at Purappullikkavu Temple, Eravathur, #Thrissur
Saudi Arabia 'detains' Mecca imam who
'challenged mixed gatherings'
'Green hajj' slowly takes root in Mecca
Saudi Arabia’s king tells Hajj leaders
of pledge to ‘fight terrorism’
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi urges followers to
Islamic State Video Claims to Show Boys
Behind Chechnya Attacks
Bahrain halts new visas for Qataris in
Gulf feud salvo
Mosques flooded, a Kerala temple opens
its doors for Muslims to offer Eid namaz
Eid al-Adha 2018: Sachin Tendulkar,
Sania Mirza and other sportspersons wish ‘Eid Mubarak’
Muslims living here since childhood need
not worry about NRC: BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly Roopa Ganguly
International Court of Justice fixes
Kulbhushan case hearing for February next year: sources
Fatwa issued against measles vaccine in
Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah criticize
Meiliana blasphemy verdict
Myanmar generals stay defiant about
Indonesian authorities remove
kindergarten principal over ISIS-style outfits at parade
Reversed sequence of photos used to
spread fake news about Malaysian PM Mahathir
Pakistan Prime Minister starts change at
Improved Indo-Pak ties crucial for
regional peace, stability: China
Pakistan Business Council urges Asad
Umar to focus on ‘Make in Pakistan’
Govt trying to bring Aafia Siddiqui back
home, says Qureshi
United Nations warns of ‘lost
generation’ of Rohingya children
A year on, Rohingya still fleeing
Myanmar for crowded camps
Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi defends
policies towards Rohingya
Israel approves plans for 1,000
Top Trump aide turns the screw on Tehran
Russia talks on Afghanistan ‘unlikely to
yield progress’: US
Expected US special envoy to Afghanistan
tough on Pakistan
US pastor’s lawyer plans appeal to
Turkish constitutional court
The pope will meet child abuse survivors
in Dublin: Is it enough?
United Nations urges Israel not to hold
Gaza aid ‘hostage’ to politics
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Saudi Arabia 'Detains' Mecca Imam Who
'Challenged Mixed Gatherings'
August 23 2018
Saudi Arabia has detained a prominent
imam and preacher at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, activists said, after he
reportedly delivered a sermon criticising mixed public gatherings.
The social media advocacy group
Prisoners of Conscience, which monitors and documents arrests of Saudi
preachers and religious scholars, said on Sunday that Sheikh Saleh al-Talib was
arrested after he delivered a sermon on the duty in Islam to speak out against
evil in public.
Khaleej Online reported that in his
sermon, Talib, who also serves as a judge in Mecca, derided the mixing of
unrelated men and women at concerts and other mixed entertainment events.
While there was no direct criticism of
the Saudi royal family in his speech, the kingdom has in recent months relaxed
laws on female attendance at public events.
Saudi Arabia has yet to issue an
official statement on the issue.
Hours after his reported arrest, both of
al-Talib's Engish and Arabic Twitter accounts were deactivated.
Prisoners of Conscie
?? We confirm the arrest of the Imam of Haram
Sheikh Dr. Saleh al Taleb, and it is said that the reason for the arrest is a
speech about the doing evil and the duty in Islam to deny that in public!
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Yahya Assiri, a
UK-based Saudi human rights activist, said the kingdom's "authorities are
looking at everyone that's influential and has a presence on the scene".
He added: "Even those that have
kept quiet or pledged allegiance to the state, even those that have been
drumming up the authorities and their initiatives, even these are not
Wave of arrests
Since Mohammed bin Salman, also known as
MBS, became the Saudi crown prince in June 2017, dozens of imams, women's
rights activists and members of the ruling royal family have been detained.
Among those arrested are prominent
Islamic preachers Salman al-Awdah, Awad al-Qarni, Farhan al-Malki, Mostafa
Hassan and Safar al-Hawali.
Al-Awdah and al-Qarni, who have millions
of followers on social media, were arrested last September and accused of
having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group Saudi Arabia blacklisted as a
Meanwhile, al-Hawali, 68, was detained
after he published a 3,000-page book attacking bin Salman and the ruling family
over their ties to Israel, calling it a "betrayal".
Earlier this year, bin Salman softened
the kingdom's stance on Israel, telling the US-based Atlantic magazine that
Israelis "have the right to their own land" and "there are a lot
of interests we [Saudi Arabia] share with Israel."
In March, Riyadh granted India's
national carrier permission to use its airspace to operate a direct flight
between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.
Mosques Flooded, a Kerala Temple Opens
Its Doors For Muslims To Offer Eid Namaz
August 23, 2018
Devastating floods may have dampened
festivities in Kerala but not its spirit. Even as there were little
celebrations either on Onam or Eid, the communal amity being displayed by the
people of the southern state is exemplary.
In yet another such example, after a
mosque at Kochukadavu was flooded, a temple in Thrissur district opened its
door for Muslims to offer namaz on Eid-ul-Adha that fell on Wednseday. A special arrangement was made at a temple
hall in Eravathur near Mala for the namaz.
The Muslims in the area were looking for
a place to conduct the Eid prayers when the SNDP Yogam, which runs the
Purappullikkavu Ratneswari temple, offered the hall to them.
In a video that is now going viral on
Facebook, a man is seen saying that the temple authorities wholeheartedly
offered them the place to offer Eid prayers and they are “delighted” by the
gesture. “It’s a heartwarming gesture as most mosques in Mala are submerged,”
the man said.
Many photos of Muslims cleaning flooded
temples are also doing rounds on social media. Photos of nuns putting mehendi
ahead of Eid at a relief camp too warmed hearts online.
📍Eid prayers at Purappullikkavu Temple, Eravathur, #Thrissur
📍Sisters get mehndi by Muslim inmates to celebrate Eid-al-Adha.
#Kodungallur Snehalaya Relief Camp
📍#KeralaFloods victims belonging to
Christian community holding holy mass inside a Mosque in
Muslims cleaning a Hindu temple in Kerala
after floods. Eid Mubarak! #Eid #KeralaFloods #ItHappensOnlyInKerala
Many raised money during the morning
prayers in various cities across the country to help the flood victims.
By Josh K. Elliott
Indonesia’s top Muslim authority has
issued a fatwa against the measles vaccine, declaring it religiously forbidden
but leaving room for its use out of necessity.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) says
the country’s measles and rubella vaccine contains ingredients derived from
pigs, which are forbidden in Islam.
However, the organization says Muslims
in the country can continue to use the vaccine until a religiously acceptable,
or halal, version can be developed, because of the risks involved with not
“There is information from experts who
are competent and trusted about the dangers caused by not being immunized,” Dr.
H. Hasanuddin, chair of MUI’s fatwa commission, wrote in the fatwa.
A fatwa is a pronouncement on Islamic
law handed down by a recognized authority.
The MUI fatwa is also calling for the
Indonesian government to “guarantee the availability of halal vaccines” in the
future, and to pressure its current supplier, the Serum Institute of India, to
move away from using religiously prohibited ingredients.
The Serum Institute of India has not
responded to a Global News request for comment.
Indonesia is home to the world’s largest
Muslim population, with more than 87 per cent of its citizens identifying as
Muslim, according to the Pew Research Center.
The MUI holds considerable sway in
Indonesia, including the power to certify halal products. Its leader, Ma’ruf
Amin, is running for vice-president of Indonesia alongside the incumbent
president, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
“If there’s a MUI fatwa opposing [the
vaccine], that will be a real obstacle to public health efforts,” Professor Tim
Lindsey, director of the Centre for Indonesian Law at the University of
Melbourne, told Australia’s ABC News.
Some measles vaccines contain hydrolyzed
gelatin, a watered-down substance derived from pig or cow tissue. The gelatin
is used to protect live viruses against temperature fluctuation, according to
the University of Oxford’s Vaccine Knowledge Project.
Gelatin in vaccines has occasionally
been a point of contention among devout members of the Jewish and Muslim
faiths, which prohibit consumption of pigs.
However, more than 100 top Islamic
scholars declared in 1995 that gelatin was sufficiently purified for use in
vaccines, after discussing the matter at a seminar held by the Islamic
Organization for Medical Sciences in Kuwait.
Canada’s provincial public health bodies
often cite this seminar in explaining why it’s safe for devout Muslims to use
“Scholars from the Muslim and Jewish
faiths have determined that receipt of gelatin in vaccines is permissible and
does not constitute a violation of religious practice,” British Columbia’s
Centre for Disease Control says on its immunization website.
Health Canada recommends all infants
receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine after their first birthday. Some
versions of the vaccine contain gelatin while others do not, according to the
Canadian government’s website.
Measles is a highly contagious
respiratory disease that can spread through the air, and through coughing and
sneezing. The virus also survives on surfaces outside the body for up to two
Symptoms include a rash and fever, and
in rare cases, it can be deadly, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Statistics from the World Health
Organization show cases of measles in Indonesia have plunged significantly amid
a multi-year push to vaccinate more children. Officials have confirmed 1,507
cases in the first half of this year, compared to 11,389 through all of 2017.
