TIME China

Chinese Families Demand Malaysians Retract Statement That MH370 Passengers Are Dead

A relative of passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 gives a statement to the media while waiting for other relatives in efforts to reach the Yonghegong Lama temple in Beijing, Jan. 30, 2015.
A relative of passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 gives a statement to the media while waiting for other relatives in efforts to reach the Yonghegong Lama temple in Beijing, Jan. 30, 2015. Rolex Dela Pena—EPA

Relatives were unmoved by the argument that the declaration paves the way for compensation claims

BEIJING — About 100 Chinese families of passengers on the missing Malaysian airliner demanded Friday that Malaysian officials retract their statement that all aboard died, saying that without hard evidence they don’t want to start compensation claims.

Malaysia’s government formally declared still-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 an accident on Thursday and said all those 239 people on board were presumed dead, paving the way for claims to begin. Most of the victims’ families in China — where the majority of the passengers were from — still hold onto hope that their loved ones are alive.

“We don’t accept it. As a matter of fact, we are demanding the statement to be retracted,” Zhang Qian, whose husband was on the plane, said on Friday.

The relatives’ continued refusal to accept the authorities’ conclusion is understandable because they are going through “ambiguous loss,” where there has been no body or wreckage to confirm death, said Therese Rando, a clinical psychologist in Warwick, Rhodes Island, who has worked extensively in grief counseling.

“For any family member to make the move to presume death in the absence of confirmation is a huge step,” Rando explained in an email. “They need to have eliminated other possibilities; to do otherwise would be tantamount to prematurely abandoning their loved one.”

Earlier this week, in anticipation of the Malaysian statement, 110 members in a group of 115 relatives of passengers voted during a mobile phone group chat to demand that Malaysia refrain from making any announcement.

Jiang Hui, whose mother was a passenger aboard the flight, said the new announcement was based on no new facts.

“We not only demand the Malaysian government retract the statement, but also issue an apology,” Jiang said. “That’s the wish of the majority of family members.”

Relatives were unmoved by the argument that the declaration paves the way for compensation claims.

“I feel like I am giving it all up if we start talking about compensation,” Zhang said. “We don’t need compensation, and we would be more than glad not to ask for a dime if my husband comes back to me.”

Malaysia’s civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said Thursday that the search for the jet “remains a priority.” The Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

TIME Pakistan

Bomb Blast in Southern Pakistan Kills 35 at Shi’ite Mosque

Rescue workers and a policeman stand at the site of an explosion in a Shi'ite mosque in Shikarpur, located in Pakistan's Sindh province, Jan. 30, 2015.
Rescue workers and a policeman stand at the site of an explosion in a Shi'ite mosque in Shikarpur, located in Pakistan's Sindh province, Jan. 30, 2015. Amir Hussain—Reuters

Hospitals are appealing to residents to donate blood for the wounded

KARACHI, Pakistan — A bomb blast ripped through a mosque in Pakistan belonging to members of the Shiite minority sect of Islam just as worshippers were gathering for Friday prayers, killing 35 people and wounding dozens more, officials said.

Dr. Shaukat Ali Memon, who heads the hospital in Shikarpur where the dead and wounded were brought, gave the death toll to Pakistan’s state television. He said that 50 people, many severely wounded, were also brought to the hospital. Patients have also been shifted to nearby hospitals in the cities of Larkana and Sukkur, he said.

In a sign of how serious the explosion was, Memon appealed to residents to donate blood for the wounded.

Pakistani television showed area residents and worshippers frantically ferrying the dead and wounded to the hospital.

Initial reports suggest that it was a bomb planted in the area, Sain Rakhio Mirani, the top police official in the district told Pakistan’s Geo TV.

Shikarpur is in Sindh province, roughly 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of the port city of Karachi.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Sunni Muslim extremists have often targeted religious institutions of Shiites, whom they do not consider to be true Muslims.

