Archive | April 26th, 2014

Stop the extreme group of monks called Bodu Bala Sena

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Stop the extreme group of monks called Bodu Bala Sena
Stop the extreme group of monks called Bodu Bala Sena in who ignites the religious hatred, enmity and violent oppressions against Muslims and other minority religious groups.

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-director-stop-the-extreme-group-of-monks-called-bodu-bala-sena-in-who-ignites-the-religious-hatred-enmity-and-violent-oppressions-against-muslims-and-other-minority-religious-groups

This petition aims to gather opposition to the extremist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) organisation in Sri Lanka. Its general secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero, along with other members, continues to violate the religious rights of minorities via their hatred propaganda and violent activities.

We appeal to all human rights activists, organisations and individuals to demand immediate action on the issue.

Since the so-called end of the civil war in May 2009 in Sri Lanka, BBS Buddhist chauvinist monks have turned their attention to religious minorities provoking and perpetrating physical harm against Muslims, mosques, historical graveyards, Christian churches, and Hindu temples. But the Sri Lankan authorities remain silence even though there has been proper complaints made.

Most ordinary people, including some Buddhist monks, have started to oppose Bodu Bala Sena. This is especially the case since BBS’s violent attack on a press meeting organised by Jathika Bala Sena (JBS) – another group of Buddhist monks that promotes peace and co-existence in the country and opposes BBS.

The JBS general secretary, Watareka Vijitha Thero, was stopped and threatened violently in front of the state media. BBS forced him to make a public apology for attempting to speak out to the media against religious oppression and for defending the rights of people to all religious beliefs, including of Muslims, rather than promoting Sri Lanka as a Buddhist-only state.

More than 50 listed incidents of violence have taken place in the last few years, against Sri Lankan Muslims and their religious practices. This takes place under the mask of a disgraceful Buddhist ‘cleansing of Sri Lanka’ – propagated by the extreme BBS group.

The security forces and the authorities are remain silent and encourage Bodu Bala Sena indirectly. But despite religious, ethnic, and racial differences the majority are opposed to this violent attack and propaganda against the Muslim community.

This attack is an attack on democratic rights in general.

All forms of hatred, violence against religious and other minorities and attacks on democratic rights must be opposed.

We demand that:

 1.       Attacks of all kind on the Muslim community must be stopped immediately

 2.       We defend the right and support the building of multi-ethnic democratic defence bodies against   the mob attacks provoked and perpetrated by the BBS. We also need defence against state repression, especially in the areas where Muslim communities live

3.       The right of an individual to practice any religion or none must be respected, with protection for minority rights in all areas.

To:

The Director, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Secretary, Minority Rights Group International

Emma Eastwood, Minority Rights Group International
Secretary, International Justice Mission UK

Secretary for Minority Affairs, International Crisis Group
Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for the Office of Human Rights

Minister of Justice – Sri Lanka, Ministry of Justice, Superior Courts Complex Colombo 12, Sri Lanka

Eleanor Blatchley, Coordinator, Human Rights Watch

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The language of the I$raHell occupation

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Semantics of the Israeli occupiers

By Uri Avnery

Imagine a war breaking out between Israel and Jordan. Within two or three days the Israeli army occupies the entire territory of the Hashemite Kingdom. What will be the first act of the occupation authority?

Establish a settlement in Petra? Expropriate land near Aqaba?

No. The very first thing will be to decree that the territory will henceforth be known as “Gilead and Moab”.

All the media will be ordered to use the biblical name. All government and court documents will adopt it. Except for the radical left, nobody will mention Jordan anymore. All applications by the inhabitants will be addressed to the Military Government of Gilead and Moab.

Why? Because annexation starts with words.

Words convey ideas. Words implant concepts in the minds of their hearers and speakers. Once they are firmly established, everything else follows.

The writers of the Bible already knew this. They taught “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21). For how many years now have we been eating the fruit of “Judea and Samaria”?

When Vladimir Putin last week restored the old name of “New Russia” to the territory of eastern Ukraine, it was not just a semantic change. It was a claim for annexation, more powerful than a salvo of cannon shots.