The government aims to reach 95 per cent
immunization coverage by 2020.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus
'Green Hajj' Slowly Takes Root In Mecca
Mina , Saudi Arabia | Thu, August 23,
Thousands of cleaners are busy
separating plastic from other rubbish as more than two million Muslims wrap up
a pilgrimage to Mecca that presents a huge environmental challenge for Saudi
The Mamuniya camp in Mina near the holy
city is dotted with colour-coded barrels -- black for organic waste and blue
for cans and plastics for recycling.
It's all part of an initiative to reduce
the environmental footprint of the hajj, one of the world's largest annual
More than 42,000 tonnes of waste are
produced during the pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites, according of Mohammed
al-Saati, head of sanitation for the Mecca municipality.
"We're facing some real challenges,
primarily the sheer volume of waste produced ... along with the number of
pilgrims, the limited space around the holy sites, different nationalities and
the weather," Saati told AFP.
"Islam as a religion does not
encourage excess," he added.
"Pilgrims can be friends of the
environment. It starts by raising awareness back home."
The hajj, which started on Sunday and
ends on Friday, drew nearly 2.4 million Muslims from around the world this
year, according to official Saudi figures.
More than 13,000 sanitation workers and
supervisors were hired during the pilgrimage season, which saw temperatures
rise to 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) this week.
- 'Green hajj' -
A handful of camps in the town of Mina,
the site of the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual during hajj, have begun to
implement plans to turn "green", cutting back on waste and
encouraging pilgrims to do their part.
Banners hanging near the Kaaba, a black
structure inside Mecca's Grand Mosque towards which Muslims around the world
pray, also featured the recycle logo this year.
Authorities aim to cut waste volumes by
two-thirds by 2030, Saati said, with a plan that speaks to both environmental
ethics and religious belief.
Sorted waste collected from the
pilgrimage sites will be sold to companies that handle recycling.
All proceeds will be given to charity in
standing with the Muslim belief in "sadaqah," or voluntary donations.
Workers in bright green vests made their
way across the streets and alleys, picking up soda cans and plastic water
bottles as pilgrims packed their things to return home.
Signs encouraging pilgrims to sort their
waste could be seen across the Mamuniya camp -- along with signs reading
"Sadaqah, not litter."
"The idea of an environmentally
friendly camp is really important to us, to preserve the sanctity of the
site," said Hatem Mumena, the camp's general manager.
But he admits there is still far to go,
as the numbers of pilgrims attending hajj is expected to rise. Saudi Arabia
hopes to welcome some 30 million pilgrims per year by 2030.
"This is just the beginning,"
Saudi Arabia’s King Tells Hajj Leaders
Of Pledge To ‘Fight Terrorism’
August 22, 2018
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will continue to
“honor pilgrims and facilitate the Hajj rituals” and is committed to “fighting
terrorism,” King Salman told the heads of Hajj delegations on Wednesday.
The King held the annual reception for
heads of state, Islamic dignitaries, guests of the Custodian of the Two Holy
Mosques, guests of government bodies and heads of delegations and pilgrim
affairs offices who performed Hajj rituals this year.
The reception was held at the Royal
Court in Mina Palace in the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In his speech, the king said: “I welcome
you and congratulate you on the blessed Eid Al-Adha. I pray Allah Almighty to
accept the pilgrims’ Hajj and I praise Allah Almighty for granting the pilgrims
the ability to perform this great pillar of Islam with ease, security and comfort,
as they respond to Allah’s call who said in the Holy Qur’an: ‘Then when you
depart from Arafat, remember Allah at Al-Mash’ar Al-Haram.’
“Allah honored Saudi Arabia with serving
the Two Holy Mosques, taking care of their visitors and protecting the
visitors’ safety and comfort. Saudi Arabia has given the Two Holy Mosques all
the care and attention since it was founded by late King Abdulaziz until today.
We will continue to do so, as we deeply believe that serving pilgrims, Umrah
performers and visitors of the Two Holy Mosques is our duty and is a great
honor of which we feel proud.”
The king added: “As the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia embraces the Qiblah of Muslims as well as the Prophet’s Mosque, and
emanating from its Islamic position and its regional and international role,
the Kingdom affirms its firm stance to fight terrorism and extremism, eradicate
their forms and manifestations, adhere to the noble message of Islam and ensure
security and stability in the region and the whole world.”
“I ask Allah Almighty to accept the
pilgrims’ Hajj. Many happy returns. May Allah’s peace, mercy and blessings be
Minister of Hajj and Umrah Mohammed bin
Saleh Banten said that Saudi Arabia is proud to have hosted more than 150
million pilgrims belonging to more than 100 nationalities from around the world
in the past 10 years.
More than 7 million pilgrims have
already performed Umrah this year, in addition to nearly 2 million who are now
performing their rituals, he said.
“We are working under the directives of
King Salman and the crown prince to prepare for the reception and service of
more than 300 million Muslims over the next 10 years,” he said.
The King left Mina on Wednesday and
arrived back in Jeddah after completing his tour of holy sites to oversee pilgrim
services during Hajj.
King Salman was seen off by Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, the governor of Makkah as well as
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
Reuters News Agency
22 AUGUST 2018
Islamic state leader Abu Bakr
al-Baghdadi, in his first purported speech in nearly a year, has called on
followers to persevere, according to a statement posted on the group's media
"For the Mujahideen (holy warriors)
the scale of victory or defeat is not dependant on a city or town being stolen
or subject to that who has aerial superiority, intercontinental missiles or
smart bombs," Baghdadi said in a recording posted on his al-Furqan media
Reuters was unable to verify whether the
voice on the recording was Baghdadi's.
Islamic State, which until last year
controlled large areas in Syria and Iraq, has since been driven into the desert
following successive defeats in separate offensives in both countries.
Baghdadi, who declared himself ruler of
all Muslims in 2014 after capturing Iraq’s main northern city Mosul, is now
believed to be hiding in the Iraqi-Syrian border region after losing all the
cities and towns of his self-proclaimed caliphate.
The secretive Islamic State leader has
frequently been reported killed or wounded since leading his fighters on a
sweep through northern Iraq. His whereabouts are not known but Wednesday's
message appears to suggest he is still alive.
One of his sons was reported to have
been killed in the city of Homs in Syria, the group's news channel reported
earlier this year.
Baghdadi's last message came in the form
of an undated 46-minute audio recording, released via the al-Furqan
organisation in September, where he urged followers across the world to wage
attacks against the West and to keep fighting in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.
Aug. 22, 2018
CAIRO/MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Islamic State's
media arm released a video on Wednesday of four boys it said were behind
multiple attacks on police targets in the Russian region of Chechnya two days
ago which were claimed by the group.
Three of them brandished big knives and
the youngest held up a phone with an Islamic State flag displayed on the screen
as they pledged allegiance in Russian to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr
The authenticity of the video and
identities of the individuals could not be verified by Reuters, although the
ages of the boys appeared consistent with statements by local officials who
said the attackers were minors, one as young as 11.
In the attacks on Monday, which included
a botched suicide bombing and a knife attack on a police station, four of the
assailants were shot dead, while the fifth was hospitalized after he blew
himself up but survived, Russian news agencies and officials said.
In the video released by Islamic State's
media arm Amaq, the boys described themselves as the "Mujahideen of the
Caucasus" and threatened attacks on infidels.
The mainly Muslim internal republic of
Chechnya has been dogged by attacks and a simmering insurgency since Moscow
fought two wars with separatists there following the 1991 breakup of the Soviet
"The oldest one who rammed the
traffic police officers was almost 17, the youngest of the criminals was 11
years old, according to the information we have," Dzhambulat Umarov,
Chechnya's communications minister was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.
Parts of Russia's wider North Caucacus
region are also volatile with unemployment and corruption pushing some young
men to embrace radical Islam.
Chechnya is now ruled by Kremlin-backed
leader Ramzan Kadyrov who has been criticized by human rights advocates for
widespread abuses, but under whose helm attacks have become relatively rare.
That this attack was carried out by
minors who grew up in Kadyrov's post-war Chechnya and had no personal experience
of the wars themselves should be alarming for the Russian and Chechen
authorities, said Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, director of the Conflict Analysis
and Prevention Centre, which monitors conflicts in the former Soviet region.
It is the first time such young children
have been used in an attack in Chechnya, she said.
"This is a new generation of
jihadists that we're seeing now. They have not seen war. This is the post-war
generation," she said.
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth in Moscow
and Hesham Hajali in Cairo; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
Copyright 2018 Thomson Reuters.
Bahrain has stopped issuing new visas to
Qataris, the interior ministry said late on Tuesday, in the latest salvo in a
months-long feud between the energy-rich Gulf states.
The small but strategic island kingdom
severed relations with Qatar in June last year at the same time as regional
kingpin Saudi Arabia and its allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
But it had continued issuing some visas
to citizens of the emirate, which lies just 40 kilometres (25 miles) away on
the mainland of the Arabian Peninsula.
The ministry said only Qatari students
studying in Bahrain would be exempt from the new measures, although visas
already issued would remain valid.
The measures were a response to the
“irresponsible actions of the Qatari authorities, who do not consider the
rights of neighbouring countries or the principles of international law,” the
ministry said in a statement carried by the official BNA news agency.
Read: A year into boycott, few signs of
crisis in Qatar
The two sides have exchanged repeated
allegations of violations of airspace or territorial waters and have launched
multiple law suits through international tribunals.
