Nigerian Authorities Say Terror Groups Are Shifting to New Bases 

Authorities in Nigeria’s Kaduna state are raising concerns jihadist insurgents have infiltrated their region and are calling on the federal government to intervene.

State governor Nasir El-Rufai made the announcement during a quarterly security assessment.

During the meeting, El-Rufai said Ansaru and Boko Haram fighters have been detected in two local government areas and said the terror groups have been making attempts to recruit residents of those areas.

Authorities also said more than 360 people, including 45 females, were killed in the state between January and March by armed groups. They said more than 1,300 people were kidnapped.

“The first great concern is the emergency of Boko Haram enclave as well as the activities of Ansaru, particularly in Birnin Gwari and Chikun local governments,” El-Rufai said. “The terrorists were making comments like the forests in Kaduna are even better that the ones on Sambisa and so they should all relocate here.”

The Sambisa forest in Borno state has been a hideout for Boko Haram fighters for years.

Kaduna state near Nigeria’s capital has seen a wave of attacks in recent months including a March 28 train attack, during which nine people were killed and more than 60 others kidnapped.

El-Rufai said the attack was masterminded by terrorists now roving parts of the state.

Authorities also said they’re considering relocating three communities — Rijana, Kateri and Akilibu — over concerns that they may be harboring informants working for gangs.

Security analyst Patrick Agbambu says the success of Nigeria’s military operations in the northeast where Boko Haram has been active for over a decade is the reason terrorists are spreading to other regions.

“There’s a shifting of activities of the terrorist acts towards the northwest and north-central. Terrorist groups want to use places they can make statements, places where it will attract attention,” Agbambu said. “Security agencies and Nigeria must be very careful in those areas.”

Nigerian defense authorities this week said more than 53,000 Boko Haram members and their families have surrendered to the military so far this year.

Also, this week, Nigerian police announced they had arrested 31 kidnappers and criminals who took part in a school kidnapping last year.

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Every Crime has a Face, Says Ukrainian Journalist Hunting War Criminals

Before the Russian invasion, Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Replyanchuk spent his days unearthing corruption, often among judges and law enforcement.

Now the Kyiv-based journalist who works for the independent media website Slidstvo.Info uses his investigative reporting skills to expose war crimes and atrocities.

Every crime has a face, Replyanchuk told VOA.

“War criminals who executed civilians in Bucha, pilots who dropped bombs on Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities, artillerymen who shelled Kharkiv: those are specific people,” he said. “And my job is to reveal these people.”

With the first Russian soldier standing trial for war crimes this week, and journalists interviewing residents of cities besieged or occupied for weeks, Ukraine’s media has played an important role in documenting and collecting evidence.

In recognition of their efforts, the U.S. Pulitzer board awarded a special citation in May to Ukrainian journalists for their “courage, endurance, and commitment to truthful reporting” in covering the war.

For the country’s journalists, they have one objective: Ensuring the world knows the names of all those involved in atrocities in Ukraine.

Using open source intelligence or OSINT methods, searching satellite images and social media, and interviewing witnesses, journalists have been able to identify specific soldiers who killed and tortured civilians in Bucha, and shed light on what is happening in Mariupol.

Replyanchuk, whose outlet is part of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Network uses open data to investigate.

Together with his colleagues, the journalist analyzes lists of Russian units published by Ukrainian intelligence and searches Russian social networks Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki for military profiles.

Some of the soldiers, especially those who are younger, are also active on TikTok. In some cases, said Replyanchuk, soldiers brag of torturing civilians.

“There’s no need of interrogating anyone. They publish those things themselves. They boast of this in their social media,” said Replyanchuk.

After analyzing hundreds of such profiles, he came to another conclusion.

“Based on what I see, the vast majority of Russians support the war against Ukraine and call to continue it. This is definitely not only Putin’s war against Ukraine, this is the war of Russia and the Russian people,” he said.

Polls by the independent Russia-based Leveda Center show backing among Russians for their troops in Ukraine, but that support is dropping. Most of those polled believe the U.S and NATO are to blame for civilian casualties.

Valeria Yehoshyna, a journalist at Skhemy—or Schemes, an investigative news project run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)—says that since the beginning of the invasion, she has mastered new skills for working with data.

RFE/RL and VOA are both independent networks under the Congress-funded U.S. Agency for Global Media.

“We got access to services that help with satellite imagery. This is a fairly new field for us, but I believe that we are working quite successfully,” Yehoshyna said. “For instance, we are able to show the redeployment of Russian equipment.”

