‘We pray for you to intervene’: Tutu urges Suu Kyi to help Rohingya

Retired South African cleric and anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu is urging Myanmar leader and fellow Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to intervene to help Rohingya Muslims fleeing her country.

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Western critics have accused Suu Kyi of not speaking out for the Rohingya, who have been fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh, following an army counter-offensive against militant attacks.

On Thursday Tutu said in an open letter to Suu Kyi that: “I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.

“My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep … We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene,” Tutu wrote.

People belonging to the ethnic minority Rohingyas of Myanmar (Burma) cross the Bangladesh border to arrive at the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh newzulu长沙桑拿按摩论坛,

Tutu, 85, has been living with prostate cancer for nearly two decades and has largely withdrawn from public life.

The Rohingya comprise some 1.1 million people who have long complained of persecution and are seen by many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar as illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

“We have to take care of our citizens, we have to take care of everybody who is in our country, whether or not they are our citizens,” Suu Kyi said earlier on Thursday in comments to Reuters Television’s Indian partner, Asian News International.

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Suu Kyi on Tuesday blamed “terrorists” for “a huge iceberg of misinformation” on the strife in the northwestern state of Rakhine but made no mention of the Rohingya who have fled.

Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 as a champion of democracy, did not refer specifically to the exodus of the minority Rohingya.

She has come under increasing pressure from countries with Muslim populations, and this week UN Security Council Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned there was a risk of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar that could destabilize the region.

0:00 Rohingya demonstration held in Sydney Share Rohingya demonstration held in Sydney

In Washington, the US State Department on Thursday voiced its concern “following serious allegations of human rights abuses including mass burnings of Rohingya villages and violence conducted by security forces and also armed civilians”.

“We urge all in Burma including in the Rakhine state to avoid actions that exacerbate tensions there,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.

The US ambassador has met Myanmar officials to discuss “allegations of violence conducted by both the security forces and civilians” and access for humanitarian groups, she said.

People belonging to the ethnic minority Rohingyas of Myanmar (Burma) cross the Bangladesh border to arrive at the Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, BangladeshAAP

‘We need to wipe out terrorism’

Myanmar has said it is negotiating with China and Russia to ensure they block any Security Council censure over the crisis.

Suu Kyi said the situation in Rakhine has been difficult for many decades and so it was “a little unreasonable” to expect her administration, which has been in power for 18 months, to have resolved it already.

Myanmar says its forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against terrorists responsible for a string of attacks on the police and army since last October. Officials blame Rohingya militants for killing non-Muslims and burning their homes.

“We need to wipe out the threat of the terrorism in those regions,” Ko Ko Hlaing, a presidential adviser of the previous government said on Thursday at a forum arranged by military-owned media to discuss the crisis.

He said rehabilitation and development are important and the citizenship issue must be settled, but the first priority needed to be “the detoxification of dangerous ideology of extremism”.

Suu Kyi’s spokesman, Zaw Htay, on Thursday posted what he said were “photos of Bengalis setting fire to their houses”.

Houses are on fire in Gawdu Zara village, northern Rakhine state, Myanmar, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. AAP

The pictures of several sword-wielding women wearing headscarfs and men in Islamic prayer caps, or “Kufi”, setting a house on fire, which were published in one of the country’s leading newspapers, were also shared widely by the military.

“These photos showing that Bengalis are torching their houses emerge at a time when international media have made groundless accusations of setting fire to Bengali houses by the government security forces and the killings of Bengalis,” said the Eleven Media daily

But the photographs sparked controversy on social media with many people who identified themselves as Myanmar Muslims saying they appeared staged

Exodus could reach 300,000

Rights monitors and Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh say the Myanmar army has been trying to force them out of Rakhine state with a campaign of arson and killings.

Boatloads of exhausted Rohingya continued to arrive in the Cox’s Bazar region of neighboring Bangladesh on Thursday. The latest estimate by UN workers operating there put arrivals in just 13 days at 164,000, up from 146,000 from the day before.

UN officials in Bangladesh now believe the total number of refugees from Myanmar since Aug. 25 could reach 300,000, said Dipayan Bhattacharyya, who is Bangladesh spokesman for the World Food Programme (WFP).

The surge of refugees – many sick or wounded – has strained the resources of aid agencies and communities already helping hundreds of thousands from previous spasms of violence in Myanmar. Many have no shelter, and aid agencies are racing to provide clean water, sanitation and food.

“Many refugees are stranded in no-man’s land between the border with Myanmar,” medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in a statement.

“Even prior to the most recent influx, many Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh lived in unsafe, overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, with little protection from the elements.”