Bahrain and its allies have demanded
that Qatar cut its longstanding ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and take a
tougher line with Shiite Iran, which they accuse of meddling in the region's
Qatar, which is to host the finals of
the next football World Cup in 2022, has insisted it has the right to conduct
an independent foreign policy.
The result has been a highly fractious
diplomatic and economic dispute between the Western allies that has no end in
TV presenter Kristiane Backer praises
KSA’s Hajj efforts
JEDDAH: Former MTV Europe presenter
Kristiane Backer has praised the Kingdom’s monumental efforts to safeguard
pilgrims as they perform Hajj rituals.
During her pilgrimage to perform Hajj
rituals this season, Backer said she was impressed by the ability of the Kingdom
accommodates more than two million pilgrims, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA)
She praised the efforts exerted by its
leadership to allow the pilgrims perform Hajj rituals with ease and in safety,
most notably the security and medical services provided, in addition to the
logistical operation involved in transporting pilgrims between the holy sites.
Backer performed Umrah in 2001 when she
visited Madinah and performed Hajj rituals in 2006, after which she wrote her
famous book “From MTV to Makkah: How Islam Inspired My Life.”
Her book describes her spiritual journey
to Islam, which began with a meeting with Imran Khan, the retired cricketer who
has just become the new Prime Minister of Pakistan.
In her interview with SPA, she spoke of
improvements carried out in KSA between her visit in 2006 and now, noting the
improved services offered to the pilgrims.
She said that when she saw the Kaaba
after 12 years, she was so impressed that she was unable to speak.
Backer now works as a fine art
consultant and is based in London.
Eid Al-Adha 2018: Sachin Tendulkar,
Sania Mirza And Other Sportspersons Wish ‘Eid Mubarak’
By: Sports Desk | New Delhi | Updated:
August 22, 2018
Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar on
Twitter wished, "Eid Mubarak to everyone, in India and around the world,
celebrating the festival of Eid al-Adha. May the blessings of the almighty
always be with you."
Eid al-Adha 2018, popularly called
Bakrid in most part of our country is being celebrated on Wednesday in India.
The festival is celebrated in remembrance of Prophet Ibrahim, God’s messenger
in Islam, who sacrificed his son as an act of obedience to God’s command.
Muslims all over the world on this day
sacrifice a goat as a symbol of sacrifice made by Ibrahim. Devotees on this
auspicious occasion offer prayers at the mosque and greet each other. Among
those who celebrated and remembered to wish their friends and loved ones were
renowned sports personalities across the globe. Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar
on Twitter wished, “Eid Mubarak to everyone, in India and around the world,
celebrating the festival of Eid al-Adha. May the blessings of the almighty
always be with you.”
Eid -Ul Adha Mubarak to everyone celebrating
today .. peace ,love and happiness 🙌🏽
9:18 AM - Aug 22, 2018
Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik, on the
occasion, paid homage to victims of the floods that recently hit the coastal
state of Kerala.
Eid Mubarak dosto. My thoughts and prayers are
with the people effected by the #KeralaFloods. May Allah make their rehab easy
and May we be able to have a smile like this girl in our bad days iA
10:20 AM - Aug 22, 2018
Asian Games 2018
Muslim athletes conducted their prayers this
morning, led by syeik Huseen Jaber, at Athlete Village to celebrate Eid
Al-Adha. May everyone have a victorious day! #AsianGames2018 #EnergyOfAsia
10:00 AM - Aug 22, 2018
Mubarak to all of you celebrating today. 🙏🏼 #EidAlAdha #M1Ö
6:19 PM - Aug 21, 2018
Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating...wishing
you a lot of love and peace 😊😇
10:50 AM - Aug 22, 2018 · Mumbai, India
130 people are talking about this
Wishing you and your families a blessed
EID-UL-ADHA ! May the blessings of almighty keep your heart and home happy and
11:21 AM - Aug 22, 2018
Eid al-Adha Mubarak to everyone from the
SunRisers Hyderabad family 🙏
May Allah’s blessing be with you on this
auspicious occasion. 🌙 🕌 #EidMubarak #EidAlAdha2018
11:03 AM - Aug 22, 2018
Eid Mubarak to everyone around the world
10:28 AM - Aug 22, 2018
Kerala Blasters FC
Wishing you prosperity and well-being, this
Eid al-Adha. Eid Mubarak! #Eid #KeralaBlasters
9:48 AM - Aug 22, 2018
Eid Mubarak to the entire Muslim Ummah! Dont
forget to reach out to those who are in need of your support, love &
affection. Also, pledge that you will clean up after your Qurbani and will not
leave any mess behind.
Ye Watan hamara hai, hum hain Paasbaan
is k! #PakistanZindabad
9:20 AM - Aug 22, 2018
May Allah always lead you towards the
path of honesty and prosperity and bless you with the happiness of heaven and
above. #EidAlAdha #EidulAzha
12:33 PM - Aug 22, 2018
Mohammad Shami and the rest of the
Indian team did not take long to dismiss the final England wicket to claim
victory in the third Test at Trent Bridge.
By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
Updated: August 23, 2018
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly on
Wednesday said that Muslims who have been living in West Bengal since childhood
do not need to worry about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) if it ever
gets implemented in the state. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an
event, she also said that some parties were “politicising” the issue to serve
their own interests.
“We may recall that Pakistan was formed
after Partition on the basis that it becomes a Muslim country. Bangladesh (then
East Pakistan) was mainly for Muslims. West Bengal was made part of India as it
was for Hindus, who had come from (then) East Pakistan because they were driven
out from there. Those living in India since their childhood, including Muslims,
do not need to worry about the NRC…There are certain things which should not be
politicised for the sake of national interest,” Ganguly said.
The statement comes amid a war of words
between TMC and BJP over NRC in Assam. State BJP leaders have many times said
that NRC would be implemented in West Bengal if they come to power here. ens
The International Court of Justice (ICJ)
has fixed hearing of convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case in February
2019, sources privy to the matter said on Wednesday.
The hearing, which is scheduled to last
at least a week, would be carried out on a daily basis next year, source further
informed Express News.
The ICJ, a world court that sits at the
Peace Palace in The Hague, is seized with an Indian complaint on the conviction
of the Indian spy.
In July this year, Pakistan submitted
its second counter-memorial to India’s arguments on the conviction of the RAW
agent before the world court in The Hague. Sources had told The Express Tribune
that Pakistan rebutted Indian’s allegations that Kulbhushan’s wife and mother
were ‘mistreated’ when they visited to meet him last year.
Pakistan also raised the jurisdiction
issue of the ICJ that India had no case to plead because it never denied that
Jadhav was travelling on a passport on a cover or the assumed Muslim name
‘Mubarak Patel’, the sources added.
Kulbhushan Jadhav case: Pakistan files
counter-memorial in ICJ
Moreover, some international legal
experts’ opinions have also been referred to in the counter pleadings to
justify that effective review of the decisions of military courts is
potentially available before high courts of Pakistan. The reply has been
submitted by Director India at the Foreign Office Dr Fareha Bugti along with
Khawar Qureshi, QC, the agent representing Pakistan at the ICJ.
Commander Jadhav was captured in
Balochistan in March 2016 and he later confessed to his association with Indian
intelligence agency — Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) — and his involvement in
espionage and fomenting terrorism in Pakistan.
In early 2017, the Field General Court
Martial sentenced Jadhav to death, which was confirmed by Chief of the Army Staff
Gen Qamar Bajwa on April 10 this year. On January 23, the ICJ gave a timeline
to both Pakistan and India to file another round of memorials in the case.
India decision to decline UAE, Qatar aid
for flood relief draws criticism
NEW DELHI: India will not accept relief
assistance from foreign governments for the flood-ravaged state of Kerala, the
government has said, following offers of aid from Qatar and the United Arab
The decision to decline foreign help
drew criticism from the opposition which called for an end the suffering of the
people of the southern state hit by the worst flooding in a century, which has
killed hundreds of people.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
government has announced assistance of 6 billion rupees ($85 million), compared
with a request from the state for at least 20 billion rupees.
Modi has promised more aid and his
government said late on Wednesday that would come through “domestic efforts.”
“The government of India deeply
appreciates offers from several countries, including from foreign governments,
to assist in relief and rehabilitation efforts after the tragic floods in
Kerala,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
“In line with the existing policy, the
government is committed to meeting the requirements for relief and
rehabilitation through domestic efforts.”
This week, the United Arab Emirates
offered assistance of $100 million while Qatar offered $5 million. Many people
from Kerala live and work in the Gulf.
Torrential rain that began in Kerala on
Aug. 8 killed 231 people, destroyed tens of thousands of homes, and washed away
roads and bridges, leading to an estimated loss of at least 200 billion rupees
The rain eased over the weekend as the
focus of efforts turned to relief and rehabilitation from rescue.
The main opposition Congress party
accused Modi of exacerbating the crisis by failing to come through with more
aid and creating obstacles to foreign help.
“This decision is quite disappointing to
the people of Kerala,” Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen
Chandy wrote in a public letter to Modi.