“Peace” vs “political settlement”

Recently I listened to a speech by a left-wing politician, and was disturbed when she spoke at length about her struggle for a “political settlement” with the Palestinians.

When I remonstrated with her, she apologized. It was a slip of the tongue. She had not meant it that way.

In Israeli politics, the word “peace” has become poison. “Political settlement” is the vogue term. It is meant to say the same. But of course, it doesn’t.

“Peace” means much more than the formal end of warfare. It contains elements of reconciliation, of something spiritual. In Hebrew and Arabic, Shalom/Salaam include wellbeing, safety and serve as greetings. “Political settlement” means nothing but a document formulated by lawyers and signed by politicians.

The “Peace of Westphalia” put an end to 30 years of war and changed the life of Europe. One may wonder whether a “Political settlement of Westphalia” would have had the same effect.

The Bible enjoins us: “Seek peace and pursue it!” (Psalms, 34:14) It does not say “Seek a political settlement and pursue it.”

When the Israeli left gives up the term Peace, this is not a tactical retreat. It is a rout. Peace is a vision, a political ideal, a religious commandment, an inspiring idea. Political settlement is a subject for discussion.

“West Bank” vs “Judea and Samaria”

Peace is not the only victim of semantic terrorism. Another is, of course, the West Bank.

All TV channels have long ago been ordered by the government not to use this term. Most journalists in the written media also march in step. They call it “Judea and Samaria”.

“Judea and Samaria” means that the territory belongs to Israel, even if official annexation may be delayed for political reasons. “West Bank” means that this is occupied territory.

By itself, there is nothing sacred about the term “West Bank”, which was adopted by the Jordanian ruler when he illegally incorporated the area in his newly extended kingdom. This was done in secret collusion with David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, who wanted to erase the name “Palestine” from the map. The legal basis was a phoney conference of Palestinian “notables” in Jericho.

King Abdallah of Jordan divided his fief into the East Bank (of the Jordan river) and the West Bank.

So why do we insist on using this term? Because it means that this is not a part of Israel, but Arab land that will belong – like the Gaza Strip – to the state of Palestine when peace (sorry, a political settlement) is achieved.

Until now, the semantic battle remains undecided. Most Israelis talk about the “West Bank”. “Judea and Samaria” has remained, in common parlance, the realm of the settlers.

Jewish squatters: “Mitnahalim” vs “Mityashvim”

The setlers, of course, are the subject of a similar semantic battle.

In Hebrew, there are two terms: Mitnahalim and Mityashvim. They essentially mean the same. But in common usage, people use Mitnahalim when they mean the settlers in the occupied territories, and Mityashvim when they speak about settlers in Israel proper.

The battle between these two words goes on daily. It is a fight for or against the legitimacy of the settlement beyond the Green Line. Up to now, our side seems to have the upper hand. The distinction remains intact. If someone uses the term Mityashvim, they are automatically identified with the political right.

The Green Line

The Green Line itself is, of course, a leftist concept. It makes a clear distinction between Israel proper and the occupied territories. The colour comes from the fact that this border – actually the 1949 armistice line – was always marked on the maps in green. Until…

Until the (left-wing) minister of labour, Yigal Alon, decreed that henceforth the Green Line would no longer be marked on any map. Under an old law dating back to the British Mandate, the government owns the copyright for all maps printed in the country, and the minister of labour was in charge.

This remained so until Gush Shalom sued the government in the Supreme Court. Our argument was that since on the two sides of this line different laws apply, the citizens must have a map that shows them what law they have to obey at a given place. The ministry gave in and promised the court that it would print maps with the Green Line marked.

For lack of an alternative, all Israelis use the term “Green Line”. Since rightists do not recognize this line at all, they have not invented an alternative word. For some time they tried the term “Seam-Line”, but this did not catch on.

“Occupied territories” vs “liberated territories”, “administered territories” and “disputed territories”

A line between what? At the beginning of the occupation, the question arose what to call the areas just conquered.

