Wednesday, June 28, 2017
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Bradford MP, David Ward has received a response from the Government which acknowledges that the Burmese Government must do more to implement their commitment to end sexual violence in conflict.

David Ward
David Ward

In a response to a Written Parliamentary Question to David Ward on whether the Burmese Government had taken steps to implement the declaration to end sexual violence which it signed in June 2014, the Foreign Office Minister Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP stated that:

While there have been some developments, such as the conviction in a civilian court last year of a Burmese soldier for the rape of a minor, there is much more that can and should be done”.

The Minister continued to state that he and Lynne Featherstone MP, in her capacity as Champion for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, have raised this lack of progress with the Burmese Government and continue to encourage them to take concrete action, by strengthening legislation, reducing impunity for perpetrators, and improving access to justice for survivors.

imagesIn the Foreign Offices’ Annual Report on Human Rights in Burma, it states that sexual violence remains a concern and that the cultural reluctance to discuss the issue and lack of access to justice and access to active areas of conflict means that the full extent of sexual and gender-based violence in Burma is still unknown.

Commenting David Ward MP said:

“Whilst it’s important for the Foreign Office to acknowledge that the Burmese Government are not doing enough to end the horrendous cycle of sexual violence particularly against the Rohingya community in Burma, this condemnation is simply not strong enough or proven to be effective in anyway.

“We are providing important aid and support to the country and we need to be doing more to use this position to make sure the Burmese Government and the Army are not taking part in what appears to many, to be state sponsored violence against the Rohingya community.”

Zoya Phan
Zoya Phan

Zoya Phan, Campaigns Manager for Burma Campaign UK added:

“None of the £300,000 funding that is provided by the FCO to combat sexual violence in Burma goes directly to women survivors of sexual violence by the Burmese Army, or to the women’s organisations who help them.”

“The Burmese government had not implemented a single part of the Declaration to end sexual violence, but Hugo Swire MP avoids giving a straight answer and admitting this.”

“The training courses which the British government provide to the Burmese Army last two weeks, a total of 60 hours, and just one and a half of those hours is spent on human rights.”

By Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE

 

01%20Mohammed%20AjeebAway from cold, rain and damp to constant sun and dust, I am resting in my ancestors place in a village at the edge of Mangla Dam Lake near Mirpur in Azad Kashmir which is administered by Pakistan. Four weeks of my stay here has already induced in me a strong feeling of strangeness and alieness.

This is perhaps due to my continued long stay in the United Kingdom, hence, this has induced in me the life style which is not, in many ways, appreciated here. Since my arrival in the country, I have travelled widely to several large cities of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir as well as their rural areas and have met people of all classes of political persuasion. My initial observations are sorely disappointing.

khanafp_2093521bSadly Pakistan is a country where corruption, nepotism, religious ignorance, intolerance, political turbulence and volatility and violence controls all most every aspect of life. It’s a country where frenzied mobs are free to take law into their own hands. Recently a young couple of Christian faith was publicly lynched, tortured and then burnt to death in a bricks kiln who were alleged to have committed blasphemy by a greedy and corrupt cleric. And yet there is no visible evidence which such a barbaric act has prompted any serious reflection as to why the country continues to suffer from the passion of the Dark Ages.

Merely empty rhetoric’s have been uttered both by religious and political leaders just to appease the minorities. The low enforcing agencies in these kinds of incidences are reluctant to intervene because of the fear of backlash from emotionally charged fanatical mobs. The courts are also scared of delivering justice to the victims of these extremists’ activities due to retaliations to judges and their families, thus these heinous crimes continue without any punity. It is a country where the rich and powerful can buy justice but the poor and powerless are facing all kinds of injustices. The legal system of the country is skewed in the favour of the rich and powerful and offers very little to poor citizens and much less to the minorities of the country.

Peace-Conference_2012_22The superior courts only deal with issues of national significance, the malpractices and open corruption are the norms of lower courts where the criminal justice is supposed to be delivered to the poor classes.