“Rules should be such (that they)
eradicate the sufferings of the people. If there exist any obstacle against the
acceptance of foreign aid, kindly look into the matter seriously and bring
The foreign ministry said the government
would welcome contributions to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and the Chief
Minister’s Relief Fund from foundations, Indians living abroad and from people
of Indian origin.
Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaac
said on Twitter the central government should compensate the state for refusing
Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah Criticize
Meiliana Blasphemy Verdict
Jakarta | Wed, August 22, 2018
Executives from Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and
Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's largest Muslim organizations, have criticized the
blasphemy conviction against Meliana, a resident of Tanjung Balai, North
Sumatra, for complaining about the volume of adzan (a call to prayer).
NU legal division head Robikin Emhas
said that saying adzan was too loud did not constitute blasphemy as defined in
articles 156 and 156a of the Criminal Code.
"I do not see how saying 'adzan is
too loud' is an expression of hatred or hostility toward a particular group or
religion," Robikin said in a statement on Tuesday.
He added that he hoped authorities would
refrain from using the blasphemy article as "an instrument to suppress
freedom of expression".
"As Muslims, we should consider
such opinions as constructive criticism in a plural society," he said.
Muhammadiyah secretary Abdul Mu’ti
agreed, suggesting that an in-depth study should be conducted to review the
blasphemy-related articles and laws. He further argued that the provisions were
vague and open to interpretation.
Furthermore, one-and-a-half-year prison
sentence handed down against Meiliana was “too heavy”, he added.
“I assume that [Meiliana’s] case is
similar to that of [former Jakarta governor] Ahok […] in which [the blasphemy
conviction] is more of a result of pressure from the masses instead of the
trial,” Abdul said.
The groups' position is in contrast to
that of the Indonesian Ulema Council's (MUI) North Sumatra chapter, which
issued a fatwa in January 2017 declaring Meiliana's statement as blasphemous.
AUG 23, 2018
SINGAPORE • A year ago, the Myanmar
military embarked on a massive crackdown in restive Rakhine state - driving out
almost a million Rohingya to Bangladesh and creating one of the world's largest
refugee camps while allegedly raping women, killing children and beheading men
in the process.
Generals, however, remain defiant, even
as sanctions mount and the US State Department and United Nations ready reports
that are likely to detail the military's premeditated efforts at effectively
ridding the state of Rohingya Muslims.
They believe they essentially eliminated
a threat that was "growing bigger and bigger", according to one
account of conversations top military leaders have had with counterparts from
"There was a sense that their
problem in Rakhine had been solved, that this was their solution," said a
person familiar with the conversations, who declined to be named. The
militants, the military alleged, had civilianised the conflict by embedding in
villages and towns, and had to be stopped.
Interviews with a half-dozen former
Myanmar generals and those familiar with their thinking say that they have also
grown irritated by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's efforts to quell
international outrage - believing she defends them in public while working to
undermine them by driving sanctions in private.
Ms Suu Kyi - who made a rare address
abroad here in Singapore on Tuesday defending her government's handling of the
crisis - has watched this relationship with the generals deteriorate while she
grows internationally isolated, dragging her heels and fumbling in response to
the crisis last August.
Her preferred tactic of outsourcing the
Rohingya issue to a growing number of commissions with international
representation, including one that had been led by the late UN
secretary-general Kofi Annan, has been widely criticised.
The commission was to come up with
recommendations on how peace would be achieved in Rakhine state, where communal
violence had erupted in 2012, driving 140,000 Rohingya Muslims into squalid
camps. Members of the minority group say they are native to Myanmar, but were
excluded from the citizenship law and denied rights and freedom of movement.
On Aug 24 last year, the commission
presented its final report in Yangon. It included 88 recommendations on issues,
including citizenship for the Rohingya.
Shortly, Rohingya militants allegedly
staged 30 attacks on Myanmar police posts in northern Rakhine state, according
to the Myanmar military, prompting it to embark on a "clearance
operation". Hundreds of Muslim villages were torched and thousands were
killed, and an estimated 800,000 others fled across the border to Bangladesh.
Ms Suu Kyi, aware of international
pressure in the wake of the violence, asked a new advisory board to implement
the Annan commission's recommendations.
The board was "intended more as a
group of friends" to help improve international views of Myanmar, rather
than a strong team to push forward difficult recommendations", said Mr
Richard Horsey, a Yangon-based political analyst.
Among those asked to join was Mr Bill
Richardson, a former US ambassador to the UN, who quit within weeks of the
board's first meeting in Naypyitaw this January.
"She's in denial, and she's not
serious about dealing with this issue," he said of Ms Suu Kyi.
"Anything that involves taking on the military, she won't do. She'll just
do some PR moves like these commissions."
JAKARTA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK)
- A controversial Independence Day parade at an Indonesian Military (TNI)
kindergarten in Probolinggo, East Java, has resulted in its principal being
removed and transferred to a different post.
Ms Hartatik, formerly the principal of
Kartika V-69 kindergarten that falls under the supervision of the 0820
Probolinggo Military Command (Kodim), took up her new position at the
Probolinggo Education, Youth and Sports Agency (Disdikpora) on Thursday (Aug
On Aug 17, students of the kindergarten,
clad in black robes and niqabs and carrying props resembling assault rifles,
marched in the school's Independence Day parade, themed "Fight with the
Messenger of Allah to Increase Faith and Piety".
Photos and videos of the parade went
viral on social media, generating comments accusing the school of fomenting
radicalism among its students.
Disdikpora head M. Kaskur said that Ms
Hartatik had admitted to neglecting her duties in connection with the parade,
particularly in not consulting the agency or the 0820 Probolinggo Kodim on the
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-style costume parade.
"This is a strict administrative
sanction. We (the agency) agreed to remove Hartatik (as principal), and she
will assume the role of an agency staffer as of Thursday," Mr Kaskur said
on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
"The principal's position (has not
been filled). We will hold a coordination meeting to discuss the new
principal," he added.
Ms Hartatik has since apologised, saying
she had no intention of committing any misconduct, that the parade was solely
for entertainment and that the kindergarten was just using the items it had in
The military command's Army Wives Union
(Persit) 35 head Yuliana Tungga Dewi also apologised to the public.
"We apologise for this (incident).
We will be more careful. We have no intention of instilling radicalism (in
children)," Ms Yuliana said.
23 August 2018
PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS
NETWORK) - Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is all right, contrary to
a viral message featuring two photos which suggested that he fell during prayers
at Masjid Negara on Wednesday morning (Aug 22).
The message, which is spreading on
WhatsApp and Facebook, shows a picture of Tun Dr Mahathir standing while an
unidentified man holds his arm, followed by another photo of him bent over on
the floor, supporting himself with his hands.
The message said that the Prime Minister
had tripped in the mosque as he was "stressed out over various
However, an aide close to Dr Mahathir
debunked the message as "propaganda".
"He did not trip... he is doing
okay," he told The Star.
In reality, the aide said that the
sequence of pictures taken by blogger Minaq Jinggo was reversed, and the
original sequence of photos show Dr Mahathir getting up after performing
"The photos were meant to tell the
world that PM7 (the seventh prime minister, Dr Mahathir) is able to lift
himself up without assistance. He is still very fit to do so even with little
rest after the trip to China," said the veteran photographer to The Star.
Dr Mahathir, 93, just ended a five-day
trip to China earlier this week.
Pakistan Prime Minister Starts Change At
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first
address to the nation was unprecedented in Pakistan’s history since the days of
Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He became the first
head of government since Quaid’s departure for his eternal abode who boldly touched
on nation’s critical issues including woes of the deprived and helpless.
The prime minister portrayed to the
nation a real picture of outgoing rulers in terms of economy, misrule, plunder
and senseless lavish style. Though it was a horrible picture, Imran paused for
a while to tell the people not to lose heart. He showed to them a roadmap that
would lead the nation to its destined goal of a welfare state modelled on the
state of Medina, founded by Prophet Mohammad (may peace be upon Him).
Imran said there will be austerity in
all walks of life. He has taken a start from his own home, he will live a
simple life. Austerity rule will prevail in all state institutions. Corruption
will be dealt with iron hand. Accountability and audit will be permanent features
of the state institutions.
The prime minister has taken steps for
pressing reforms in the folds of bureaucracy and police in particular.
Unfortunately baboos in this country in most cases, are dead woods and at the
same time ruthless towards the ordinary people. They must be productive,
efficient, suitably qualified and friendly. Maybe they would need refresher
courses and positive indoctrination. They should not work as slaves of rulers
but functionaries of the state in full compliance of law and human norms.
The prime minister rightly made a
specific mention of delays in the dealings of court cases and his vision of
pursuing prompt justice for the people. He is conscious of the need to
universalise purposeful education, and health case. Only educated and healthy
people can make Pakistan thrive economically and socially. The prime minister
must be fully supported by the whole nation in fulfilling of his promise to
take care of street children, destitutes and other less fortunate segments of
The state of Medina was based on a
written constitution named as Charter of Medina (Meesaq-i-Medina). The Charter
of Medina rests on principles of plurality and rule of law. The Prophet (may
peace be upon him) further explained features of the polity in his ‘Last Hajj
Sermon’ namely equality of all people irrespective of their colour or creed and
human dignity. In his inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly on 11
August, 1947, the Quaid-i-Azam echoed the spirit of Charter of Medina when he
promised to the people of Pakistan equal and fair treatment by the state
without any discrimination whatsoever.