The imagery also helped her team find mass graves in the villages of Mangush and Vynohradne near Mariupol.

The grave in Mangush was 300 meters (over 980 feet) long, says Yegoshyna. The one in Bucha was 14 meters (almost 46 feet) long and contained 70 bodies.

But the most startling discovery was an intercepted telephone conversation between two Russians. The recording, a call between a woman and a man, was released by the Security Service of Ukraine.

In it, a woman is heard telling her partner in Russian that he can rape Ukrainian women as long as he doesn’t tell her the details and uses contraceptives.

The recording shocked Yehoshyna.

“The woman on that audio not only allowed her husband to rape Ukrainian women, but she also seemed to encourage him to do so,” she said.

Together with her colleagues, Yehoshyna traced the people on the call.

“From our sources in law enforcement, we were able to obtain two Russian telephone numbers who participated in that conversation,” Yehoshyna said. “Then with the help of our colleagues from the Russian service of Radio Free Europe, we found the accounts on the Russian social network Vkontakte to which those numbers were linked. So we found their pages, their relatives, their friends. Plus, we called them, and the voices on the audio also matched completely.”

Identifying members of the Russian military also helps official investigations, said Yehoshyna. Before the war, Ukrainian law enforcement were sometimes a subject of journalists’ investigations. Today, they find ways to collaborate.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has named suspects believed to have committed crimes in Bucha. Information collected by the Slidstvo.Info team was used to identify one of them.

“We find victims and witnesses, and we work with them to establish the identity and details of specific Russian occupiers who either killed or were involved in torturing or in taking civilians hostage,” said Replyanchuk.

Together with his colleagues, he managed to identify a number of Russian servicemen, collecting evidence like a puzzle, based on testimonies of witnesses.

“Someone remembers the name. Someone remembers the military rank, someone remembers something else,” Replyanchuk said.

From there the team goes to work, recording the evidence and searching open data and social media to identify the people.

For Yehoshyna and many journalists in Ukraine, this war is different from others.

“In this war, we can capture almost everything that happens,” Yehoshyna said.

“Satellite imagery, social media, intercepted calls, all of this helps us. Even people in the temporarily occupied cities take videos and photos and then publish them. There has never been a war with so much [digital] evidence, I’m sure.”

Investigative journalists hope that the testimonies and work will serve two purposes: Evidence for an international tribunal and to act as a record, so that no one can falsify history.

 

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Justice Department Steps Up Hate Crime Prosecutions

With hate crimes on the rise, U.S. federal prosecutors have charged more than 40 people with bias-motivated crimes since January 2021, obtaining over 35 convictions, the Justice Department said Friday.   

Among those convicted were three white men found guilty by a jury in February in connection with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a young man who was jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, in 2020.  

The department released the figures as officials marked the first anniversary of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and announced new measures to combat hate crimes. The law required the Justice Department to speed up a review of hate crime cases.    

The announcement comes less than a week after an 18-year-old gunman killed 10 people and injured three others at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. The Justice Department is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.  

“No one in this country should have to fear the threat of hate-fueled violence,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a ceremony at the Justice Department. “The Justice Department will continue to use every resource at its disposal to confront unlawful acts of hate, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.”  

The number of reported hate crime prosecutions is up compared to recent years. A 2021 Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that federal prosecutors had charged an average of about 21 defendants and obtained an average of 19 hate crime convictions per year over a 15-year period. 

Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department faced criticism for deprioritizing civil rights enforcement. Trump administration officials rebutted the charge, with the Justice Department’s top civil rights official stating in January 2021 that his division had brought the highest number of hate crime charges during Trump’s final year in office.

He did not provide a number. A Justice Department spokesperson did not respond to a VOA request for figures on hate crime prosecutions during the Trump administration.  

Federal law makes it a crime to target a victim because of their race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Criminal offenses prosecuted as hate crimes range from acts of violence to damage to a religious property.    

Most hate crimes are prosecuted at the state and local level, and federal prosecutors bring charges in exceptional circumstances. In fact, the vast majority of hate crime cases referred to the Justice Department do not get prosecuted.

A hate crime conviction carries harsh penalties. But hate crimes are difficult to prosecute. To obtain a conviction, prosecutors must prove that the defendant was motivated by bias and not simply that the victim belonged to a protected class.   

