World Tour: An Ebola outbreak, and a Malaysian pastor kidnapped

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Ebola outbreak in DRC spreads—We start today in Africa, where the Democratic Republic of Congo is struggling to contain an Ebola outbreak.

Many people in rural communities don’t trust government information about the deadly disease. So health officials are turning to local leaders to educate people about the risks.

AUDIO: [Congo health official]

The latest outbreak began in August. Health officials have confirmed more than 1,000 cases so far. And more than 60 percent of patients have died. The outbreak is centered in the northeastern provinces, where armed clashes and inter-communal unrest complicate the medical response.

The worst Ebola outbreak in recent history started in 2014 and killed 11,000 people across several West African countries.

Iraqi Christians lose deportation fight—Next we go to the U.S. A federal appeals court has rejected the appeal of 1,400 Iraqi nationals trying to avoid deportation. The group includes about 100 Chaldean Christians who fear for their lives if they are sent back to Iraq.

Most of the immigrants have lived in the U.S. for decades and some only speak English. Some had outstanding deportation orders for crimes committed in the 1980s and 90s.

Many of the Iraqis have asked for a chance to make their case before immigration courts. Those who haven’t could face deportation as early as this week. But it’s not clear whether Iraq will take them back or where they will resettle.

AUDIO: [Hong Kong Activists outside courthouse]

Hong Kong activists convicted—Next we go to Hong Kong, where a court on Tuesday handed down convictions to nine democracy activists. The group’s supporters rallied outside the courthouse after the trial.

The nine activists helped lead the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests calling for free elections. Ever since Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control in 1999, Beijing has increasingly exerted control over its politics.

Activist and law professor Benny Tai spoke to reporters before the trial.

TAI: No matter what happens today, I have the confidence many people today, together, we will continue to strive for Hong Kong’s democracy. We will persist and we will not give up.

The court used colonial-era “public nuisance” laws to convict the activists, who now face up to seven years in jail. International human rights groups say the convictions likely will embolden Beijing to further restrict free speech in the territory.

Malaysian pastor kidnapped by state police—Next we go to Malaysia. There a human rights commission has concluded that state police kidnapped Pastor Raymond Koh in 2017.

The National Human Rights Commission spent two years investigating the disappearance of Koh and a Muslim social activist. It concluded a police intelligence unit known as the Special Branch kidnapped both men because of their religious activity.

The 62-year-old Koh led an Evangelical Free Church of America congregation in Malaysia for 20 years. In 2004 he started a ministry to help single mothers, drug addicts, and people suffering from HIV/AIDS. Authorities had investigated him for proselytizing after he hosted a fundraising dinner for the ministry at a Methodist Church. The police later dropped the case over lack of evidence.

AUDIO: [Rwanda candlelight ceremony]

Rwanda marks genocide anniversary—And finally, we end today back in Africa, where Rwandans marked 25 years of peace with a candlelight vigil Sunday.

The vigil marked 25 years since the beginning of the genocide that left 800,000 Tutsis dead at the hands of their Hutu neighbors. Every year since then, Rwandans hold 100 days of official mourning to honor those who lost their lives.

President Paul Kagame insisted nothing like that could happen in Rwanda again.

KAGAME: Rwanda became a family once again. The arms of our people, intertwined to constitute the pillars of our nation.

Kagami is credited with bringing reconciliation to the country. But critics accuse him of repressing any opposition to his government.

That’s this week’s World Tour. I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.

(Photo/Associated Press file, Al-hadji Kudra Maliro) A health worker sprays disinfectant on a colleague at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, in September 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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