|Baby’s Bittersweet First Day: Now Mom Can Be Hanged for
Marrying Christian (ABC News)
By ABC NEWS | Good Morning America, May 30, 2014
The baby girl born to a woman sentenced to hang in Sudan for marrying a Christian American citizen met her father for the first time — a moment that was captured in a bittersweet photo.
Daniel Wani, an American citizen who lives in New Hampshire, held his daughter, Maya, in his arms as she rested peacefully days after being born at a Sudanese prison.
The moment of joy was tempered by sorrow as Meriam Yehya Ibrahim Ishag, the Sudanese woman facing flogging and a death sentence for marrying Wani, gave birth to baby Maya earlier this week.
Sudan’s Islamic court considered Ishag a Muslim and did not recognize her marriage to Wani, a Christian. That constituted a crime of adultery and she was sentenced to receive 100 lashes.
The flogging and the death penalty were to be delayed until after she gave birth.
The couple also has a 2-year-old son named Martin and reports state that the boy had been living with his mother in the prison.
Ishag is considered Muslim by Sudan’s courts because her father was Muslim, though she raised by her Christian mother.
Wani and his brother, Gabriel Wani, grew up in Sudan but moved to New Hampshire. He returned to Sudan last week after his wife was condemned to be hanged.
She is reportedly slated to remain in jail for two years to nurse the child before she is to be flogged and hanged.
The court’s sentence has prompted statements of concern from Western governments and human rights groups.
Her lawyers continue to appeal and petition for clemency.
By BISWAJEET BANERJEE
Associated Press, May 30, 2014
LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Police in northern India have arrested three men for brutally attacking the mother of a rape victim after she refused to withdraw her complaint, an official said Friday, as investigators sought clues in a gang rape elsewhere in the state that left two teenage cousins dead.
The attack of the mother this week in the town of Etawah in Uttar Pradesh state followed the May 11 rape of her teenage daughter. A local man was arrested after the woman filed a complaint with authorities.
The two cousins — whom police had originally identified as sisters — were raped and killed by attackers who hung their bodies from a mango tree in the village of Katra, also in Uttar Pradesh.
Angry villagers, furious because they said police had done nothing to search for the girls when they were reported missing Tuesday evening, silently protested the alleged inaction by refusing to allow the bodies to be cut down from the tree once they were discovered.
The villagers allowed authorities to take down the corpses after the first arrests were made on Wednesday. Police arrested two police officers and two men from the village, and were searching for three more suspects.
The girls, 14 and 15 years old, were attacked as they went into nearby fields to relieve themselves, since there is no toilet in their home.
Rape victims cannot be named under Indian law, even if they are dead.
In the incident in Etawah, five men — including the father, a brother and a cousin of the man accused in the rape — followed the victim’s mother away from her house and beat her relentlessly on Monday, demanding she drop the accusation, said Dinesh Kumar, the town’s police superintendent. The mother was in critical condition in a local hospital, with numerous broken bones and internal injuries.
Police arrested three men on Thursday and were looking for two others in connection with that attack.
Indian authorities have become increasingly aggressive about rape accusations since 2012, when a 23-year-old woman was fatally gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi, sparking widespread protests
The head of Vietnam's Fisheries Surveillance Department, Nguyen Ngoc Oai, told VOA's Vietnamese service that one of his surveillance vessels and three Vietnamese fishing boats were surrounded Wednesday by eight to 10 Chinese ships before being rammed and hit by water cannon fire. Full story
Related story: Rape victim’s mother attacked in northern India
By Harmeet Shah Singh and Jethro Mullen
CNN, Fri May 30, 2014
New Delhi (CNN) — A police officer and two other people have been arrested after two teenage girls were gang-raped and left hanging from the branches of a mango tree in a northern Indian village, authorities said Friday.
The shocking attack on the girls — two cousins aged 14 and 16 — sparked outrage in the village of Katra Sadatganj and beyond.
Angry villagers protested around the bodies, preventing police from taking them down from the tree for about 15 hours Wednesday, the day after the attack, said Mukesh Saxena, a local police official.
A photo from the village, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, showed the body of one girl, dressed in a green tunic and pants, hanging from the tree. A large group of people, many of them young children, were gathered around the grisly scene.