The government appears to be unwilling or unable to confront the forces of extremism with firm conviction. It’s a country that is governed by close members of one family alone. Therefore, its poor state of governance makes it dysfunctional. The rapidly deteriorating law and order situation has also weakened the government. The head of Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Imran Khan’s persistent accusations of corruption and malpractices against the incumbent government has given credence to the very poor image of government. It’s also a country where more or less every day small and large protests and demonstrations are held regularly.

Pakistani-Prime-Minister-Nawaz-SharifDue to massive unemployment, people of all ages willingly join these events as a matter of curiosity or are hired to inflate the number at such rallies. Of course there are also those who participate in these events because of their loyalty or commitment to the political or religious organizations who invite them. However, no leader talks about the major issues like unemployment, inflation, law and order, poverty and many other social problems. The political leadership, is in the main, preoccupied with their day to day existence. Over three months of sit-ins by Imran Khan in Islamabad has shaken the Nawaz Sharif government badly.

Undoubtedly, Imran Khan has fully taken the advantage continuously both at his dharna’s (protests) and his rallies in the large cities of Punjab and Sindh provinces when he has made endless allegations against the failure of the current system. He has also made stinging personal attacks on Nawaz Sharif, his personal assets abroad and wrong doings of his government.

Whereas Imran Khan has caused uncertainty and nervousness in the governments circles, he has in the three months gifted the nation with enormous awareness of some of the most pertinent problems facing the country. He has skillfully secured the overwhelming support of young Pakistani of both genders. His claim to organize a huge rally in the constitutional avenue Islamabad at the end of the month, is seen to be a real test for the government. The established class of politicians and some of critics accuse him of political immaturity, stubbornness and a stooge of the establishment. He is also described as a politician with nauseating clarity. His politics is defined as a blend of religion, conservatism and his sympathies with the Taliban and other extreme religious organizations.

imagesHNR1X8ZOHowever, the Captain is determined to continue with his dharna in Islamabad and sooner or later to dislodge Sharif’s government from power. On the other hand, Dr. Tahir ul Qadari has returned to Pakistan from his recent tour of North America and Europe and has once more added extra dimensions to be already volatile politics of the country. He has out rightly rejected the government appointed joint committee to investigate the brutal killings of civilians at Model Town, Lahore in August this year. Dr. Qadari has now prepared a schedule of his Jalsa’s (large gatherings) in various part of the country in the coming months. Apparently the political activity in the whole country is on its highest boiling point which prognosticates the possibility of midterm elections.

The recent decision by the special court dealing with the treason case of retired General Musharraf has provided not a sigh of relief only to the government, but also to Musharraf and the hierarchy of the Army. This decision may help patch up the obvious drift between Nawaz Sharif and the Army, for this case now may linger on and end with impunity for all those concerned.

With all these crisis’ the country seems be standing leaderless on a cross road and its people are eagerly and desperately looking for an honest, sincere, committed and more importantly, a patriotic leader to save the country from many perils it is faced with. One of the prerequisites for the country to move on a safe path could be to rid the country of mixing religion with politics. In order to avoid the current state of strife, violence, sectarianism and terrorism, the country should be declared a secular republic, otherwise there will always be a danger of dictatorship or self-destruction.

Search teams scanning the Java Sea for the main wreckage from AirAsia flight QZ8501 have found “four large objects”, the search chief says.

Bambang Soelistyo said the biggest of the objects was 18m (59ft) long and he believed they were parts of the plane.

The Airbus A320 vanished with 162 people on board en route from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore last Sunday.

So far 30 bodies have been recovered with most of the remaining bodies thought to be trapped in the fuselage.

Indonesia’s weather agency believes bad weather was the “biggest factor” behind the crash, in which no survivors were found.

The BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes at the forward operating base in Pangkalan Bun says it seems this could be the breakthrough search teams have been hoping for.

The cause of the crash is not yet known. Specialist equipment has arrived to the search for the plane’s “black-box” flight recorders, though officials say no signals have been picked up yet.

