Islamic World News(14 Apr 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)
True Muslims Seek Harmony with Everyone, Regardless Of Religion or Nationality: Muslim World League Chief








True Muslims Seek Harmony with Everyone, Regardless Of Religion or Nationality: Muslim World League Chief

DPM: Harmony between Races and Religions Makes Us an Exemplary Islamic Country

‘I Did Not Run For Congress to Be Silent,’ Ilhan Omar Tells Trump

Khalilzad Calls On Pakistan, Qatar, Other Nations To Condemn Taliban Spring Offensive

Hazara Protesters Refuse to End Quetta Sit-In amid Centre’s Assurances

Yemen Leader-In-Exile Hadi Returns for Meeting of Divided Parliament

Civilian Government to Be Formed, Says Sudan’s New Head of Military Council

In Kashmir, Mujahid to Counter Chowkidar

In Australia, Muslims Call for Pressure on China Over Missing Relatives

UK Starts Implementing Controversial Legislation On Terror Zone Presence

 

Arab World

True Muslims Seek Harmony with Everyone, Regardless Of Religion or Nationality: Muslim World League Chief

US-Backed Kurdish Militia Plundering Hasaka's Artifacts

Saudi Arabia Backs Sudanese Military Council Moves, Announces Aid Package

Saudi Arabia resorting to death penalty to quash opposition: Amnesty

Israeli Fighter Jets Strike Syrian Army's Military Positions in Western Hama

Turkish Army, Allied Militants Launch Fresh Attacks on Kurdish Positions in Aleppo

Tahrir Al-Sham's Bases, Movements Pounded by Syrian Army in Hama, Idlib

Syria Kurds return 25 Yazidis freed from ISIS to Iraq

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Southeast Asia

DPM: Harmony between Races and Religions Makes Us an Exemplary Islamic Country

Johor sovereignty must be shielded from ‘pretend’ human rights advocates, says Ruler

Jokowi emphasizes diversity, confidence in final rally

Malaysia’s ruling coalition loses state by-election as support wanes

DNA test confirms death of senior Daesh leader in Philippines

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North America

‘I Did Not Run For Congress to Be Silent,’ Ilhan Omar Tells Trump

Democrats Defend Omar After Trump Retweets Video Against Her

Ilhan Omar hits back at Trump over 9/11 tweet attack

US: Muslim student targeted in attack at high school

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South Asia

Khalilzad Calls On Pakistan, Qatar, Other Nations To Condemn Taliban Spring Offensive

Fighting Across Afghanistan As Taliban Opens Offensive Before Talks

14 Taliban militants killed, wounded in Afghan, coalition airstrikes in Kandahar

Taliban kill 7 in Afghan police convoy ambush

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Pakistan

Hazara Protesters Refuse to End Quetta Sit-In amid Centre’s Assurances

Fresh move to check terror financing, money laundering

Islamic State says it was behind Quetta's Hazarganji market bombing

China, Pakistan Move Against ‘Illegal Matchmaking’

PTI lawyer to assist anti-graft body against PML-N

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Mideast

Yemen Leader-In-Exile Hadi Returns for Meeting of Divided Parliament

Abbas loyalists dominate new Palestinian government

Yemeni parliament convenes for the first time since Houthi coup

Hamas: Abbas' new government will ease way for US 'deal of century'

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas swears in new government

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Africa

Civilian Government to Be Formed, Says Sudan’s New Head of Military Council

Saudi Arabia Funded Libya Rebels Push toward Capital: Report

Eastern Libya parliament head says LNA forces will push Tripoli campaign

Sudan ‘regime’ kills 16 after al-Bashir’s ouster, sources say

Struggle over leadership deepens divisions in Tunisia president’s party

UN ‘gravely concerned’ over Tunisia detention of Libya expert

Haftar uses jets to bomb Tripoli as troops bogged down

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India

In Kashmir, Mujahid to Counter Chowkidar

J-K: Two JeM militants killed in Shopian encounter

513 ceasefire violations by Pakistan post Balakot strike: Army

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Australia

In Australia, Muslims Call for Pressure on China Over Missing Relatives

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Europe

UK Starts Implementing Controversial Legislation On Terror Zone Presence

UK govt. shocked by Royal Mail decision: Iran envoy

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/true-muslims-seek-harmony-with-everyone,-regardless-of-religion-or-nationality--muslim-world-league-chief/d/118316

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True Muslims seek harmony with everyone, regardless of religion or nationality: Muslim World League chief

April 13, 2019

JEDDAH: Extremist groups are active only in stagnant cultural and social environments, the head of the Muslim World League (MWL), Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, said.

In a Friday sermon, delivered at the Grand Mosque in Kazan, Tatarstan, Al-Issa said vigilant Muslims can defeat extremist propaganda.

Peace and harmony are the most important guarantors of stability and prosperity, he said.

Al-Issa said that true Muslims respect unity and the laws of the countries in which they live, seeking harmony with everyone, regardless of their religion or nationality.

The MWL chief, who has been on a visit to Russia, warned against recalling historical events and drawing analogies to a current situation. The responsibility of each historical era rests only with the people who lived in it, he said.

Al-Issa stressed the need to improve understanding for the benefit of all, saying that “extremism can only win with a lack of awareness.” He cautioned worshippers against conflict and division, pointing out that Islamic law called for learning from others and from the lessons of history.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1482051/saudi-arabia

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DPM: Harmony between races and religions makes us an exemplary Islamic country

13 Apr 2019

Harmonious relations and the wellbeing of all races and religions in the country has cemented Malaysia’s status as an exemplary Islamic country, said Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

The deputy prime minister said those were the unique features of Malaysia, in which all quarters were well taken care of, in line with Islamic teachings.

Dr Wan Azizah said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had been practising the concept of Rahmatan lil alamin (Mercy to all creations) which promotes Islam as a religion of peace, tolerance and love.

“The government wants to administer the country in a good and proper manner, but it needs cooperation from the people. We cannot be too obsessed or provocative in our preach.

“It needs to be done wisely as we are a multi-racial society with Malay, Chinese, Indian, and other ethnicities in Sabah and Sarawak living together. Do not cause racial or religious hatred or disputes and do not envy each other,” she said when opening the Rahmah Carnival at Taman Sri Belat here today.

Also present was Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fuziah Salleh.

Wan Azizah said the organising of the carnival was an initiative to introduce the concept of peace as promoted in Islam, in a bid to strengthen the ties among the people.

She said the carnival, which is the first in its series in Pahang, was one of the 42 Rahmah programmes lined up for implementation nationwide this year, including in Penang next month.

The Rahmah programme was launched on March 24 by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusuf Rawa.

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/472150

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‘I Did Not Run For Congress to Be Silent,’ Ilhan Omar Tells Trump

Apr 14, 2019

In the face of violent attacks from US President Donald Trump and other Republicans, Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has said nobody could silence her.

“I did not run for Congress to be silent,” Omar wrote on Twitter on Saturday, hours after Trump shared a video suggesting that Omar, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota, was dismissive of the attacks on September 11, 2001.

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

• 12h

Replying to @IlhanMN

An administration that would rather give billionaires tax breaks than provide a little cushion for working people. An administration that would rather attack fellow Americans who are transgender and wear our country’s uniform than fight for equality and opportunity for all.

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

I did not run for Congress to be silent. I did not run for Congress to sit on the sidelines. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy.

37.7K

11:52 PM - Apr 13, 2019

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The video spliced news footage of 9/11 with a clip from a speech Omar gave last month in which she described the terror attack as “some people did something.”

Omar, who came to the US from Somalia as a refugee and became one of the first Muslim women in Congress, thanked supporters for standing “against an administration that ran on banning Muslims from this country.”

“No one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America,” she wrote on Twitter. “I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.”

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

• 12h

Replying to @IlhanMN

I did not run for Congress to be silent. I did not run for Congress to sit on the sidelines. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy.

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

No one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America. I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.

53.2K

11:55 PM - Apr 13, 2019

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In an other tweet, Omar slammed Trump's immigration policy.

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

This country was founded on the ideas of justice, of liberty, of the pursuit of happiness. But these core beliefs are under threat. Each and every day. We are under threat by an administration that would rather cage children than pass comprehensive immigration reform.

102K

11:48 PM - Apr 13, 2019

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In the hours after Trump attacked Omar, top Democrats in the US Congress strongly condemned Trump and other Republicans for attacking Omar over comments she made that seemingly minimized the 9/11 attacks, which were a series of strikes in the US that killed nearly 3,000 people and caused about $10 billion worth of property and infrastructure damage.

US officials assert that the attacks were carried out by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists but many experts have raised questions about the official account.

They believe that rogue elements within the US government, such as former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney, orchestrated or at least encouraged the 9/11 attacks in order to accelerate the US war machine and advance the Zionist agenda.

In Omar’s speech, given to a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, she said Muslims had “lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it.”

"CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties," Omar said.

Lawmakers from Trump’s Republican Party have accused Omar of minimizing the 9/11 attacks, while critics of the president say he took Omar’s words out of context in order to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment.

US Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for president again in the 2020 elections after he lost in 2016, described Omar as a leader with “strength and courage.”

“She won't back down to Trump's racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end," Sanders tweeted Friday.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren condemned the attacks against Omar as not only dangerous for the congresswoman, but Muslims in the US in general.

"President Trump's inflammatory and dangerous rhetoric towards Ilhan Omar is jeopardizing her safety. He is deliberately putting her and all Muslim Americans in harm's way," Inslee tweeted Friday.

Jay Inslee

@JayInslee

President Trump's inflammatory and dangerous rhetoric towards Ilhan Omar is jeopardizing her safety. He is deliberately putting her and all Muslim Americans in harm's way.

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Warren also tweeted a similar message on Friday: "The President is inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman—and an entire group of Americans based on their religion. It's disgusting. It's shameful. And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it."

Rashida Tlaib, the other Muslim American woman in Congress, was the first on Friday who urged Democrats to “speak up” for Omar.

“Enough is enough,” she wrote. “No more silence, with NY Post and now Trump taking Ilhan’s words out of context to incite violence toward her, it’s time for more Dems to speak up. Clearly the GOP is fine with this shameful stunt, but we cannot stand by.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/14/593379/I-did-not-run-for-Congress-to-be-silent-Ilhan-Omar-tells-Trump

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Khalilzad calls on Pakistan, Qatar, other nations to condemn Taliban spring offensive

13 Apr 2019

The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has condemned the announcement of spring offensive by Taliban as he called on Pakistan, Qatar, and other nations to condemn the announcement as well.

“The Taliban’s spring offensive announcement is reckless. It is irresponsible to suggest that an increase in violence is warranted because the government announced a security plan. The Afghan people have clearly voiced their desire for peace,” Ambassador Khalilzad said in a statement posted in Twitter.

He said “Through this announcement, Taliban leaders demonstrate their indifference to the demands of Afghans across the country. The call for more fighting will not advance peace efforts. If executed, it will only yield more suffering and thousands more causalities.”

“At a time when all Afghans should come together in talks to determine a common future, a call for fighting suggests the Taliban are stuck in the ways of the past. Many Talibs including fighters and some leaders oppose this announcement,” the U.S. envoy added.

Ambassador Khalilzad also added that “The U.S. and our international partners will stand with Afghan security forces to continue our effort to end the war in Afghanistan, at the same time as we seek to bring parties to the table to negotiate peace.”

The Taliban militants on Friday announced the launch of its spring offensive ‘Al-Fath’ on Friday.

https://www.khaama.com/khalilzad-calls-on-pakistan-qatar-other-nations-to-condemn-taliban-spring-offensive-03703/

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Hazara protesters refuse to end Quetta sit-in amid Centre’s assurances

April 14, 2019

QUETTA: Amid tight security, the Hazara community members continued their protest against the Hazarganji blast for a second consecutive day despite heavy rain in the city and the federal government’s assurance to the affected families of action against militant organisations and effective implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP).

