the Rohingya refugees “as if they are an inert mass of people who will go where and when they are told”.

Writing by Bill Tarrant;

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Irish Pm Calls For Urgent Restoration Of Northern Ireland Government

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DUBLIN – Ireland’s Prime Minister called for the urgent restoration of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government on Monday after talks to end a year-long political stalemate broke down yet again last week.

Both the British and Irish governments have said they want to get the talks back on track but neither have suggested when Irish nationalists Sinn Fein and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) should return to the negotiating table.

The British province has been without a devolved executive for over a year since Sinn Fein withdrew from the compulsory coalition with their arch-rivals that has been central to a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence there.

“The (Irish) government will continue to engage with the parties in Northern Ireland and the British government to support the urgent formation of a new executive,” Varadkar said in a statement after meeting with Sinn Fein and speaking to British Prime Minister Theresa May by phone.

Before meeting Varadkar, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said there should be no delay in resuming talks that she and both governments believe were close to a successful outcome before the DUP pulled out over a disagreement on additional rights for Irish-language speakers.

DUP leader Arlene Foster reiterated her call for London to take further financial control of the region, saying her party remained committed to devolution “but not at any price”.

Britain has already had to take steps toward governing the region directly for the first time in a decade and many fear a return to full British direct rule would further destabilize a delicate balance between nationalists and unionists.

Britain has said it is absolutely committed to restoring the power-sharing administration and Varadkar repeated on Monday that his government did not want to see the introduction of direct rule across the border.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin;

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Sylvester Stallone Dead Hoax – Rocky Actor Tells Fans He’s ‘alive And Well’ After Rumours Of His Death Sweep Social Media

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SYLVESTER STALLONE has put the bizarre rumour he is dead to bed as he tweeted declaring he is “still punching” this evening.

The Rocky star told fans to “ignore this stupidity” and confirmed he is “alive and well” after the rumour swept the internet.

The actor confirmed to fans he is still alive after a rumour of his death took off today

He added: “Remember to always grab LIFE by the throat and do not let go until you succeed.”

This isn’t the first time he has had to bat of rumours of an early demise – Facebook users reported seeing a fraudulent message in September 2016 claiming Stallone had been found dead at his LA home.

It was later exposed as a hoax after it emerged it was linked to a website known for creating and sharing celebrity death hoaxes.

But the rumour has now returned to social media a year-and-a-half later.

He added on an inspirational message as he said he is still ‘alive and well’

AP:Associated Press Wild online rumours are claiming Sylvester Stallone is dead again

The return of the hoax appeared to have been sparked by him sharing a fan poster for Creed II – the next instalment in the Rocky film series.

After seeing Sly’s face on the advert, some people on social media – still convinced that he was dead from the last hoax – reacted with confusion.

RIP messages began to circulate online, with some claiming Sly had died from prostate cancer.

The rumour was fuelled by fake news articles being shared online

Twitter users were seen asking each other if the Rocky star had really passed away as the Chinese whispers spread like wildfire.

One wrote: “Is Sylvester Stallone dead or is Facebook lying again?”

Another wrote: “Omg I thought Sylvester Stallone was dead!! I hate the Internet”

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Starving Lion Chews Off Its Own Tail In Hellhole Chinese Zoo

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A STARVING lion was forced to chew off its own tail after it froze in a Chinese zoo’s water hole.

Tourists visiting Taiyuan Zoo, in Shanxi Province, during the Lunar New Year holidays spotted the malnourished animal pacing around in circles.

A starving lion in Taiyuan Zoo, in Shanxi Province, is believed to have chewed off its own tail

The emaciated beast was kept inside the cage with a lioness who looked equally hungry.

Visitors accused the zoo of abuse and demanded to know why the lion was missing half of its tail.

A Taiyuan Zoo spokesman explained that the lion fell asleep with its tail inside an artificial drinking hole, which frozen in the cold temperatures.

The tail suffered tissue damage and bled, so the lion “bit it off”, the spokesman added.

AsiaWire Visitors became deeply concerned when they saw the emaciated lion pacing around its room

The staff member said employees discovered the injury and the lion was put on a course of medication to help stop its bleeding.

However, the zoo did not respond to accusations that the two lions were underfed and malnourished.

Social media users on China’s Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo said the lions looked “depressed”, pacing around their tiny enclosure.

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