Myanmar rebel group withdraws troops from key town on Thai border

Myanmar rebel group withdraws troops from key town on Thai border
Myanmar rebel group withdraws troops from key town on Thai border

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - NEW YORK/JERUSALEM: Columbia University averted another confrontation between students and police on Wednesday, but the situation remained tense with campus officials saying it would continue talks with pro-Palestinian protesters for another 48 hours.

University President Minouche Shafik had set a midnight deadline to reach an agreement on clearing an encampment of protesters on campus but the school extended negotiations, saying it was making “important progress.” 

Student protesters had committed to dismantling and removing a significant number of tents, the New York Ivy League university said in a statement.

On Wednesday morning, the encampment appeared calm and a little smaller than the previous day.

Standoffs also persisted at other universities across the country, including California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, where protesters this week used furniture, tents, chains and zip ties to block a building’s entrance and barricade themselves inside. 

And new student encampments continued to pop up, including at Brown University in Rhode Island.

Police first tried to clear the encampment at Columbia last week, when they arrested more than 100 protesters. But the move backfired, acting as an inspiration for other students across the country to set up similar encampments and motivating protesters at Columbia to regroup.

Students protesting Israel’s war with Hamas are demanding schools cut financial ties to Israel and divest from companies enabling its monthslong conflict. 

Dozens have been arrested on charges of trespassing or disorderly conduct. Some Jewish students say the protests have veered into antisemitism and made them afraid to set foot on campus.

The reprieve at Columbia came hours before Republican US House Speaker Mike Johnson planned to visit and meet with Jewish students to address antisemitism on college campuses.

Columbia said it had agreed with protest representatives that only students would remain at the encampment and they would make it welcoming, banning discriminatory or harassing language.

Elsewhere, at the University of Minnesota, Democratic US Rep. Ilhan Omar attended a protest late on Tuesday, hours after nine protesters were arrested on the campus when police took down an encampment in front of the library. 

Hundreds had rallied in the afternoon to demand their release.

Omar’s daughter was among the demonstrators arrested at Columbia last week.

Also on Tuesday, police arrested more than 200 protesters blocking traffic in Brooklyn, near the home of Sen. Chuck Schumer, during a non-college demonstration demanding a permanent ceasefire in Gaza The protest was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace on the second night of Passover.

At Cal Poly Humboldt, protesters chanted, “We are not afraid of you!” before officers in riot gear pushed into them at the building’s entrance, video shows. 

Three students were arrested, according to a statement from the school, which shut down the campus through Wednesday. Students had occupied a second campus building Tuesday.

Students at some protests were hiding their identities. At an encampment of about 40 tents at the heart of the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor, almost every student wore a mask, which was handed to them when they entered.

At New York University this week, police said 133 protesters were taken into custody and all had been released with summonses to appear in court on disorderly conduct charges.

More than 40 protesters were arrested Monday at an encampment at Yale University.

Harvard University in Massachusetts has tried to stay a step ahead of protests by locking most gates into its famous Harvard Yard and limiting access to those with school identification.

Meanwhile, Hamas published a video apparently showing Hersh Goldberg-Polin, an Israeli-American seized during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and taken hostage into Gaza, alive.

The short video, which is undated, showed the 23 year-old missing his lower arm, which was blown off during the Hamas-led attack in October, but otherwise apparently healthy.

His mother Rachel Goldberg-Polin has been campaigning actively for the release of her son, who was abducted at the Nova music festival that was attacked by Hamas gunmen on Oct. 7 and is one of 133 Israeli hostages still in captivity after over 100 were freed.

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