Last year, hate crimes in 37 major U.S. cities increased by nearly 39%, with attacks on Asian and Jewish Americans accounting for the bulk of the increase, according to police data compiled by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

In response to the surge in incidents, the Justice Department last year appointed an anti-hate crimes coordinator, tasked a top prosecutor to expedite a review of hate crime cases, and designated a civil rights coordinator in every U.S. attorney’s office in the country.   

In addition, Garland said the department is making use of its non-criminal tools to combat hate crimes. Along with the Department of Health and Human services, the Justice Department is issuing new guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes and hate incidents; releasing $10 million in grant solicitations for new programs to create state-run hotlines and support community groups; and hiring the department’s first ever language access coordinator.  

“We know that language access is a key barrier to the reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents … and (the new official) will help improve knowledge, use, and expansion of the Department of Justice’s language resources,” Garland said.

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Chinese-Language Newspaper: Gunman Mailed Documents Before Attack

The man charged in a California church shooting, allegedly motivated by his political hatred for Taiwan, had mailed several documents to a Chinese-language newspaper before the incident, the newspaper reported.

On Wednesday, World Journal, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in the United States, reported that before Sunday’s shooting, David Chou, 68, mailed seven photocopied volumes of handwritten Chinese text and a flash drive to its Los Angeles branch. The documents, which were titled Diary of an Angel Destroying Independence, were received by the news outlet Monday.

World Journal said it did not report on the contents of the mailed materials, instead turning them over to Orange County police for its investigation. The Public Affairs Office of the Orange County Police Department told VOA Mandarin by phone on Wednesday that “we are aware and investigating” the materials.

Chou has been charged with one count of first-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder and four counts of possession of an explosive device, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said on Tuesday. Policy said Chou drove to Orange County in Southern California on Saturday, and on Sunday attended a lunch held by senior parishioners of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church before he opened fire, killing one and injuring five.

Chou, who lived in Las Vegas, was a U.S. citizen whom authorities said grew up in Taiwan. On Monday, Orange County police said Chou was motivated by anti-Taiwan hatred.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan a breakaway province and has not ruled out the use of force to reunify the two sides.

The FBI said it has opened a federal hate crime investigation into the case.

The Orange County Register reported that an April 3, 2019, article in the Las Vegas Chinese News Network showed Chou had attended the inaugural meeting of the Las Vegas Chinese for Peaceful Unification. The organization aims to promote the peaceful unification of mainland China and Taiwan. “Asking for peace from Beijing, and asking for unification from Taiwan,” its slogan says.

Gu Yawen, the president of Las Vegas Chinese Peaceful Unification, denied to VOA that Chou has any relationship with her organization.

“We don’t have any ties with him,” she told VOA via phone Tuesday. “He did come to our inauguration and came on the stage to promote his book in support of then-presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu, but that’s about it.”

Han was the presidential candidate for the pro-unification Kuomintang (KMT) party in the 2020 Taiwan election.

Gu said that because Chou made a brief remark on that day, some reporters thought he was one of the group’s members. “But he’s not. I’ve talked with him before. His thoughts were too extreme to be involved in our mission,” she told VOA.

However, in a separate interview Tuesday with China Review News, Gu said that “Chou hadn’t participated in any of our activities since the latter half of 2019, and since then he was no longer a member.”

Gu also stressed that her organization has no relationship with the National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification, a semi-official organization of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, with the mission of promoting unification between mainland China and Taiwan.  

Gu told VOA that Chou’s extreme thoughts came from his anti-Taiwan political stance. She also suggested he has had troubles in his personal life.

“His opposition to Taiwan independence is true. His political stance, coupled with the fact that (he) had been relatively unhappy in his personal life, might have led to his extreme thinking,” she said.

The local Las Vegas Chinese News Network reported that Chou was attacked in 2012. According to the report, Chou was the owner of 12 condominiums in Las Vegas and was attacked in April 2012 by a man and woman when he was collecting rent. The attack left him deaf in his right ear.

Balmore Orellana, Chou’s neighbor in Las Vegas, told local media that Chou was “a sweet old man whose life started to fall apart over the last year or so.”

He said Chou was in fact the owner of their apartment building, but last year it sold for less than he hoped. Judi Rock, his realtor, told local media that at the same time as the sale took place, Chou’s wife was dying of cancer.

The authorities said that while Chou was motivated by political hatred for Taiwan, he chose the church California at random and didn’t know anyone there.

