Beijing claims valley where Indian, Chinese soldiers brawled

A satellite image taken on June 9, 2020, and released by 2020 Planet Labs, Inc. shows Galwan Valley, which lies between China’s Tibet and India’s Ladakh. (2020 Planet Labs, Inc/AFP)
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Updated 20 June 2020

Beijing claims valley where Indian, Chinese soldiers brawled

  • Galwan Valley falls within a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometer Line of Actual Control

NEW DELHI: China said the Galwan Valley high up in the Himalayan border region where Chinese and Indian troops engaged in a deadly brawl this week falls entirely within China, boldly laying claim to the disputed area as the Asian giants continued using military and diplomatic channels to reduce tensions.
The confrontation in the Galwan Valley, part of the disputed Ladakh region along the Himalayan frontier, was the deadliest between the two countries in 45 years. India blames China for instigating the fight by developing infrastructure in the valley, which it said was a breach of the agreement of what area remained in dispute.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a statement Friday that “the Galwan Valley is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary.”
He blamed incursions by Indian troops in the area from early May for a midnight clash on Monday that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China has not said whether it suffered any casualties.
Soldiers brawled with clubs, rocks and their fists in the thin air at 4,270 meters (14,000 feet) above sea level, but no shots were fired, Indian officials have said. The soldiers carry firearms but are not allowed to use them under a previous agreement in the border dispute.
Indian security officials have said the fatalities were caused by severe injuries and exposure to subfreezing temperatures.
The valley falls within a remote stretch of the 3,380-kilometer Line of Actual Control — the border established following a war between India and China in 1962 that resulted in an uneasy truce.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the ministry had no immediate comment on China’s latest claim to the valley. However, Srivastava said in a statement on Thursday that such a claim was “exaggerated and untenable.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a meeting with political opposition leaders on Friday that no one “has intruded into our territory, nor taken over any post.”
Modi said India was “hurt and angry” about the deaths of its troops. He said India wanted peace and friendship, but had the “capability that no one can even dare look toward an inch of our land.”
Also on Friday, Zhao, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said that China was not holding any Indian soldiers, without addressing media reports that China had released 10 of them late Thursday.
“My information is that at present there are no Indian personnel detained on the Chinese side,” Zhao said, according to an English version of his daily briefing posted on the ministry’s website.
Indian officials have denied that any soldiers were in Chinese custody.


‘Disturbing’ allegations of rape in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: UN

Updated 22 January 2021

‘Disturbing’ allegations of rape in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict: UN

  • A UN representative said she was greatly concerned by serious allegations from the northern region

ADDIS ABABA: The UN says it has received “disturbing” reports of sexual violence and abuse in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region, including of individuals forced to rape members of their own family.
Pramila Patten, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, said she was greatly concerned by serious allegations from the northern region, including “a high number of alleged rapes” in the Tigrayan capital Mekele.
“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Patten said in a statement Thursday.
“Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.”
Patten called on all parties involved in the hostilities to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, announced military operations in Tigray in early November, saying they came in response to attacks by the regional ruling party on federal army camps.
Abiy declared victory after federal forces entered the regional capital in late November, though leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) remain on the run and have vowed to fight on.
Thousands have died in the conflict, according to the International Crisis Group, though a communications blackout and media and humanitarian access restrictions have made it difficult to assess the situation on the ground.
In her statement Thursday, Patten noted that “medical centers have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict.”
She called for full humanitarian access to Tigray, including camps for displaced people “and refugee camps where new arrivals have allegedly reported cases of sexual violence.”
She voiced concern about “more than 5,000 Eritrean refugees in and around the area of Shire living in dire conditions, many of them reportedly sleeping in an open field with no water or food, as well as the more than 59,000 Ethiopians who have fled the country into neighboring Sudan.”
The caretaker administration in Tigray did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this month state television broadcast footage of a meeting during which an unidentified man in a military uniform expressed concern about rapes in Mekele.
“Why are women being raped in Mekele city?” the man said.
“It wouldn’t be shocking had it been happening during the war, because it is not manageable so it could be expected. But at this moment while federal police and local police are back in town, it is still happening.”