Imran Khan has made a history by
returning to the point of journey where founder of Pakistan wanted the nation
to take a start. The prime minister has also made a history as he cleared the
confusion created by certain ideologues about the contours of a Muslim state.
Imran Khan has rightly promised to the people that the nation would come out of
the current crisis by taking a start envisioned by the founder of state.
China stressed on improved bilateral
relations between Pakistan and India to ensure peace and stability in the
region, Radio Pakistan reported.
While addressing a briefing on Thursday
in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said improvement in
Indo-Pak relations was crucial for the region to prosper.
As a common neighbour of both the countries,
China firmly supports Pakistan and India to strengthen dialogue process,
enhance mutual trust and resolve differences, he said.
Answering a question pertaining to a
letter penned by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Prime Minister Imran
Khan, he said China welcomed the positive attitude displayed by leaders of both
Kang added that China will continue to
play a constructive role in improving ties between Pakistan and India.
Pakistan, India border forces not to
exchange ‘sweet greetings’ over ceasefire violations
In June, India had rejected a proposal
by the Chinese Ambassador to New Delhi Lou Zhaohui for a trilateral summit
involving Pakistan, India and China, reported Scroll.
“If Russia, China and Mongolia can have
a trilateral summit, then why not India, China and Pakistan?” Lou had said at
an event in New Delhi on Monday. “We cannot stand another Doklam incident. Let
us make a joint effort to maintain peace along the border.”
The Ministry of External Affairs of the
Hindu-majority country had said that the matters concerning the relationship of
Islamabad and New Delhi ‘cannot’ involve any third party.
KARACHI: The Pakistan Business Council
(PBC) has urged Finance Minister Asad Umar to unite the country behind a
focused ‘Make in Pakistan’ drive in order to improve the economy.
The PBC, an advocacy group formed to
improve the general business environment of the country, has sent a 20-point
recommendation letter to the finance minister while also extending its support
for the challenging task of reviving Pakistan’s deteriorating economy.
PBC CEO Ehsan Malik said advocating the
‘Make in Pakistan’ campaign would help create jobs, promote value-added
exports, encourage import substitution and broaden the tax base. The PBC has
also recommended the new government to use the limited window of positive
sentiment and goodwill to implement fundamental reforms.
The PBC has also advised Umar to go for
a well-structured programme of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over
short-term measures to tie over the crisis. Otherwise, it said, bring
much-needed discipline and rigour to economic management.
“Concurrently strengthen governance,
especially in the Ministry of Finance and the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue),
to implement the reforms to revive industry to help break out of the recurrent
cycles of crises. This is the 13th time in 28 years that we may have to resort
to an externally dictated programme,” Malik wrote in his letter of
According to the letter, PBC believes
that there is a need to establish the envisaged Council of Business Leaders
(CBL) to build consensus. The CBL should lead a comprehensive review of
government polices to remove conflicts. It should align, in particular the
trade, fiscal, energy and agriculture polices to promote domestic industry,
remove the anti-manufacturing and pro-import bias.
“Anti-manufacturing and pro-import bias
has made Pakistanis a nation of traders, happy to export jobs and import goods
that can be made here,” Malik said.
The council has further asked the
finance minister to ensure regionally competitive energy tariffs for the
industry to generate both employment and exports. PBC has also asked for
revision of existing power agreements, privatisation of distribution companies,
addressing transmission and distribution losses, consider off-grid renewable solutions
and indigenise fuel to reduce imports.
In order to encourage exports, the PBC
has advised the government to zero-rate exports to avoid the need for refunds
and also automate rebates. It also highlighted that there is a need to address
technology and talent needs of the FBR in order to enable it to broaden the tax
base. The PBC has also asked to unify the multiple federal, provincial and
local taxes under one national tax authority.
In order to discourage tax evaders,
withholding taxes for non-filers should be increased to at least twice the tax
on filers. Collections from non-filers should be used to increase both
collection and widening of the tax base.
Meanwhile, the PBC has pointed that
there’s a need to renegotiate the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China. It
added that the government should refrain from new agreements that undermine the
“(The government should) focus FDI to
export-generating industries, technology-oriented sectors and those for which
the Pakistan’s private sector lacks capital and risk appetite, such as
infrastructure and oil and gas exploration. Tailor concessions (should also be
given) to promote joint ventures and public listing,” the PBC recommended.
The PBC advised to address the
distortion created by incentivising growth of sugarcane and wheat at the
expense of cotton, which is required by the textile industry, and oil-seeds,
deficiency of which forces the country to import $2 billion of vegetable oils
PM Imran chairs first cabinet meeting
It also asked the government to
accelerate the digitisation of Pakistan, especially of the government
processes, to enhance ease of doing business and also make broadband more
affordable by reducing the burden of taxes.
The council has also asked the
government to take state-owned enterprises out of the control of line
ministries, professionalise their boards and managements, restructure and then
privatise those that don’t make strategic sense to retain.
The PBC has also urged the Pakistan
government to make costs, benefits and financial flows associated with the CPEC
fully transparent and ensure that concessions in SEZs do not undermine the
Published in The Express Tribune, August
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@TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi
has said that the government is trying its best to bring Dr Aafia Siddiqui back
“Despite the fact that governments must
take stock of legalities, we are trying our best to bring her [Dr Siddiqui]
back,” he was quoted by Express News as saying on Wednesday.
Speaking to the media in Multan, the
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader said that the newly-elected government
fully understands the despair of Dr Siddiqui’s family in this protracted
He, however, said that legal
requirements for her release must also be taken into account.
‘Dr Aafia subjected to physical, sexual
abuse in US detention center’
Dr Aafia Siddiqui, convicted in 2010 on
charges of attempted murder and mounting an assault on US military personnel,
is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell, Fort
Worth in Texas.
In June this year, a confidential report
prepared by Pakistan’s consul general in Houston of her visit to Aafia had
claimed that she was subjected to physical and sexual abuse during her ongoing
Consul General Aisha Farooqui had
visited Aafia at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, Texas. The report
recommended diplomatic authorities to take up the case at the highest levels to
find a way for her repatriation so that she can serve her remaining sentence in
Pakistan, where her modesty and privacy would not be interfered with.
SC rejects petition requesting Aafia
However, the Supreme Court later
rejected the petition that called for repatriating Dr Siddiqui and directed the
petitioner to approach a US court to address her grievances.
“We took up the matter just to know if
she is alive or not. It is learnt that she is alive … We cannot do anything in
this matter,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked during the hearing. He
said there was no way they could order authorities of an independent state on
United Nations Warns Of ‘Lost
Generation’ Of Rohingya Children
The United Nations warned on Thursday of
what it described as a lost generation of Muslim Rohingya children, with half a
million in refugee camps in Bangladesh facing dangers including disease and
floods and those still in Myanmar lacking access to proper education.
One year since 700,000 Rohingyas fled a
violent crackdown by Myanmar security forces in Rakhine state, the UN
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) gave a bleak assessment of the outlook for children on
either side of the border.
“We are talking about risking the loss
or the potential loss of a generation of Rohingya children,” UNICEF spokesman
Simon Ingram told news conference in Geneva after spending six weeks in the
camps in Cox’s Bazar.
“It isn’t just the half a million
children or so on the Bangladeshi side of border but it’s also those who are
still left behind in Rakhine state, whose access to education is patchy at best
and highly limited,” he said.
The UN estimates that 530,000 to 600,000
stateless Rohingyas remain in Rakhine state, including some 360,000 children,
he said. The UN has limited access there.
The Rohingya, who regard themselves as
native to Rakhine state, are widely considered as interlopers by Myanmar’s
Buddhist majority and are denied citizenship.
Myanmar’s military launched the
crackdown in northern Rakhine a year ago in response to militant attacks. The
civilian administration of government leader Aung San Suu Kyi defended what it
described as a legitimate counter-insurgency operation.
The administration has said it is ready
to accept back refugees. Suu Kyi said on Tuesday spaces have been mapped out
for the resettlement of people who fled.
Ingram said the prospects for their
return to Myanmar anytime soon were bleak, despite a voluntary repatriation
agreement signed by the Yangon government and U.N. agencies in June. He said
conditions in Rakhine remained unsafe.
UNICEF said it was expanding education
programmes in the camps in Bangladesh, currently for children up to the age of
14, to try to meet the needs of older children.
Hamida Begum fled her home in Myanmar to
neighbouring Bangladesh about two months ago with her husband, two-year-old
son, and a three-month-old baby. In the weeks before she left, her husband
almost never slept at home out of fear of being arrested. “He would climb on
top of a tree and sit there the whole night, even if it was raining really
hard,” said the 18-year-old, wearing a yellow headscarf over a purple dress and
sitting on the floor of her barren bamboo hut.
Hamida now lives on the edge of the
world’s largest refugee camp, one of the latest arrivals among some 700,000
Rohingya Muslims who have escaped an army crackdown that the United Nations has
called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Though Myanmar says it is
ready to take back the Rohingya, the continued outflow of refugees such as
Hamida and her family underlines the lack of progress in addressing the crisis,
a year on from the start of the offensive on Aug. 25, 2017.