Gu, from the Las Vegas branch of National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification, questioned that statement. “If he’s just anti-Taiwan, we have a Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Las Vegas as well. Why would he drive all the way” to Laguna Woods, California, she asked. “I think there might be someone at the church that he had a feud with.”

Wei Bizhou, deputy editor in chief at the World Journal North America, told VOA Mandarin that the choice fits perfectly with Chou’s hatred toward Taiwan independence.

“This is because the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church has deep roots with Tainan Theological College and Seminary, which has been promoting Taiwan independence,” he said. “So I don’t think the police can conclude he chose the church at random.”

The Presbyterian Church is the most prominent of the Christian dominations in Taiwan.

Lev Nachman, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard Fairbanks Center for China Studies, told local media that the Presbyterian church in Taiwan is known for supporting the pro-independence movement.

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Mozambique Approves Tough Anti-terror Bill

Mozambique’s parliament Thursday approved a tough new anti-terror law that imposes stiff prison sentences for convicted jihadis, but also for anyone spreading misinformation about the country’s insurgency. 

The measure, which calls for up to 24 years in prison for those found guilty of “terrorism” offenses had broad support, but the opposition fears the clauses on misinformation could be used to crack down on media. 

“Mozambique is experiencing cruel, direct impacts from terrorist attacks in the north,” government spokesman Nyeleti Mondlane told parliament. 

“We want to strengthen the law to combat terrorism,” he said. 

Some 3,900 people have been killed and 820,000 displaced from their homes since jihadi unrest erupted in northern Mozambique in October 2017. 

More than 3,100 troops from several African countries moved into the troubled Cabo Delgado province in July last year and have retaken much of the territory. 

The violence forced a halt to work on Mozambique’s gas fields, including a $20-billion project from TotalEnergies. 

The new bill is Mozambique’s latest effort to tame the violence. 

It also contains provisions calling for up to eight years behind bars for “anyone who intentionally disseminates information according to which a terrorist act was or is likely to be committed, knowing that the information is false.” 

Arnaldo Chalawa, from the opposition RENAMO party, said: “The anti-terrorism law must not put at risk the right of the press or expression.” 

The ruling party, FRELIMO, had enough votes to pass the law without opposition support. 

President Felipe Nyusi has already indicated that he will sign it. 

 

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Southern California Lures Tiny Fish for Moonlit Sex in the Sand

When the moon is bright, and the tide is right, schools of small fish eager to spawn are propelled ashore by the surf to turn southern California’s beaches into a breeding ground during the spring and early summer. Titi Tran has the story for VOA

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Interview: Pastor Billy Chang Describes California Church Shooting

A gunman, allegedly motivated by a political hatred of Taiwan, opened fire on Taiwanese members of a Presbyterian church in Southern California Sunday, killing one person and injuring five others. 

Former Pastor Billy Chang was at the service in Laguna Hills, California. He spoke with VOA’s Mandarin service and described the attack Sunday, which started as members of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church were having lunch. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, Chang pastored Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian for 21 years and left in 2020 to lead a church in Taiwan. Chang, who had recently returned from Taiwan, was the guest of honor at Sunday’s lunch, according to local media.

Authorities have charged the suspect, David Chou, of Las Vegas, with 10 counts in the attack, including one count of first-degree homicide. 

Police said Chou drove to Orange County in Southern California on Saturday, and on Sunday attended a lunch held by senior parishioners of Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian before he opened fire. 

John Cheng, a church member, charged Chou, allowing other church members to act. Chang said he picked up a chair and threw it at Chou, who fell on the floor. Chang said he and several other church members rushed Chou, holding him down and tying him up until authorities arrived. 

Cheng was shot and killed during the attack.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

VOA: Can you tell us your story with the church and what happened on the day of the shooting? 

Former Pastor Billy Chang: I flew back to the U.S. from Taiwan on May 9. Because I have been friends with the brothers and sisters in the church for over 20 years, they were very happy and hoped to see me. Their current pastor also kindly invited me to do a sermon on Sunday, May 15. I was happy to see a lot of people on that day. Then we had a worship service at 11 a.m. and a Sunday school at 11:30 a.m. This time, I shared my good experiences in Taiwan over the past two years. I was away for so long and I had many feelings to share. Then, we went to have lunch. 

Before that Sunday, the church would always provide a box lunch. After they finished Sunday school, people would go to the social hall to get a box lunch and eat at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This time, because I recently returned and the pandemic seemed to be slowing down in the U.S., the church announced it would have a special welcome party, and if people were willing to stay, we could set up a dozen round tables in the social hall and have extra food. About 100 people chose to stay and we ate together around 12:30 p.m. 