We of the peace camp called them, of course, “occupied territories”. The right called them “liberated territories” and floated the slogan “Liberated territories will not be returned”, a catchy rhyme in Hebrew. The government called them “administered territories” and later “disputed territories”.

The general public just settled for “the territories” – and that is the term used nowadays by everybody who has no interest in stressing his or her political conviction every time these areas are mentioned.

“Palestinians” vs “our neighbours”

This raises the question about the Wall.

When the government decided to create a physical obstacle between Israel and the occupied territories – partly for expansion, partly for genuine security reasons – a name was needed. It is built mainly on occupied land, annexing in practice large areas. It is a fence in open areas, a wall in built-up ones. So we simply called it “the Wall” or “the Fence”, and started weekly demonstrations.

The “Wall/Fence” became odious around the world. So the army looked around for a term that sounded non-ideological and chose “separation obstacle”. However, this term now appears only in official documents.

With whom are we negotiating about the political settlement? Ah, there is the rub.

For generations, the Zionist movement and the state of Israel denied the very existence of a Palestinian people. In the 1993 Oslo Agreement, this idiotic pretence was dropped and we recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the “representative of the Palestinian people”. But the Palestinian state was not mentioned, and until this very day our government abhors the terms “Palestinian state” or “State of Palestine”.

Even today the term “Palestinians” evokes conscious or unconscious rejection. Most commentators speak about a political settlement with “our neighbours” – by which they do not mean the Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians or Lebanese, but You Know Who.

“Palestinian Authority” vs “Palestinian National Authority”

In Oslo, the PLO negotiators strenuously insisted that their new state-in-the-making should be called the “Palestinian National Authority”. The Israeli side vehemently objected to the word “National”. So the agreement (actually a “Statement of Principles”) calls it the “Palestinian Authority” and the Palestinians themselves call it the “Palestinian National Authority”. Palestinians who need urgent medical treatment in Israeli hospitals are turned back if they bring financial documents signed by the “Palestinian National Authority”.

So THE fight goes on along the semantic front. For me, the really crucial part is the fight for the word Peace. We must reinstate it as the central word in our vocabulary. Clearly, loudly, proudly.

As the hymn of the peace movement (written by Yankele Rotblit as an appeal by the fallen soldiers to the living) says:

“Therefore, sing a song to peace / Don’t whisper a prayer / Sing a song to peace / In a loud shout!”

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Dirty Zionist Spielberg launches center for genocide research

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gaza

Academic center aims to probe the conditions leading to genocides and how to intervene in time to prevent them.

Times of Israel

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg is establishing a Center for Advanced Genocide Research at the University of Southern California.

The formation of the new center was announced in a press conference Friday. Its primary goals will be to investigate the conditions leading to genocides and how to intervene in time to prevent such mass violence and slaughter.

Spielberg founded what is now the USC Shoah Foundation 20 years ago following release of his Oscar-winning movie, “Schindler’s List.”

“The USC Shoah Foundation has made tremendous progress during its first 20 years, but its work is far from finished,” Spielberg said in a statement, noting the 52,000 testimonies it has gathered and the educational programs it has launched.

“Now comes the next significant chapter, one that establishes the Institute as one of the leading academic centers of excellence for the study of the Holocaust and genocides,” he said. “The potential is there for groundbreaking research.”

The Shoah Foundation’s testimonies deal primarily with the Holocaust but also include eyewitness accounts of the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi genocide and the 1937 Nanjing massacre.

Material on the Armenian and Cambodian genocides will be added to the archives this year.

USC history professor Wolf Gruner will serve as director of the new center. Its first major conference, “Media, Memory and Technology: Exploring the Trajectories of ‘Schindler’s List’” will be held in November 2014.

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ADL Director Foxman slams ‘unfounded’ US fears of Zionist spying

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judas

Pollard  case  cannot  account for US intel community’s reluctance to admit I$raHell to Visa Waiver Program, says ADL head; also laments false stereotype that US Jews can’t be fully trusted

Times of Israel

Ostensible concerns in the American intelligence community that Israelis could abuse eased visa arrangements to spy on the US are unsubstantiated and draw on false stereotypes that Jews are disloyal citizens and cannot be trusted, Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said.