The protesters, who were joined by workers and leaders of the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) on Saturday, blocked the western bypass, which links the provincial capital with main highways, by placing heavy boulders and barricades and burning tyres and set up camps in the area.

At least 19 people, including eight members of the Hazara community, were killed and 48 others were wounded in the suicide blast whose responsibility was claimed by the Qari Husain faction of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan on Friday.

However, according to Associated Press, the militant Islamic State group in a statement posted on an IS-affiliated website claimed it had targeted the Shia population and the Pakistani army. The group also released a photograph of the bomber along with his name, Agence France-Presse (AFP) added.

As the protest against the killings continued, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi arrived in the provincial capital and met the affected families.

Speaking to the media in Hazarganji after offering condolences to the families, the minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government was seriously pursuing the investigations into the suicide attack. He said the federal government claimed full responsibility of protecting its citizens regardless of their caste, creed, religion or province.

He said, “Yesterday’s attack is condemnable and the federal government will fully cooperate in the investigation with the provincial government.”

He assured the protesting families that the government would fully implement the NAP and would take strict action against the terrorist organizations and their facilitators.

The federal minister also went to Hazara Town where he condoled with the families of the suicide attack victims on the behalf of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He strongly condemned the incident that targeted the Hazara community.

He said: “Prime Minister Imran Khan has issued a clear direction to all law enforcement agencies and cabinets to ensure that no religious or political groups affiliated with terror groups are exempted from action under NAP. Terrorism does not have any religion and we have fought this war for the past 20 years. Now, we are at the tail-end of our fight against terror.”

He said terrorism could be eliminated through education. “We will have to improve the state of health, education and security in the country or development will not be possible in the country.

“While this incident is horrifying, we are happy to see that Balochistan now has a chief minister who is far-sighted and dedicated,” Mr Zaidi said, adding that the first and foremost challenge was to turn Pakistan from a security state into an economic state.

However, the protesters refused to call off their sit-in. They said the protest would continue until all their demands were met.

The protesters were demanding that elements involved in the suicide attack be arrested and steps be taken to ensure protection of the community and implementation of the NAP without any discrimination.

They said the government had failed to protect the Hazara community.

A large number of people also staged a protest demonstration outside the Quetta Press Club after marching on main roads.

Later, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) president Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal visited the protest camp of the Hazara community and expressed solidarity with the protestors. He strongly condemned the suicide attack and said that the government had failed to give protection to the people.

He vowed to fight against terrorism as he did in the past and assured the community of full support from his party.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1475987/hazara-protesters-refuse-to-end-quetta-sit-in-amid-centres-assurances

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Yemen leader-in-exile Hadi returns for meeting of divided parliament

April 14, 2019

ADEN: Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who lives in Saudi Arabia while rival Houthi forces control the capital Sanaa, made a rare visit to his country on Saturday for a meeting of the divided parliament in a loyalist southern province.

In Sanaa, however, the Houthis have started to organise elections to fill 24 vacant seats in the same parliament, state news agency SABA said.

Both sides are under pressure from international players to implement a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire deal agreed last year in Sweden and to prepare for a wider political dialogue that would end the four-year-old war. Lawmakers from both sides would ultimately meet to agree on a political framework.

Hadi’s Riyadh-backed government, which is still recognised internationally, has been based in the southern port city of Aden since 2015 and Hadi has not set foot there since a visit last August. Hadi-aligned parliamentarians gathered in Sayun, Hadramout province on Saturday elected Sultan al-Burkani of the General People’s Congress (GPC) of late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh as their new speaker.

The Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Houthis in the devastating war has been trying to recruit GPC members and fighters since Saleh was killed in December 2017 after switching sides away from the Houthis.

“This extraordinary session is held in a historic moment as we stand in a crossroad between choices of war and peace,” Hadi told the 145 parliamentarins meeting in Sayun.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1476014/yemen-leader-in-exile-hadi-returns-for-meeting-of-divided-parliament

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Civilian government to be formed, says Sudan’s new head of military council

13 April 2019

The new head of Sudan’s transitional military council said on Saturday that a civilian government would be established after consultations with opposition forces and promised that the transitional period would last for a maximum of two years.

In his first televised address, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdelrahman said he was cancelling a night curfew ordered by his predecessor and ordered the release of all prisoners jailed under emergency laws ordered by ousted President Omar al-Bashir.

Earlier on Saturday, Sudan’s security and intelligence chief, Salah Gosh resigned on Saturday, the country’s new military rulers said on Saturday.

On Friday, Sudan’s Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf said that he is stepping down as head of the Country’s transitional military council, a day after former president Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in a coup.

Bashir was overthrown on Thursday after weeks of mass protests brought on by rising food costs, high unemployment and increasing repression during his three decades in power.

Protest organizers had earlier on Saturday urged people to keep marching to demand a civilian government after the defense minister and the intelligence chief stepped down.

Thousands of people gathered in front of the Defense Ministry in central Khartoum, a Reuters witness said.

Celebrations erupted on the streets of Khartoum overnight after Ibn Auf’s resignation.

Thousands of protesters waved flags and illuminated mobile phones in the darkness and drivers hooted car horns. People chanted: “The second has fallen!” a reference to Ibn Auf and Bashir, witnesses said.

“Islamists have now lost control and they are in shock. Their ability to project influence in an organized way inside the state appears weak,” said Sudanese analyst Khalid al-Tijani.

He added: “The reason for the changes in Sudan is the pressure from protesters and pressures within the army, and the fear among military commanders of a split in the armed forces.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/13/Civilian-government-to-be-formed-says-Sudan-s-new-head-of-military-council.html

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In Kashmir, Mujahid to counter Chowkidar

Apr 14, 2019

It is Mujahid versus Chowkidar in Kashmir.

Deputy Mayor of Srinagar Sheikh Mohommad Imran has made a controversial appeal to Kashmiris to prefix Mujahid (warrior) with their names a la Chowkidar.

In common parlance, terrorists are referred as Mujahids in Jammu and Kashmir.

"I am changing my name. I am prefixing my name with Mujahid. I am now Mujahid Sheikh Mohommad Imran. I request our youth to respond to Chowkidars by prefixing Mujahid with their names. The definition of Mujahid is one who is engaged in Jihad. Jihad is spiritual fight against the sins or the enemies of Islam," said Imran in a video released on social media platforms.

The Deputy Mayor noted that Islam and Jihad have been misinterpreted and he was proud to be called a Mujahid. "I want to make it clear that I am a proud Mujahid. Islam is a religion of peace. Our religion has been misinterpreted. Jihad and Mujahid have been misinterpreted. I will not say Jihad is not a fight against Islam. It is a spiritual fight against sins too," he said

Imran won the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls as an independent candidate last year. He was later elected deputy mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation with the support of Congress party. The elections for the ULB witnessed the lowest turnout and some Corporators got single-digit votes, which were from their family members.

https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-in-kashmir-mujahid-to-counter-chowkidar-2739387

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In Australia, Muslims Call for Pressure on China Over Missing Relatives

By Vicky Xiuzhong Xu and Jamie Tarabay

April 13, 2019

ADELAIDE, Australia — Growing up as a member of the Uighur ethnic group in China’s far west, Farhad Habibullah never felt that his people were oppressed by the state. He came from a family of Communist Party loyalists, part of an elite segment of Uighur society celebrated by the party as model minority members.

But now he has joined other Uighurs in doing what was once, to him, unthinkable — and unthinkably dangerous, even in his new home in Australia: calling for an independent Uighur nation.

“My parents worked for the Chinese Communist Party all their lives, and look at what has happened to them,” Mr. Habibullah said. They and several other relatives, he said, are among as many as one million Uighurs and other Muslims held in indoctrination camps in China.

“You could say I grew up under the red Chinese flag,” he said. “But now I think we have to fight for independence.”

About 3,000 Uighurs have found sanctuary in Australia. But as some of them draw attention to China’s camps, they are putting their adopted homeland in an awkward position, pressing it to speak out against its largest trading partner.

More than a dozen Uighurs who are Australian permanent residents are missing in China and presumed to be in detention, activists say. Former detainees say China’s camps are meant to root out devotion to Islam and replace it with loyalty to the state. Uighurs have lobbied Parliament to act, circulating petitions and holding regular protests, chanting: “China, out! Out, out, out!”

Some Uighurs say that while they feel welcome here, they also fear that Islamophobia is on the rise. They say some people at rallies have said their people were terrorists who deserved to be in camps.

Some Uighurs also say they have been harassed by the Chinese authorities even while living in Australia. And they feel powerless over the fate of relatives back home, some of whom they have not heard from in years.

Mr. Habibullah finds support at gatherings like the one held in an Adelaide dinner hall on a recent Monday, attended by about 300 Uighurs, many in traditional dress. The flag of their hoped-for republic, East Turkestan, was on display, and the aroma of Uighur dishes like lamb pilaf and walnut cake filled the room.

As she held her 6-month-old baby, Zulihumaer Aibibula, 32, showed several pictures of relatives who were missing in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, including her 35-year-old brother. For families abroad, who are not notified when a member disappears into one of China’s secretive camps, prolonged silence is usually the only sign that it has happened.

Ms. Aibibula said the Chinese authorities had been pushing her family to ask her for her Australian passport number, address and other personal details. She refused to hand the information over, and shortly after, her brother disappeared.

“The Chinese government is putting so much pressure on Uighurs,” she said, wiping her eyes. “They are forcing people to go up against them.”

Xinjiang has long been troubled by tension between Uighurs, who are Sunni Muslims, and the government. Some Uighurs have carried out acts of violence against the government, which has imposed heavy restrictions in the region. The Chinese government depicts its detention camps as schools that steer Uighurs and other Muslims away from violent extremism by providing skills training.

Uighur activists say the government unfairly depicts Uighurs trying to escape its persecution as extremists.

In Australia, many Uighurs live in the Adelaide suburb of Gilles Plains, where one in 10 residents is Muslim. At the heart of the community is a mosque and a center where a Uighur group runs a language school and a soccer club.

Their political cause is never far from their minds, says Anna Hayes, an expert on Xinjiang at James Cook University in Cairns, who spent time studying Uighurs here in 2011. That year, the community held a cultural exhibition that featured images of Uighur rallies and the blue flag of East Turkestan, as they call their homeland. Such displays would be banned in China.

In the past two years, many local Uighurs have been traumatized by the mass detentions back home and told her they were depressed, Dr. Hayes said. “I thought maybe it would be described like survivor’s guilt.”

The Uighurs want the Australian government to step up its criticism of China’s camps. Australia was relatively muted about the issue until November, when it joined other Western nations in urging China to release the detainees.

But Canberra’s ties with Beijing are in a delicate state, as it tries to balance Australia’s economic needs with national security concerns over expanding Chinese influence in the country.

Officials worked to retrieve three citizens of Uighur descent who were detained in Xinjiang in 2017, who have since returned. But Nurgul Sawut, an activist based in Canberra who helped compile the list of Australian permanent residents missing in China, said recent requests for help have been passed from one agency to another.

“We have been let down,” said Ms. Sawut. “We’re just falling through the cracks as they escape their responsibilities, but the families cannot afford to wait.”

Australia’s slow response to the issue is due in part to its dependence on trade with China, said James Leibold, a scholar of China’s ethnic policies at La Trobe University in Melbourne. “We're incredibly vulnerable to China over the economic front,” he said.

Australia’s foreign affairs department said in a statement that the country “continues to urge China to cease the arbitrary detention of Uighurs and other Muslim groups.”

The apparent detention of Mr. Habibullah’s parents underscores the expansive nature of the security crackdown in Xinjiang.

His mother was a city police superintendent, while his father had served in the People’s Liberation Army and later held a senior post at a state-run broadcaster. Mr. Habibullah himself attended an elite high school in Beijing, which paved the way for him to leave China for a comfortable life abroad.