After lunch, some people asked to take pictures with me, so we moved to a stage at the front of the social hall. The stage in the hall is quite modern and not very high off the ground. People stood there, one after another, to take photos with me in groups of four to 10. 

It was around 1 p.m. when I heard gunshots. I can’t remember the exact time. I had no idea what was happening outside. When I turned my head and looked to my right, about 10 steps away, there was a man I didn’t recognize. He was dressed like a security guard. It was later confirmed that he was a licensed security officer, so he had equipment. He was wearing tactical gear like someone escorting an armored car. He started shooting and the sound was very loud as the social hall is an enclosed space that echoes. Everyone, including myself, was startled. Maybe at first, I did not realize the danger we were in. I thought it was a joke, a prank, someone playing with a toy gun to scare people. 

But after he fired three or four shots, I was shocked. Because he was shooting fast and kept shooting, I just stood there and felt that something was wrong. I turned my head to see that all my brothers and sisters were on the ground, hiding under the tables, and some of them were trying to escape. 

It seemed like he shot where there was something moving. I felt this was not right and needed to be stopped. We have a majority of older people in the church. I am not that young, but I felt I had to act. When I saw that his gun was not aimed at me, I felt like he was going to change bullets. I am not very familiar with guns, but he already had shot the gun nine or 10 times. 

So, I ran over. I grabbed a chair and threw it at him. He probably didn’t expect anyone to attack him. He was shocked, falling to the floor, and he dropped the gun. I quickly pinned him down. I was afraid he would pick up the gun again because the gun was on his left-hand side and still within his reach. I pinned down his hands and head. I said, “Hurry up, come and help me hold him.” Three parishioners helped me to pin his neck. 

Only then I saw that there was someone lying just in front of us, Dr. [John] Cheng. I could see that he was very badly wounded because he wasn’t moving at all, and it was very clear to see the blood on his back. My wife, Yu Ling, came over and quickly removed the gun, but I did not know if he had another gun. Later, they [the police] said he also had a gun strapped to his leg … that he had two guns. I don’t know if he had an accomplice, so my wife hid the gun in the refrigerator in the kitchen. We couldn’t find any ropes, so we used an orange electrical cord to tie up his legs and then we called 911. The police arrived in 10 minutes, and they took control of the situation. 

It was Dr. Cheng’s first time to come to the church. He was accompanying his mother, and I didn’t recognize him at first. He was lying on the floor, face down, and so I didn’t immediately realize that he was his mother’s son. She was taking pictures with me on stage. After the scene was under control, she couldn’t find her son, and then when she turned around, she cried, “That’s my son, that’s my son.”

Later, we found out that the murderer was preparing for a massacre. When he was locking the door, some of our parishioners saw him and thought that he was security who had come to lock the door, because we had rented this place and we had to leave by 1 or 2 p.m. There were two entrances that he had managed to lock, but there was also one in the kitchen that he probably didn’t know about. Some people escaped from that door and called 911. On one of the main entrances, he used chains to lock the door and he nailed the other door to the parking lot shut. I later heard that the keyholes were also sealed with super glue. 

VOA: Did the shooter say anything while he was there?  

Former Pastor Billy Chang: He didn’t speak a word or shout, that’s why I thought it was a joke and it was a toy gun, and other people thought the sound was a balloon popping. After he was subdued by us, he only spoke one sentence, that’s how I realized he was Chinese. At first some people thought he was from the Middle East. I knew he was Chinese when he said, “I can’t breathe” in Chinese, probably because someone was holding his neck, and then they loosened up a bit so the gunman could breathe. 

VOA: When the shooter arrived at the church on that day, did any parishioners see him or have any interaction with him? 

Former Pastor Billy Chang: I heard that he had come in during our worship. Our receptionist asked him to leave his name so that we could welcome him to our service, but he said he had been to the service before, and so he didn’t leave his name. Some of the church’s parishioners are very enthusiastic and every week they bring last week’s newspaper to give away for free. I heard the shooter took a Chinese newspaper and read it during the service. He didn’t seem to be serious about the worship service, and then he left. When he showed up again, that is when the shooting happened. 

VOA: Do we know anything about why the shooter drove from Las Vegas to Irvine, California, specifically to target this church? 