‘Confident’

Sonar from an Indonesian navy ship detected one large object on Friday night with the other three found on Saturday, Mr Soelistyo announced.

“I am confident these are parts of the missing AirAsia plane,” he said.

According to the Associated Press news agency, he also gave the width of the largest object found, saying it was 5.4m. Another was said to be 10m long.

Mr Soelistyo said an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) was being lowered into the water to get an actual picture of the objects, which were at a depth of 30m.

He warned that the height of waves was hampering the search effort at sea. The waves were four to five metres high, he said.

Another official, Supriyadi, said earlier that poor visibility was hampering the work of the ROVs.

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By Mohammad Nazir Tabassum INDIA-POLITICS-RAMDEV-MODI

State elections in Indian Kashmir are afoot. Contrary to the other Indian states where elections are held after every five years, this exercise is done in J & K after every six years. The last elections in that state were held in 2008. As a result a coalition government of JK National Conference and Indian National Congress was formed.

The current Assembly will complete its tenure on 19 January 2015. Elections would be held on 87 out of the total 89 seats; the remaining two would be filled in by nomination. Elections would be held in five stages starting from November 25 and continuing on 2nd, 9th, 14th and 20th December. The counting of all the five phases would be held on 23rd December. Kashmir’s mainstream parties fielding candidates in these elections are NC (National Conference), Congress and PDP (Peoples Democratic Party).

Apart from these there are others too, such as National Panthers’ Party of Professor Bhim Singh, Kashmir Peoples Confernce of Sajjad Ghani Lone and Awami Itrhad Party of Engineer Sheikh Abdur Rashid. The most important aspect of these elections is that BJP, the political wing of Sangh Pariwar under whose umbrella are numerous extremist and militant Hindu parties such as Hindu Mahasabha, Jan Sangh, RSS, Bajrang Dal and many more, are determined to install their chief minister in Kashmir this time. They are encouraged after winning general elections of Lok Sabha and forming their government in the centre.

Lately they were also turned victorious in the state elections of Haryana and Maharashtara as a result of which their ambitions have further been enhanced. They openly claim that winning in other states is just no problem for them. However, J & K state elections are certainly something unachievable which they are determined to achieve. With their electioneering slogan “Dillhi hui hamari, Ab Kashmir ki Bari” (We have won Delhi, it’s now Kashmir’s turn), they have embarked on Mission 44. Mission 44 means to win 44 out of 87 seats, the simple majority by virtue of which they will be able to install their Chief Minister in Kashmir.

There are three regions of Indian Kashmir that is, Valley, Jammu and Laddakh. In 2008 state elections, BJP could win only 11 out of 37 seats from Jammu and none from the Valley and Laddakh. In this year’s general elections of Lok Sabha, they succeeded in getting two seats from Jammu and one from Laddakh. This has made a big difference to their future ambitious plans. This time they want to win 30 out of the 37 seats of Jammu, 5 to 6 out of 46 seats in the Valley and 3 out of 4 seats from Laddakh. How can they do this? They are banking upon the migrant Kashmiri Pundits vote. During the 1990s uprising nearly 200,000 Kashmiri Pundits had left Kashmir and settled in cities of India.

BJP claims that the number of eligible migrant Kashmir Pundit voters is 400,000. BJP has already got registered 126,000 of these votes. They are bent upon getting registered another 30,000 well on time before the expiry date of new registration. Furthermore they are trying to hook up the disgruntled leaders from other mainstream parties. Still further they want to be benefitted more and more by the division of vote bank of the mainstream parties. The development-hungry general public in the valley of Kashmir are fed up with the poor performance of the NC and Congress coalition during their current government.

They failed to come up to the expectations of those who worst suffered from the recent floods. The victims of floods feel that they were just left on the mercy of wind and wave when they badly needed governmental relief. BJP’s barefaced agenda after winning polls in Kashmir is to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which gives J & K a special status not enjoyable by other states. Yet this is another thing that after more than 90 Presidential orders little “special status” is left behind.

