THAILAND - LAOS HMONG: Thai military authorities say they will send about 4,000 Hmong
living in a Thai refugee camp back to Laos by the end of the year,
despite concerns they may face political persecution. VOA's Daniel
Schearf reports from Bangkok. A military spokesman on Wednesday confirmed to VOA that Thailand will repatriate the Hmong within about a week.
They have been living at the Huay Nam Khao camp in Thailand's northern Petchabun province.
Many of the Hmong at the camp fear persecution by Lao authorities if
they are sent back and are believed to want political asylum.
Thailand says they will be repatriated on a voluntary basis, but has
never allowed the United Nations' refugee agency or any third party to
assess their refugee status or monitor their return.
CHINA - DISSIDENT: China prevented foreign diplomats from attending the trial Wednesday of
a leading dissident charged with inciting state subversion.
But authorities allowed Liu Xiaobo's brother-in-law into the Intermediate People's Court in Beijing for the trial.
The brother-in-law, Liu Hui, says the proceedings lasted about two
hours. He says prosecutors accused Liu Xiaobo of "serious" crimes and
said a verdict will be handed down Friday.
Liu Xiaobo's wife and Western diplomats gathered outside the Beijing courthouse after being denied access to the trial.
THAILAND - NOKOR -IRAN: A new report by arms trafficking experts says a plane loaded with North
Korean arms and seized by Thai authorities earlier this month was
headed for Iran.
Analysts say a detailed flight itinerary reveals the
Georgian-registered aircraft was chartered by a Hong Kong-based firm to
fly what it called "oil industry spare parts" to Tehran. The flight
included a number of stops for refueling along the way, including in
Azerbaijan and Ukraine. A draft of the report was provided to U.S. news
agencies this week from arms analysts in the
United States and Belgium.
BURMA - US: A human rights group has has appealed to the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on Torture about the treatment of a detained
Burmese-American in Rangoon.
In a letter to the U.N.'s Manfred Nowak Tuesday, the group Freedom Now
says activist Kyaw Zaw Lwin, better known as Nyi Nyi Aung, has been
subjected to torture by prison officials in Burma's notorious Insein
The group says Aung is being kept in a so-called "military dog cell," a small cramped cell (20 cm by 25 cm) with
barking dogs nearby. Freedom Now says it believes the treatment has
been going on since early December as punishment for a nearly two-week
hunger strike he ended last Saturday.
IRAN - PROTESTS: Iranian opposition groups are reporting new clashes between security
forces and supporters of the late dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah
Hossein Ali Montazeri in central Iran.
Opposition Web sites say security forces cracked down Wednesday on
opposition protests in the Iranian cities of Isfahan and Najafabad, the
The reports say Iranian police in Isfahan fired tear gas to disperse
protesters taking part in a memorial service for Ayatollah Montazeri.
They say several activists were arrested and many more were injured.
COLUMBIA - UNREST: Officials in Colombia say a provincial governor who was kidnapped by
suspected leftist rebels has been found dead in southern Caqueta
Authorities say the body, which was surrounded by explosives, was
discovered Tuesday near the Caqueta's capital, Florencia, one day after
Governor Luis Francisco Cuellar was abducted from his home. The
kidnappers had used explosives when raiding the governor's home,
killing one police officer.
Investigators believe a unit of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was responsible.
JAMAICA - PLANE: Officials now say 91 people were injured when an American Airlines
jetliner overshot the runway at the airport in the Jamaican capital of
Kingston late Tuesday night.
The Boeing 737 jet overran the runway at Norman Manley International
Airport as it was coming in for a landing during a heavy rainstorm. The
plane went through a fence at the end of the runway and skidded over a
roadway before coming to rest on a beach. There are no reports of any
More than 150 people were on board the flight, which originated in
Washington, DC and stopped in Miami before heading to Kingston.
INDIA - SECURITY: India's home minister is calling for "radical" changes in the country's fight against terrorism.
Palaniappan Chidambaram says terrorists could launch another attack
"sooner than you think" and that the country needs a single agency to
lead the response. He said India thwarted 12 or 13 potential terrorist
attacks this year.
During a speech Wednesday, he said India's ability to respond to future
terror attacks is hampered by the fact that oversight for the country's
security elements is spread across too many government agencies.
Listen to our World News for details.