As officials in Jerusalem and Washington hail unprecedented levels of bilateral security and intelligence cooperation, the public is obligated to speak out against the use of such clichés, he said in an interview with The Times of Israel.

“Everybody spies. But I don’t hear [similar] arguments over visa waivers applied to any other country,” he said, referring to reports quoting American intelligence officials who are skeptical of current efforts by the State Department to admit Israel to its Visa Waiver Program because they worry about Israeli espionage.

“There are a lot of countries trying to get visa waivers with the US. I have not seen or heard, on any of these countries who are trying to get it, the argument that they spy. And I assume that there’s spying from France, and I’m sure there’s spying from Poland, there’s spying from China, etc. And yet you don’t hear [similar accusations] out of official circles,” he said.

After the State Department started looking for ways to help Israel join the program, a report surfaced quoting top congressional aides saying that US intelligence sources are wary of such a step because it would heighten the risk of Israeli agents trying to gather intelligence in the United States. “The US intelligence community is concerned that adding Israel to the Visa Waiver Program would make it easier for Israeli spies to enter the country,” a senior House aide told the Roll Call website.

Congressional aides said officials from the State and Homeland Security departments and intelligence officials expressed such concerns in a classified briefing to congressmen and staffers on the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over visa issues, the site reported.

“Let’s assume the intelligence community has that view and it provided that opinion to congressional committees. Somebody had it in their interest to leak it,” Foxman told The Times of Israel Tuesday during a visit to Israel. “And this issue that Israelis are [purportedly] extraordinary in their desire to spy in America is one of these things that have plagued the relationship, [even] before [the arrest of Jonathan] Pollard,” he said, referring to the case of the US-born navy intelligence analyst who is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for spying for Israel.

“Pollard only gave it a patina of legitimacy. But every couple of years, sometimes every couple of months, something surfaces,” said Foxman, who is stepping down as director of the ADL in 2015 after 27 years. Several US administrations have been wary of Israeli spying, but Washington is apparently considerably less concerned about espionage from other governments, he said bitterly.

Pollard, who was caught in 1985, cannot alone be the reason for Washington’s exaggerated suspicions, Foxman said, arguing that Pollard’s arrest and sentencing was a singular incident in over 60 years of bilateral relations.

Rather, Foxman said he suspected that “there is a stereotype out there that Jews can’t be trusted, that Jews can’t be loyal. We’ve been polling for the last 40, 50 years on stereotypic attitudes in America. And on the issue of loyalty, 30 percent in the last 30, 40 years have expressed this stereotypic attitude. Almost one of three. It’s out there. It’s one of those ugly stereotypes that is out there that people play with.”

It is ironic that fears of Israeli spying come up at a time when there is more US-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation than ever, Foxman added. “So to hear the intelligence community leak out that they’re worried that these tourists are going to spy is so much off course that it says to me that it taps into a prejudice.”

Foxman said he possessed a file of complaints by American-Jewish professionals who have been denied US security clearances due to their close relationship to Israel, “and some of the questions asked were inappropriate.” US officials have apologized for some of these cases, he added, but some feeling of uneasiness about American Jews and their ties to Israel remains, he suggested. “It’s part of that bureaucratic thinking that if you’re Jewish, and you have relatives in Israel and you speak Hebrew and you travel to Israel, then maybe you’re a spy.”

Claims that the so-called “Israel lobby” in the US puts Jewish interests before American interests linger, and leaking concerns over Israeli espionage “helps fuel and legitimize this attitude,” Foxman said. “It’s there and therefore we have a responsibility to expose it, to speak out against it, to say it’s unacceptable, it’s not part of the relationship and one should not tolerate it.”

Israel has not been admitted to the Visa Waiver Program because it “doesn’t satisfy most of the Visa Waiver Program statutory requirements, including full issuance of e-passports and certain data-sharing agreements,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

Two obstacles are said to be a relatively high rate of visa refusal — caused by an increase in young Israelis seeking to enter America as tourists and then work illegally — and Israel’s alleged discrimination against Arab-Americans.

