Pakistan authorities initiated a crackdown on leaders and members of the radical Islamist Tehreek-Labaik Pakistan party last month, according to UCA News.
Officials arrested thousands, including founder Khadim Hussain Rizvi, whose party protested for days following the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian, who was charged with blasphemy against Islam. Despite a deal to end protests, Rizvi called for more demonstrations and promoted violence, VOA reported. Rizvi and other leaders were charged under anti-terrorism and sedition laws. If convicted, they could face life sentences.
“No one who halts the country, incites hatred and issues Islamic decrees to kill others should be spared,” Salman Abid, a Pakistan-based political expert, told VOA. “It is against the law and the constitution.”
Although a Pakistani official denied the arrests were connected to Bibi’s case, William Stark of International Christian Concern saw a possible link. The crackdown could be part of the government “putting its ducks in a row” to release Bibi for asylum in another country. She has been in government-protected hiding in Pakistan since the acquittal on Oct. 31. —Julia A. Seymour
Six refugee families stranded for 20 years at a British military base in Cyprus received permanent residency last week from the United Kingdom.
The families are part of a group of 75 people from Ethiopia, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria who departed from the coast of Lebanon in a fishing boat in 1998, hoping to enter Italy. Smugglers abandoned the boat near the coast of Cyprus when its engine failed.
The British government had refused them entry, arguing the UN Refugee Convention does not apply to its bases in Cyprus. Leigh Day, the law firm representing the six families, applauded the settlement. “Instead of being welcomed into the U.K. as refugees, they have been left in limbo for 20 years, raising their families in substandard housing riddled with deadly asbestos and void of an official identity,” said Tessa Gregory, a lawyer at the firm. —O.O.
Congolese officials arrested an army colonel in the 2017 killing of two United Nations investigators. Prosecutor Timothy Mukuntu told Reuters that authorities charged Col. Jean de Dieu Mambweni in the deaths of American Michael Sharp, 34, and Swede Zaida Catalan, 36. They were investigating clashes between the army and the Kamwina Nsapu militia in Congo’s Central Kasai province in March when they were killed. Villagers found their bodies in a shallow grave.
In one of Catalan’s recordings, Mambweni gave the investigators the contact information of a translator two days before their deaths, Reuters reported.
Mambweni earlier denied any involvement in the mission. Congolese authorities initially blamed the militia and arrested about 24 fighters. But the government later said it could not exclude state agents as suspects. —O.O.