In 1963-64, Pundit Jawaher Lal Nehru, the Indian Premier and Gulzari Lal Nanda, the then Home Minister said: Article 370 is a tunnel through which everything could be passed that will render this article toothless. And it is now by and large toothless except that it provides for the psychological support to the suffering Kashmiris. Another irritant in J & K to the eyes of BJP is the residency rules (State Subject Rules) prevalent in the state since 1927-28 that make any non-state subject non-eligible to own land or property in the state.

The non-state subjects can get employment in the state services only after waving these rules by an official order. BJP is bent upon targeting these rules also. What would be the exact outcome of these polls, it is difficult to foresee at this time.

On October 2014, at just 17 years old, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her resolute determination to ensure girls and children all over the world are entitled to an education. Her now internationally recognised activism began with a gunshot to the head by a Taliban member in October 2012, because of her demands for girls in Pakistan to be able to go to school. Since then, Malala has been pushed into the limelight and has delivered speeches worldwide, including the United Nations. It is with no doubt that such recognition made her Nobel Peace Prize victory inevitable at some point, but nobody would have thought she’d get it at such a young age.

However, even though the majority are fully supportive of Malala’s efforts and subsequent success, there are a minority that are rather vocal about their criticisms of her, not least because they feel Malala was not deserving of such an accolade. It is well known that the West have been backing Malala ever since she got shot by the Taliban, unsurprising, given that both share a common rival that they wish to defeat. Therefore the question arises, who are her critics if not the West?  Well, it seems the people that do not support her are in fact people from her home country, Pakistan.

Whilst many will raise their eyebrows at this fact, it is fully understandable why a minority in Pakistan dislike her. First of all, it is incredibly likely that Malala’s critics believe she has created a bad name for Pakistan due to her strong claims that essentially girls in Pakistan do not get the education they deserve and that this is untrue.  Another reason as to why Malala’s critics shun her Nobel Prize triumph is simply because they think she did not deserve it, as there are far worthy recipients within Pakistan such as drone strike victims and long serving humanitarian worker, Abdul Sattar Edhi. Others argue that she is too young and has not yet proved that she is worthy of the Peace Prize with only one year’s worth of activism.

However all of her critics aside, it is to be noted that they are but a minority compared to the vast amount of people that support her. Indeed for the Muslim world, Malala’s Nobel Laureate status now means that overall there are 7 winners of the peace prize including the likes of Yasser Arafat and Shirin Ebadi. The majority would argue that Malala Yousafzai has done her nation proud.

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A man accused of trying to rape a teenage girl is in a critical condition after locals hacked off his genitals with a meat cleaver in a butcher shop.

After hearing terrified screams, an angry mob took the law into its own hands and dragged Suresh Kumar, 40, into a butchers in the city of Ganganagar, India.

He was found down an alley, pinning the terrified girl against a wall.

Following a community meeting, the vigilantes decided to drag him to a local butcher’s shop where they beat him with sticks for an hour, before chopping off his genitalia with a meat cleaver.

The remains were then dumped in the middle of the road with Kumar’s bleeding body nearby.

Local Aamir Dhawan, 30, said: “No one went to help the man because they could see his penis on the ground and knew this was punishment for a sex crime.

“We have had a lot of intolerable offences against women in this country recently, with girls being raped, hung, and molested, and it’s time it stopped.

“This sends out a very strong message to anyone like that – if you do it you will be punished.”

Police have called for those responsible to come forward.

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Somalia’s government has launched its first postal service in more than two decades.

It has also introduced postcodes nationwide for the first time in the country’s history.

The postal service fell into disuse when long-serving ruler Siad Barre’s regime collapsed in 1991.

Its reintroduction is the latest sign that some normality is returning to Somalia after more than two decades of clan and religious-based conflict.

Last week, Somalia’s first-ever cash withdrawal machine was installed in the capital, Mogadishu.

Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mohamed Ibrahim said Somalis would now be able to receive letters from abroad.

The next phase would be to make it possible for them to send letters to friends and relatives who live abroad, he said.

Mr Ibrahim told the BBC he was excited about the re-launch of the service.

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