Former Pastor Billy Chang: Now that I think about it, he didn’t just do it randomly, he had a plan. I don’t know if he had relatives or friends in Irvine or around Orange County, but he probably knew that our church was one of the more crowded Taiwanese-speaking churches. I don’t think he only started to prepare on the day of the shooting. He brought chains and explosives, so he had already planned the attack. He had observed us, maybe he had even been here before. He may have picked us because he wanted to slaughter the most people possible. If I had not subdued him, I think there would be a dozen, or even a hundred people wounded or dead. 

These days there are many people who wonder if our church is preaching about Taiwanese independence or Taiwan politics. I welcome everyone to read about us on our church website. Whether it is Pastor [Albany] Lee or me, we all are preaching the gospel of God. We spread love, peace, charity, compassion and inclusion. 

VOA: Now we know the motive for this crime is politically related. Are you surprised? 

Former Pastor Billy Chang: In fact, this reflects the horrible situation Taiwan faces right now geopolitically, the threat of Chinese military. … [China considers self-ruled Taiwan a breakaway province and has not ruled out the use of force to reunify the two sides.] We very much hope that the international community can pay attention to it, from the security of individuals to Taiwan as a whole. At least we need to be able to defend ourselves, like we did with the chair, and not to be treated in such a ferocious way. 

VOA: We know that there is not much interaction between Taiwan’s pro-independence community and Taiwan’s pro-unification community in the U.S. What do you think will happen between the two communities after the shooting? 

Former Pastor Billy Chang: Honestly, I worry that confrontation between Taiwan’s pro-independence groups and Taiwan’s pro-unification groups will become more severe, and it is unfortunate that this incident happened. I hope that in Taiwan’s society we can have different political positions and be tolerant of each other. We really are one island, one life. If there is an external force to invade us, no one will be spared from such a tragic end, so we hope to learn from this incident to respect each other and to not use this incident to instigate confrontation. 

VOA: The suspect is facing 10 counts in the attack, including one count of first-degree murder. If you had the chance to see the gunman again, what would you say to him? 

Former Pastor Billy Chang: The victim has already sacrificed his life, no matter what, using the murderer’s life to pay for his life would not be able to heal the grief in our hearts. Of course, justice needs to be done, and I hope that justice will be used to let everyone know that this kind of act is unacceptable to the whole of society. As for the murderer, I really can’t understand what kind of message he wants to send, because he can hate some innocent elders and kill such a peaceful group for his political philosophy. He wanted to exterminate all of us. If I take a step back and think about it, if I advocate that Taiwan should become independent, is this a capital crime? Is this an unforgivable sin that must lead to the death of the other party? If I think that if I want to love someone, I must pay the price of life. What is the reasoning behind this? I don’t understand his logic and I have no words to say to him.

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EU Calls for Zimbabwe to Implement Electoral Reforms Ahead of 2023 Polls

Elmar Brok, the head of the EU electoral mission, told reporters Friday that as Zimbabwe prepares for next year’s elections, it must amend its electoral laws so that all parties have a fair chance of winning at the polls.

Brok and his team were assigned to Zimbabwe by Brussels to share their findings after their first visit to Zimbabwe during the July 2018 elections.

In an interview with VOA, Brok, a German national, said the mission gave Zimbabwean officials 23 recommendations for “genuine” electoral reforms. 

“It has to do with even playing field, the impartiality of the [state] media, equal treatment of the parties, a proper voters’ registration, there is a multipart liaison committee, there will be proper conducting of elections, the conduct on election day – the transparency – and then counting and the collection of the counting to the final results. If that is transparently clear, no loopholes, then it’s the best way to have peace in the country, because nobody says there was something wrong with the elections, to get the credibility of elections.”

Zimbabwe officials would not comment Friday on Brok’s statement.

Earlier, though, Raphael Faranisi, the acting permanent secretary in Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said the government is looking forward to June 7, when Harare and Brussels officials meet.

“This will be yet another opportunity to candidly assess progress to date and plan for the future, based on realistic expectations. I have heard concerns expressed with respect to development in Zimbabwe. But I just want to put it on record that, in terms of the reforms that we have carried out, the challenge is: I just want you to give me three, four countries on our continent that have really done better than us. For those that have been following closely development in Zimbabwe, we are on that reform trajectory and it’s not reversable.” 

For years, Zimbabwe’s elections have been marred by violence, voter intimidation and allegations of rigging, leading to disputed results.

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeded Robert Mugabe in 2017, Mnangagwa promised to improve how elections are held but the opposition continues to accuse the ruling Zanu-PF party and the government of manipulating the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. 

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