The Other news of the day: Vietnam asks Australia to pull thousands of commemorative coins. In Hong Kong, police seize a statue commemorating the events of Tiananmen Square. Five Indian soldiers die in military operations in Kashmir. In Iraq, 400 women members of the Islamic State group go on hunger strike. Protests break out in Turkmen factories.
With less than 10 days to go before the country’s parliamentary election, the latest surveys put opposition leader Pita Limjaroenrat, 42, in the lead. The head of the progressive Move Forward Party scores high among young voters. With almost 30 per cent of the vote, he is ahead of Paetongtarn Shinawatra, leader of the Pheu Thai party, and considered the favoured to beat the incumbent government set up after the 2014 military coup.
VIETNAM – AUSTRALIA
Vietnam’s communist government has asked Australia to stop issuing commemorative coins showing the flag of South Vietnam, now banned in the Southeast Asian country. According to the Royal Australian Mint, which issued 85,000 coins last month to mark the 50th anniversary of the withdrawal of Australian troops from southern Vietnam, the design actually reflects the colours of the ribbons of the service medals awarded to Australian soldiers, not the flag of South Vietnam. More than 60,000 Australian troops served in the Vietnam War, Australia’s longest and most unpopular war in the 20th century.
Hong Kong police seized a statue called the “Pillar of Shame” that commemorates the protesters killed during the Tiananmen Square crackdown on 4 June 1989. More than eight metres high, the statue depicts torn and twisted bodies, which for the authorities constitutes an “incitement to subversion”.
Indian authorities have confirmed the death of five soldiers in a military operation in Kashmir, a region disputed with neighbouring Pakistan. India, which has been fighting secessionist forces for decades, launched a series of operations in the Rajouri sector against what the government considers rebel terrorist groups after five soldiers were killed in an ambush last month.
At least 400 women members of the Islamic State group, held in a high security prison in Baghdad, have been on hunger strike since 24 April to protest against their incarceration and conditions of detention. The group includes nationals from Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Syria, France, Germany and the United States, plus about a hundred children.
ARMENIA – AZERBAIJAN
“After an intensive and constructive series of bilateral and trilateral discussions, the parties made significant progress in addressing difficult issues,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken after four days of negotiations with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Ararat Mirzoyan and Jeyhun Bayramov, in Washington.
Protests broke out in two factories in the city of Konye-Urgench, as hundreds of workers complained about the lack of food subsidies over the past few months, which were granted to other factories. The police tried in vain to stop the protests, arresting 15 people.