Police said an autopsy confirmed the girls had been raped and strangled. The cremation of their remains took place late Wednesday night in line with Hindu customs, Saxena said.
Armed police officers have been deployed in the village to prevent any further unrest, he added.
Police under scrutiny
The girls’ families accused three brothers of carrying out the rape and killing. Two of the brothers are now in custody, said R.K.S. Rathore, a deputy-inspector general of police. One was arrested Thursday night, he said.
Police are still searching for the third brother.
The families of the victims have accused local police of initially failing to respond and siding with the suspects when the parents went to report the case. The allegations have fueled anger among the villagers.
Saxena said three police officers have been temporarily suspended for negligence of duty, and one has been arrested.
He said the girls had gone out into the orchard to relieve themselves Tuesday night when they were grabbed by the attackers.
Some people saw the abduction but were unable to stop it, he said, citing eyewitnesses.
The horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi in late 2012 shook India, focusing sharp attention on violent crimes against women in the country, the world’s second most populous after China.
Caption: In this Wednesday, May 28, 2014 image taken from video, villagers, left, sit in silent protest under the bodies of two teenage sisters hanging from a tree in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh state, India. Authorities in northern India have arrested three men, including two police officers, suspected of gang-raping and killing the teenagers before hanging their bodies from a mango tree, sparking renewed public outrage over sexual violence in the country. (AP Photo/NNIS via AP Video) INDIA OUT
The case prompted protests in many cities, soul-searching in the media and changes to the law. But shocking instances of sexual violence continue to come to light with grim regularity.
“Laws can only do so much when you have to end something which is as endemic and as entrenched as violence against women,” said Divya Iyer, a senior researcher for Amnesty International in Bangalore, India.
The country’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, has said he wants to take steps to make sure woman are safe, particularly in rural India. But women’s rights groups have criticized what they say is a lack of specific proposals to tackle the problem, suggesting gender inequality doesn’t appear to be high on his list of priorities.
“There is a lot more to do,” Iyer told CNN. “That political leadership is unfortunately missing.”
An opinion article in The Times of India, a prominent daily newspaper, linked the attack this week to rising crime and a crisis of authority in Uttar Pradesh, which it said was sliding into “medieval lawlessness.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether India’s entrenched caste system, which continues to cause prejudice and persecution in some rural areas, played a role in the attack. Rathore, the police official, said that the victims and the suspects belonged to different low caste groups.
Zainab Salbi, the founder of Women for Women International, pointed out that “violence against women is a global issue,” not limited to developing countries.
But Salbi told CNN that in many Asian and Middle Eastern countries, “the concept of women as property is still a common thing,” meaning they don’t get treated as equal human beings.
Caption: A Ukrainian Army military jet flies over a shot down Ukrainian Army helicopter outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, Thursday, May 29, 2014. Rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down a government military helicopter Thursday amid heavy fighting around the eastern city of Slovyansk, killing 14 soldiers including a general, Ukraine’s leader said. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told the parliament in Kiev that rebels used a portable air defense missile Thursday to down the helicopter and said a General was among the dead.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
By PETER LEONARD and ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO
Associated Press, May 29, 2014
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s armed forces suffered devastating new losses Thursday, underlining the scale of the challenge the country faces in quelling a guerrilla-style insurgency that has proven to be agile and ruthless.
A rebel rocket attack brought down a military Mi-8 helicopter ferrying out troops, including a general, on the outskirts of Slovyansk, killing at least 12 people onboard.
Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told parliament in Kiev that rebels used a portable air defense missile against helicopter.
Slovyansk, a city of 120,000 people, has become a focal point for the armed pro-Russian insurgency and has for weeks been encircled by Ukrainian troops.
While Ukrainian forces may be better equipped than their opponents, fears that the standoff could degenerate into brutal urban warfare have so far held authorities back from ordering an all-out assault.
“It is extremely difficult to fight against guerrillas. You just cannot destroy them. They are not regular troops,” said Igor Sutyagin, a research fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute. “It’s the classic problem which Russia had in Chechnya and the United States had in Vietnam.”