The United States and Israel recently created a working group to help Israel advance toward joining the program, according to Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield.

Secretary of State John Kerry “has directed the Department to take a range of immediate actions to ensure that, consistent with US immigration law, we make every effort to maximize the number of young Israelis able to travel to the United States,” she wrote in a letter to a Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), who had asked that Kerry look into the matter. “The secretary has directed us to address these matters quickly and comprehensively.”

The current visa refusal rate for Israel is at 9.7 percent; to be admitted into the Visa Waiver Program a rate of 3 percent or lower is required. Data for Israelis aged of 21 to 26 show that rejection rates have doubled from 16 percent in 2009 to 32 percent in 2013, according to Frifield.

“We know that despite a two-thirds approval rate, this increase has led to a perception by some that young Israelis are unwelcome to travel to the United States. Clearly, that is not the case,” she wrote. “Israel is one of our closest friends and allies, and we welcome interchange between Israelis and Americans in every manner, including travel by Israelis to the United States. The Department can and will do more to encourage and assist qualified Israelis to visit the United States.”

US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro echoed these statements Sunday on his Facebook profile.

Israel is willing to treat Palestinian-Americans wishing to enter Israel the same as it treats other Americans if it is allowed to join the Visa Waiver Program, the Haaretz newspaper reported this week, citing an unnamed senior Israeli official.

Admitting Israel into the Visa Waiver Program would exempt Israeli citizens from the need for tourist visas and would enable them to stay in the US for up to 90 days.

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Drug trafficking route between Paraguay and I$raHell uncovered

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angelofdeath (3)

Four Zionist smugglers carrying 2.5 kilos of  cocaine caught in  Brazil before couriers could continue on to Spain, Egypt and finally I$raHell.

jpost

A major drug trafficking route to Israel was uncovered by police when four Israeli smugglers were caught at an airport in Brazil with 2.5 kilograms of cocaine in their possession.

An undercover investigation conducted over the last few months by the Negev division of the YAMAR investigative unit pointed to a suspected trafficking route to Israel that began in Paraguay and ended in Israel. Investigators believed that the route had yet to be utilized due to difficulties associated with bringing drugs into Israel.

Four suspects in their 30s were arrested by YAMAR when the undercover operation transitioned into an open investigation last Sunday. All four suspects were residents of southern and central Israel and detained at the airport in Brazil on suspicion of organizing the import of cocaine. Their remand was extended until Tuesday.

The YAMAR unit believes that the network operated over the past year and built a worldwide route designed to cover the couriers’ tracks. The trail began in Paraguay and continued on to Brazil. From there it was meant to continue to Madrid, Cairo and then on to the Taba crossing in Sinai.

The arrests in Brazil led to the capture of other members of the smuggling ring and another 35 kilograms of cocaine in their possession.

Police operations to prevent illegal substances from entering the country is a “battle of wits” in which security forces “must think creatively and always be one step ahead,” said Asst.-Ch. Yoram Halevy, Southern District police chief.

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US congressman to face charges over Pinto-linked funds

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grimm

Republican Rep. Michael Grimm said to have received illegal contributions from followers of Zionist rabbi.

Times of Israel

Republican US Rep. Michael Grimm, who has been dogged by allegations of campaign violations since his first campaign for Congress in 2009 and 2010, is facing criminal charges from federal prosecutors for receiving large contributions from followers of an Israeli rabbi, his lawyer said on Friday.

Grimm has acknowledged receiving $250,000 to $300,000 in contributions from followers of the rabbi, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto. Some members of Pinto’s congregation subsequently said they made tens of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions, including gifts passed through straw donors.

Grimm has denied knowledge of any improprieties, and the FBI hasn’t accused him of any wrongdoing. The Israeli businessman who had served as Grimm’s liaison to Pinto’s followers, Ofer Biton, pleaded guilty in August to an immigration fraud charge.

Three days after that guilty plea, the FBI filed a sealed criminal complaint accusing a Houston woman who had been romantically involved with Grimm of using straw donors to make illegal campaign contributions.