The Rohingya exodus has threatened
Myanmar’s tense transition to democracy and shattered the image of its leader,
Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, outside the country. “The crisis
has done enormous damage to Myanmar’s standing in the world,” said Richard
Horsey, a former U.N. diplomat in the country and a political analyst.
Suu Kyi’s government has rejected most
allegations of atrocities made against the security forces by refugees. It has
built transit centres to receive Rohingya returnees to western Rakhine state.
But stories brought by Hamida and other recent arrivals in Bangladesh – at
least 150 people in August and nearly 13,000 since the beginning of the year –
suggest the resolution of a crisis that enters its second year on Saturday
Around half a dozen new refugees who
spoke to Reuters said that after months of struggle amid charred huts and empty
villages, they were forced to abandon their homes out of fear of harassment or
arrest by the security forces. They said they had been confined to their homes
and pushed to the brink of starvation, unable to visit farms for work, markets
and fishing ponds for food, or mosques to pray.
Myanmar says it did not provoke the
crisis and its military launched a legitimate counterinsurgency operation in
response to a violent campaign from within the Rohingya minority, who are
mostly denied citizenship in the southeast Asian nation. “It was a systematic
activity by a group in order to get a citizenship for Bengali people,” said Myo
Nyunt, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Many in Buddhist-majority Myanmar refer
to the Rohingya as “Bengali”, which most in the Muslim minority regard as a
derogatory term used to suggest they are interlopers from Bangladesh.
AFRAID TO LIGHT CANDLES
The massive influx of refugees has
transformed the hills in southeastern Bangladesh into an endless sea of white,
orange and blue tents. Residents are settling in for the long haul.
Near Hamida’s hut, Rohingya men carry
bricks, dig 4 metre-deep latrines, reinforce muddy slopes with sturdy soil, and
mend fences for a new NGO-run school. Bits of wood, bamboo poles and tarpaulin
sheets are spread across the area where many of the new arrivals are sent to
build their shelters. Hamida said around 5,000 Rohingya lived in her village in
northern Rakhine until last August. When she fled about two months ago, she was
among only 100 or so who had remained in the partly-burned hamlet.
Reuters was unable to independently
verify Hamida’s account, though relatives and neighbours present at the
interview supported her version of events and offered additional details.
Hamida stayed because she could not afford to pay her way into Bangladesh.
Months after the initial offensive, she said, the security forces frequently
patrolled her village and sometimes arrested Rohingya men or grabbed them to do
unpaid work at an expanding military camp nearby.
“In Myanmar, if my children start crying
at night, I can’t even light a candle because there is a complete blackout, and
if the military see any light they come and arrest you,” she said.
The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, said in
a report last week more than half of the new arrivals, “reported that relatives
remaining in Myanmar also plan to leave due to continued fears”. “People tell
us…they told me, that they feel like they’re prisoners. They can’t leave the
house, the men can’t go fishing, the curfew is so extreme, that there are only
certain hours when you can light a fire,” said Caroline Gluck, a UNHCR
representative in the camps.
Suu Kyi’s spokesman did not respond to
repeated calls seeking comment. In a speech in Singapore on Tuesday, Myanmar’s
civilian leader said the country had made preparations for the repatriation of
refugees, but that it was difficult to set a timeframe for when that might
happen. “The returnees have to be sent back by Bangladesh,” she said. “We can
only welcome them at the border.”
NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt acknowledged
that the ethnic and religious tensions that triggered the violence in Rakhine a
year ago remained stark. “The situation in the area hasn’t changed within one
year,” he said. “It will take time to be improved, live in harmony.”
22 Aug 2018
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has
defended her government's actions in Rakhine state which have forced more than
700,000 Muslim-majority Rohingya to flee their homes and seek refuge in
Speaking at a lecture in Singapore in
which she reviewed her first two years in power, Aung San Suu Kyi refused to
recognise the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military and instead
justified her government's campaign against the beleaguered Muslim community.
"We, who are living through the
transition in Myanmar, view it differently than those who observe it from the
outside and who will remain untouched by its outcome," she said, in an
apparent response to criticism of how her government has handled the plight of
The UN has described the Myanmar
military's campaign in Rakhine as "textbook ethnic cleansing", and
journalists and human rights groups who have reported from the region have
documented widespread rape, killing, and destruction of homes by government
Despite this, the Nobel Peace Prize
laureate has refused to condemn the violence and even refuses to refer to the
ethnic group by its name.
Many Buddhists in Myanmar believe that
the Rohingya are Bengalis who migrated to the country illegally during the
British rule in the subcontinent, and have rejected their claims that their
roots in the region that go back centuries.
Since 2012, incidents of religious
intolerance and incitement against Muslims have increased across the country,
with the Rohingya frequently attacked and portrayed as a "threat to race
No timeline for return
Speaking on Tuesday, Aung San Suu Kyi
also said it was difficult to say when the Rohingya would be able to return,
and appeared to cast blame on Bangladesh for the delay.
"It's very difficult for us to put
a timeframe on it by ourselves unilaterally, because we have to work with
Bangladesh in order to do that".
Myanmar's government has signed several
agreements on preparing for the return of the Rohingya, but UN agencies have
accused it of dragging its feet, and human rights groups are concerned that the
safety of returning Rohingya cannot be assured.
The UN, which hasn't been granted access
to Rakhine since August 2017, fears the returning refugees won't be given
freedom of movement if they return.
Knut Ostby, a UN resident and
humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar, said the repatriation agreement had been
beset by repeated delays and authorities had yet to allow them access to the
23 August 2018
Israel has approved plans to build more
than 1,000 illegal settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a
raft of approvals since US President Donald Trump took office last year.
The Israeli government announced on
Wednesday that plans for 1,004 homes have been approved by a defence ministry
Peace Now NGO, which closely monitors
Israeli settlement building, said that nearly 400 homes received final approval
for construction to begin, while the rest await further bureaucratic approvals.
Among the approved homes are 370 housing
units in the illegal Adam settlement, where three Israelis were stabbed by a
Palestinian in July, one fatally, according to Peace Now.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor
Lieberman had pledged to build 400 new homes in the settlement in response to
According to Peace Now, 96 percent of
those approved "are in isolated settlements that Israel will likely need
to evacuate within the framework of a two-state agreement".
In addition to the most recent approval
and according to media reports, the government plans to promote hundreds more
housing units by issuing tenders and promoting a plan for some 300 units in the
illegal Beit El settlement, located north of Ramallah, Peace Now wrote in a
Don't be fooled by the slightly slower
pace of construction--it often begins 2-4 years after the plans/tenders receive
the final approval.
Israeli settlements are considered a
violation of international law and major stumbling blocks to peace efforts as
they are built on land the Palestinians want for their future state including
occupied East Jerusalem.
Some 600,000 Israelis live in
settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem - territories captured
by Israel in the 1967 war.
The international community, along with
the Palestinians, considers the settlements illegal and an impediment to peace.
There have been warnings that the continuing expansion of settlements is
diminishing any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to the
Israel dismisses those arguments,
blaming Palestinian violence and "incitement" against it for stalled
Fast-track settlement plans
In a break from his predecessors,
President Donald Trump has avoided condemning settlement construction, though
he has urged Israel to show restraint.
Trump's administration has been far less
critical of settlement building than his predecessor Barack Obama.
Peace Now says West Bank settlement
plans increased to 6,742 units in 2017 compared with 2,629 the previous year,
former US President Barack Obama's last in office.
Plans have been advanced for 3,794 units
so far this year, the NGO said.
Lieberman said in May that he aimed to
fast-track plans for thousands of West Bank settlement homes in 2018.
Trump's Middle East team, headed by his
adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been working on an
Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal for months but has not said when it will be
John Bolton, Trump's national security
adviser, told reporters in Jerusalem on Wednesday that a "lot of
progress" has been made, but would not say when it will be publicised.
The Palestinians have already said they
consider the plan a non-starter, accusing Trump of being unfairly biased
towards Israel after his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli
capital in December.
There was no immediate Palestinian
reaction to the latest settlement announcement, which came in the middle of a
Muslim holiday, but it was expected to draw further condemnation.
JEDDAH: A top aide to the US president
launched a withering attack on Iran on Wednesday, ramping up the diplomatic
pressure already applied by Donald Trump.
Sanctions are devastating the economy,
public opinion is turning against the regime and Iranian forces need to leave
Syria, National Security Adviser John Bolton said. “Regime change in Iran is
not American policy, but what we want is massive change in the regime’s
behavior,” said Bolton, who before taking office advocated regime change in
Bolton said he believed Trump’s decision
in May to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers,
followed by the reimposition of sanctions, was having a stronger effect than
expected on pressuring Tehran.
The nuclear deal had allowed Tehran to
finance militant activity in the region after the lifting of sanctions. The
return of US sanctions was having a strong effect on Iran’s economy and popular
opinion, Bolton said on a visit to Israel.
US sanctions reimposed this month
targeted Iran’s car industry, trade in gold and other precious metals, and
purchases of US dollars crucial to international financing and investment and
trade relations. Farther-reaching sanctions are to follow in November on Iran’s
banking sector and oil exports. “By bringing the hammer down again of
reimposing American sanctions, we’ve seen a profound negative effect on Iran —
I think actually more serious than we would have predicted,” Bolton said.
