Thursday, October 19, 2017

Systematic Murder, Rape and Burning in Myanmar : Amnesty International

New Delhi, India - More than 530,000 Rohingya men, women and children have fled northern Rakhine State in terror in a matter of weeks amid the Myanmar security forces’ targeted campaign of widespread and systematic murder, rape and burning, Amnesty International said today in its most detailed analysis yet of the ongoing crisis.

‘My World Is Finished’: Rohingya Targeted in Crimes against Humanity in Myanmar describes how Myanmar’s security forces are carrying out a systematic, organized and ruthless campaign of violence against the Rohingya population as a whole in northern Rakhine State, after a Rohingya armed group attacked around 30 security posts on 25 August.

Dozens of eyewitnesses to the worst violence consistently implicated specific units, including the Myanmar Army’s Western Command, the 33rd Light Infantry Division, and the Border Guard Police.

“In this orchestrated campaign, Myanmar’s security forces have brutally meted out revenge on the entire Rohingya population of northern Rakhine State, in an apparent attempt to permanently drive them out of the country. These atrocities continue to fuel the region’s worst refugee crisis in decades,” said Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International.
“Exposing these heinous crimes is the first step on the long road to justice. Those responsible must be held to account; Myanmar’s military can’t simply sweep serious violations under the carpet by announcing another sham internal investigation. The Commander-in-Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, must take immediate action to stop his troops from committing atrocities.”

Crimes against humanity

Witness accounts, satellite imagery and data, and photo and video evidence gathered by Amnesty International all point to the same conclusion: hundreds of thousands of Rohingya women, men, and children have been the victims of a widespread and systematic attack, amounting to crimes against humanity.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court lists 11 types of acts which, when knowingly committed during such an attack, constitute crimes against humanity. Amnesty International has consistently documented at least six of these amid the current wave of violence in northern Rakhine State: murder, deportation and forcible displacement, torture, rape and other sexual violence, persecution, and other inhumane acts such as denying food and other life-saving provisions.

This conclusion is based on testimonies from more than 120 Rohingya men and women who have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks, as well as 30 interviews with medical professionals, aid workers, journalists and Bangladeshi officials.

Amnesty International’s experts corroborated many witness accounts of the Myanmar security forces’ crimes by analysing satellite imagery and data, as well as verifying photographs and video footage taken inside Rakhine State. The organization has also requested access to Rakhine State to investigate abuses on the ground, including by members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), the Rohingya armed group. Amnesty International continues to call for unfettered access to the UN Fact-Finding Mission and other independent observers.

Murder and massacres

In the hours and days following the ARSA attacks on 25 August, the Myanmar security forces, sometimes joined by local vigilantes, surrounded Rohingya villages throughout the northern part of Rakhine State. As Rohingya women, men, and children fled their homes, the soldiers and police officers often opened fire, killing or seriously injuring at least hundreds of people.

Survivors described running to nearby hills and rice fields, where they hid until the forces left. The elderly and people with disabilities were often unable to flee, and burned to death in their homes after the military set them alight.

This pattern was replicated in dozens of villages across Maungdaw, Rathedaung, and Buthidaung townships. But the security forces, and in particular the Myanmar military, appear to have unleashed their most lethal response in specific villages near where ARSA carried out its attacks.

Amnesty International documented events in five such villages where at least a dozen people were killed: Chein Kar Li, Koe Tan Kauk, and Chut Pyin, all in Rathedaung Township; and Inn Din and Min Gyi, in Maungdaw Township. In Chut Pyin and Min Gyi, the death toll was particularly high, with at least scores of Rohingya women, men, and children killed by Myanmar security forces.

Amnesty International interviewed 17 survivors of the massacre in Chut Pyin, six of whom had gunshot wounds. Almost all had lost at least one family member, with some losing many. They consistently described the Myanmar military, joined by Border Guard Police and local vigilantes, surrounding Chut Pyin, opening fire on those fleeing, and then systematically burning Rohingya houses and buildings.
Fatima, 12, told Amnesty International that she was at home with her parents, eight siblings, and grandmother when they saw fire rising from another part of their village. As the family ran out of their house, she said men in uniform opened fire on them from behind. She saw both her father and 10-year-old sister get shot, then Fatima was also hit in the back of her right leg, just above the knee. 
“I fell down, but my neighbour grabbed me and carried me,” she recalled. After a week on the run, she finally received treatment in Bangladesh. Her mother and older brother were also killed in Chut Pyin.
Amnesty International sent photographs of Fatima’s wound to a forensic medical expert, who said it was consistent with a bullet wound that “would have entered the thigh from behind.” Medical professionals in Bangladesh described treating many wounds that appeared to have been caused by gunshots fired from behind –matching consistent witness testimony that the military fired on Rohingya as they tried to run away. 
In Chein Kar Li and Koe Tan Kauk, two neighbouring villages, Amnesty International documented the same pattern of attack by the Myanmar military.
Sona Mia, 77, said he was at home in Koe Tan Kauk when Myanmar soldiers surrounded the village and opened fire on 27 August. His 20-year-old daughter, Rayna Khatun, had a disability that left her unable to walk or speak. One of his sons put her on his shoulders, and the family slowly made its way toward the hill on the village’s edge. As they heard the shooting get closer and closer, they decided they had to leave Rayna in a Rohingya house that had been abandoned. 
“We didn’t think we’d be able to make it,” Sona Mia recalled. “I told her to sit there, we’d come back… After arriving on the hill, we spotted the house where we left her. It was a bit away, but we could see. The soldiers were burning [houses], and eventually we saw that house, it was burned too.”  
After the military left the village in the late afternoon, Sona Mia’s sons went down and found Rayna Khatun’s burnt body among the torched house. They dug a grave at the edge of that house’s courtyard, and buried her there.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Karbala Conference in Kashmir

