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The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #23, 27 June 2023, Tuesday

Nepali Gurkhas joining the Wagner Group, says the Mint

Adani Power Ltd starts exporting power to Bangladesh

The NIAS Neighbourhood Reader Daily Brief #23, 27 June 2023, Tuesday
By Immaculine Joy Paul C, Melvin George, Ryan Marcus and Lakshmi Parimala H

Nepali Gurkhas joining the Wagner Group, says the Mint
On 27 June, The Mint reported that the Nepali Gurkhas, reportedly, are joining the ranks of the Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, individually and without official backing from the Nepal government. The lure of obtaining Russian citizenship and better opportunities, combined with discontinued recruitment opportunities in the Indian Army, has influenced their decision. This development raises concerns as Gurkhas, known for their combat skills, have historically been recruited by various countries. Videos on social media show Nepali youths undergoing military training in Russia after enlisting through a recruitment centre. ("Nepali Gurkhas joining Russia's Wagner Group amid lack of recruitment opportunities in Indian Army: Report," The Mint, 27 June 2023)

Adani Power Ltd starts exporting power to Bangladesh
On 26 June, Adani Power Ltd (APL) commenced exporting power to Bangladesh from its 1,600 MW ultra-supercritical power project located in Jharkhand, India. According to a regulatory filing, Unit 2 of the power project achieved commercial operations on 25 June after successful reliability run tests. As per the Power Purchase Agreement, Adani Power (Jharkhand) Ltd (APJL) will export the entire power generated from the plant to Bangladesh through dedicated 400 kV transmission lines. APJL has a 25-year contract with Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). ("Adani Power starts supplying power to Bangladesh from its Jharkhand plant," The Economic Times, 26 June 2023)

Myanmar needs urgent international support for healthcare, says BMA
On 27 June, the Irrawaddy reported that the Burma Medical Association requested the international organizations and countries to interfere immediately to provide "safe and secure provision of healthcare" through the "provision of cross-border assistance by all ways and means." Since the coup, many medical workers have been killed, sued and arrested for allegedly supporting the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) in Myanmar. According to the National Unity Government (NUG) 's Health Ministry, nearly 70 healthcare workers were killed till March 2023 since the coup. The private hospitals and clinics were subjected to 188 attacks till 28 February. 557 doctors lost their licenses who were associated with the CDM. BMA also called out for the release of all political prisoners, including medical professionals, as about 1.5 million people were displaced and 5 million children need humanitarian aid. ("Medical Association Issues Urgent Global Appeal to Deliver Healthcare to Myanmar," The Irrawaddy, 27 June 2023) 

Pheu Thai Party resolves to seek House Speaker post
On 27 June, the Bangkok Post reported that the Pheu Thai Party had reached a common party consensus to seek the House speaker post and asked the negotiation team to discuss the matter with Move Forward Party (MFP). According to local sources, Pheu Thai Party MP list Suchart Tancharoen who was formerly Palang Pracharat MP and the last deputy speaker who defected to the Pheu Thai Party is included as one of the three nominees of the party. Dr Cholnan declined to announce the names of the nominee as it is under the party's final consideration. He emphasized the party's stand on the House speaker post and will negotiate with MFP on Wednesday. MFP has been keen on getting the two highest positions in the parliament, including the Prime Minister post and the House speaker post. At the same time, Pheu Thai Party insists on getting the House speaker post as they were the runner-up in the May elections. ("Pheu Thai resolves to get House speaker post," Bangkok Post, 27 June 2023)

Abuse of Les Majeste law goes against the will of the people, says Pita
On 26 June, the Move Forward Party (MFP) premiership candidate Pita Limjaroenrat said that any attempt of the senators to amend the les majeste law (Section 112 of the Criminal Code) to oppose his candidacy would go against the will of the people. He spoke during the MFP party's new MPs reporting in the House of Secretariat. He said that the MFP party has secured 151 seats in the elections which accounts for the largest share of seats of any other party and thus makes him eligible for the Prime Minister post. Pita said: "Many parties still misunderstand. The amendment is not revocation. There have been talks with senators, and they are starting to understand that to maintain the constitutional monarchy, there must be suitable changes at a time when Thailand is in a period of transition." He said that the constitutional monarchy would continue, and he expressed his confidence in enough support in the parliament for his candidacy. ("Pita: Senators should not abuse lese majeste law issue," Bangkok Post, 27 June 2023)

The Democrats vow to free Yameen from prison 
On 26 June, addressing a press conference after a joint talk between the Democrats and the PPM-PNC coalition, Central Henveiru MP Ali Azim said that the Democrats will stand up for Yameen's fair trial. He further stated that the party will be involved in the efforts to free Yameen, who is serving an 11-year prison term for money laundering. However, he pointed out that his party does not support the PPM's 'India Out' movement. ("Democrats promise to 'do everything possible' to free ex-pres Yameen," Sun.mv, 26 June 2023)

Opposition condemns the domestic debt restructuring 
On 26 June, MP Prof. G. L. Peiris criticized the government's domestic debt restructuring process that it could have a negative impact on the banking sector while the country already faces bankruptcy status. He further warned that the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) and the Employee Trust Fund (ETF) could face huge losses as they have heavily invested in Treasury Bills and Treasury Bonds. He accused the government of downplaying the economic crisis by calling the debt restructuring domestic debt optimization. ("Opposition slams govt. over domestic debt restructuring," The Island, 27 June 2023)

Tehran planned attacks in Cyprus, says Israel
On 27 June, the Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that an Iranian plot to attack sites popular with Jews and Israelis in Cyprus had been foiled. Reports from Israeli media claimed that the attacks targeted Israeli tourists visiting a building associated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement. Cyprus government spokesperson declined to comment on the attacks citing security reasons. ("Israel says Iran planned terror attacks on sites popular with Jews and Israelis in Cyprus,The Jerusalem Post, 27 June 2023)

Eleven Indian fishermen detained in Iran
On 26 June, the Hindu reported that the Iranian authorities had detained eleven Indian fishermen, seven of whom were from Kerala. The fishermen were reported to have gone deep sea diving in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates and crossed into the Iranian waters. NORKA-ROOTS Chief Executive Officer K. Harikrishnan Namboothiri stated that the issue has been raised with the Indian Embassy. ("Israel says Iran planned terror attacks on sites popular with Jews and Israelis in Cyprus,The Jerusalem Post, 27 June 2023)

Iran expresses willingness for prisoners' swap with the US 
On 26 June, Arab News reported that Iran had expressed intentions to exchange prisoners with the US. Iran had earlier engaged in Nuclear and prisoner exchange discussions with the US, with Oman as a mediator. The Iranian government stated that it awaits confirmation from the US government. More than three Iranian-Americans were held in Iran following their arrest in 2015 for espionage. ("Israel says Iran planned terror attacks on sites popular with Jews and Israelis in Cyprus," Arab News, 27 June 2023)

UN report states Afghanistan accounts for eighty per cent of drug production
On 27 June, NDTV reported that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) stated that eighty per cent of opium production came from Afghanistan in 2022. Additionally, the report stated that more than 3.5 million drug users were from Afghanistan. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid dismissed the claims as no research was conducted on opium production and reiterated the ban on poppy production for two years. ("Afghanistan Account For 80% Of Global Illicit Opium Production In 2022: UN Report,NDTV, 27 June 2023)

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