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Top Asian News 3:17 a.m. GMT

October 29, 2021 GMT

Myanmar military uses systematic torture across country

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The soldiers in rural Myanmar twisted the young man’s skin with pliers and kicked him in the chest until he couldn’t breathe. Then they taunted him about his family until his heart ached, too: “Your mom,” they jeered, “cannot save you anymore.” The young man and his friend, randomly arrested as they rode their bikes home, were subjected to hours of agony inside a town hall transformed by the military into a torture center. As the interrogators’ blows rained down, their relentless questions tumbled through his mind. “There was no break – it was constant,” he says.

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A monk, a student, an artist: Tortured by Myanmar military

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A monk was made to hop like a frog, in a humiliation tactic. An accountant was shocked with electric probes. An artist was beaten in the head with a baton until he passed out. Since the military took over Myanmar’s government in February, it has tortured detainees held across the country in a methodical and systemic way, an Associated Press investigation has found. The military has also abducted thousands, including young men and boys; used the bodies of the dead and wounded as tools of terror and deliberately attacked medics during a pandemic. Since February, security forces have killed more than 1,200 people, including an estimated 131 or more tortured to death.

China offers few new climate targets ahead of UN conference

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WASHINGTON (AP) — China is offering no significant new goals for reducing climate-changing emissions ahead of the UN climate summit set to start next week in Glasgow. China, the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that cause global warming, formally submitted its goals Thursday. The highly-anticipated announcement includes targets previously established in speeches by President Xi Jinping and domestic policy documents. China says it aims to reach peak emissions of carbon dioxide — which is produced mainly through burning coal, oil and natural gas for transportation, electric power and manufacturing — “before 2030.” The country is aiming for “carbon neutrality” — no net emissions of CO2 — before 2060.

‘Thin’ Pacific island teams at COP26 spark fears of inequity

NEW DELHI (AP) — Only four Pacific islands will be represented by their leaders at upcoming U.N. climate talks in Glasgow because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, with most island nations forced to send smaller teams. The development has sparked fears that the voices of these countries — whose very existence is threatened by climate change despite contributing only a fraction of the world’s emissions — may not be heard at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, which begins on Sunday. Small island nations were crucial in ensuring that the 1.5-degree Celsius (2.7-degree Fahrenheit) warming threshold was adopted in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Brunei says Myanmar still ‘integral’ to ASEAN despite rebuke

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The sultan of Brunei said Thursday that Myanmar remains an integral part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the bloc hopes its military government will work with an ASEAN envoy to defuse the political crisis triggered by its seizure of power in February. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who chaired a three-day online summit organized by ASEAN that also involved other world leaders, said the 10-member bloc will stand by Myanmar and continue to extend its help despite barring its military leader from the summit. “Myanmar is an integral part of the ASEAN family and their membership has not been questioned,” he told reporters in Bandar Seri Begawan at the end of the summit, after being asked why ASEAN didn’t take stronger action against Myanmar, including possible expulsion.

US woman in Bali ‘suitcase murder’ freed from jail

DENPASAR, Indonesia (AP) — An American woman convicted of helping to kill her mother on Indonesia’s tourist island of Bali in 2014 walked free from prison Friday after serving seven years of a 10-year sentence and will be deported to the United States. The badly beaten body of a wealthy Chicago socialite, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, was found inside the trunk of a taxi parked at the upscale St. Regis Bali Resort in August 2014. Heather Mack, who was almost 19 and a few weeks pregnant, and her then-21-year-old boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were arrested a day later after they were found at a hotel about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the St.

French, Australian leaders have 1st talk since sub fallout

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron told Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during their first conversation since Australia pulled out of a multibillion-dollar submarine deal that it is up to Morrison’s government to repair the damaged relationship between their countries, France’s presidency said Thursday. Australia last month canceled a contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and agreed to acquire American nuclear-powered vessels instead as part of an Indo-Pacific security pact with the United States and Britain. The pact, known as AUKUS, infuriated France, which recalled its two of its ambassadors over the lost deal. “President Macron recalled that Australia’s unilateral decision to scale back the French-Australian strategic partnership by putting an end to the ocean-class submarine program in favor of another as-yet unspecified project broke the relationship of trust between our two countries,” Macron’s office said.

Seoul: N. Korea’s Kim lost 20 kilograms but remains healthy

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has recently lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds), but remains healthy and is trying to boost public loyalty to him in the face of worsening economic problems, South Korea’s spy agency told lawmakers Thursday. The National Intelligence Service gave the assessment during a closed-door parliamentary briefing, saying it used artificial intelligence techniques, an analysis of super-resolution video of Kim and other methods to investigate Kim’s condition, said two lawmakers who attended the session. Kim’s health has been a focus of keen outside attention in recent months because he has appeared noticeably thinner in state media photos and videos.

US returns antiquities to India in stolen art investigation

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. authorities returned about 250 antiquities to India on Thursday in a long-running investigation of a stolen art scheme. The items, worth an estimated $15 million, were handed over during a ceremony at the Indian Consulate in New York City. The centerpiece is a bronze Shiva Nataraja valued at $4 million, authorities said. The ceremony stems from a sprawling probe by the Manhattan district attorney’s office and the Homeland Security Investigations arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The investigation has focused on tens of thousands of antiquities allegedly smuggled into the United States by dealer Subhash Kapoor, who has denied the allegations.

Taiwan defense minister says island must defend itself

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan’s defense minister said Thursday that the island must defend itself and not depend entirely on others for help if China were to launch an attack, even as Taiwan’s president said she had faith the U.S. would defend it. “The country must rely on itself, and if any friends or other groups can help us, then it’s like I said before, we’re happy to have it, but we cannot completely depend on it,” the minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, told reporters after being questioned in the legislature as part of a session on national defense. Tensions between Taiwan and China have risen to their highest level in decades, with China sending record-breaking numbers of fighter jets toward international airspace close to the island, and stepping up a campaign of military harassment.