 Srinagar - A conference was held in the Kashmir to pay tribute to Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and his family and other companions.



The Conference themed as “Karbala Conference” was organized by Muthari Fikri wa Saqafati Markaz a religious organization in Central Kashmir’s Pandrethan area of Capital Srinagar. 

Conference was attended by a galaxy of academicians, students, and Islamic scholars from different Islamic schools of thought. 

The speakers at the conference emphasized on the philosophy of Karbala. Speakers said that the battle of Karbala was a defining movement in the history of Islam that continues to inspire people regardless of their religious beliefs. 



Further they said the message of Karbala is as relevant today as it was at the time of Imam Hussein. They said that the martyrs of Karbala proved in action that one should stand up for a righteous cause regardless of consequences. 

Scholars speaking on the occasion said that Imam Hussain is the greatest symbol of unity and brotherhood for the Islamic world, and a real tribute to the martyrs of Karbala would be to follow their path of truth and righteousness in letter and spirit. 

On the occasion a competitive exam of a book namely “ Karbala ka zindagi saaz paigham” was also held in which hundreds of youths took part. The speakers who spoke on the occasion include Molana Ahmad Sultani, Molana Meer Mustafa, Molana Gulam Mohammad Gulzar, Dr Peer Sameer Siddiqee, Molana Agha Syed Mohammad Rizvi, Molana Touseef Ahmad and Molana Gulam Hussain Mattoo.



Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei donated 10 Billion Rials

On Catastrophic status of Myanmar Muslims the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei donated 10 billion rials (1 dollar=33,000 rials) to help the refugees. 

The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) has already sent two consignments of medicine and foodstuff to Bangladesh border with Myanmar. 

The Iranian officials have also voiced the IRCS readiness to dispatch more humanitarian aids for displaced Rohingya Muslims. 

Some 800,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since the beginning of the violence of the Myanmar forces against the minority on August 25. 

The Myanmar government has also been indifferent to the global warnings and requests by international organizations and world public opinion on stopping the violence against the minority community in the country. 

Myanmar has so far refused to give access to UN fact-finding missions to investigate on accusations of torture, fire attacks and massacres against Rohingya Muslims in the southeast Asian nation. 

Friday, October 06, 2017

Iran slaps ban on hookahs in holy city of Qom

     Tehran, Oct 5 - Iranian courts banned the use of hookah water pipes in public in the holy city of Qom and northern province of Alborz, in a fresh crackdown on smokers, media reported today.

    "Consuming tobacco or using hookah pipes are forbidden in coffee houses, traditional eateries, restaurants, cafes, hotels, hostels, parks and all other public places," prosecutor Mehedi Kahe said.

    Kahe said the ban -- set to be made public in the next few days -- was taken on health grounds and warned that any establishments breaking the rules will be shuttered.

    In the northern province of Alborz that neighbours Tehran, the public prosecutor said: "The police will close all establishments that serve hookahs."

    Haji-Reza Shakarmi said smoking in all its forms was prohibited in public places in the province.
    "The law is in force and all institutions have to comply," he said, quoted by the Mehr and Tasnim news agencies.

    Smoking tobacco in public places, except for in the street, has been officially forbidden in Iran since 2006, but the measure is often violated.

    In 2008, the government reversed a plan to ban hugely popular hookah pipes in traditional coffeehouses after protests by owners who complained it would deprive them of the vast bulk of their income.

    The city of Qom, some 120 kilometers south of Tehran, is a major Shiite theological centre and one of the most conservative cities in Iran.

    According to the latest World Health Organisation figures, some 20 per cent of men and 0.6 per cent of women among Iran's population of 80 million smoke every day.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

18 killed in suicide attack at Shia shrine in Pakistan


    Karachi, Oct 5 - A suicide bomber today blew himself up at a Shia shrine packed with devotees in Pakistan's troubled Balochistan province, killing at least 18 people and injuring 25 others, police officials said.