In that case, made public this month, the woman was accused of funneling at least $10,000 to Grimm’s campaign by passing them through friends who agreed to have the donations listed under their names.

A spokesman in Grimm’s Washington office, Nick Iacono, did not immediately return emails or a telephone message seeking comment Friday.

In this May 9, 2012 file photo, Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. On Friday, Aug. 17, 2012, businessman Ofer Biton, an Israeli who helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Grimm during his 2010 campaign, was arraigned in New York on immigration fraud charges.

A House member who has been indicted does not lose any rights or privileges under federal law or the chamber’s rules, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

A House Ethics Committee announced in November that Grimm was under investigation for possible campaign finance violations but said it would defer its inquiry because of a separate Department of Justice investigation.

A spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Brooklyn said Friday he couldn’t confirm, deny or comment on the case. The FBI’s New York office, which handles investigations, also declined to comment.

Grimm’s attorney, William McGinley, said in a statement he wasn’t surprised by the impending charges, which he didn’t disclose. But he maintained the lawmaker had done nothing wrong.

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It’s Official: Erdogan sent Turkish Troops into Syria

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Turkish Troops deployed 200 Meters from ISIL Al Qaeda affiliated Mercenaries – Deployment of Mercenaries to Suleyman Shah Tomb an Engineered Pretext for a Turkish Invasion

Now also officially, Turkey’s Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan said he has sent Turkish troops 25 kilometers into Syria. To “send aid” to the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of Osman I who founded the Ottoman Empire, he claims. Turkish special forces have been observed in Syria, cooperating with mercenary forces, since 2012.

 

Suleyman Shah_Turkey_Aleppo_Syria

Responding to allegations that Turkey has launched joint operations with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Syria, Turkey’s Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdogan responded saying that a Turkish convoy had carried “aid” to the tomb of Suleyman Shah.The tomb is located 25 kilometers inside Syrian territory and remains under Turkish sovereignty under The Franco – Turkish Pact of 1921. The treaty, however, does not provide for unauthorized Turkish troop deployments, especially not when these troops are cooperating with an international brigade of mercenaries in Turkish service, who are fighting the Syrian armed forces.

Erdogan Davotoglu

Erdogan made the statement to journalists on children’ day, two days ago, while he was at en event with primary school students in Ankara. Later on, at an official reception at Turkey’s parliament, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmed Davotoglu, said that the deployment is a “routine change of duty” of the Turkish troops which are guarding the tomb. Army Commander General Hulusi Akar described the deployment of the 300 men strong convoy as “planned activity”.

Reports in social media associated to ISIL reported earlier that day, that Turkey had sent 6 tanks, 12 armored vehicles and 300 Turkish troops. Quoting eyewitnesses, the reports added that the Turkish detachment had taken position 200 meters away from a position held by the ISIL.

March 14, Davotoglu warned that “Turkey would have to take all precautions to protect the tomb”. The statement was made after clashes between Syrian armed forces and ISIL in the region near the tomb. The Turkish Foreign Minister’s statement was followed by a statement of Turkey’s Energy Minister, Taner Yaldiz on March 20. Yaldiz said:

“The tomb of Suleyman Shah is a rare place, being Turkish land outside of Turkey’s own borders. There is no  difference between the tomb in Ankara or Sinop. The soil on which it is located is Turkish soild. Our armed forces are ensuring and protecting it”.

sykes_fabius_picot_hague

The tomb is located 25 kilometers within Syrian territory in Aleppo province. Turkish sovereignty over the tomb was granted by the former colonial power France in 1921, and the agreement was renewed when Syria won independence in 1936.

Turkey can, arguably, claim that the deployment of troops to sovereign territory does not elevate the conflict to an international conflict. Turkey, as well as its allies including the former colonial power France claim that the conflict is a civil war. Turkey’s and its allies use of international mercenaries, however, has already elevated the situation to an international war according to international law. Moreover, the admitted involvement of the former colonial power France made the conflict an international conflict under the extended protocols of the Geneva Conventions.