It said more nurses, midwives and doctors had been brought in to tackle violence-related injuries, severely infected wounds and obstetric complications.

The Caribbean islands in the path of Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma has churned through a string of Caribbean islands, many of them famed for their pristine beauty and tropical climes, and threatens others.

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Here are background details about these areas: 

Anguilla

A group of flat and low-lying islands east of Puerto Rico, Anguilla is a self-governing overseas territory of Britain. 

It is small (91 square kilometres/35 square miles) with a population estimated at around 17,000. 

Antigua and Barbuda

These two islands make up the bulk of the English-speaking sovereign state of the same name that includes several other smaller islets. 

About 80,000 of the residents of the former British colony live on the island of Antigua and 1,300 on Barbuda. 

Tourism has replaced sugar production as the mainstay of the economy, which was hit by the 2008 financial crisis. 

The aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Maarten.AAP

Bahamas

A prosperous chain of hundreds of low and flat islands between Cuba and Florida, the Bahamas is a popular stop-off for cruise tourists and also an international banking centre, although in centuries past it was known for piracy. 

The former British colony was granted independence in 1973 and is today home to around 330,000 people. 

Barbados

Lying about 350 kilometres (217 miles) northeast of Venezuela, relatively wealthy Barbados was uninhabited when first settled by the British in the 1600s, becoming independent in 1966. 

Its economy was historically based on the cultivation of sugar, boosted by African slaves, but it too has moved into tourism and offshore banking. 

British Virgin Islands

Just east of Puerto Rico, this English-speaking British overseas territory is home to roughly 28,000 people. Made up of around 50 small islands, including Richard Branson’s Necker Island, it is a tax haven and prized tourist destination. 

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The Spanish-speaking country makes up the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, lying between Cuba and Puerto Rico, and which it shares with Haiti.

Significantly more prosperous than Haiti, with which its has tense relations, it employs many migrants from its neighbour on its sugar plantations. 

Its population of 10.65 million has benefited from a drop in poverty levels in the past years. Around 30 percent lived below the poverty line in 2016. 

Haiti

One of the poorest countries in the world, this former French colony has yet to recover from a massive earthquake in 2010 that cut it off from the rest of the world for 24 hours and killed over 250,000 people.

The quake left 1.2 million homeless and shattered much of the frail infrastructure of a country wracked by political instability, corruption, with extreme poverty affecting most of its population of 10.4 million. 

Puerto Rico

The former Spanish colony was taken over by the United States at the end of the 19th century but retains a proud cultural identity and its own government. 

High unemployment has contributed to nearly one in 10 of its people leaving over the past decade, while debt of more than $70 billion (58.34 billion euros) has left the island basically bankrupt. 

St Barts

A haven for the rich and famous, the beautiful French-administered territory also known as Saint Barthelemy lies about 2,000 km southeast of Florida. 

A volcanic island surrounded by smaller islets and reefs, it is just 21 sq. kms with a population of 9,500.

Celebrity visitors include Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyonce. 

St Martin/Sint Maarten 

This island of 86 sq. km comprises a French-governed section called St Martin and a smaller Dutch part known as Sint Maarten, a split that dates back to the 17th century. 

More than half of its population of 80,000 live in Sint Maarten, which has its own government and parliament and is also the destination for most of the island’s tourists. 

US President Donald Trump owns a luxury property on the island. 

NOAA’s GOES satellite shows Hurricane Irma as it moves towards the Florida Coast in the Caribbean Sea takenon September 07, 2017.Getty Images

Turks and Caicos

A group of around 30 islands that is home to around 52,500 people, this little-known territory is a self-governing part of the United Kingdom and situated about 1,000 km southeast of the United States, a major tourist market.

Industry distorts alcohol cancer risk

The alcohol industry uses denial, distortion and distraction to mislead people about the risks of developing cancer from drinking, often employing similar tactics to those of the tobacco industry, a study says.

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Drinks industry organisations often present the relationship between alcohol and cancer as highly complex, implying there is no clear evidence of a consistent link, said the study led by scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet.

Other strategies include denying any relationship exists, or saying inaccurately that there is no risk with moderate drinking, the study found. The industry also seeks to mention a wide range of other real and potential cancer risk factors in an effort to present alcohol as just one of many, it added.

Responding to the study, the Distilled Spirits Council, a US alcohol trade association, said it was “a highly selective” review authored by researchers with “anti-alcohol biases”.

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, which represents large brewers and distillers including Anheuser-Busch InBev and Diageo, said it disagreed with the study’s conclusions. “We … stand by the information that we publish on drinking and health,” it said.

