Land mines make Senegal province unusable, report...

Foreign Digest

November 21, 1998

DAKAR — Land mines make Senegal province unusable, report says

DAKAR -- Land mines have made 80 percent of land in Senegal's fertile southern province of Casamance unusable, a local human rights watchdog said yesterday.

The RADDHO (African Grouping for Human Rights) said that the anti-personnel mines, blamed mainly on separatist rebels, had killed or wounded close to 500 people this year through August, including 61 soldiers.

The Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance took up arms in 1982, accusing the former French colony's central government of neglecting the province. RADDHO said that up to 120,000 people had fled their homes leaving as many as 220 ghost villages in the region.

Human rights gains seen in Turkey


ISTANBUL -- Amnesty International said yesterday that Turkey's human rights record, often criticized in western Europe, had shown signs of improvement since last year.

Amnesty told an Istanbul rights conference that last year's provision shortening detention periods initiated a move toward ending Turkish rights abuses, many of which are linked to the separatist conflict in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

But, added Jonathan Sugden, Amnesty International's Turkey researcher, despite a seeming political will to address rights issues, Turkey still produces many cases of disappearance, torture, extrajudicial execution and prisoners of conscience.

Pope takes hard line with Austrian bishops


VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II took a tough line yesterday with visiting bishops from Austria, dampening hope for changes in church policy demanded by an Austrian reform movement.

John Paul rejected the idea of a "democratization" of the Roman Catholic Church, saying the truth cannot be arrived at "through opinion polls and in a democratic manner."

Nor can the revealed truth be decided by "someone from below," the pope told bishops on a routine visit. Lay people must not consider priests and bishops "an obsolete model" the church can do without, he said.

Ebola legacy includes improved health system


KINSHASA -- The Ebola epidemic in 1995 left a trail of death, fear and trauma in the Congo but it also did a world of good to the country's collapsed health care system, the World Health Organization's representative in Kinshasa said.

"When Ebola struck in January 1995, it took five months before it became known," Dr. Abdoul Moudi said in an interview. Since then WHO, backed by donor funds, has set up a high-tech monitoring system based on seven regional centers linked to Kinshasa by computer.

"This is the first country in the sub-region to have such a system. TTC Now I have information about epidemics in real time," Moudi said. He now has 119 workers, up from 12 in 1995.

Afghanistan rulers warn against pursuit of bin Laden


KABUL -- The Taliban said yesterday that its deadline for the world to submit evidence against exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden had expired and any further pursuit of him would be seen as a pretext to attack Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the Afghan rulers said that since no proof had been submitted to the Taliban's Supreme Court, the Saudi dissident could not be a "terrorist."

Bin Laden, who lives as a "guest" in Taliban-held territory, is wanted by the United States for allegedly masterminding the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August that killed 263 people. The United States does not recognize the Taliban government and has no diplomatic representative in Kabul.

Civil rights suspended in Pakistan province

KARACHI, Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan -- The prime minister suspended civil rights yesterday in Sindh province and ordered Pakistani soldiers out of the barracks to quell violence in Karachi, where 1,000 people have died in factional fighting this year.

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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