ISIL position 200 meters from Suleyman Shah tomb a Turkish engineered provocation . Even though the tomb is on a patch of sovereign Turkish territory, there are a number of factors that contradict the argument that Turkey would have to “protect” the tomb from Syrian armed forces or from ISIL.

Syrian troops

With regards to ISIL, its brigades are being financed and armed by Turkey, along with other members of the anti-Syrian coalition, and its command structure is, despite attempts to cover up the fact, highly integrated with Turkish military as well as Turkish and Western as well as Saudi intelligence. It is, in every sense of the word, an international corps of mercenaries in the service of Turkey and its allies against Syria.

With regard to the Syrian Arab Army, the Syrian Arab Army would not have to deploy troops anywhere near the Turkish national shrine, was it not for the fact that ISIL has entrenched itself in a position no more than 200 meters away from the tomb.

Aleppo 2013, Susanne Posel file photo

Turkish troops deployed on Syrian territory since 2012. While the situation at and around the tomb, including ISIL and regular Turkish troops is a provocative act of war, the deployment of Turkish troops to Syrian territory is no novum.

Turkish troops have been deployed in Syria since 2012, assigned to different roles including arms deliveries, command and intelligence operations as well as special operations. To mention but a few:

In August 2012 a Turkish General was reported captured in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Turkey denied, and it could not be verified independent that the officer was a general. The capture of a Turkish officer, however, was independently verified for us.

Minnegh airfield

April 2013, Turkish regular troops, special forces, and airmen were involved in the attempt to capture the Minnegh military air field. Turkish troops were fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusrah fighters.  March 2014, eyewitnesses reported about the presence of Turkish special forces in Syria’s Lattakia province, guiding Turkish artillery, missile and tank fire while thousands of Jabhat al-Nusrah fighters swarmed across the Turkish border into Syria.

The deployment of ISIL mercenaries and the provoking of clashes between the Syrian army and ISIL near the tomb as pretext for the deployment of Turkish troops is provocative but not surprising.

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US heavy weapons in hands of Syria militants: Report

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New evidence suggests the US may be secretly giving US made “heavy weapons” to Syria militants.

New evidence suggests the US may be secretly giving US made “heavy weapons” to Syria militants.

Apr 26, 2014, al Akhbar

New evidence suggests that the United States may be secretly giving American-made “heavy weapons” to militant groups fighting against the Syrian government, according to a new report.

A video clip posted on YouTube early in April showed US-made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank rocket systems in the hands of a militant group in Syria.

While it is not confirmed how the insurgents procured the weapons, The Daily Beast reports that the US could have directly provided the weapons or they could have reached Syria indirectly from Saudi Arabia, a US ally that heavily supports and funds anti-Assad forces.

Such powerful new weapons in the hands of militants, the report says, indicates that the United States might be preparing to send in or sponsor more advanced weapons in an effort to turn the tide of the conflict against President Bashar al-Assad.

The NPR also reports that the CIA is ramping up military and training assistance to what Washington calls “moderate” militant factions in Syria.  50 TOW missile systems have already been shipped in as a part of a “test” or pilot program, the report says.

National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan refused to deny the shipment of heavy arms into Syria. “As we have consistently said, we are not going to detail every single type of our assistance,” Meehan said.

Opponents of sending heavy weapons to militant groups fear that similar to anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, the insurgents in Syria might take their weapons outside the Arab country and use them against US interests in the region.

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Laying the foundation for Palestinian statehood

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Palestinian statehood

By Ruth Tenne

Until now the Palestinian leadership has avoided taking any significant steps to build on the resounding endorsement Palestine received from the UN whose members voted by an overwhelming majority in November 2012 to accord it the status of non-member observer state.

However, following the collapse of the latest round of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which was prompted by Israel’s reneging on an agreement to release Palestinian prisoners, the PA applied – and was accepted – to join 15 international conventions. These are:

1. The Four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the First Additional Protocol.
2. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
3. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
4. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict.
5. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
6. The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land.
7. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
8. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
9. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
10. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
11. The United Nations Convention against Corruption.
12. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
13. The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.
14. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
15. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

According to the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yasser Abed Rabbo, the decision to join the conventions is the first step towards joining all UN agencies.