His parents were the last people who would ever criticize the Chinese government, he said.

Despite living abroad, Mr. Habibullah chatted with his parents regularly on the Chinese messaging service WeChat. Suddenly, in August, they stopped answering his messages.

He contacted police stations in Xinjiang and his parents’ old workplaces, and he tried an official in the state security agency, all to no avail. With nine others in his family already missing, he feared the worst.

“I have lost everything,” he said repeatedly during an interview in February.

Last weekend, however — days after The New York Times submitted requests to the Chinese authorities for comment on Mr. Habibullah’s family — he was told by a relative in Switzerland that his parents and sister-in-law had just been freed. The Xinjiang government said in a fax to The Times on Thursday that the three were living “normal lives” in Karamay, the city where they have resided.

For the first time in many months, Mr. Habibullah spoke to his parents by phone, he said, in a call he described as strange for how normal they sought to sound. Much was left unsaid — and unexplained.

“I really wanted to ask my mother where all our other relatives are,” Mr. Habibullah said, “but I couldn’t because our call was definitely being monitored.”

Ms. Sawut, the Uighur activist, said the news gave her hope.

“End of the day, we’d like to see or hear that our relatives or parents are safe,” she said. “Are they safe?”

Want more Australia coverage and discussion? Sign up for the weekly Australia Letter, start your day with your local Morning Briefing and join us in our Facebook group.

Vicky Xiuzhong Xu covers the intersection of Australian and Chinese politics from Sydney, Australia. Born and raised in China, she was a producer for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation before joining The Times. @xu_xiuzhong

Jamie Tarabay is based in Sydney, Australia, and has been a foreign correspondent for 20 years. She has reported from around Australia as well as from countries across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States. @jamietarabay

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/13/world/australia/uighur-muslim-missing-relatives-australia.html

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UK starts implementing controversial legislation on terror zone presence

Apr 13, 2019

A controversial legislation enabling the UK government to jail people travelling to war-torn countries like Iraq and Syria have become effective as campaigners express deep concerns that the new laws could lead to the imprisonment of journalists and press freedom activists.

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 came into effect on Friday against the backdrop of calls on the government to limit its “vague” definition of terror offense so that it would not affect the work of journalists present in war-ton countries or working on materials related to those areas.

Under the new law, people travelling to areas designated by interior ministry (Home Office) as terror zones could face up to 10 years in prison.

Border guards will also have the power to stop and search individuals without suspicion and simply because they want to tackle “hostile state” activity. Viewing of terrorist-linked material online could also be criminalized under the new legislation.

Rights campaigners and press freedom watchdogs have earlier warned about the implications of the new law for people who may wrongly be caught without any wrongdoing. They have warned that journalists, for example, could simply be stopped during their domestic flights and be prosecuted if they avoid answering questions or refuse to hand over materials.

The UK government has defended the legislation as necessary to prevent terrorist attacks by nationals who return to the country from areas of militancy in the Middle East.

Official estimates suggest that nearly one thousand individuals “of national security concern” have travelled to Syria over the past several years to join terrorist groups fighting against the government. Some 40 percent of those people have returned to the UK while about 20 percent have been killed overseas, according to the data.

The Interior ministry has also decided to revoke the citizenship of several nationals over their presence in Syria and parts of Iraq, a move which has sparked massive criticism from the opposition and activist who believe the government simply seeks to abandon nationals in conflict zones to dodge any future responsibility.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/13/593328/UK-terrorism-law-nationals-Syria-criticism

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Arab World

 

US-Backed Kurdish Militia Plundering Hasaka's Artifacts

Apr 13, 2019

The Arabic-language al-Khabour news website reported on Friday that the Kurdish fighters are excavating historical sites in al-Malekiyeh, Qamishli and Ra'as al-Ein regions in Hasaka province in cooperation with foreign experts from Germany and Israel.

It added that most excavations are carried out near al-Fakhriyeh, Tal Boqa, Tal Halaf and Tal Bidar hills close to al-Malekiyeh region, noting that a large number of valuable artifacts have been smuggled to Northern Iraq to be sold in the European countries.

The report said that Tal Alov in al-Malekiyeh region is one of the most important hills which is excavated and plundered almost every day by the Kurds.

Historical artifacts have been stolen by the terrorist groups as well as Turkey and the western states engaged in the war since it started in 2011.

The Syrian government announced last month that the terrorist groups had transferred thousands of artifacts from the country's archeological sites to Turkey.

"A sum of 17,000 pieces of archeological works that had been stolen from Syria's museums and archeological sites are presently in Turkey," Syria's director general for archeological monuments Mahmoud Hamoud said.

Hamoud reiterated that most of the stolen manuscripts had been stolen from Jobar Synagogue in Eastern Damascus and had been smuggled to Turkey from Eastern Ghouta.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980124000900

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Saudi Arabia backs Sudanese military council moves, announces aid package

14 April 2019

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday it backed steps announced by Sudan's transitional military council and announced an aid package to Sudan that includes wheat, petroleum products, and medicine.

“The Kingdom expresses its support for the steps announced by the Transitional Military Council in preserving the lives and property. It stands by the Sudanese people and hopes that such steps will achieve security and stability for Sudan,” the statement read.

Saudi Arabia also called on the Sudanese people “of all categories prioritize national interest in order to achieve their aspirations and hopes for prosperity and development.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/14/Saudi-Arabia-backs-Sudanese-military-council-moves-announces-aid-package.html

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Saudi Arabia resorting to death penalty to quash opposition: Amnesty

Apr 13, 2019

Amnesty International says Saudi Arabia is making use of the death penalty to crush opposition figures, as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against Muslim preachers, members of the press and intellectuals widens in the conservative oil-rich kingdom.

The London-based rights group said Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor was seeking the death penalty for more people, noting that prominent preacher Sheikh Salman al- Awdah was one of those targeted for execution.

The Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization advocating human rights in Saudi Arabia, also announced in a post on its official Twitter page that Awdah, along with two other clerics, identified as Awad al-Qarni and Ali al-Omari, had been in prison for 19 months with no legal reasons.

It further noted that Saudi women’s rights activist Khadijah al-Harbi, who is in her last stage of pregnancy, was arrested in Saudi Arabia last week, as the Riyadh regime was selling to the West the lie that it is “empowering women.”

Saudi Arabia faces international criticism over the ongoing trial of eleven female activists advocating women's rights, some of whom reportedly faced torture and sexual abuse during nearly a year in detention on trumped-up charges related to their activities and contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats.

The activists were detained in a sweeping crackdown weeks before Saudi Arabia overturned the world's only ban on female motorists on June 24, 2018. The women had staunchly advocated for the right to drive.

Saudi Arabia has stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.

Saudi officials have also intensified crackdown in the country's Shia-populated Eastern Province.

Eastern Province has been the scene of peaceful demonstrations since February 2011. Protesters have been demanding reforms, freedom of expression, the release of political prisoners, and an end to economic and religious discrimination against the oil-rich region.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime, with regime forces increasing security measures across the province.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/13/593325/Saudi-Arabia-resorting-to-death-penalty-to-quash-opposition-Amnesty-says

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Israeli Fighter Jets Strike Syrian Army's Military Positions in Western Hama

Apr 13, 2019

The Israeli fighter jets pounded a Syrian Army military position near the town of Masyaf in Western Hama on Saturday morning.

"Around 2:30 a.m. (2330 GMT Friday)… the Israeli air force carried out a strike targeting one of our military positions in the town of Masyaf,” SANA quoted a military source as saying.

A military source, meantime, said that the Syrian Army's air defense systems intercepted several rockets fired by the Israeli jets.

“The enemy missiles were dealt with and some of them were shot down before reaching their target, resulting in damages to few buildings and the injury of three fighters,” SANA quoted the source as saying.

Syria’s official state news agency SANA said Israel Air Force jets fired missiles from Lebanese airspace, destroying several buildings and injuring three people.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980124000380

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Turkish Army, Allied Militants Launch Fresh Attacks on Kurdish Positions in Aleppo

Apr 13, 2019

The Turkish Army's artillery units pounded the Kurdish fighters' military positions in the village of al-Bawihaj in Eastern al-Bab in Northern Aleppo, the Kurdish-language Hawar News website reported.

The Kurdish media outlet noted that fierce clashes are currently underway between the Turkish Army troops and the forces of al-Bab Military Council in al-Bawihaj village.

In the meantime, the Turkish sources reported on Friday that the Turkish Army has sent several more Commando forces to Hatay region near the borderline with Syria.

On April 3, media reports said that clashes between the Kurdish fighters and Ankara-backed terrorists had resumed in Northeastern Aleppo.

Hawar News reported that heavy clashes had erupted between the 'al-Bab Military Council' militants and terrorists affiliated to the Turkish army in the villages near the town of al-Arimeh in the Eastern part of the town of al-Bab in Northeastern Aleppo.

It added that the Ankara-backed terrorists had targeted the Kurds' positions in the villages of Tal Turin and al-Bawihaj from the village of al-Kuridiyeh.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980124000603

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Tahrir Al-Sham's Bases, Movements Pounded by Syrian Army in Hama, Idlib

Apr 13, 2019

The Syrian Army's missile and artillery units targeted the military positions and movements of Tahrir al-Sham terrorists near the towns of al-Hawiz, Tal al-Sakhar and Kafar Naboudeh in Northern Hama.

Meantime, the terrorists' military positions and movements were destroyed in Southern Idlib and several militants were also killed.

Other Syrian Army's artillery and missile units also pounded the terrorists' military positions near the town of al-Tamaneh in Southern Idlib, destroying a number of their hideouts.

In a relevant development on Monday, the Syrian Army heavily pounded the important strongholds of Tahir al-Sham al-Hay'at in response to the terrorist group's attacks from the demilitarized zone on safe areas and military points in Hama and Idlib.

The Syrian Army pounded the terrorists' military positions and movements in the surrounding areas of al-Latamanieh town, Mourek and al-Zuka in Northern Hama, killing and injuring a number of terrorists as well as destroying their military hardware.

Meantime, the Syrian Army's artillery and missile units pounded and destroyed the military positions and movements of Tahrir al-Sham and Turkistani party terrorists near Ma'areh Hormeh, Harash Abedin, al-Qasabiyeh, al-Hobait, Kafar Roma and Kafar Nubl in Ma'arat al-Numan in Southern Idlib, destroying several positions, hideouts and military vehicles used by terrorists to attack safe areas and killing a number of militants.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980124000382

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Syria Kurds return 25 Yazidis freed from ISIS to Iraq

13 April 2019

Syrian Kurds on Saturday repatriated 25 women and children from Iraq’s Yazidi minority after freeing them during the final push against ISIS extremist group, a local official said.

The US-backed fighters say they rescued some 300 Yazidi women and children during the fight to take the extremists’ last scrap of territory in eastern Syria.

“Today, we will hand over 25 people - 10 women and 15 children - to the Yazidi council in Sinjar,” said Ziyad Rustam, an official with the Kurdish-run group Yazidi House, which reunites rescued Yazidi children with surviving relatives.

“They will be sent to their families,” he told AFP.

At the Yazidi House headquarters, women wearing colourful robes collected children scampering around the compound before boarding busses bound for Sinjar, the Yazidi heartland.

“The fate of my three sisters remains unknown... I don’t know anything about them,” said 17-year-old Jamila Haidar.

“I hope we will be reunited soon.”

Iraq’s Yazidis are a symbol of the suffering caused by ISIS during its rein over vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.

The extremists stormed through Iraq’s northwest in 2014 slaughtering thousands of men and boys and abducting women and girls to be abused as sex slaves.

But they have since lost all of the once-sprawling cross-border “caliphate” to multiple offensive.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces last month announced the defeat of the ISIS proto-state after tens of thousands of people streamed out of the extremists’ last patch of territory, around the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border.

Rustam said SDF had in total liberated 850 Yazidi women and children during its battles against ISIS since 2015.