    The attacker tried to enter the Dargah Fatehpur in the Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan and detonated his explosives vest when he was stopped by the police at the main entrance, Deputy Commissioner Asadullah Kakar told the media.

                                                       




    Kakar said an assistant sub-inspector of police was killed while attempting to stop the suicide bomber from entering the shrine. Two other policemen were also injured.

    No group claimed responsibility for the attack but the Taliban usually target shrines as they consider it un-Islamic.

    Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti told the media that 18 people including a police constable and three children were killed in the blast.

    "The brave police constable stopped the suicide bomber from entering the shrine after which he blew himself up. If he had managed to enter the shrine there would be have been greater casualties," Bugti said.

    The minister said that around 25 people were injured in the blast and they were shifted to different hospitals.
    Dr Rukhsana Magsi at the Gandawah hospital in Jhal Magsi, about 400 kms east of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, confirmed 15 bodies were brought to the hospital.

    Rescue officials fear that the death toll could rise as the blast took place when there was a heavy rush of devotees who had gathered at the shrine to pay their respect.

    Devotees gather at the shrine of the revered Sufi saint every Thursday to participate in a sufi dance called 'dhamaal' and prayers.

    Bugti said the shrine was holding its annual Urs and hundreds of devotees from all over the country had come to the place to pay their respects.

    A bomb attack on the same shrine killed 35 people in 2005.

    The local administration declared an emergency at hospitals in Sibbi and Dera Murad Jamali.
    Earlier, Balochistan government spokesperson Anwarul Haq Kakar said 13 people had been killed. "We have confirmed reports it was a suicide attack," he said.

    Initial probe showed that the blast occurred when 'dhamal' was going in the premises of the shrine.
    Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the attack and vowed that his government will act against militants with full might.

    Today's attack is the second major strike at a shrine in Balochistan where in November 2016, at least 52 people were killed and 102 injured in a blast at the shrine of Shah Norani in Khuzdar district.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Rouhani slams nuclear deal saboteurs in debate

Tehran, May 5 - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani criticised conservative opponents for trying to sabotage the nuclear deal with world powers and vowed more civil rights during today's second presidential election debate.

    In rare criticism of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Rouhani slammed the decision to write anti-Israel messages on ballistic missiles before testing them.

    "We saw how they wrote slogans on missiles and showed underground (missile) cities to disrupt the JCPOA (nuclear deal)," he said during the debate, which comes ahead of the May 19 election.
    "Our nation got through these issues because the majority of society chose morality and Islam from day one," he added.

    Iran argues that the missile tests are not banned under the 2015 deal, which curbed its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of certain sanctions, but they have heightened tensions with the US and Israel.
    Rouhani said his conservative opponents in the election were linked to those trying to scupper the deal and broader outreach to the West.

    "When our diplomats were negotiating the deal, what were you doing behind the scenes? Some people acted like the opponents of the Iranian people," he said.
    One of his main challengers, hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, said he would not tear up the nuclear accord but slammed what he called the government's weak stance and empty promises.

    "We should not show any weakness in the face of the enemy," said Raisi, who had a more lively debate after a lacklustre showing in the first round last week.

    "This agreement was like a cheque that the government has been unable to cash. Mr Rouhani promised that after the signing of the deal all the sanctions would be lifted and people's lives would improve, but they have not," he said.

    Rouhani hit back with a spirited defence of the nuclear deal, saying it had allowed a massive increase in oil sales and opened the way for Iran to take a central position in regional diplomacy.
    "It is unprecedented that Iran has such an important role," he said, referring to this week's talks on Syria alongside Russia and Turkey.

    Rouhani also vowed to improve civil rights -- a crucial plank of his 2013 presidential campaign which has been stymied by the conservative judiciary and security forces.
    "Civil rights are not just on paper, they will turn into practice. We will hold different sectors responsible," he said.

    The other main hardline challenger, Tehran mayor Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf, sought to score points on the stagnant economy, seen as Rouhani's main weakness.
    Ghalibaf returned frequently to his favourite theme -- attacking the elite "four-percenters", a nod to the global "We are the 99-per cent" campaign.

    "Who has benefited (from the nuclear deal)? The four- percenters. Who has been hurt? The people," he said.
    Six candidates were selected last month by the conservative-controlled Guardian Council, which rejected more than 1,600 applicants.

    Split evenly between three conservatives and three moderate-reformists, the debates have the flavour of a team event.

    Many expect the other moderate candidates -- vice- president Eshaq Jahangiri and Mostafa Hashemitaba -- to withdraw at the last minute to boost Rouhani's chances.

Syria safe zones closed to US-coalition jets

     Moscow, May 5 - Jets from the US-led coalition are barred from proposed safe zones in Syria set to be created under a deal inked by Russia, Iran and Turkey, Moscow's envoy said today.