Undoubtedly, being a state party to UN conventions and treaties would solidify the international stand of the state of Palestine by putting it on the world map. But this has to be preceded by enshrining the democratic principles of the UN conventions in a modern constitution or bill of rights to serve as the basis of a globally recognized modern Palestinian state. This would help Palestine pursue claims against Israel in international courts.

However, the main task in this respect is to bring Hamas under the umbrella of the PLO and make it a party to the signed conventions under an elected unity government. But the PLO will need to re-establish its legitimacy by holding long overdue parliamentary election in the West Bank and Gaza. According to the PLO’s internal regulations, the elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council are automatically members of the Palestine National Council, which in turn elects the PLO’s executive committee. Once elections take place inside the occupied state of Palestine, elections for the remaining delegates would take place in other locations where Palestinians live.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights wassigned and ratified by Israel in 1992, and Israel also signed the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1951. Yet, Israel continues to breach with impunity the rights affirmed by both conventions.

The conventions to which the state of Palestine has acceded embody the principles of modern democratic states as enshrined by international law and the UN Charter.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights could be seen as most pertinent to laying the ground for Palestinian statehood. Article 1 of the convention states clearly that “all peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Clause 3 of that article refers to the right of non-self-governed territories by stating that “the States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the Unite Nations”.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was signed and ratified by Israel in 1992, and Israel also signed the Fourth Geneva Convention in 1951. Yet, Israel continues to breach with impunity the rights affirmed by both conventions. In view of the inaction of world leaders, it is incumbent on Palestinian leaders to prosecute Israel in the International Criminal Court. Pressure on President Abbas to take this crucial step is mounting both inside and outside Palestine (see my article, The way ahead: taking Israel to the ICC). Such a step requires Abbas to sign and ratify the Rome Statute on which the ICC is based, thereby enabling Palestine to access the ICC and prosecute Israel for war crimes.

However, Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute, which may prevent any legal investigation of crimes committed by it (see the part on Territorial Jurisdiction here). Furthermore, ratifying the Rome Statute and making it legally binding requires the assent of the Palestinian legislature in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Otherwise, Abbas’s signature of the Rome Statute may not have binding legal power.

Despite this, the signing of international treaties and conventions by President Abbas is likely to enhance the recognition of the Palestinian state as an observer and enforcer of human rights and lead to greater transparency and accountability of governance. Signing those treaties, including the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute, would be a significant step towards becoming a sovereign state that pursues independence through its own actions rather than being entirely dependent on actions by civil society groups.

Civil society groups such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement have their place. However, without reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas under the PLO umbrella, and without seeking justice through international courts, a sovereign Palestinian state free of Israel’s occupation would remain a remote prospect.

Postscript

This article was written just before the announcement of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza on 23 April. This, I believe, is a monumental historic event which will advance the long-held Palestinian yearning for self-determination and increase the prospect of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state becoming a reality.

 

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Laying the foundation for Palestinian statehood

Russia denies claims Syria using chemical weapons

NOVANEWS

 

syria

Moscow says it has ‘reliable information’ proving that reports of poisonous chlorine gasuse are fabricated

 

Times of Israel

Russia on Friday dismissed recent reports of the Syrian government using chemical weapons on rebel-held areas as fabrication.

The UN Security Council called for an investigation Wednesday over allegations that government forces have attacked rebel-held areas with poisonous chlorine gas in recent weeks and months.

Syria’s government has denied the accusations, which it said were politicized. The US and France said they were looking into the reports, but had no definitive proof.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday vehemently denied that Syria’s government was behind the chemical attacks, calling it fabrication.

“Accusations against government forces of alleged use of poisonous chemical weapons continue to be fabricated,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that Moscow has “reliable information” proving “such allegations aren’t true.” But the ministry didn’t provide details about the information it said it had.

More than 150,000 people have been killed and millions uprooted from their homes since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011.

Posted in Russia, SyriaComments Off on Russia denies claims Syria using chemical weapons

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