But 3,040 Yazidis are still missing, he said, adding that the search for them was ongoing.

Rustam said the extremists had “sold many of them to people inside Syria, in places like Idlib,” most of which is held by a former al-Qaeda affiliate.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/13/Syria-Kurds-return-25-Yazidis-freed-from-ISIS-to-Iraq-.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Johor sovereignty must be shielded from ‘pretend’ human rights advocates, says Ruler

14 April 2019

BY BOO SU-LYN

KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — Johor’s sovereignty, Islam, and Malay privileges must be protected from outsiders who hide behind human rights, Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said today.

The Johor Sultan also urged newly sworn in Mentri Besar Dr Sahruddin Jamal from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) to focus on river pollution to ensure clean raw water supply.

“I would also like to advise the government not to waste time by talking about unbeneficial matters, defaming and making up stories simply to get attention or to confuse the people.

“Instead, focus on helping the difficult lives of the people and on improving the national economy,” Sultan Ibrahim said in a statement.

The Ruler said the Johor government has long existed and had its own customs and method of governance.

“There is no need for outsiders to jump around talking about who is the powerful one and how to govern the state of Johor.”

Dr Sahruddin replaced Datuk Osman Sapian as Johor mentri besar after the latter abruptly quit this week, less than a year in office.

Osman’s resignation had triggered a verbal spat between the Johor royal family and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over who had the authority to appoint the new mentri besar.

The Johor royalty also previously clashed with Pakatan Harapan (PH) over Malaysia’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which the federal government later withdrew.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/04/14/johor-sovereignty-must-be-shielded-from-pretend-human-rights-advocates-says/1743113

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Jokowi emphasizes diversity, confidence in final rally

April 13, 2019 

A rock-concert-like atmosphere pervaded inside the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Stadium in Jakarta as tens of thousands of people sang along to legendary rock band Slank, at the final campaign rally of incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Saturday.

The event, which featured dozens of renowned musicians performing and wooing the crowds in support of the Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin ticket, was the incumbent’s largest rally and wrapped up the seven-month reelection campaign before polling day next week.

Dressed in his trademark white shirt, Jokowi was greeted by loud cheers from his supporters in the stadium when he stepped on to the stage and waved his hands before starting his speech, which emphasized that the country’s principle of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) must be protected.

“[Indonesia] is a huge country and a great nation, comprising people from different races, religions and cultural backgrounds [...] so together we have to continue to safeguard and protect our diversity,” Jokowi said.

“Our commitment to preserving the noble values of [state ideology] Pancasila is clear,” he went on, “Pancasila, the Unitary State of Republic of Indonesia, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika and the 1945 Constitution are final and indisputable.”

During the event, the incumbent called for his supporters to maintain their optimism that Indonesia would continue to progress forward as he promised to further develop the country’s human resources if he won a second term in office.

Indonesia, which studies have suggested will be the world’s fourth-biggest economy by 2045, must move forward to prepare itself to face future obstacles and challenges, Jokowi said, adding that he aimed to improve the economy in the next five years.

Despite difficulties and challenges, Indonesia was progressing on the right track, Jokowi said.

A rock-concert-like atmosphere pervaded inside the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Stadium in Jakarta as tens of thousands of people sang along to legendary rock band Slank, at the final campaign rally of incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Saturday.

The event, which featured dozens of renowned musicians performing and wooing the crowds in support of the Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin ticket, was the incumbent’s largest rally and wrapped up the seven-month reelection campaign before polling day next week.

Dressed in his trademark white shirt, Jokowi was greeted by loud cheers from his supporters in the stadium when he stepped on to the stage and waved his hands before starting his speech, which emphasized that the country’s principle of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) must be protected.

“[Indonesia] is a huge country and a great nation, comprising people from different races, religions and cultural backgrounds [...] so together we have to continue to safeguard and protect our diversity,” Jokowi said.

Supporters of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo attend the incumbent’s final and largest open-air campaign rally at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Saturday. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

“Our commitment to preserving the noble values of [state ideology] Pancasila is clear,” he went on, “Pancasila, the Unitary State of Republic of Indonesia, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika and the 1945 Constitution are final and indisputable.”

During the event, the incumbent called for his supporters to maintain their optimism that Indonesia would continue to progress forward as he promised to further develop the country’s human resources if he won a second term in office.

Indonesia, which studies have suggested will be the world’s fourth-biggest economy by 2045, must move forward to prepare itself to face future obstacles and challenges, Jokowi said, adding that he aimed to improve the economy in the next five years.

Despite difficulties and challenges, Indonesia was progressing on the right track, Jokowi said.

Supporters of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo attend the incumbent’s final and largest open-air campaign rally at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on Saturday. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

“Nothing can be done instantly, not even welfare, in a country as big as Indonesia. However, as we are on the right track, we have to be optimistic that Indonesia will move forward.”

“Our country Indonesia will not go extinct!” Jokowi declared, in an apparent direct jab against rival Prabowo Subianto, who previously said that the country would go extinct should he lose the election.

Although some Muslim preachers, including Yusuf Mansur, led shalawat (religious chanting) during the rally, the event had a different atmosphere from that of the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno rally at the same stadium last week, during which mass prayers, religious chanting and ubiquitous Islamic attire seemed to lend a more religious flavor. Ma’ruf also led an Islamic prayer for the pair’s victory.

As Saturday marked his final campaign event before April 17, Jokowi took time to thank all the political parties and their leaders who had supported his reelection campaign, as well as volunteers and participants in the rally.

The incumbent also invited Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who served as the head of the steering committee of the Jokowi-Ma’ruf campaign team, to the stage and thanked him for his support over the last 4.5 years of their administration.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/04/13/jokowi-emphasizes-diversity-confidence-in-final-rally.html

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Malaysia’s ruling coalition loses state by-election as support wanes

13 April 2019

Malaysia’s ruling coalition lost a state constituency in a by-election on Saturday in a further sign of declining public support for Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s alliance.

It is the third defeat for Mahathir’s Pakatan Harapan coalition, or Alliance of Hope, in local elections since it took power in May last year.

Its candidate, Streram Sinnasamy, lost the Rantau constituency in Negeri Sembilan state by 4,510 votes to Mohamad Hasan, the acting chairman of Barisan Nasional, the main opposition coalition.

Mohamad was appointed to the post after scandal-plagued former prime minister Najib Razak led Barisan Nasional to its first defeat in more than 60 years in last year’s national election.

Mohamad had won Rantau unopposed in 2018, but a Malaysian court later found errors in electoral procedure and called for a new poll.

His win is the latest blow for Mahathir’s coalition, which has faced criticism for failing to deliver on promised reforms and protecting the rights of majority ethnic Malay Muslims.

Polls consistently show that the coalition has been losing support among the Malays, some of whom fear that affirmative-action policies favoring them in business, education, and housing could be taken away.

Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister who is widely expected to succeed Mahathir, had actively campaigned in Rantau in a bid to garner support away from Mohamad, seen as a highly popular figure among Malays.

Meanwhile, Najib, an active public presence during two previous by-elections, was largely absent on the Rantau campaign trial as he faced the first of several corruption trials earlier this month.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/04/13/Malaysia-s-ruling-coalition-loses-state-by-election-as-support-wanes.html

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DNA test confirms death of senior Daesh leader in Philippines

April 13, 2019

MANILA: A senior leader of Daesh in the Philippines is dead after DNA tests confirmed his identity, a military official said Saturday.

Owaydah Marohombsar, also known as Abu Dar, was on the country’s most-wanted list for his role in the 2017 siege of Marawi.

He was one of those who plotted the siege, which would go on to become the longest urban battle in the modern history of the Philippines.

More than 1,000 lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of residents were displaced as a result of heavy combat lasting five months. The city was left in ruins.

“Abu Dar is confirmed dead. The DNA test results from the US showed positive results,” Col. Romeo Brawner, commander of the Army’s 103rd Brigade based in Marawi City told Arab News.

Abu Dar slipped out of Marawi during the height of the crisis and went on to lead the group Daulah Islamiyah Lanao, which later became the focus of military operations.

Last month the military said it believed that one of the bodies retrieved from a clash between soldiers and militants in Tubaran town, Lanao Del Sur, was that of Abu Dar. Former fighters identified Abu Dar’s body from physical features, such as a scar on his cheek.

DNA samples were also taken to confirm his identity. The Philippine military received the results of the DNA test from the US, confirming that it was Abu Dar who was killed in the March operation.

Brawner said Daesh was losing ground in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines.

“We are seeing now the decline of Daesh influence in the region. They attempted to establish a ‘wilayat’ (rule) in the Philippines but they did not succeed at all here.”

He described Abu Dar as “really brutal,” adding: “He teaches the extreme kind of Islam ... like all infidels should be killed. He is really into violent extremism.”

Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, head of the Singapore-based International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said confirmation of Abu Dar’s death was a blow to Daesh.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1482106/world

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North America

 

Democrats defend Omar after Trump retweets video against her

April 14, 2019

WASHINGTON: Top Democrats on Saturday rushed to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar after President Donald Trump retweeted video that was edited to suggest she was being dismissive of the significance of the worst terrorist assault on US soil.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scolded Trump for using the “painful images of 9/11 for a political attack” against the first-term Minnesota Democrat.

And presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, campaigning in New Hampshire, accused Trump of “trying to incite violence and to divide us, and every political leader should speak out against that.”

The video Trump retweeted Friday pulls a snippet of Omar’s recent speech to the Council on American-Islamic Relations in which she described the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center as “some people did something,” and includes news footage of the hijacked planes hitting the Twin Towers. Trump also tweeted, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!“

Omar’s remark has drawn criticism largely from political opponents and conservatives who say the lawmaker, one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, offered a flippant description of the assailants and the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Neither Trump’s tweet nor the video included her full quote or the context of her comments.

Omar told CAIR in Los Angeles that many Muslims saw their civil liberties eroded after the attacks, and she advocated for activism.

“For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it,” she said in the March 23 speech, according to video posted online. “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

CAIR was founded in 1994, according to its website, but its membership skyrocketed after the attacks.

Many Republicans and conservative outlets expressed outrage at Omar’s remarks. Fellow Democrats, including some who have disagreed with Omar in the past, defended her.

“First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something,’” tweeted Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas. The retired Navy SEAL lost his right eye in 2012 in an explosion in Afghanistan.

“Here’s your something,” the New York Post blared on its cover beneath a photograph of the flaming towers.

Pelosi, who was in Germany visiting US troops Saturday, said in a statement that “the memory of 9/11 is sacred ground” and should always be discussed “with reverence.” The California Democrat said it is wrong for Trump to “fan the flames to make anyone less safe.”

Omar didn’t appear to be backing down.

She tweeted a quote from President George W. Bush, who said days after the attacks: “The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!“

“Was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack?” Omar tweeted. “What if he was a Muslim.”

Several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates condemned Trump’s tweet.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, said the Republican president’s tweet was an “incitement to violence” against Omar, who is Muslim-American, and others like her. O’Rourke, campaigning in South Carolina, likened the tweet to Trump’s rhetoric about Mexicans, described in the past by Trump as murderers and rapists. O’Rourke said “there is a cost and there is a consequence” to Trump’s comments.

Warren, a Massachusetts senator, said Republican leaders in Congress “cannot take a pass on this, cannot look the other way and pretend it isn’t happening. It is happening. And those who don’t speak out in the Republican leadership are complicit in what he is doing. It’s wrong.”

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar noted that a New York man recently was charged with threatening Omar’s life.

“The video the president chose to send out today will only incite more hate,” Klobuchar said. “You can disagree with her words — as I have done before — but this video is wrong. Enough.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Omar “won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we.”

Omar repeatedly has pushed fellow Democrats into uncomfortable territory over Israel and the strength of the Jewish state’s influence in Washington. She apologized for suggesting that lawmakers support Israel for pay and said she isn’t criticizing Jews. But she refused to take back a tweet in which she suggested American supporters of Israel “pledge allegiance” to a foreign country.

