Daily World News Digest, 1 February 2017

Chinese billionaire disappears in Hong Kong

Reuters reports today that the uncertain fate of Xiao Jianhua, a China-born billionaire who was last seen at a luxury Hong Kong hotel a week ago, has raised fresh fears about the city’s autonomy amid media reports he may have been abducted by Chinese agents. There are conflicting accounts of Xiao’s whereabouts, but memories are fresh in Hong Kong of the abduction last year of five staff who worked for a local bookseller that published gossip on China’s leaders. Three of the staff were detained while in China, but two with foreign passports were taken there against their will from Thailand and Hong Kong. A Hong Kong government source said key details on Xiao’s case still needed to be clarified, but the initial signs were “worrying”. The Financial Times reported that Xiao, who runs Tomorrow Holdings, a financial group headquartered in Beijing, was abducted from the Four Seasons hotel by Chinese public security agents and taken to the mainland. Afull front-page advertisement published in Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper on Wednesday under Xiao’s name said he was seeking medical treatment “outside the country” and had not been abducted. http://tmsnrt.rs/2juRR9e

Croatia joins regional missing persons database

Total Croatia News reports today that Croatia has joined a project to establish a database of people who went missing during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. The project is headed by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP). Agreement has been reached between ICMP and Croatia’s Ministry of War veterans, and was signed in Sarajevo by Stjepan Sucic, Assistant Minister in Charge of the Directorate for Detained and Missing Persons, and Matthew Holliday, Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program. http://bit.ly/2kq9dUH

 Serbian officials accused of Kosovo mass graves cover-up

Balkan Insight reported yesterday that a report published by Belgrade’s Humanitarian Law Centre says that 110 people who participated in operations to remove and hide the bodies of hundreds of Kosovo Albanians killed by Serbian forces in 1999 are still living freely in Serbia. “Nobody has been prosecuted for this and we call on prosecutors to start an objective investigation,” said the HLC’s executive program director Milica Kostic. The remains of deceased Albanian civilians have been found in mass graves at four locations in Serbia since 1999. The HLC also notes that more than 1,000 bodies of Kosovo Albanians are still missing. “We have suspicions that there are still around 100 bodies in mass graves in Serbia,” said Kostic. http://bit.ly/2juJB9k

Rights groups fear Burmese pastors forcibly disappeared

The Alabama Baptist reported yesterday that human rights organizations have expressed alarm over the disappearances of two Baptist pastors in Myanmar who may have been detained for their role in showing journalists a Catholic church allegedly damaged by government airstrikes targeting ethnic Kachin rebels. The government has denied detaining the two men, claiming reports from the field indicate they were taken by the Kachin Independence Army. Human Rights Watch, Fortify Rights and Amnesty International have all issued statements seeking information about their whereabouts. http://bit.ly/2kQEJLU

Pakistan: Rights groups vow to continue search for missing activists

The Express Tribune reported yesterday that human rights groups in Pakistan have vowed to continue searching for activists who remain missing. Even though a number of bloggers who went missing recently have made contact with their families, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it will continue lobbying on behalf of bloggers who are still missing all over Pakistan, said HRCP Sindh’s vice-chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt. http://bit.ly/2kfQd8P

Search continues for missing persons from Cyprus conflict

TRT World carries a video report today about the search for missing persons from the Cyprus conflict, in which thousands of people were killed and more than 2,000 disappeared. The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), established in 1981 by Greek and Turkish Cypriots as a bicommunal body with the participation of the United Nations, is mandated to account for the missing. http://bit.ly/2kUh6Ov

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff. These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.