While Karachi has been the site of repeated bombings blamed on militant groups such as the Pakistani Taliban, the northern part of Sindh province has generally been much more peaceful.

But recent years have seen a trend of extremist organizations increasingly active in the central and northern part of the province, according to a new report by the United States Institute of Peace.

TIME Bowe Bergdahl

Guantanamo Detainee Exchanged for American POW Attempts a Return to Battle

Guantanamo Future
A U.S. flag flies above buildings used for military tribunals for suspected terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on Nov. 19, 2013. Charles Dharapak—AP

A Taliban commander exchanged for the release of a POW attempts to return to the battlefield, raising questions about closing Guantanamo

When U.S. President Barack Obama agreed in May to exchange five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay for Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who had been held captive for five years, his political opponents had a field day. They warned that the detainees risked returning to Afghanistan, and to militancy. Obama, with the backing of the government of Qatar that had agreed to host the men, promised that they would be kept far from the battlefield. Seems that the men may have had other ideas. According to CNN, U.S. military and intelligence officials now suspect that at least one of the detainees has made contact with Taliban associates in Afghanistan, suggesting that he, and perhaps the others, may be planning a return.

Considering that 29 percent of all U.S. detainees who were held in the Guantanamo detention center are either suspected of or confirmed to have returned to the fight, according to a March 2015 assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, it shouldn’t be all that surprising. TIME’s Massimo Calabresi predicted as much back in June, just after Bergdahl was released. The recidivism rate, he wrote, “suggests that statistically at least one of the Taliban leaders will return to the field to fight Americans in Afghanistan, or elsewhere.”

At the time of the exchange, Taliban commanders who had been involved in Bergdahl’s capture, captivity and release, told TIME that the exchange — five of theirs for one of America’s — would encourage them to seek out more P.O.W.s. So far, that hasn’t happened. It’s not clear which of the five former detainees was reaching out to associates in Afghanistan, but as high-ranking commanders and former comrades-in-arms of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, any one of them could galvanize a movement that is slowly making gains in the wake of the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan. Even if those plans have now been foiled, the incident may have one other far reaching consequence: as Obama attempts to close down Guantanamo for good, his opponents now have more ammunition for why he should not.

Read More: Behind the Scenes of Bowe Bergdahl’s Release

TIME portfolio

See What Undocumented Immigrants Carry Across the Border

Here are the ordinary objects undocumented immigrants take with them on their journey to the U.S.

Covering immigration issues can prove challenging for photographers – and not because access can be, at times, tough to obtain. Instead, image-makers such as Emanuele Satolli have to find new ways to depict immigrants’ hardship in a saturated visual landscape.

In 2007, when the Italian photographer lived in Guatemala, he realized that immigration affected the large majority of people he encountered. “Some are saving money to go North, others are enjoying their new houses after spending a few years in the U.S., while many women have to take care of their families after their husbands left for the U.S.,” he says. “I was impressed to see that immigration had such a strong [impact] on life there. And that’s why I wanted to dig deeper into this topic.”

Yet, he didn’t want to produce yet another series that depicted immigrants “crossing rivers or jumping on trains in their attempt to reach the American dream,” he says. “I had to try to find a new way to talk about this.”

And that new take came after reading a recent TIME LightBox article. “I was really inspired by [TIME’s International Photo Editor] Alice Gabriner’s post where she talked about how photo editors and photographers should work together to overcome visual challenges. In that post, she explained how [photographer] Alexandra Boulat tried to find a new way to talk about the Palestinian tragedy.”

That was in 2006, when Boulat, who had documented wars since the 1990s, had grown frustrated of “photographing endless scenes of violence in the same way she had for years, fearing that these pictures had lost their impact,” Gabriner wrote. “As a result, she began taking different kinds of pictures, focusing on the ordinary and details of normal life.”