The World Health Organisation says drinking alcohol is a well-established risk factor for a range of cancers, including tumours of the mouth, liver, breast and colon and bowel. And the risk of cancer rises with levels of alcohol consumed.

The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, analysed the information relating to cancer on the websites and documents of nearly 30 alcohol industry organisations around the world between September 2016 and December 2016.

“The weight of scientific evidence is clear – drinking alcohol increases the risk of some of the most common forms of cancer,” said Mark Petticrew, a professor of public Health at the LSHTM who co-led the study.

“It has been argued that greater public awareness, particularly of the risk of breast cancer, poses a significant threat to the alcohol industry. Our analysis suggests that the major global alcohol producers may attempt to mitigate this by disseminating misleading information.”

Petticrew’s team identified three main industry strategies: Denying any link with cancer, or selective omission of the relationship; distortion by mentioning some risk of cancer, but misrepresenting or obfuscating its size; and distraction by seeking to draw focus away from the risks of alcohol and towards other cancer risks.

One of the most significant findings was that industry materials omitted or misrepresented evidence on breast and bowel cancer, both of which are linked to drinking. When breast cancer was mentioned, 21 of the organisations studied gave no, or misleading, information about it, the study said.

Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said the study “clearly shows the alcohol industry misleading the public”.

New mums uncertain about vaccination

First-time mothers are twice as likely to be hesitant about vaccinating their babies compared to mothers already with children, new research has found.

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A study of nearly 1000 new mums from Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia also found that just two-thirds of new mums believed they had received enough information on vaccines during their pregnancy.

Alarmingly, 16 per cent of first time mothers believed that vaccines can cause autism even though that myth has been debunked.

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Lead researcher Dr Margie Danchin at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute says what the concerning findings show is that glossy information leaflets are not enough to improve vaccination uptake.

The general pediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital says first-time mums need to be having a conversation about vaccines with a trusted health care provider early on in pregnancy.

“We know now from a wealth of literature and evidence that information alone is not enough, its having a discussion where the fear of the mother is understood,” said Dr Danchin.

“Midwives or obstetricians should start having these conversations with mums early and more than once hopefully.”

Researchers recruited the study participants at four major public hospitals across the three states and they were initially asked to fill out a questionnaire at hospital. They were again quizzed about vaccines three to six months post-delivery.

According to the paper, published in journal Vaccine, 73 per cent of first time-mums had made a decision about vaccinating their child, compared to 89 per cent of mums who already had kids.

“First time mums are much more undecided about vaccinating their child compared to mums with kids, so that was one of the key findings,” said Dr Danchin.

Six per cent said they had never heard about vaccination and only half of mothers said they accessed information about vaccines.

“There was a very strong message around mums not having conversations with their health care provider enough; not having them early enough and not having them in enough detail to actually address their concerns,” said Dr Danchin.

The survey also found many of the pregnant women had not been vaccinated against serious and potentially deadly diseases, especially in the young.

Less than half (46 per cent) of the mums had reported having received the influenza vaccine and 82 per cent said they had had the pertussis or whooping cough vaccine.

“But what was interesting was that a mum was three-and-a-half times more likely to get a whooping cough vaccine and three times more likely to get a flu shot … if they had a recommendation from their health care provider,” said Dr Danchin.

Dior, Gucci among fashion giants to ban size 0 models

Two of the world’s biggest luxury goods conglomerates say they want to protect the health of fashion models by making those who are unhealthily thin ineligible to work.

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The pact adopted by French corporations LVMH and Kering incorporates – and goes beyond – a new French law that requires all models to provide medical certificates proving they are healthy before they can work.

While the French law set to take effect October 1 requires both male and female models to present a health certificate obtained within the previous two years, LVMH and Kering said their charter would shorten the time frame to six months of the job.

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The pact also bans the conglomerates’ labels from using female models below a French women’s size 34, which is typically equivalent to a US size 0-2 and a UK size 6. The French law initially included a minimum body mass index requirement, but it was removed after MPs deemed the doctor’s certificate an adequate safeguard.

The fashion companies’ said their agreement would take effect this month, in time for the spring-summer ready-to-wear runway collections.

The two giants’ fashion houses include Dior, Kenzo, Stella McCartney, Saint Laurent, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and others.

Unlike the French law, the charter also will apply to the international Kering and LVMH brands with runway collections presented in Milan, London and New York. The two groups said they hoped to set a new global standard for the fashion industry.

“We hope to inspire the entire industry to follow suit, thus making a real difference in the working conditions of fashion models industry-wide,” Kering boss Francois-Henri Pinault said in a statement.

In addition, the charter requires each brand to put a dedicated psychologist at the disposal of fashion models during working hours – either by phone or in person in the work place.