Her comments sparked an ugly episode among House Democrats after they responded with a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and the measure became a broader declaration against all forms of bigotry.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1482191/world

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Ilhan Omar hits back at Trump over 9/11 tweet attack

Servet Günerigök 

14.04.2019

WASHINGTON

Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar on Saturday issued a series of tweets to address a row after U.S. President Donald Trump posted an edited video on Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, aimed at her.

On Friday, Trump tweeted "WE WILL NEVER FORGET!" with the 43-second video that featured Omar's remarks at an address to the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) last month, the country's largest Muslim advocacy organization.

In her address, Omar had said the CAIR "was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."

CAIR was founded in 1994. Her office said Omar misspoke and "meant to refer to the fact that the organization had doubled in size after the Sept. 11 attacks."

Her critics, however, focused on her use of the phrase "some people did something," suggesting that she downplayed the attacks.

"No one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America," Omar said. "I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans."

Omar said she did not run for Congress to be silent. "I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy," she stressed.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two Democrat presidential runners, threw their support behind the Minnesota representative.

"Ilhan Omar is a leader with strength and courage. She won't back down to Trump's racism and hate, and neither will we. The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end," Sanders said.

Warren accused Trump of inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman. "It's disgusting. It's shameful. And any elected leader who refuses to condemn it shares responsibility for it," she said.

In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad criticized Trump and said the U.S. president was "endangering Rep. Omar’s life by taking her words out of context and evoking painful imagery to exploit a national tragedy".

Also, the hashtag #IstandwithIlhan, on its second day, was on the list of top trending topics on Twitter in the U.S. The Muslim lawmaker thanked her supporters.

"Thank you for standing with me – against an administration that ran on banning Muslims from this country – to fight for the America we all deserve," she wrote.

Omar has faced a slew of attacks and death threats in recent weeks, along with ongoing criticisms since she made scathing comments against Israel, and now with comments she made on the Sept. 11 attacks.

Last Friday, a man in New York was charged with threatening to assault and kill Omar, after he reportedly said "she's a [expletive] terrorist. I'll put a bullet in her [obscenity] skull."

Last month, a bomb threat was called into a hotel in which she was scheduled to speak, celebrity news site the Blast reported.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/ilhan-omar-hits-back-at-trump-over-9-11-tweet-attack/1451729

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US: Muslim student targeted in attack at high school

Umar Farooq  

13.04.2019

Washington DC

A New Jersey high school student was arrested this week after pulling off a Muslim student's hijab during a fight, according to the Middlesex County's prosecutor's office.

The student got into an altercation with the other student over a seat in one of East Brunswick High School’s common areas, according to local news channel WNBC.

One of the girls pulled off the other's hijab, or headscarf, shouting anti-Muslim slurs at her.

The school's security guard rushed to stop the fight, but video was captured and posted on social media.

"The East Brunswick Public School District values our diverse student body and community," East Brunswick Public Schools Superintendent Victor Valeski wrote in a letter obtained by WNBC.

"The district does not tolerate any incidents of bias, discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying and takes swift action if such an event occurs."

Valeski reportedly said the altercation was deemed a bias incident and immediately reported it to the East Brunswick Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said the student who pulled off the girl's hijab was charged with simple assault, harassment, cyber harassment and disorderly conduct.

The student was not named due to her juvenile status.

Hundreds of parents and community members filled the school board meeting this week, with many outraged over the fact that the Muslim student who had her hijab pulled off was also suspended as well, due to the school's zero tolerance policy against any kind of violence.

"Students in this state have a right to safety and security while on school premises, and it is the duty of faculty and administrators to ensure that right," said Jim Sues, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' New Jersey chapter.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-muslim-student-targeted-in-attack-at-high-school/1451063

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South Asia

 

Fighting across Afghanistan as Taliban opens offensive before talks

13 April 2019

Taliban forces attacked the northern Afghan city of Kunduz on Saturday, a day after the launch of their annual spring offensive, as fighting intensified across the country ahead of the next round of peace talks with US representatives.

Heavy fighting has been going on for weeks but the announcement of the spring offensive while peace talks were due was a blow to any hopes of a quick agreement and was criticized as “reckless” by US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement the movement was committed to the peace process but accused Afghan and international forces of stepping up their own operations.

“We are committed to the ongoing process of negotiation and peaceful resolution, but we cannot be unmoved in the face of military operations and the terrorist wave of occupiers and mercenaries,” Khalilzad said.

However, security officials in Kabul said that apart from the operation in Kunduz, Saturday’s attacks in 15 provinces across the country were limited in scope and had largely been contained.

“They engaged Afghan security forces to show their presence with the start of their spring offensive,” one senior official said. “But Afghan forces were on high alert across the country and therefore several attacks were pushed back.”

Strategic city

In Kunduz, the strategic city which briefly fell to the Taliban in 2015, fighters attacked from several directions in the early hours of the morning, causing heavy casualties, the provincial governor’s spokesman Enhamuddin Rahmani said.

A local health official said more than 70 dead and wounded had been brought into the main city hospital.

There were also attacks in the northern provinces of Baghlan, Takhar, and Badakhshan, as well as Faryab, Sar-e Pul and Balkh, but there were no reports of significant casualties among security forces.

In southern Afghanistan, Taliban forces launched attacks in the opium-rich province of Helmand, with operations in Nad Ali, Gereshk and Sangin districts, areas that have been fought over for the past 17 years.

Omar Zwak, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said the attacks had been repelled at the cost of four soldiers and 15 from the Taliban. “The fighting will further increase as the weather warms up,” he said.

Separately, seven members of the security forces were killed in an ambush in the western province of Ghor, leading to an hours-long firefight, provincial government spokesman Abdul Hai Khatibi said.

While much of the fighting consisted of small-scale engagements, the spread of operations across most parts of the country underlined the struggle facing the Afghan government, still shut out of the peace process by the Taliban’s refusal to talk to what they consider a puppet regime.

According to US estimates, government forces control just over half the country, but with many areas out of reach of easy communications, an accurate picture is difficult.

Peace talks are due to resume in Doha next week between US envoy Khalilzad and Taliban officials.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/04/13/Fighting-across-Afghanistan-as-Taliban-opens-offensive-before-talks.html

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14 Taliban militants killed, wounded in Afghan, coalition airstrikes in Kandahar

13 Apr 2019

At least fourteen Taliban militants were killed or wounded in airstrikes conducted by the Afghan Air Force and coalition forces in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

The 205th Atal Corps of the Afghan military in the South said the airstrikes were carried out in the vicinity of Shahwali Kot district.

According to a statement released by 205th Atal Corps, at least 11 Taliban militants were killed during the airstrikes and 3 others were wounded.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding the airstrikes so far.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/14-taliban-militants-killed-wounded-in-afghan-coalition-airstrikes-in-kandahar-03707/

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Taliban kill 7 in Afghan police convoy ambush

13 April 2019

An Afghan official says the Taliban have ambushed a police convoy, setting off an hours-long battle that killed seven security forces, including a provincial police official.

Abdul Hai Khateby, the spokesman for the governor of the western Ghor province, says the attack happened Friday afternoon. He says another two police and a civilian were wounded, and that four insurgents were killed.

He says Faqir Ahmad Noori, the head of operations for the provincial police, was among those killed.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/04/13/Taliban-kill-7-in-Afghan-police-convoy-ambush.html

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Pakistan

 

Fresh move to check terror financing, money laundering

Kalbe Ali

April 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In compliance with the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has announced new measures to combat money laundering and terror financing.

The new measures relate to SECP’s fresh guidelines on anti-money laundering (AML), combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) and proliferation financing — act of providing funds for acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

The fresh guidelines pertaining to “know your customers” (KYC) for the insurance sector, stock brokers and the non-banking financial institutions (NBFC) have been released ahead of the implementation review by the FATF on the action plan given to Pakistan. The review by the FATF is scheduled to be held in Colombo next month.

The SECP has reiterated that KYC and customer due diligence was essential even for the existing customers on the basis of materiality and risk at appropriate times.

The corporate sector regulator has stated despite having a long-term banking relationships with the investment of funds through banking channel the regulated person (RT) will be responsible even for the generation of suspicious transaction report (STR). The SECP guidelines identify and verify the beneficiaries in case of trusts.

The SECP has said that in the case of “trusts”, the regulated person should obtain ‘trust deed’ which contains the details of settlers, objects of the trust, details of trustees and the details of any possibility of influence of any other person on trustee regarding management and control of trust property.

While in case of “private trust” if the beneficiary of a trust is also the beneficial owner of the trust, identification and verification of the beneficiary is required otherwise the name and CNIC of each beneficiary of a trust should be obtained.

The SECP has also highlighted that the annual risk assessment framework and compliance assessment checklist are required to be filed with it by June 30 of each financial year, while May 31 of each financial year may be taken as a cut-off date for data to conduct necessary assessment and subsequent filing to the SECP on June 30.

However, the data for the month of “June” has to be included in the subsequent annual filing.

The commission has also stated that the regulated person should respond to discrepancies arising during monitoring and if the RT is not able to satisfactorily complete required CDD measures the account will be blocked or existing business relationship has to be terminated, and the STR has to be reported to the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU).

https://www.dawn.com/news/1475985/fresh-move-to-check-terror-financing-money-laundering

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Islamic State says it was behind Quetta's Hazarganji market bombing

Syed Ali Shah

April 13, 2019

The militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in Quetta which killed 20 people and left 48 more injured, the group's Amaq news agency said on Saturday.

The group released a photograph of the bomber along with his name on Saturday and said the attack targeted the Shia community. It has claimed a number of attacks in the past.

On Friday, however, a little known faction of the Taliban had claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it collaborated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has been behind numerous bloody attacks on the Shia community in Pakistan.

Hazara community stages sit-in on second consecutive day, demands justice

The Hazara community, including women and children, continued their sit-in in Quetta's Western Bypass area for the second straight day.

They demanded that the provincial government provide security to the Hazara community and for the perpetrators to be brought to book. "The government has failed to provide us security despite our repeated protests and requests," Kazim Raza Hazara, one of the protesters, told DawnNewsTV.

Traffic remained suspended on the main Western Bypass due to the sit-in.

"We want justice for our community," Muhammad Juma Hazara said, while Kashif Hussain questioned: "When will this bloodshed stop?"

Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove, Health Minister Naseebullah Marri, and President Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) Abdul Khaliq Hazara, all met the demonstrators and offered them the provincial government's assurances but failed to convince them to end their sit-in.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, a day earlier, had condemned "the terrorist attack" and sought "an immediate inquiry and increased security for the [targeted] people".

Amnesty International, in a statement on Friday, had said the blast was a “painful reminder” of the many attacks suffered by the Hazara community in Quetta over the years.

“Each time, there are promises that more will be done to protect them, and each time those promises have failed to materialise,” wrote Omar Waraich, Amnesty's deputy director for South Asia.

Following a high-level meeting under Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal's stewardship on Friday, it was decided that closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be immediately installed at the Hazarganji market and other public places.

Action on terrorists' hideouts and against their leaders will also be boosted, the caucus affirmed.

Hazarganji a repeat target

The Hazarganji area in Quetta has been witness to similar attacks in the past. Hazara shopkeepers are known to stock vegetables and fruits from the Hazarganji bazaar to sell at their own shops. They are provided a security escort to and from Hazarganji since they are constantly under threat of attack.

DIG Cheema, speaking to DawnNewsTV on Friday explained that "people from the Hazara community come here daily in a convoy from Hazara Town to buy vegetables. They are escorted by police and Frontier Corps (FC), and then they return there. It was the same today," he said.

"There were 11 cars and 55 people. Police and FC were in front of them and behind them. They [the security] brought them to Hazarganji. When they entered the sabzi mandi, the police expanded their perimeter to the gates so that no one would enter, while the FC took their positions," he continued.