The ordinary and the details can be found in Satolli’s images of Central American immigrants. “I was interested in the few things these immigrants bring with them on this perilous and long journey,” he says. One man carried with him a small Virgin Mary statue, hair gel and toilet paper, among other objects. Another brought an extra pair of shoes, a bible, toilet paper and a cell phone, while another traveled with only one pair of glasses so “he’d look like a local,” says Satolli.

The 35-year-old photographer met most of his subjects at La Casa del Migrante, a refuge run by Scalabrinian missionaries in the border town of Tecún Umán in Guatemala where immigrants can get help and rest for two or three days.

Now, Satolli, who continues his work on immigration, hopes that his simple, yet powerful images will help humanize undocumented immigrants. It’s an especially important goal he says, at a time when we’re inundated by images that are just the opposite—“in which [dramatic scenes] become ordinary”—and when immigration is likely to take a central role in U.S. politics this year and in 2016.

Emanuele Satolli is an Italian photojournalist based in Rome. TIME LightBox previously published his photo essay The World’s Deadliest Drug: Inside a Krokodil Cookhouse in 2013.

Mikko Takkunen, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME Egypt

Egypt’s ISIS Affiliate Claims Sinai Attacks That Killed 26

At least 26 security officers died in a Sinai attack launched by an ISIS affiliate called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis

(EL-ARISH, Egypt) — An Egyptian militant group affiliated with ISIS has claimed responsibility for coordinated and simultaneous attacks that struck more than a dozen army and police targets in three towns in the restive Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 26 security officers.

The wide-ranging attacks late Thursday required a previously unseen level of coordination. At least one car bomb was set off outside a military base, while mortars were simultaneously fired at the base, toppling some buildings and leaving soldiers buried under the debris, official said.

An Army spokesman immediately blamed former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the attack. Twenty-five Army soldiers and a policeman were among those killed.

Along with the military base that was hit, the other attacks included mortar rounds fired at a hotel, a police club and more than a dozen checkpoints, officials said.

The militants struck the Northern Sinai provincial capital el-Arish, the nearby town of Sheik Zuwayid and the town of Rafah bordering Gaza.

Hours before the attack, ISIS affiliate in Egypt posted on its official Twitter account pictures of masked militants dressed in black. They were carrying rocket-propelled grenades in a show of force, while flying the ISIS black flag.

The militant group later claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying on Twitter that two suicide bombers and three car bombs struck an army base and adjacent security building in el-Arish — the biggest of all attacks.

The posting called it “an extensive simultaneous offensive for the soldiers of the caliphate” and listed at least eight checkpoints that also came under attack in the three locations.

The group, previously known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has launched several attacks against police and the army in Sinai in recent years. It was initially inspired by al-Qaida, but last year, it pledged allegiance to ISIS, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq. In November, it changed its name to Sinai Province, or Waliyat Sinai, reflecting its loyalty and subordination to ISIS, which has captured a third of both Syria and Iraq.

At least 60 people were wounded in the Thursday attacks, according to medical officials, who also confirmed the death toll. Officials said the death toll was expected to rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Army Spokesman Ahmed Samir blamed the Muslim Brotherhood group for orchestrating the attacks in a statement posted on his official Facebook page.

In a brief statement, he said that because of the “successful strikes” by army and police against terrorist elements in Sinai, militants attacked a number of army and police headquarters using car bombs and mortars. He said that security forces are exchanging gunfire with the militants.

The explosions smashed windows and shook residential areas in el-Arish. Electricity went off across the city.

Egypt’s army chief-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the ouster of Morsi, has been depicted as by nationalist media as the rescuer of Egypt from Islamic militancy.

El-Sissi led a wide crackdown on the Brotherhood, who staged near daily demonstrations demanding Morsi’s reinstatement, imprisoning thousands and killing hundreds in street protests.

In apparent retaliation, militants launched a spate of attacks that ranged from homemade explosive devices to suicide attacks.

The areas where the attacks took place have been under a state of emergency and a curfew since October, when militants killed 31 soldiers in an attack on a checkpoint in Sinai, the deadliest for the military in recent history.

