Daily World News Digest, 18 October 2016

Hong Kong’s Unsolved Mystery

SBS reports today that five men linked to an anti-establishment bookstore in Hong Kong disappeared last year, with many suspecting Chinese involvement. Dateline investigates their case and talks to the daughter of one of the disappeared men, who is speaking out for truth and justice. Gui Minhai, is a China-born Swedish scholar and book publisher. On October 17, 2015 he disappeared, and his whereabouts has been unknown ever since. At the time of his disappearance, he had been last seen in the Thai resort town of Pattaya, leaving his apartment building with an unidentified man who had been waiting and watching the building. It was among a string of disappearances, all linked to a bookstore in downtown Hong Kong. Causeway Bay Books is now empty and unattended, but for years it published books on China’s leaders, and other material considered transgressive by Chinese authorities and banned in the mainland. Around the same time that Gui disappeared, two other men associated with Causeway Bay Books – Lui Por and Cheung Chi Ping – also vanished after crossing into mainland China. http://bit.ly/2epTnUF

32 bodies found after Myanmar ferry sinking; death toll set to rise

The Straits Times, a newspaper from Singapore, carries a story today about at least 32 people who died after a ferry sank in a river in north-western Myanmar, with scores missing, rescue officials have said. About 150 people had been rescued from the Chindwin River in the Sagaing region after the ferry capsized last Saturday, said Mr Sa Willy Frank, head of the regional relief department, who is overseeing the operation. As of 4pm local time yesterday, 32 bodies had been recovered, leaving more than 60 people still unaccounted for amid a continuing salvage operation, he said. Search teams, who are securing the boat with ropes so that it can be hauled out by a crane, fear that the death toll could go as high as 100. The ferry was travelling from Homalin to Monywa when it sank at about 5am last Saturday close to Kani, about 137km north-west of Mandalay. Mr Sa Willy Frank said the ferry was filled with “mainly university students and schoolteachers”. http://bit.ly/2epQKC2

Iraqis fleeing IS-held areas face torture, disappearance and death in revenge attacks

Amnesty International publishes today an article on paramilitary militias and government forces in Iraq who committed serious human rights violations, including war crimes, by torturing, arbitrarily detaining, forcibly disappearing and extrajudicially executing thousands of civilians who have escaped areas controlled by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS). The report ‘Punished for Daesh’s crimes’: Displaced Iraqis abused by militias and government forces exposes the terrifying backlash against civilians fleeing IS-held territory, raising alarm about the risk of mass violations as the military operation to recapture the IS-held city of Mosul gets underway. The report is based on interviews with more than 470 former detainees, witnesses and relatives of those killed, disappeared or detained, as well as officials, activists, humanitarian workers and others. “After escaping the horrors of war and tyranny of IS, Sunni Arabs in Iraq are facing brutal revenge attacks at the hands of militias and government forces, and are being punished for crimes committed by the group,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. http://bit.ly/2dKB0Zn

Egypt passes law to curb trafficking of migrants bound for Europe

Reuters reported yesterday thatCAIRO Egypt passed legislation on Monday to crack down on people traffickers linked to a major surge in the numbers of migrants departing from the country’s Mediterranean coast on often disastrous sea journeys to Europe. A boat carrying about 450 people capsized off Egypt’s coast last month. About 202 bodies were subsequently recovered from the sea and 169 people rescued. Some 320 migrants and refugees drowned off the Greek island of Crete in June, and survivors said their boat had set sail from Egypt. The law passed by the Egyptian parliament is the first major official step by the largest Arab nation towards developing a strategy to combat what has turned into a growing smuggling industry along its northern seaboard. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said last month that more than 3,200 migrants had died while trying to cross the Mediterranean this year, while more than 300,000 had reached European shores. More than 1 million Middle Eastern, African and Asian migrants entered Europe in 2015. The IOM said the number of migrants to arrive in Europe this year likely will not reach last year’s level – but the number of fatalities was virtually certain to exceed the 2015 total. http://reut.rs/2djXrs2

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.