"Around 7:30am, they [the shoppers] were loading [produce] at a shop when the blast happened."

"The security forces are here, police are here. What more can we do? We secure them [the community] and travel back and forth with them. If something is hidden in a shop, then the shopkeepers will need to be probed," he said.

He explained that the last time there had been an attack in the area, he had written to the administration and asked them to keep the area clean so that there were no hiding places for bombs.

He also regretted that the Safe City project for Quetta had run into delays, and that there was a shortage of CCTV cameras in the area.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1475867/islamic-state-says-it-was-behind-quettas-hazarganji-market-bombing

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China, Pakistan Move Against ‘Illegal Matchmaking’

April 13, 2019

ISLAMABAD —

Pakistani media are reporting that Chinese human traffickers are operating illegal matchmaking centers in Pakistan, where they allegedly trap women from economically burdened families in fake marriages before transporting them and forcing them into prostitution or even selling their organs in China.

The revelation prompted the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad to respond Saturday, saying the businesses are strictly prohibited under Chinese law and vowing to crackdown in cooperation with Pakistani authorities on the illegal practice of profiting through cross-border matchmaking.

The number of Chinese visiting neighboring Pakistan has dramatically increased since the launch of the bilateral multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) five years ago. The flagship pilot project of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has brought an unprecedented $19 billion in much-need Chinese investment to Pakistan.

News reports about phony marriages between Chinese men and Pakistani women regularly appear in local media, prompting lawmakers to debate the issue and demand that officials look into the unlawful practice.

TV report

The Chinese Embassy's reaction apparently came a day after a top private Pakistani television station aired images Friday of several Chinese men with six local women in different rooms, including two teenage girls, at an illegal matchmaking center in the eastern city of Lahore.

The ARY News channel crew showed up unannounced at the facility along with local police and interviewed the foreigners, their local facilitators and the alleged Pakistani wives of the Chinese men. When asked, the station said, members of the alleged gang of Chinese human traffickers failed to produce local marriage certificates or documents showing the men had converted to Islam before marrying Pakistani Muslim women, which is mandatory under local laws.

The Pakistani victims explained that in return for their marrying Chinese men, their families would get about $300 per month and a Chinese visa for male family members. The local facilitators told the TV channel they would lure families into an agreement by saying their would-be Chinese son-in-law was seeking Pakistani citizenship so he could invest in the country as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

"We remind both Chinese and Pakistani citizens to remain vigilant and not to be cheated. … We hope that the public does not believe in misleading information and works together to safeguard China-Pakistan friendship," the Chinese Embassy said in its statement.

It noted that both countries are firmly opposed to human trafficking and sales of human organs and rejected as "misleading and groundless" reports about sales of human organs in China.

Cooperation on crackdown

"China is cooperating with Pakistani law enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal matchmaking centers," the embassy said, adding that both Chinese and Pakistani youths were victims of the illegal agents.

While briefing Pakistani lawmakers at one of the recent meetings, senior government officials reportedly said Islamabad was in close contact with Beijing about fake marriages and action was being taken to counter the practice. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Tariq Sardar, was quoted as telling the meeting that "some private marriage bureaus were involved in these marriages" and "most of the complaints were being received from Lahore as well as the Pakistani city of Abbottabad."

Pakistan and China are extremely sensitive to any critical reporting on their relationship. Officials on both sides also discourage skepticism and criticism of the CPEC as well as BRI investments as Western propaganda. Beijing and China defend the CPEC as a highly productive initiative, saying it has created tens of thousands of local jobs and resolved a decade-long crippling power crisis in Pakistan.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/a/pakistani-media-reports-of-illegal-matchmaking-draw-chinese-response-/4874646.html

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PTI lawyer to assist anti-graft body against PML-N

Syed Irfan Raza

April 13, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s lawyer in the Panama Papers leaks case and his party member Naeem Bukhari will assist the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as special prosecutor in all cases being tried against Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif in the Supreme Court.

Mr Bukhari, who joined the PTI in June 2016, will also assist the anti-graft watchdog in cases against Fawad Hassan Fawad, ex-principal staff officer of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and former director general of the Lahore Development Authority Ahad Cheema.

An official press release issued by the bureau on Friday said: “NAB has hired the services of Naeem Bukhari, advocate, Supreme Court, to conduct and oversee the prosecution of all matters pending before the apex court regarding Shahbaz Sharif, Fawad Hassan Fawad and Ahad Cheema. The prosecution division of NAB will assist him in this regard.”

It was not mentioned in the press release under what terms and conditions Mr Bukhari would assist NAB.

However, a spokesman for NAB told Dawn that Mr Bukhari would take “one rupee” as salary and would not get any perks and privileges. “He [Mr Bukhari] will only assist NAB as special prosecutor in three pertinent cases of Shahbaz Sharif, Fawad Hassan Fawad and Ahad Cheema,” he added.

The induction of Mr Bukhari into the already heavy team of prosecutors in NAB raised many eyebrows.

Mr Bukhari had announced joining the PTI around three years ago by calling Imran Khan the only political leader who had the courage to speak the truth and struggle for the poor.

He had represented petitioners Prime Minister Imran Khan and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid — who were in opposition — in the Panama Papers case against then PM Nawaz Sharif. The apex court clubbed all the petitions together filed in the aftermath of the Panama Papers which uncovered links between the Sharif family and eight offshore companies.

The Supreme Court had initially ordered the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe allegations of money laundering, corruption and contradictory statements by Mr Sharif and his relations in a 3–2 split decision on April 20, 2017, with the dissenting judges ruling that the former premier be disqualified.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1475777/pti-lawyer-to-assist-anti-graft-body-against-pml-n

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Mideast

 

Abbas loyalists dominate new Palestinian government

13 April 2019

Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced his new cabinet on Saturday alongside president Mahmoud Abbas, leaving out the Islamist movement Hamas.

Several key positions were unchanged from the previous administration of Rami Hamdallah.

Analysts say the change of government was made to further isolate Hamas, which has been at odds with the Fatah party of Abbas and Shtayyeh for more than a decade.

They say 84-year-old Abbas, in power since 2005, retains the real decision-making authority.

In a statement on Saturday night, Abbas confirmed the new government and welcomed the cabinet.

It includes many of his long-time allies and members of Fatah, though several smaller factions are also represented.

Other parties, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, refused to take part, calling for a unity government of all factions including Hamas.

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian Authority headed by Abbas is based in the West Bank, where Israel also maintains a military occupation.

Shtayyeh’s government replaces a technocratic administration which had the nominal backing of Hamas and all other Palestinian factions.

Both Foreign Minister Riyadh Malki and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara remain in their posts.

Atef Abu Seif, a Palestinian from Gaza who was badly beaten by a group of men in the Hamas-run enclave, will become culture minister.

Abbas charged Shtayyeh with forming a new government on March 10.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/13/Abbas-loyalists-dominate-new-Palestinian-government.html

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Yemeni parliament convenes for the first time since Houthi coup

13 April 2019

Yemen’s House of Representatives convened on Saturday morning for the first time since the war started, and elected Sultan al-Burkani, the head of Yemen’s General People's Congress (GPC), as its speaker.

The process of electing parliamentary positions began with the participation of 141 deputies.

Held in the city of Sayoun, the parliament session was attended by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and several Yemeni government officials. Hadi had arrived to Yemen on Friday.

In a speech during the session, Hadi said that this parliament session “proves clearly that this destructive Houthi project is deteriorating day by day.”

In a message directed to the Houthi militias, Hadi said: “Do not wager the past and future of Yemen with the country’s enemies.”

Hadi added that their top priority now is to defeat the Houthi coup and build government institutions.

“I appeal to the Yemenis to hold on to hope despite the threats and violations of the Houthis,” he said.

“We did not want a war and did everything in our power to avoid it,” Hadi said, adding that the government is fulfilling its duty in defending the country.

He added that any government official who is not carrying out his or her duties “has committed treason toward this country and its people.”

Newly elected speaker al-Burkani also said that the government is determined to defeat the Houthi coup so that the Yemeni people can regain their country.

“Through its Houthi project, Iran seeks to establish its influence from Yemen to Lebanon,” al-Burkani said.

Al-Burkani called on the Houthis to support peace and halt the violence in accordance with international resolutions. He also called on the heads of government apparatuses to move to Aden to carry out their duties.

The session of the House of Representatives comes based on a decision issued by Hadi, under a law that allows him as president of Yemen to hold parliamentary sessions anywhere in the country if security conditions do not allow for them to be held in the capital.

Intensive security measures were taken to secure the city with the start of the first parliamentary session.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/04/13/First-parliament-session-since-Houthi-coup-convenes-in-Yemen.html

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Hamas: Abbas' new government will ease way for US 'deal of century'

Apr 14, 2019

The Hamas resistance movement has criticized the formation of the new Palestinian government dominated by the Fatah party, saying such a government will ease the way for the imposition of the United States’ yet-to-be-unveiled proposal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in the new government headed by a loyalist from his Fatah party, Mohammad Shtayyeh.

The 21-member cabinet only includes ministers from factions affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), primarily Fatah, but excludes Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement.

In a statement issued on Saturday shortly after the government was sworn in, Hamas, which runs Gaza, warned that the new West Bank-based administration would further divide Palestinians.

The Shtayyeh-led government, the statement read, "resorts to unilateralism and monopoly of power. This move widens the Palestinian division at the expense of the Palestinian people’s interests."

"The Fatah-formed separatist government lacks legal and constitutional legitimacy and it separates the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, which is a move in line with the 'deal of the century,'" it added.

The so-called deal of the century, drawn up by the administration of US President Donald Trump to address the conflict, is said to be hugely in favor of the Israeli regime.

Hamas underlined the need to form an inclusive national unity government, which serves all Palestinian people and puts an end to the oppression they have been enduring.

The new government should invite Palestinian leaders to agree upon a national strategy to fight off all challenges facing the Palestine issue, the resistance group noted.

Shtayyeh is seen as a critic of Hamas and a proponent of Israeli-Palestinian talks as well as the so-called two-state solution.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Maldenov has welcomed the formation of the new Palestinian government, saying he was looking forward to cooperating with the team.

“At a time of significant financial and political challenges to the Palestinian national project, all must support the government’s efforts and work to overcome internal divisions. Unity is essential to advancing the goal of a lasting peace,” he said in a statement.

He further expressed the UN's commitment "to working with the Palestinian leadership and people in ending the occupation and advancing their legitimate national aspirations for statehood based on UN resolutions."

The Palestinian leadership has been divided between Fatah and Hamas since 2006, when the latter scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in Gaza.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/14/593375/Palestine-Hamas-Fatah

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Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas swears in new government

April 13, 2019

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday swore in a new government headed by a loyalist from his dominant Fatah party, a move rejected by his rivals Hamas as a blow to unity efforts.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, an economist and longtime Abbas adviser, will serve as prime minister of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA). Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara will continue in their positions.

Shtayyeh was named Palestinian prime minister on March 10, replacing the independent university president Rami Al-Hamdallah. He will run the ministries of interior and religious affairs until new appointees are named for the two posts.

The rival Hamas group that runs Gaza called the move a blow to unity efforts that faltered since the two groups signed a new reconciliation deal in Cairo in October 2017, but disputes over power-sharing had blocked the implementation of the agreement.

"This is a separatist government, it has no national legitimacy and it will reinforce the chances of severing the West Bank from Gaza," said a statement issued by Hamas as the swearing ceremony in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank ended.

Two factions of Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) refused to take part in Shtayyeh's government.

Shtayyeh's immediate challenge is to shore up the cash-strapped PA, which exercises limited self-rule under interim peace accords with Israel.

The PA has been squeezed by steep US aid cuts, with the crisis exacerbated by a dispute with Israel over the withholding of some 5 percent of the monthly tax revenues it transfers to the Authority.