“I think the effects, the economic
effects certainly, are even stronger than we anticipated.
“But Iranian activity in the region has
continued to be belligerent — what they are doing in Iraq, what they are doing
in Syria, what they are doing with Hezbollah in Lebanon, what they are doing in
Yemen, what they have threatened to do in the Strait of Hormuz.
“There should not be any doubt that the
United States wants this resolved peacefully, but we are fully prepared for any
contingency that Iran creates.”
European powers have been scrambling to
ensure Iran secures enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the
deal. This has proven difficult, with many European firms keen to avoid
financial penalties by the Trump administration.
“We expect that Europeans will see, as
businesses all over Europe are seeing, that the choice between doing business
with Iran or doing business with the United States is very clear to them,”
“So we will see what plays out in
November. But the president has made it very clear — his words — he wants
maximum pressure on Iran, maximum pressure, and that is what is going on.”
The United States has rejected an
invitation to join Russia-led talks on Afghanistan because they are unlikely to
help bring peace, a State Department spokesman has said, as the Trump
administration prepared to appoint a diplomatic veteran as a new special envoy
for the war-battered nation.
Russia said that the Taliban will be
joining the September 4 talks in Moscow, along with representatives of several
neighbouring countries. It will be one of the insurgent group’s biggest
diplomatic forays since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
The State Department official said
yesterday that as a matter of principle, the US supports Afghan-led efforts to
advance a peace settlement. And, based on previous Russia-led meetings on
Afghanistan, the Moscow talks are “unlikely to yield any progress toward that
end.” The spokesman was not authorised to be quoted by name and requested
That decision comes as the Taliban
escalates attacks across Afghanistan. It has refused direct talks with Kabul,
even as it seeks to raises its diplomatic profile in the region and calls for
talks with the US which it views as the real power behind the Afghan
The insurgent group has yet to respond
to President Ashraf Ghani’s offer earlier this week of a conditional ceasefire
for the duration of the Eid al-Adha religious holiday that began on Tuesday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intends
to appoint a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, to a
special envoy post that would deal with the Afghan-Taliban peace process and
Afghanistan’s integration into the administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy,
according to two US officials and a congressional aide briefed on the plan.
Khalilzad, who did not respond to
queries about his potential new role, is expected to visit South Asia soon,
according to the officials, who were not authorised to publicly discuss
personnel matters and spoke on condition of anonymity.
A native of Afghanistan who was educated
at the American University in Beirut and the University of Chicago, Khalilzad
is a diplomatic veteran in Republican foreign policy circles and has also
served as the US ambassador to Iraq and the United Nations.
He was considered for secretary of state
by the Trump transition team, notably after introducing then-candidate Donald
Trump at his first major foreign policy speech during the campaign.
Despite escalating violence in
Afghanistan, the top US commander there said yesterday that the US-led
coalition sees hope in Taliban statements in recent months indicating interest
in a negotiations to end the 17-year war, and Afghan public and religious
clerics’ desire for peace. He contended that could lead to political
“We have an unprecedented window of
opportunity for peace now,” Gen. John Nicholson told Pentagon reporters from
Kabul. His comments came just a day after rockets slammed into the heart of
Kabul as Ghani delivered a speech for the Eid holiday, highlighting the
precarious security even in the heavily protected capital. Nicholson did not
address the Russia talks.
US-Russian ties are increasingly
strained. Washington has eyed Russian engagement in Afghanistan and its links
to the Taliban with suspicion. Moscow says it is encouraging the insurgents to
abandon hostilities and engage in a dialogue with the Afghan government.
Nicholson, who is slated to turn over
command of the war next month, said the Taliban launched major assaults to take
control of two provincial centres this year, and after tough battles the
Afghans regained control. But he also acknowledged that the military campaign
led by the Afghans and backed by the coalition is largely at a stalemate, and
that the Afghan government has made little progress taking back additional
population centres from Taliban control.
Nicholson took over the war effort in
March 2016. In May of that year, 34 per cent of Afghanistan’s districts were
contested or under militant control or influence, compared with 44 per cent as
of May 2018, according to US military figures. He will leave as the longest-serving
US commander of the coalition.
Nicholson’s time in charge included a
key reversal in US policy on the war — stretching from the troop drawdown
ordered in the final years of the Obama administration through President Donald
Trump’s endorsement last summer of a new strategy to increase US and coalition
presence, beef up the training and push for reconciliation.
Nicholson said the Afghan Air Force and
special operations units are growing in numbers and abilities, and that
progress will have an increasing impact over the coming year.
WASHINGTON: U.S. Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo is expected to tap Zalmay Khalilzad as his special envoy on Afghanistan,
two U.S. officials said, the latest signal to the Taliban that the United
States is serious about talks to end its longest war.
Khalilzad is an Afghan-born former U.S.
ambassador to Kabul and Iraq.The decision to tap a Republican foreign policy
veteran, comes as U.S. military commanders acknowledge a stalemate in the
fighting and follows a meeting last month between a U.S. diplomat and Taliban
officials to explore possible negotiations.
The administration has not officially
confirmed those talks. The two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said they were unsure when the announcement would be made. The White
House and the State Department declined to comment, and Khalilzad did not
return messages left with his office.
Halting of peace talks causes
The outgoing U.S. commander of U.S. and
international troops insisted on Wednesday that despite a recent wave of
violence, Trump’s strategy of an open-ended deployment of U.S. military
advisers, trainers and special operations forces and increased air support for
Afghan forces is succeeding.
“I believe the strategy is working. …
The reconciliation progress is significant and ultimately wars end with a
political ettlement,” said U.S. Army General John Nicholson, commander of the
NATO-led Resolute Support mission. Trump, however, has expressed frustration at
the lack of progress toward a U.S. withdrawal after 17 years of conflict.
In a policy shift during a June
ceasefire, Washington said it would “support, facilitate and participate” in
any Kabul government-led peace talks with the Taliban. The surge in Taliban
attacks, including an assault last week on the provincial capital of Ghazni
that took U.S.-backed Afghan forces four days to put down, has raised questions
about their interest in negotiations.
Afghanistan and the New World Order
Nicholson acknowledged the Afghan
government had not significantly increased its control over territory. While he
said the Taliban have not responded to an offer this week of a ceasefire from
President Ashraf Ghani, two insurgent commanders told Reuters that the
insurgents rejected the call.
LONG GOVERNMENT SERVICE
Khalilzad, 67, is well suited to the
difficult task of persuading the insurgents to talk, according to a former
senior U.S. official, who asked not to be further identified. In addition to
his experience advising or working for four U.S. administrations and his
knowledge of Afghanistan’s main languages, culture and politics, he is from the
ethnic Pashtun majority and is close to Ghani, the former official said.
Pompeo’s decision to tap Khalilzad shows the administration is “serious about
getting a peace process going,” said the former official.
One possible drawback for Khalilzad, the
former official said, is that he has been publicly critical of neighboring
Pakistan, which Washington accuses of providing sanctuary and support to the
Taliban but whose cooperation is crucial to any peace effort. Pakistan denies supporting
Taliban to take part in Moscow talks on
Afghanistan on Sept 4
In a possible wrinkle, the Taliban said
on Wednesday it would send senior members to Russia for peace talks on
Afghanistan, hours after the Afghan government declined the offer to attend.
Washington has also said it would not go.
Khalilzad was born in the northern
Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif and served in a variety of U.S. government posts.
As an aide to President George W. Bush, he helped plan the U.S. invasion of
Afghanistan that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by al Qaeda, which had
been based in that country. That invasion also ousted the Taliban, whose
Islamist government ruled the country beginning in 1996.
Khalilzad served as U.S. ambassador to
Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, and he helped draft the country’s constitution.
He went on to be ambassador to Iraq and then U.S. envoy to the United Nations.
Nicholson, who after more than two years has become the longest-serving U.S.
commander of international forces, is going to be replaced by Army Lieutenant
General Scott Miller next month.
The Pentagon also nominated Marine
Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, to be the
next commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations
in much of the Middle East and South Asia, including Afghanistan.
ISTANBUL: The lawyer for the American
Christian pastor on trial for terrorism charges in Turkey said on Wednesday he
planned to appeal to the constitutional court to seek Andrew Brunson’s release
after being rejected by a lower court last week.
Brunson is at the center of a row
between Turkey and the US, which has exacerbated a crisis in Turkey’s lira and
reverberated across global markets.
The evangelical pastor, who has lived in
Turkey for two decades, has been detained for 21 months on terrorism charges,
which he denies. He is under house arrest.
“Once the upper court’s rejection has
been confirmed in writing we will apply to the constitutional court,” lawyer
Ismail Cem Halavurt said in comments reported by Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper
that he confirmed to Reuters.
Once domestic legal avenues are
exhausted, if necessary the defense would then apply to the European Court of
Human Rights (ECHR), he said.
“We are hopeful regarding the
constitutional court, but if it is rejected there, we will go to the ECHR without
hesitation,” he said.
The court in Turkey’s Izmir province
which last week rejected the appeal said evidence was still being collected and
the pastor posed a flight risk, according to a copy of the court ruling seen by
Abdulkadir Selvi, a Hurriyet newspaper
columnist close to the government, likened the constitutional court appeal plan
to the case of journalist Mehmet Altan, who took a similar course of action and
was released in June after being jailed on charges of aiding coup plotters.