In recent days, Ukrainian troops have taken to deploying mortar shells in their bid to retake Slovyansk, causing civilian casualties and prompting some residents to flee. The tactic has produced few immediate results other than deepening distrust toward the government and instilling fear.
“They are shooting at us from grenade launchers, we hear explosions. The windows of our house are shaking,” said resident Olga Mikhailova, who said she was leaving the city for the safety of her family. “I have four children. It is terrifying being here, because I am afraid for their lives.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday denounced the use of aircraft and artillery against the rebels and demanded that Kiev end a “fratricidal war and launch a real political dialogue with all political forces and representatives of the regions.”
The ministry said it would be impossible to restore peace in Ukraine without ending the government’s military action against the rebels and withdrawing Ukrainian troops from the east. It called on the West to use its clout with Kiev to “stop Ukraine from sliding into a national catastrophe.”
The Kiev government condemns the insurgency as the work of “terrorists” bent on destroying the country and accuses Russia of fomenting it. Russia denies the accusations, saying it has no influence over rebels, who insist they are only protecting the interests of Russian-speakers in the east.
Ukraine’s military effort has been hindered by a lack of experience in waging operations of the sort underway in eastern Ukraine.
The military, police troops, a newly formed National Guard and a number of often unaccountable volunteer battalions are all ostensibly operating under an “anti-terrorism operation,” but it is clear communication has been poor. And lack of military prowess among the most freshly minted units often shows.
“As they have gained experience, they are becoming more efficient. But this has been limited by lack of cooperation, organization, and coordination between divisions,” said Mykola Sungurovskiy, a defense analyst with the Kiev-based Razumkov Center. “There have been some cases where there was an attack but no reinforcement, or when 30 rebels were killed in one day and yet KAMAZ trucks are bursting across the Ukrainian border from Russia.”
Bad coordination was most vividly on display on when insurgents attacked a government checkpoint in the town of Volnovakha on May 23. Aerial reinforcements apparently shot on their own men. Sixteen soldiers died.
Rebels have also shown signs of disunity.
On Thursday afternoon, dozens of fighters from the insurgent Vostok Battalion surrounded separatist headquarters in the regional government building in Donetsk — the most serious insurgent infighting to date.
The standoff was apparently provoked by anger in the Vostok Battalion, understood to have many combatants from Russia’s North Caucasus, at reports of looting by their allies from a supermarket near the airport, the scene of bloody clashes Monday. Several dozen Vostok Battalion militiamen were killed in that fighting.
The confrontation ended with the militiamen seizing the looted goods and bulldozing the barricades that have lined the building since early April, when the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic announced its formation.
On the government side, every deadly incident is only likely to sap morale among Ukrainian armed forces that have sometimes been shown to lack basic equipment.
In one episode this week, reported by pro-Kremlin Russian channel NTV, the parents of conscripts serving at an Interior Ministry base in Luhansk region, where rebels have also declared independence, descended en masse to take their sons home.
View galleryOlga Mikhailova, left, and her husband Vladimir Mikhailov …
Olga Mikhailova, left, and her husband Vladimir Mikhailov kiss before abandoning their home with the …
And acting Defense Minister Mykhailo Koval likely further soured moods by announcing Thursday that no troops involved in operations in east Ukraine would be rotated out as there is not enough personnel.
Ukraine’s president-elect, billionaire candy magnate Petro Poroshenko, has promised to negotiate with people in the east but also vowed to uproot the armed rebels. He will not be in charge, however, until his inauguration on June 7 and has not spoken publicly about the insurgency since his victory speech Monday.
The separatists in Ukraine have pleaded to join Russia, but President Vladimir Putin has ignored their appeal in an apparent bid to de-escalate tensions with the West and avoid a new round of Western sanctions.
His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Thursday that Russia has agreed to send “humanitarian aid” to eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, at least one analyst argues that Ukraine’s military leaders will push for maximum and swift results before Poroshenko is installed and is given grounds for reshuffling top officers.
“The Ukrainian generals wanted to show Poroshenko they could act more effectively,” said Kiev-based political analyst Vladimir Fesenko. “If operations in Donbass are ineffective, then Poroshenko will come to power and appoint new people.”
Leonard reported from Donetsk, Ukraine. Laura Mills in Kiev, Ukraine, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow also contributed to this report.