Israel said the sum it is holding back matches money used by the PA to pay stipends to families of militants in Israeli jails. The PA has refused to accept any tax transfers until those funds are restored. It scaled back wages paid to civil servants in February and March to weather the crisis.

Moreover, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is heading toward a fifth term in office after an election on April 9, said he would annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank if he is re-elected.

If implemented, the move would be a grave a blow to Palestinian aspirations of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. The peace process has all but collapsed and Israel has expanded its settlements in East Jerusalem and the West bank despite international objections.

Palestinian leaders said Israel was being empowered by US President Donald Trump to "violate national and human rights of the people of Palestine".

Nickolay Maldenov, the U.N. special Middle East peace envoy welcomed the announcement of a new government and promised to cooperate with it.

"The United Nations remains fully committed to working with the Palestinian leadership and people in ending the occupation and advancing their legitimate national aspirations for statehood based on UN resolutions," said Mladenov said.

Mahmoud El-Aloul, the second in command in Abbas's Fatah movement, acknowledged the challenges facing Shtayyeh's government including the deal Trump is expected to announce in coming months or weeks.

"We will be steadfast against these challenges and we will defy them," Aloul told Reuters after the ceremony.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1482026/middle-east

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Africa

 

Saudi Arabia funded Libya rebels push toward capital: Report

Apr 13, 2019

Libyan rebel commander General Khalifa Haftar has been directly supported by Saudi Arabia in his new campaign to seize control of the capital Tripoli, a new report has shown.

The Wall Street Journal said Haftar, who leads the so-called Libyan National Army, had been ensured of massive funds from Saudi Arabia during a trip to the kingdom before he started his push to seize control of Tripoli on April 4.

The report cited sources close to the Saudi government as saying that senior officials in Riyadh, including Saudi's intelligence chief and interior minister, had offered tens of millions to Haftar to pay for his bloody operation.

They said Haftar accepted the offer which could guarantee the support of tribal leaders and enable him to recruit and pay fighters.

“We were quite generous,” said an advisor to the Saudi government, according to the WSJ.

The newspaper also confirmed that Haftar had met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to the kingdom.

The revelations comes against the backdrop of previous reports showing that Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, have been assisting Haftar and a rebel administration based in east of the country in their efforts to oppose an internationally-backed government in Tripoli.

“Haftar would not be a player today without the foreign support he has received ... The last few months, pretty much everyone jumped on the Haftar train,” said  Wolfram Lacher, a Libya expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, in comment provided to the WSJ.

Libya has been beset by violence since the overthrow of long-time dictator Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011 which came through an intervention by the NATO military alliance.

A patchwork of militant groups based in east of the country have resisted United Nations efforts to establish a government of national unity.

The United States and major powers in Europe have expressed their support for the Tripoli-based government while they have also received and met Haftar on several occasions.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/13/593362/Libya-Haftar-Tripoli-operation-Saudi-support

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Eastern Libya parliament head says LNA forces will push Tripoli campaign

April 13, 2019

BENGHAZI: Eastern Libyan forces will pursue their advance on the capital Tripoli, the head of the eastern parliament in the divided country said on Saturday, despite international calls for a halt in an offensive that risks causing many civilian casualties.

His comments came as more clashes rocked the southern outskirts of Tripoli, where eastern forces have been confronted by groups allied to Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj’s internationally recognized government.

The European Union last week urged the eastern Libya National Army (LNA) to stop its attacks, having agreed on a statement after France and Italy sparred over how to handle the conflict.

But the eastern parliament head said they would press an offensive launched a week ago under military commander Khalifa Haftar, the latest outbreak of a cycle of conflict since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.

“We need to get rid of militias and terrorist groups,” Aguila Saleh, head of the House of Representatives allied to Haftar, said using a reference eastern officials often make to describe forces allied to the Tripoli government, which relies on support from several armed groups.

“We assure the residents of Tripoli that the campaign to liberate Tripoli will be limited and not violate any freedoms but restore security and fight terrorism,” Saleh told lawmakers in a session in the main eastern city of Benghazi.

Forces loyal to Al-Serraj’s government have so far kept the eastern offensive at bay. Fierce fighting has broken out around a disused former airport about 11 km (7 miles) from the center and an eastern military source said a warplane belonging to the LNA had struck a military camp in an eastern Tripoli suburb.

Saleh also said the United Nations mission to Libya and Serraj’s government had been controlled by armed groups and had failed to expel them from the capital, and promised Libya would hold long-delayed elections after the Tripoli operation ends.

Haftar’s offensive had surprised the United Nations, which had been planning to hold a national conference on April 14 to prepare Libya for elections.

The latest battle had by Friday killed 75 people, mainly fighters but including 17 civilians, and wounded another 323, according to UN tallies. Some 13,625 people have been forced out of their homes.

As well as the humanitarian cost, the conflict threatens to disrupt oil supplies, boost migration to Europe, scupper a UN peace plan, and allow militants to exploit the chaos.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1482016/middle-east

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Sudan ‘regime’ kills 16 after al-Bashir’s ouster, sources say

13 April 2019

A Sudanese civil society group said that 16 people, including a soldier, have been killed since the military forced President Omar al-Bashir from power on Thursday following months of protests.

The Sudan Doctors Committee, an affiliate of the Sudanese Professionals Association, which has been spearheading the protests, said Saturday that 13 people were shot dead on Thursday and three others, including the soldier, were killed Friday. It says they died “at the hands of regime forces and its shadow militias.”

Sudanese police said late Friday that the 16 were killed by “stray bullets,” and that at least 20 people were wounded at rallies and sit-ins across the country.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/13/Sudan-regime-kills-16-after-al-Bashir-s-ouster-activists-say.html

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Struggle over leadership deepens divisions in Tunisia president’s party

14 April 2019

Tunisia’s ruling party Nidaa Tounes on Saturday elected two leaders, one of them the president’s son, in two parallel congresses, deepening the division that has hit the party in recent years.

The new crisis that hit Nidaa Tounes comes months ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections expected in October and November, which could complicate its competition against the rival Ennahda moderate Islamist party. Although the slogan of the first electoral congresses of Nidaa Tounes, which started last week was “unity”, it ended by dividing into two congresses.

The first congress elected the lawmaker Sofian Toubel as head of the party’s central committee. The second elected Hafedh Caid Essebsi, the son of the president Beji Caid Essebsi.

The divisions have shaken the party since 2015, as Essebsi’s son has been criticized for seeking to control the party, prompting many of its leaders to resign.

The prime minister Youssef Chahed also entered into a row with Hafedh Caid Essebsi and accused him of exporting the party’s problems to the state.

“The congresses of Monastir (in which Essesbi’s son was elected) is illegal and an attempt to deflect legitimacy”, said party official Ons Hattab.

Essesbi’s son denied the accusations and said he was surprised by the behavior of some leaders who went to a parallel conference, adding that this could affect the party.

The parliamentary race is expected to be fought closely by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, the more secular Tahya Tounes party of Prime Minister Chahed, and the Nidaa Tounes.

The parties rule the North African country together but their coalition has been hit by infighting that has hampered decision-making and slowed economic reforms demanded by foreign donors.

No prominent figure has so far declared their candidacy for the presidency this year.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/04/14/Struggle-over-leadership-deepens-divisions-in-Tunisia-president-s-party.html

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UN ‘gravely concerned’ over Tunisia detention of Libya expert

13 April 2019

The United Nations has expressed its “grave concern” over the detention in Tunisia of a UN expert tasked with investigating violations of a Libya arms embargo.

“The arrest and detention by the Tunisian authorities of Moncef Kartas... while he was performing his official duties is a matter of very grave concern,” the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General said in a statement on Friday.

Tunisian Moncef Kartas was arrested in Tunis on March 26 along with a fellow national on suspicion of “spying for foreign parties,” according to Tunisian authorities.

Kartas was on Thursday brought before an investigative judge who “decided to continue” his detention, Stephane Dujarric said.

“The continued detention is in violation of the privileges and immunities that Mr. Kartas enjoys,” he added.

The UN has engaged with Tunisia’s government “at the highest levels,” according to the spokesman, making clear its legal position through four separate legal notes.

But the government had “failed to provide an adequate response,” he said.

Tunisia’s interior ministry said last month “confidential documents containing sensitive detailed data capable of harming national security” were seized in relation to UN expert’s arrest.

It also alleged technical equipment for jamming and intercepting communications - banned in Tunisia - had been confiscated.

Kartas was appointed to the panel of experts in 2016, tasked with investigating violations of an arms embargo on Libya.

The panel reports to the UN sanctions committee on Libya and details its findings in an annual report. An interim report is due in June.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/04/13/UN-gravely-concerned-over-Tunisia-detention-of-Libya-expert-.html

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Haftar uses jets to bomb Tripoli as troops bogged down

Apr 13, 2019

Forces loyal to renegade field marshal Khalifa Haftar have deployed warplanes to hit Western-backed government positions in Tripoli, forcing more civilians to flee the Libyan capital.

Warplanes bombed the camp of a force allied to the Government of National Accord (GNA), administered by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, near the town of Zuwara in Tripoli and toward the Tunisian border.

Haftar's Eastern Libyan forces are bogged down in street battles in a push to seize the capital.

Witnesses said an LNA warplane flown by Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) also attacked Mitiga Airport, the Libyan capital's only functioning airport, evading anti-aircraft guns that opened fire in response.

Explosions and gunfire echoed through the capital, with more than 8,000 people fleeing fighting, the United Nations said.

UN tallies indicated that a week of battles had killed 75 people – mainly fighters from both sides of the conflict but also 17 civilians – and wounded another 323. Some 13,625 people have also been forced out of their homes.

“Displacements from areas affected by the clashes in and around Tripoli continue to surge,” UN spokesman Rheal Leblanc told reporters in Geneva.

Aside from those who have fled, Leblanc said that “many families remain stranded inside conflict affected areas,” with safety fears rising and supplies running short.

The UN health agency also warned of outbreaks of tuberculosis, measles and diarrhea due to poor sanitation, especially among those displaced.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi appealed in a statement on Friday for urgent evacuation of 1,500 refugees and migrants caught in the conflict, saying the risks to their lives “are growing by the hour.”

Over the past years, Libya has been serving as a major transit point for refugees and asylum seekers pouring into Europe from war-inflicted countries in Africa and the Middle East.

There has been heavy fighting near Tripoli since Haftar's forces launched an assault last week to seize the capital city.

Libya has been the scene of increasing violence since 2011, when former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was killed in a popular uprising that coincided with a NATO military intervention.

Gaddafi's ouster created a huge power vacuum, leading to chaos and the emergence of numerous militant outfits, including the Daesh terrorist group.

The North African country is now divided between two rival governments – the House of Representatives, which is based in the eastern city of Tobruk and under Haftar’s command, and the Western government of Sarraj.

Haftar’s forces, who are backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, have overtaken several oil fields and towns in recent days but face stiff resistance from forces loyal to the GNA near Tripoli, where they have been stopped.

The situation is deadlocked, and fighting continues despite international calls for an end to hostilities.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/13/593302/Libya-Khalifa-Haftar-air-raids-Tripoli

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India

 

J-K: Two JeM militants killed in Shopian encounter

by Adil Akhzer

April 14, 2019

Two Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants were killed in a gunbattle between militants and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district on Saturday morning. At least 23 people were also injured in clashes between stone-pelters and security forces after the encounter broke out.

A J&K Police spokesperson in a statement said a cordon and search operation (CASO) was launched at Shopian’s Gehind area, and during the operation, militants fired at security forces, triggering an encounter.

Police said in the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed. “It was a clean operation. No collateral damage happened during the encounter,” said the spokesperson.

The slain militants were identified as Abid Wagay, resident of Rawalpora in Shopian and Shahjahan Mir resident of Amshepora in Shopian. “Both the killed terrorists were affiliated with proscribed terror outfit JeM,” the police said.