The ISIS affiliate claimed responsibility for that attack in a video posting that showed militants spraying soldiers with bullets and vowing more attacks.

In an attempt to stop weapons smuggling to and from the Gaza Strip, authorities demolished houses and residential buildings located within 500 meters of the border, where a complex network of tunnels had long been used to bring consumer goods, as well as weapons and fighters, to and from the Palestinian territory.

Sinai-based militants have exploited long-held grievances in the impoverished north of the peninsula, where the mainly Bedouin population has complained of neglect by Cairo authorities and where few have benefited from the famed tourist resorts in the more peaceful southern part of Sinai.

The police in northern Sinai largely fled during the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, as militants attacked their stations and killed scores of security forces.

Thursday’s attacks are expected to cause a great deal of embarrassment to the government and military after nearly a yearlong offensive in Sinai aimed at uprooting Islamic militants.

TIME Philippines

Philippines Honors Commandos Killed Fighting Rebels With Day of Mourning

PHILIPPINES-CONFLICT-UNREST-POLICE-MUSLIM
Philippine police commandos stand at attention next to the flag-draped coffins of their slain comrades shortly after arriving at a military base in Manila on Jan. 29, 2015 Ted Aljibe — AFP/Getty Images

Forty-four members of the police’s elite special action force unit were killed during a firefight with rebels earlier this week

Flags flew at half-mast across the Philippines on Friday as the entire country observed a national day of mourning following the violent deaths of 44 elite commandos during a daring raid.

President Benigno Aquino held a ceremony honoring the deceased servicemen on Friday. “The entire nation is requested to offer prayers and all public institutions are directed to lower the Philippine flag at half-mast on Friday,” Aquino said in a statement released ahead of the service.

Over the weekend, members of an elite police force entered territory controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel group in Mindanao Island’s Maguindanao province, where two high-value terrorists were believed to have been hiding.

Rebel commanders claim authorities had not liaised with their representatives before entering the territory and members were acting in self-defense when the firefight broke out.

Despite the heavy casualty toll, officials claim the raid as a success as it resulted in the death of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, an expert bombmaker and a member of the Indonesia terrorism outfit Jemaah Islamiyah’s central command. However, authorities have erroneously claimed to have killed Marwan in the past on multiple occasions, according to the BBC.

The government signed a landmark peace accord with the MILF in 2014 after decades of civil conflict, mainly in the Philippines’ conflict-riven south.

During a televised address on Wednesday, Aquino pleaded with the nation to continue to support the ongoing peace deal and warned against retaliation in the wake of the killings.

“If the peace process won’t succeed, if we were to go back to the status quo, or if the violence gets worse, isn’t this exactly the opposite of the purpose of their sacrifice?” asked the President.

Others paid their respects to the fallen commandos via social media.

TIME India

Indian Woman Sues Uber in the U.S. Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape

Members of All India Mahila Congress, women's wing of Congress party, shout slogans and carry placards during a protest against the rape of a female passenger, in New Delhi
Members of All India Mahila Congress, women's wing of Congress party, shout slogans and carry placards during a protest against the rape of a female Uber passenger in New Delhi on Dec. 8, 2014 Anindito Mukherjee—Reuters

Uber has been the subject of controversy all around the globe

An Indian woman who says she was raped by an Uber driver while she was traveling in his cab in December is suing the San Francisco–based online firm in a U.S. federal court in California, claiming it failed to put in place basic safety procedures while running its car service in India.

In her lawsuit, filed on Thursday, the New Delhi woman called the app-based service the “modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking.” The unidentified plaintiff also calls for Uber to overhaul its safety practices, and seeks unspecified damages in the case, according to Reuters.

The news agency quoted Uber as saying that it’s “deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime.”

Earlier, the woman was reported to have enlisted the services of Douglas Wigdor, a high-profile U.S. lawyer who represented Nafissatou Diallo, the New York City hotel maid who accused the former International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault. Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office went on to drop all charges against Strauss-Kahn, while a civil suit was settled out of court.

