News In Brief

Protestant leaders were warning of a return to 20 more years of direct British rule in Northern Ireland if, as expected, a disarmament report showed no Irish Republican Army weapons had yet been surrendered. Its release was delayed as the Monitor went to press, an apparent 11th-hour attempt by the province's independent disarmament commission to find language that would defuse the likely crisis. The North's largest Protestant group, the Ulster Unionist Party, is to vote Feb. 12 on pulling out of the self-rule government if the report documents no progress.

The former armed-forces chief of Indonesia was one of five senior commanders accused of crimes against humanity in last year's violent campaign against independence in East Timor. General Wiranto was cited in a report by the government-appointed Investigative Commission on Human Rights Abuses, which detailed "mass killings, torture, kidnapping, violence against women, forced evacuations, and total destruction of property." President Abdurrahman Wahid, attending the World Economic Forum meeting in Switzerland, said he'd fire Wiranto, now Indonesia's political and security-affairs minister.

The grandmothers of Elian Gonzalez were treated to a heroes' welcome on their return to Cuba, despite failing to bring the boy home from the US. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the 16-mile route from the airport to Havana's Convention Palace, where one of the women said only "a tiny group" of Americans oppose sending Elian back to Cuba. The championship game of the national soccer tournament was postponed so the parade and rally could be held.

A government crackdown against another movement that combines meditation with exercises was expanded in China. Zhong Gong, which, like the better-known Falun Gong, is believed to have a following in the millions, was declared an "evil cult." Cults are illegal under Chinese law and, therefore, are effectively banned. A Hong Kong-based human rights group said more than 100 Zhong Gong centers across China have been closed by police since November. Despite the banning of Falun Gong, now in its sixth month, followers as recently as Jan. 24 staged a small protest in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Two applications for a formal review of Britain's decision to send ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet home because he's too ill to stand trial were rejected by a court in London. One was filed by Belgium on behalf of Chilean exiles, and the Brussels government said it likely would appeal the ruling.

Emergency authorities were defending the two-hour lapse between the crash of a Kenya Airways jet and the time rescuers began the search for survivors off Ivory Coast. The plane was aloft for only about one minute on a flight from Abidjan to Lagos, Nigeria, before crashing in the chilly Atlantic Ocean with 179 people aboard. It appeared as few as 10 had been found alive. Officials said the delay in response was "reasonable" because equipment had to be assembled and the reported location of the wreckage was "imprecise."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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