Officials said both were involved in the abduction and subsequent killings of three policemen in Shopian last year, and in the killing of Special Police Officer (SPO) Khushboo Jan last month.

“Both were also involved in killing of a civilian, Tanveer Ahmad of Bemnipora at Kachdoora in Shopian,” the spokesperson said.

Officials said both were involved in the abduction and subsequent killings of three policemen in Shopian last year, and in the killing of Special Police Officer (SPO) Khushboo Jan last month.

“Both were also involved in killing of a civilian, Tanveer Ahmad of Bemnipora at Kachdoora in Shopian,” the spokesperson said.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/j-k-encounter-in-shopian-militants-security-forces-jk-police-5673600/

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513 ceasefire violations by Pakistan post Balakot strike: Army

Apr 13, 2019

JAMMU: As many as 513 ceasefire violations by Pakistan have taken place along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir in the past one-and-a-half month and the Pakistan Army has suffered five to six times more casualties than the Indian Army in the retaliatory action, a senior officer said Saturday.

The Pakistan Army also used heavy weaponry like mortars and artillery guns in over 100 times during these violations and targeted civilian areas but was given a befitting response by the Indian Army, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of White Knight Corps Lt Gen Paramjit Singh told reporters in Rajouri.

"Almost 513 ceasefire violations happened in the past one-and-a-half month and over 100 times during these violations, the Pakistan Army used heavy weapons like mortars and artillery guns and targeted civilian areas. Only yesterday (Friday), four civilians, including two girls, were injured in Poonch," the GOC said.

However, he said the Pakistan Army is being given a befitting response by the Indian Army.

Responding to a question about the casualties suffered by Pakistan in the retaliatory action, he said unlike the Indian Army, Pakistan does not announce the number of its casualties.

"However, as per our sources, the Pakistan Army suffered five to six times more casualties than the casualties on our side," Lt Gen Singh said.

Ten people, including four security personnel, have been killed and nearly 45 others, mostly civilians, injured in the twin districts since India's preemptive air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Pakistan's Balakot on February 26 in response to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

On the sniping incidents from across the border, Lt Gen Singh said such incidents had come to naught over the past several months, especially after the Balakot strike.

"Some incidents of sniping took place earlier and accordingly we have taken some measures to strengthen our defence. As per the data this year, only three incidents of sniping by the Pakistan Army were reported from January to February 26 in which one of the fatalities include a civilian porter," he said.

"There was no sniping incident from February 27 till date, which means the steps taken by us have been successful," the officer said.

He said the morale of the troops is very high and as long as they are deployed on the borders, the people of the country need not worry.

"They have every kind of weaponry and explosives with them and their resolve is rock solid and always prepared for any challenge. As long as they are on the border, you are safe," he said.

Responding to a question, the officer said, "Our message to Pakistan is given every day whenever some nefarious activity happens on the border."

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/513-ceasefire-violations-by-pak-post-balakot-strike-army/articleshow/68868608.cms

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Australia

 

In Australia, Muslims Call for Pressure on China Over Missing Relatives

By Vicky Xiuzhong Xu and Jamie Tarabay

April 13, 2019

ADELAIDE, Australia — Growing up as a member of the Uighur ethnic group in China’s far west, Farhad Habibullah never felt that his people were oppressed by the state. He came from a family of Communist Party loyalists, part of an elite segment of Uighur society celebrated by the party as model minority members.

But now he has joined other Uighurs in doing what was once, to him, unthinkable — and unthinkably dangerous, even in his new home in Australia: calling for an independent Uighur nation.

“My parents worked for the Chinese Communist Party all their lives, and look at what has happened to them,” Mr. Habibullah said. They and several other relatives, he said, are among as many as one million Uighurs and other Muslims held in indoctrination camps in China.

“You could say I grew up under the red Chinese flag,” he said. “But now I think we have to fight for independence.”

About 3,000 Uighurs have found sanctuary in Australia. But as some of them draw attention to China’s camps, they are putting their adopted homeland in an awkward position, pressing it to speak out against its largest trading partner.

More than a dozen Uighurs who are Australian permanent residents are missing in China and presumed to be in detention, activists say. Former detainees say China’s camps are meant to root out devotion to Islam and replace it with loyalty to the state. Uighurs have lobbied Parliament to act, circulating petitions and holding regular protests, chanting: “China, out! Out, out, out!”

Some Uighurs say that while they feel welcome here, they also fear that Islamophobia is on the rise. They say some people at rallies have said their people were terrorists who deserved to be in camps.

Some Uighurs also say they have been harassed by the Chinese authorities even while living in Australia. And they feel powerless over the fate of relatives back home, some of whom they have not heard from in years.

Mr. Habibullah finds support at gatherings like the one held in an Adelaide dinner hall on a recent Monday, attended by about 300 Uighurs, many in traditional dress. The flag of their hoped-for republic, East Turkestan, was on display, and the aroma of Uighur dishes like lamb pilaf and walnut cake filled the room.

As she held her 6-month-old baby, Zulihumaer Aibibula, 32, showed several pictures of relatives who were missing in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, including her 35-year-old brother. For families abroad, who are not notified when a member disappears into one of China’s secretive camps, prolonged silence is usually the only sign that it has happened.

Ms. Aibibula said the Chinese authorities had been pushing her family to ask her for her Australian passport number, address and other personal details. She refused to hand the information over, and shortly after, her brother disappeared.

“The Chinese government is putting so much pressure on Uighurs,” she said, wiping her eyes. “They are forcing people to go up against them.”

Xinjiang has long been troubled by tension between Uighurs, who are Sunni Muslims, and the government. Some Uighurs have carried out acts of violence against the government, which has imposed heavy restrictions in the region. The Chinese government depicts its detention camps as schools that steer Uighurs and other Muslims away from violent extremism by providing skills training.

Uighur activists say the government unfairly depicts Uighurs trying to escape its persecution as extremists.

In Australia, many Uighurs live in the Adelaide suburb of Gilles Plains, where one in 10 residents is Muslim. At the heart of the community is a mosque and a center where a Uighur group runs a language school and a soccer club.

Their political cause is never far from their minds, says Anna Hayes, an expert on Xinjiang at James Cook University in Cairns, who spent time studying Uighurs here in 2011. That year, the community held a cultural exhibition that featured images of Uighur rallies and the blue flag of East Turkestan, as they call their homeland. Such displays would be banned in China.

In the past two years, many local Uighurs have been traumatized by the mass detentions back home and told her they were depressed, Dr. Hayes said. “I thought maybe it would be described like survivor’s guilt.”

The Uighurs want the Australian government to step up its criticism of China’s camps. Australia was relatively muted about the issue until November, when it joined other Western nations in urging China to release the detainees.

But Canberra’s ties with Beijing are in a delicate state, as it tries to balance Australia’s economic needs with national security concerns over expanding Chinese influence in the country.

Officials worked to retrieve three citizens of Uighur descent who were detained in Xinjiang in 2017, who have since returned. But Nurgul Sawut, an activist based in Canberra who helped compile the list of Australian permanent residents missing in China, said recent requests for help have been passed from one agency to another.

“We have been let down,” said Ms. Sawut. “We’re just falling through the cracks as they escape their responsibilities, but the families cannot afford to wait.”

Australia’s slow response to the issue is due in part to its dependence on trade with China, said James Leibold, a scholar of China’s ethnic policies at La Trobe University in Melbourne. “We're incredibly vulnerable to China over the economic front,” he said.

Australia’s foreign affairs department said in a statement that the country “continues to urge China to cease the arbitrary detention of Uighurs and other Muslim groups.”

The apparent detention of Mr. Habibullah’s parents underscores the expansive nature of the security crackdown in Xinjiang.

His mother was a city police superintendent, while his father had served in the People’s Liberation Army and later held a senior post at a state-run broadcaster. Mr. Habibullah himself attended an elite high school in Beijing, which paved the way for him to leave China for a comfortable life abroad.

His parents were the last people who would ever criticize the Chinese government, he said.

Despite living abroad, Mr. Habibullah chatted with his parents regularly on the Chinese messaging service WeChat. Suddenly, in August, they stopped answering his messages.

He contacted police stations in Xinjiang and his parents’ old workplaces, and he tried an official in the state security agency, all to no avail. With nine others in his family already missing, he feared the worst.

“I have lost everything,” he said repeatedly during an interview in February.

Last weekend, however — days after The New York Times submitted requests to the Chinese authorities for comment on Mr. Habibullah’s family — he was told by a relative in Switzerland that his parents and sister-in-law had just been freed. The Xinjiang government said in a fax to The Times on Thursday that the three were living “normal lives” in Karamay, the city where they have resided.

For the first time in many months, Mr. Habibullah spoke to his parents by phone, he said, in a call he described as strange for how normal they sought to sound. Much was left unsaid — and unexplained.

“I really wanted to ask my mother where all our other relatives are,” Mr. Habibullah said, “but I couldn’t because our call was definitely being monitored.”

Ms. Sawut, the Uighur activist, said the news gave her hope.

“End of the day, we’d like to see or hear that our relatives or parents are safe,” she said. “Are they safe?”

Want more Australia coverage and discussion? Sign up for the weekly Australia Letter, start your day with your local Morning Briefing and join us in our Facebook group.

Vicky Xiuzhong Xu covers the intersection of Australian and Chinese politics from Sydney, Australia. Born and raised in China, she was a producer for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation before joining The Times. @xu_xiuzhong

Jamie Tarabay is based in Sydney, Australia, and has been a foreign correspondent for 20 years. She has reported from around Australia as well as from countries across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States. @jamietarabay

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/13/world/australia/uighur-muslim-missing-relatives-australia.html

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Europe

 

UK govt. shocked by Royal Mail decision: Iran envoy

Apr 13, 2019

Britain's Royal Mail has confirmed suspending mail delivery services to recipient addresses in Iran, citing Washington’s sanctions against the country.

The mail service said that services had already been suspended for the last two weeks and that any remaining parcel in Britain would be returned to the original sender.

Following the announcement, Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom Hamid Baeidinejad said that the matter had been followed up with related British authorities, adding that a letter of protest had been sent to the UK’s Foreign Office.

He said that British authorities had promised to resolve the issue as soon as possible, requesting that they be given “until Monday” to address the problem.

Baeidinejad also said that UK authorities “were shocked” by the Royal Mail announcement.

The Iranian ambassador further stated that his mission in London itself would envision a channel to deliver parcels to Iran free of charge given that the problem persisted beyond the Monday deadline.

The suspension of mail delivery to Iran was allegedly done on the pretext of US sanctions targeting Iran.

The United States President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the landmark Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement last May and renewed sanctions lifted under the agreement.

Iran has not left the deal despite Washington's measures, stressing that the remaining signatories to the agreement have to work to offset the negative impacts of the US pullout for Iran if they want Tehran to remain committed.

Consequently, remaining European signatories unveiled a mechanism, known as the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), earlier this year to guarantee continued trade after spending months of discussion.

The Europeans, however, ultimately presented INSTEX with preconditions which require Iran to join the FATF (the Financial Action Task Force) and start negotiations on its missile program, prompting senior Iranian officials to object to the plan.

Speaking earlier this week, US Representative to the European Union Gordon Sondlant described the Eurpean INSTEX plan as “nothing but a paper tiger.”

"The SPVs are Europe's attempt to appease Iran by showing that they are still trying their very best to facilitate proper transfers of payments to Iran. We believe that those SPVs are really nothing more than, and I've said it before, a paper tiger," he stressed.

European powers have, however, claimed to be committed to keeping the JCPOA alive.

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that Paris and its European partners were pressing the Trump administration to moderate the sanctions.

The European measures have so far failed to have much effect.

Iranian officials have blamed the US of waging "economic terrorism" after sanctions hampered foreign flood-relief from reaching the country amid unprecedented floods.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/13/593320/BritainRoyal-MailIran-suspension

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