The rape allegations against the New Delhi Uber driver had prompted protests in the Indian capital, which became the focus of concerns about the safety of women after the horrific gang rape and murder of a student on a moving bus in late 2012.

[Reuters]

TIME Cuba

The U.S. Will Not Return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, the White House Says

Military officers stand at the entrance to Camp VI and V at the U.S. military prison for 'enemy combatants' on June 25, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Military officers stand at the entrance to Camp VI and V at the U.S. military prison for 'enemy combatants' on June 25, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

U.S. has leased land on Guantanamo Bay since the 1903 Cuban–American Treaty

Despite the recent historic thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations, the White House said Thursday it had no plans to return Guantánamo Bay, the site of a significant U.S. naval base and military prison on the island-nation’s southeast coast.

This announcement comes in response to Wednesday’s statement from Cuban President Raúl Castro that restoring Havana’s control of the bay is a prerequisite for normalizing ties with the U.S, Agence France-Presse reports.

However, White House spokesman Josh Earnest indicated any such move was off the cards. “The President does believe that the prison at Guantánamo Bay should be closed down,” he said. “But the naval base is not something that we wish to be closed.”

The U.S. currently controls over 45 sq. mi. of Guantánamo Bay as a result of treaties dating back to the Spanish-American War. The military prison has been embroiled in controversy for reports of torture and the absence of trials for inmates accused of terrorism.

The U.S. and Cuba reopened diplomatic ties in December after over 50 years of nonacknowledgment. Obama issued an executive order to close the Guantánamo prison in 2009, but so far this has not come into fruition.

[AFP]

TIME China

Is China’s Official News Agency Following a Japanese Porn Feed on Twitter?

If so, perhaps the notoriously frosty ties between the old East Asia rivals are warming at last

The official news outlet for China’s Communist Party appears to be a follower of Japanese pornography.

On Friday morning local time — when the adjacent screen shot was taken — the China Xinhua News listed Absolute JP Porn as one of the 3,301 Twitter users it was following.

There is no indication whether this is a prank by a third party or if Xinhua’s verified account is following, for news and research purposes, a feed that claims to link to pornographic images of Japanese women on a daily basis.

Several other suspect accounts, featuring profile photos of attractive women, appear among the list of Twitter users followed by Xinhua.

Relations between China and Japan have been mired with bitterness for decades in the wake of the atrocities committed by the Japanese military on Chinese soil during World War II. But perhaps a thaw is finally taking place across the East China Sea.

TIME portugal

Portugal Offers Citizenship to Descendants of Expelled Jews

Jose Oulman Bensaude Carp
In this photo taken on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Jose Oulman Bensaude Carp, President of the Jewish community in Lisbon, waits to be interviewed by The Associated Press at the main Jewish synagogue in Lisbon. Francisco Seco—AP

Portugal currently boasts around 1,000 Jews, but that number might rise soon

Portugal approved this week new rules for granting citizenship to descendants of the nation’s Sephardic Jewish community. The landmark move was first proposed two years ago, but had stalled in the absence of cabinet approval.

Under the Inquisition, which ravaged Portugal and neighboring Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries, Sephardic Jews were expelled, forced to flee, or risked death if they did not recant and convert to Christianity.

“There is no possibility to amend what was done,” said Portuguese Justice Minister Paula Teixera da Cruz, terming the new legislation “the attribution of a right.”

The Portuguese government acknowledges Jews inhabited the region before the nation as we know it today was even created. However, in order to obtain a passport, Sephardic Jews must provide strong evidence of ancestral ties to Portugal through their last names, Portuguese language use, or direct lineage to Portugal’s current Jewish minority.

Many in the diaspora still speak Portuguese in their households, despite being forced to leave the region after targeted religious pogroms on the Iberian peninsula.

Spain is also considering reinstating citizenship for its former Jewish community.

[BBC]

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