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Robotics Team Disappears After U.S. Competition

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(Last Updated On: July 21, 2017)

The U.S. police were searching on Thursday for six African teenagers who were reported missing from a global robotics competition in Washington, the New York Times reported.

U.S. Police officials confirmed that two members of the robotics team from Burundi, Don Ingabire, 16, and Audrey Mwamikazi, 17, were seen entering Canada, but their destination and current location remained unknown.

It was unclear where the remaining team members were. They were identified as Aristide Irambona, 18; Nice Munezero, 17; Kevin Sabumukiza, 17; and Richard Irakoze, 18.

Burundi Robotics Team was last seen in Washington on Tuesday night near the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall, where the robotics competition took place.

The team’s mentor, Canesius Bindaba, reported their disappearance after he returned to the dormitories where they were staying, assuming the teenagers had taken a different shuttle bus after the closing ceremony.

The Burundi Embassy in Washington said in an email that officials there had not known there was a team from their country in the United States until after the teenagers were reported missing.

In June, the State Department issued a travel warning for Americans going to Burundi, located between Rwanda and Tanzania, citing “political tensions, political and criminal violence, and the potential for civil unrest.” 

More than 325,000 Burundians have fled the country since 2015, mostly to Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Human Rights Watch.

The First Global competition made international headlines after the all-girl team from Afghanistan struggled to get visas to attend the event, advertised as an international robotics Olympics.

Students from more than 150 countries participated in the competition, organizers said. It is scheduled to take place in Mexico City next year.

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Taliban declares three-day ceasefire for Eid celebration

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(Last Updated On: May 10, 2021)

Taliban group has announced a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan during Eid al-Fitr, the group said on Monday.

“Mujahideen have been instructed to stop all kinds of offensive operations across the country from the first to the third day of Eid-ul-Fitr,” Mohammad Naeem, the group spokesman said.

Insurgent fighters have been instructed to break the cease-fire only for self-defense and not to visit enemy areas or host Afghan security forces during the three-day Eid celebrations.  

“The Mujahideen must not visit enemy areas nor permit entrance of enemy personnel into Mujahideen controlled areas,” Naeem tweeted.

 The Taliban have previously declared nationwide Eid cease-fires but resumed fighting immediately after the festivities.  

The ceasefire declaration came two days after bombings outside a school in the western of Kabul, killed at least 68, most of them students, and injured more than 165 others.

President Ashraf Ghani has declared Tuesday a day of mourning for the victims bombing.

Afghan government said the Taliban was behind the attack.

But no group claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Rights watchdog calls on govt to protect Hazaras against genocide

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(Last Updated On: May 9, 2021)

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said Sunday in a statement that the Afghan government has to grant special protection to Hazaras and the community in Dasht-e-Barchi.

The AIHRC said it was government’s duty to protect the Hazara community against crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or genocide.

The statement comes a day after a deadly bombing close to a girls high school in Dasht-e-Barchi killed 63 people and wounded 187.

The AIHRC stated that government has an obligation to “protect the population at risk of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or genocide.”

“The Afghan government has an obligation under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law to protect the population at risk of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or genocide and international law obliges the government to take measures to end and prevent genocide and war crimes, crimes against humanity and persecution on the basis of ethnicity and gender,” the statement read.

“In October 2020, just over six months ago, more than 40 students died in an attack on Kawsar Danish tutoring center. In May 2020, almost a year ago 11 mothers were murdered with their unborn babies, two boys were, and an Afghan midwife was killed, with 5 mothers injured; this is femicide and infanticide,” the statement highlighted.

The AIHRC stressed that the Afghan government should fulfill its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights “which includes acknowledging massacres targeting Hazaras.”

“The Afghan government should communicate immediately a human rights-based protection plan for Dasht-e-Barchi and West Kabul. This should include plans for collective reparations,” the organization said.

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ATRA questioned over payment of hefty salaries to executives

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(Last Updated On: May 9, 2021)

First Deputy Chairman of the Afghan Senate Mohammad Alam Ezidyar on Sunday lashed out about hefty salaries being paid to Afghanistan Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (ATRA) executives stating its chief receives a salary of around 700,000 AFN a month.

He also stated that board members of the organization get paid about 300,000 AFN a month.

Ezidyar said such hefty salaries for ATRA employees was against the law.

“Advisors and employees at the ATRA office have been appointed with high salaries, which is a violation of the law. The members of the board of directors of ATRA are being paid up to 315,000 AFN,” Ezidyar said.

“According to which policies are these privileges being implemented, and the head of ATRA is being paid 675,000 AFN?” he asked.

The head of ATRA Umar Mansour Ansari, who was summoned to the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament) to brief Senators on the 10 percent tax on mobile phone cards, stated money for salaries is from revenue generated by the organization.

In defense of the issue, Ansari said the authority did not get government funding and that it generated and used its own revenue.

“ATRA is a non-budgetary organization and we have not received any funding, and ATRA collects its own revenue and finances its own expenses, and the organization is independent,” Ansari said.

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