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Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong quits pro-democracy group as China passes security law – National

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong said on Tuesday he is stepping down as leader of his democracy group Demosisto, just hours after local media reported that Beijing had passed national security legislation for the Chinese-ruled city.

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Chinese lawmakers pass controversial security law for Hong Kong: reports

Wong has said he will be a “prime target” of Beijing’s national security law, which critics fear will crush freedoms in the former British colony.

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“If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the international community will continue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up concrete efforts to defend out last bit of freedom,” Wong wrote in a tweet.

-With a file from Global News

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Greta Thunberg news: EU’s plan to let activist speak in Brussels despite ban outrages MEPs | World | News

Nuno Melo, a Portuguese MEP, condemned the bloc’s decision in a bombshell letter to EU Parliament president David Sassoli. He demanded an answer as to why Greta was deemed an “exception” to the ban ahead of her talk. Mr Melo also said that “human beings are democratically equal,” referencing a bias towards the 17-year-old.

Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans also waded in questioning “how can we explain this to our visitors and guests”.

She added: “Everyone should be treated equally.

“If the European Parliament grants an exception to Greta Thunberg, this house will not be taken seriously.”

The climate change activist will be in the Belgium capital on Wednesday and is expected to deliver her speech to MEPs.

Most recently, she was in Bristol talking to activists on Friday.

A spokeswoman for parliament said: “This is not a decision linked to a particular person.

“Any speaker specifically invited by the president of an official body of the parliament is allowed to attend.”

Other MEPs also joined in asking for further clarification as to why the Swede was allowed to attend Parliament.

JUST IN: ‘Anti-Greta Thunberg’ hits out at teenage climate activist

On Tuesday, Spain confirmed that it had recorded its first death.

Reports say that the virus was the reason a man died in a Valencia hospital.

In the UK, 51 people have contracted the disease.

The Government has put its plan in place how it intends to tackle the coronavirus.

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Tokayev reassures Kazakhs detained activist died of heart failure

On 25 February, civil activist Dulat Agadil passed away due to heart failure while in detention in Nur-Sultan, representatives of Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry said. “Agadil had been detained due to suspected violations of the terms of his house arrest, which he had been placed under following charges of contempt of court earlier this year,” the office of Nur-Sultan’s general prosecutor said.

On 26 February, independent experts have identified the cause of death of Agadil, the Interior Ministry and the office of the general prosecutor said in the statement. On 26 February, at the request of the lawyer of the family of the deceased activist with the participation of invited private forensic experts, a study of the body of Agadil was carried out, the statement read. “Experts have found that the cause of Dulat Agadil’s death is acute cardiovascular failure. No bodily injuries characteristic of violence have been found. The experts involved, as well as the brother and lawyer of the deceased, did not state any comments and petitions,” the statement read.

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who personally reviewed the case, said: “I can fully assure people that, unfortunately, the activist Agadil passed away as a result of heart failure. To make any claims counter to this is to go against the truth,” Tokayev said. “No matter what his views, he was primarily a human being,” he added.

Since inauguration, Tokayev has been positioning Kazakhstan as the ‘hearing state’. The President has announced a series of domestic, social, economic and political policies aimed at improving the quality of life for citizens of Kazakhstan. In particular, the National Council of Public Trust have been established as platforms in which wider society can discuss different views and strengthen the national conversation regarding government policies and reforms.

In an effort to increase public safety, Tokayev has strengthened the penalties for those who commit serious crimes, including sexual violence, drug trafficking, human trafficking, driving vehicles after drinking all types of alcohol, poaching, violence towards park rangers, domestic violence against women and serious crimes against individuals, especially children.

The sudden death of Agadil, who was a participant in many anti-government protests, sparked speculation among his supporters that the authorities of Kazakhstan were allegedly behind the death of the activist. But Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry dismissed the speculation, reiterating that Agadil died of natural causes. “The civil activist Dulat Agadil who died in the pre-trial detention center was not injured,” Sanzhar Adilov, the head of the investigation department of the Kazakh Ministry of Internal Affairs, told reporters.

He explained that now they are actively discussing in social networks whether the deceased man had bruises and injuries on his body, but forensic experts confirmed their absence. “Yesterday, in the presence of forensic experts, the prosecutor immediately examined the body. An initial external examination showed that there were no visible bodily injuries. Yesterday, forensic experts gave a preliminary conclusion – death occurred as a result of sudden cardiac arrest, acute cardiovascular failure,” said the head of the investigation department and added that the full conclusion of the forensic medical examination will be no less than in a month.

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Israel’s deportation of Human Rights Watch activist condemned

Omar Shakir (C) at a news conference in Jerusalem on 25 November 2019Image copyright

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Omar Shakir vowed to continue investigating and reporting human rights abuses

Human Rights Watch has accused the Israeli authorities of an “intensifying assault on human rights” ahead of the deportation of one of its activists.

The interior ministry revoked the work permit of US citizen Omar Shakir last year under a law that bars foreigners who have supported boycotts of Israel.

HRW appealed, but the Supreme Court upheld the decision earlier this month.

Mr Shakir will continue as the group’s Israel and Palestine director but he will be based in neighbouring Jordan.

“Israel today joins the likes of Venezuela, Iran, and Egypt in barring Human Rights Watch researchers, but it, too, will not succeed in hiding its human rights abuses,” said Kenneth Roth, HRW’s executive director, who will accompany Mr Shakir as he leaves Israel later on Monday.

“This decision shows why the international community must reboot its approach to Israel’s deteriorating human rights record. A government that expels a leading human rights investigator is not likely to stop its systematic oppression of Palestinians under occupation without much greater international pressure.”

The executive director of the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, warned that Mr Shakir’s deportation was “part of a broader, ongoing campaign waged by the Israeli government to silence any effective opposition to the prolonged occupation”.

The Israeli authorities issued a statement accusing Mr Shakir of promoting boycotts against the country on Monday, but they rejected requests for interviews.

When it revoked Mr Shakir’s work permit in May 2018, the interior ministry asserted that he was an “activist” for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns for a complete boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians.

The ministry cited statements and social media posts that had been made by Mr Shakir over the previous 10 years, almost all of them predating his HRW role.

Israel says that BDS opposes the country’s very existence and is motivated by anti-Semitism – something the movement denies. In 2017, the Israeli parliament passed a law refusing entry to people with links to BDS.

HRW rejected the Israeli government’s portrayal of Mr Shakir, saying he neither supported nor opposed BDS.

It stressed that as its representative he had called on companies to stop working in or with Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, and had not called for a consumer boycott of those companies. The settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

HRW also argued that the 2017 law violated constitutionally protected fundamental liberties, including freedom of expression and the prohibition of discrimination based on political or ideological convictions.

Former Israeli officials and human rights groups filed motions to join Mr Shakir’s appeal against the deportation order at the Supreme Court, while the European Union and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called on the Israeli authorities not to deport him.

On 5 November, the Supreme Court ruled that Mr Shakir’s position constituted grounds for deportation under the 2017 law, and gave him 20 days to leave Israel.

Israeli Interior Minister Arye Deri said at the time: “Anyone who works against the state should know that we will not allow him to live or work here”.

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