Brunson is accused of terrorism charges
and aiding the network of a US-based Islamic preacher blamed by Ankara for
masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016 against President Tayyip Erdogan.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday,
US President Donald Trump said he would give Turkey no concessions in return
for the release of Brunson. Ankara has not responded to Trump’s comments.
rump, who counts evangelical Christians
among his core supporters, has become a vocal champion of the pastor’s case.
The Turkish currency has been in
freefall since Washington ordered tariffs in retaliation for the detention of
Turkey could end its crisis with the US
“instantly” by freeing the detained American pastor, US President Donald
Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton said, adding that a Qatari cash
infusion would not help Ankara’s economy.
“Look, the Turkish government made a big
mistake in not releasing Pastor Brunson,” Bolton told Reuters in an interview.
“Every day that goes by that mistake
continues, this crisis could be over instantly if they did the right thing as a
NATO ally, part of the West, and release pastor Brunson without condition.”
Asked if the US questioned Turkey’s
membership in NATO given the stand-off, Bolton said: “That’s not an issue at
the moment. We’re focused on Pastor Brunson and the other Americans that the
Turkish government’s holding illegitimately and we expect that to get
Qatar this month approved a package of
economic projects, including a $15 billion pledge of support, for Turkey.
Bolton was skeptical about the
intervention by Qatar.
“Well, I think what they pledged is
utterly insufficient to have an impact on Turkey’s economy. It’s certainly not
helpful but we’ll actually see what develops from their pledge,” he said.
by Ruairi Casey
When Pope John Paul became the first
pontiff to visit Ireland in 1979, almost half the island's population turned
out to see him as he toured the country.
His Sunday mass in Dublin's Phoenix Park
became the largest gathering Ireland had ever seen, with 1.2 million attendees.
It was an Ireland where condoms,
abortion and homosexuality were banned by law, and whether unknown or not
addressed, thousands of children were raped and abused by members of the
On Saturday, Pope Francis is expected to
begin a 36-hour trip to Ireland, to attend the World Meeting of Families, a
gathering of the Roman Catholic Church held every three years.
A crowd of half a million is expected in
Dublin, but attention is expected to focus on claims of child sex abuse.
The Vatican said on Tuesday that Pope
Francis will meet survivors, following demands from campaigners for action,
accountability and justice for those who were affected.
The visit comes little more than a week
after a grand jury report released in Pennsylvania revealed the covering up of
more than 1,000 cases of children abused by over 300 priests.
The report's criticisms of Cardinal
Donald Wuerl led to his withdrawal from a scheduled appearance at this
weekend's event in Dublin, where he was to deliver the keynote address,
"The Welfare of the Family is Decisive for the Future of the World".
The Pennsylvania news has brought
further scrutiny upon Pope Francis, who is widely seen to be weak on an issue
that has caused catastrophic damage to the Church's reputation worldwide.
Listing the accused
On Monday, US-based group
BishopAccountability.org launched the first open database of Irish clergy
accused of child sexual abuse. The website already hosts similar information on
those publicly accused of abuse in the US, Chile and Argentina.
The Irish database lists dozens of
clergy members who have been convicted, or whose abuses have been alleged and
documented in the media or by state-led inquiries.
It includes figures such as Brendan
Smyth, a priest from Belfast who sexually abused or assaulted at least 143
children over a period of 40 years.
Smyth was shuffled between parishes in
Ireland and the US, his order repeatedly failing to disclose his history to
local bishops, before eventually being sentenced to prison in 1994, where he
died three years later.
John Kelly, right, was abused while in
Daingean Industrial School between 1965 and 1967 [File: Cathal
The group said in a statement that it
hopes "this Irish database will encourage an open debate about how
societies balance an accused person's privacy rights against a child's right to
be safe and the public's right to know".
Codirector of BishopAccountability.org
Anne Barrett Doyle added: "It's a very unsatisfactory list because we know
from the Irish Church's own safeguarding operation has counted more than 1,300
accused clergy since 1975.
"We have a paltry 70 or 80 on our
list. This represents an accountability gap, not just a gap in unnamed
perpetrators ... I think it's why the abuse crisis is very much an open wound
Another name on the list is Henry
Maloney, who was convicted in 2009. He abused boys at a Dublin secondary school
between 1969 and 1973, after which he was transferred to another school in Bo,
Sierra Leone where he continued to molest students.
Life after abuse
Mark Vincent Healy, who was among those
abused by Maloney, now campaigns for justice.
Before the pope's visit, he gathered
research from more than 140 reports into religious orders and dioceses by the
Irish Catholic Church's National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSCCCI).
According to Healy, of the 3,425
allegations raised in these reports against 1,348 people, only 82 were
"Ninety-four percent of accused
walked free, and that's of the abusers," he told Al Jazeera. "This is
the perpetrator population, we're not even getting near the population of those
... who concealed or colluded."
A demonstrator holds a banner during a
protest against the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in London on September 18, 2010
But there are limits to what can be
achieved through the courts, Healy says.
Research has shown that survivors of
child sexual abuse in Ireland face lifelong consequences.
They are more likely to be unemployed,
earn less and die by suicide than the general population. Male survivors are
also more likely to spend time in prison.
"We do need justice, it's
absolutely fundamental, but I feel the discussion doesn't permit talking about
the dysfunctional life that is the consequence of this abuse, and how can we
better serve that community," says Healy.
"How do we reach out to them and
offer them the sort of support for issues which they are wholly innocent of
having happened to them?"
Pope Francis: We did not act in a timely
In a 2,000-word letter published this
week and addressed to the world's Catholics, Pope Francis acknowledged the
Church's history of abuse and cover-ups, including the cases in Pensylvania.
"We did not act in a timely manner,
realising the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We
showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them," he wrote.
But critics hit back at the lack of
Former head of the NBSCCCI Ian Elliot
told the Irish Times that the pope's record has been "a dismal
failure" and that he should arrive in Ireland with "a mindset that
it's not good enough to simply apologise".
Candles with a picture of Pope Francis
on sale at a stall in Dublin [Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters]
Mary McAleese, the former Irish
president, dismissed the World Meeting of Families as "essentially a
right-wing rally", while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar suggested the Church adopt
a policy of mandatory reporting, which has been in place in Ireland since last
In his Sunday sermon, Archbishop of
Dublin Diarmiud Martin said Pope Francis should "speak frankly about our
past but also our future." But he said the pontiff would not be able to
provide all the answers that people ask.
For Barrett Doyle, the public database
is a small step in confronting a history of neglect towards Ireland's most
"We are being inundated with emails
from Irish people who have seen the list and are asking us to add abusers names
to it," she says. "We obviously struck a nerve. There is a tremendous
need for this."
The UN political chief has called on
Israel to ensure that urgently needed humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip
are not “held hostage to political and security developments”.
Undersecretary-General for Political
Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council yesterday its meeting was
taking place “in the wake of yet another series of violent escalations that
threatened to plunge Gaza into war”.
She said the recurring violence
“highlights the urgency” of UN and Egyptian-led efforts, along with regional
and international partners, “to prevent another devastating outbreak of
hostilities, respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs, and support
DiCarlo said funding for UN emergency
fuel to keep about 250 hospitals, water and sanitation facilities in Gaza
operating at a minimum level “has now run out”. She appealed for USD 4.5
million to keep these critical facilities operating through the end of the
DiCarlo also expressed concern at “the
dangerously short supply of essential medicines, with 40 per cent of essential
drugs completely depleted”.
Israel and Egypt have imposed an
economically-crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized control of the
coastal territory from the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority in
2007. Israel says the blockade is needed to contain Hamas, a militant group
that seeks its destruction.
While the closure has devastated Gaza’s
economy, it has failed to oust Hamas or loosen its grip on power. Since July,
Israel and Hamas have engaged in three rounds of heavy fighting, with Hamas
firing dozens of rockets into Israel and the Israeli military carrying out
dozens of airstrikes in Gaza.
DiCarlo said in recent weeks the
humanitarian situation in Gaza had “deteriorated further, due in part to
additional restrictions that Israel imposed on the movement of goods through
the Kerem Shalom crossing” — the primary avenue for food, fuel, construction
materials and aid to enter the beleaguered territory.
Israel closed the crossing in response
to the violence and Hamas’ launching of incendiary kites and balloons that have
burned thousands of acres of Israeli fields, forests and agricultural land. The
crossing was reopened by Israel on August 15 when it also expanded the fishing
zone off Gaza to nine nautical miles.
“As we work towards a full lifting of
the closures on Gaza…,” DiCarlo said, “I call on all parties to ensure that
urgently needed humanitarian supplies reach the Strip.” She said violent
incidents have also continued elsewhere in the Palestinian territories and in
But, at the same time, DiCarlo cited
tangible steps by ordinary Israelis and Palestinians “to promote tolerance and
forge a shared future”.
As the international community focuses
on resolving the crisis in Gaza and returning the legitimate Palestinian
government to the strip, she said, the perseverance of this individuals is a
reminder of the broader goal of achieving a two-state solution where Israelis
and Palestinians live side by side in peace and security.
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