    "In terms of their actions in the de-escalation zones then from this moment these zones are closed for their flights," the Kremlin's envoy to peace talks in Kazakhstan Alexander Lavrentiev was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

    "Aviation operations, especially by the international coalition forces, are absolutely not envisioned," he said.

    Regime backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey on Thursday signed a deal at talks in Kazakhstan to set up four safe zones in the war-torn country.

    The agreement did not explicitly mention the US-led coalition, which has been targeting jihadists from the Islamic State group, but Lavrentiev insisted that "flights cease over these territories."
    "We as guarantors will closely monitor all operations," he said.

    Moscow's envoy said this means coalition air power can now only focus on "Islamic State targets that are located in the area of Raqa, some populated areas in the region of the Euphrates, Deir Ezzor and further on to the territory of Iraq."

    The exact boundaries of the proposed safe zones in Syria are yet to be defined but they are meant to focus on rebel- held territory.

    The United States gave an extremely cautious welcome to the deal, citing concerns over Iran's role as a guarantor, even as it expressed hope that the agreement could set the stage for a settlement.

    The limitations could throw up obstacles for any potential US operations in Syria in the future after President Donald Trump carried out Washington's first direct strike on the forces of Russian ally Bashar al-Assad last month over an alleged chemical weapons attack.

Friday, May 05, 2017

It's All Halal in Kenya

Halal shops and restaurants as well as beauty and cosmetic shops are finding plenty of Catholic and Christian customers who are looking for products they know are safe. 
In a country where 82 percent are Christian, halal, the dietary standard in Islamic law, is finding greater acceptance.

Kenya is now home to a modest 100 halal-compliant food industry businesses, offering Muslims a choice of offerings and convenience, but that market may be growing.

In addition to the country’s estimated 4 million Muslims (out of 42 million), halal is finding favor among Christians as well.

"When I eat here, I also promote religious tolerance,” said Lynn Wambui, a 22-year-old Christian, who ate at Pronto, a restaurant specializing in halal foods. "The food is also tasty.”

Halal, which means "lawful” or "permitted” in Arabic, requires that meat such as beef, lamb, goat and poultry be raised and killed humanely and that a blessing be said at the time of slaughter. Non halal foods include carnivorous animals and birds of prey, as well as pork and products derived from pork such as gelatin. Fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains are permitted.

In April, Nairobi hosted the East Africa Islamic Economic Summit to allow business and government leaders opportunities to explore how to boost the halal market economy.

"What is happening in Kenya reflects developments in the rest of the world,” said Abdullah Kheir, a religious scholar at Umma University in the coastal city of Mombasa. "Halal generally is becoming more acceptable.”

According to Kheir, most people find the food less risky since there are strict guidelines governing its slaughter.

"They are sure that the meat is not from forbidden animals such as dogs or donkeys or even pork,” said the scholar, who teaches Shariah and Islamic studies.

Father Wilybard Lagho, a Roman Catholic priest in the Mombasa Archdiocese, said care needed to be taken such that they are used in an inclusive way.

"At a time when there is Islamophobia, such symbols can be easily misinterpreted,” said Lagho.

Halal also applies to other sectors such as cosmetics and beauty. Globally, the sector is believed to be worth $2.3 trillion. Kenya has developed a certification and regulatory frame to meet the standards.

Cosmetics shops applying the principles, for example, refuse to sell human hair.

Mohammed Hagi, the director of Kushitic, a beauty and cosmetic outlet in Nairobi, said that although most of his customers are Christians, he cannot sell the hair often used for braiding or as weaves or wigs.

"It’s forbidden by the law,” said Hagi. "We do not stock them. We sell what is permissible, including perfumes, makeup, oils.” (ABNA)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Huge crowds of Shiite faithful throng Baghdad shrine

Baghdad, Apr 23 - Hundreds of thousands of Shiite faithful thronged the mausoleum of Imam Kadhim in Baghdad today for the climax of a week-long pilgrimage that saw millions converge on the Iraqi capital.

    Beating their heads and chests, crowds of pilgrims lurched and swerved to try to touch a mock coffin being carried to the shrine in the northern neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah.

    "This visit means a lot to us, it is about showing respect for the suffering of the imam and the injustice he faced and about reaffirming our dedication to him," said Ahmad Jamal, a 28-year-old civil servant in the crowd of pilgrims.



    Kadhim, the seventh of 12 revered imams in Shiite Islam, died in 799 AD. The commemoration has in recent years turned into a huge event that brings the Iraqi capital to a standstill for days.

    The organisers estimated that around 10 million people came to Kadhimiyah for the commemoration in recent years, which is still less than the 17 million faithful said to have visited the southern shrine city of Karbala for the Arbaeen pilgrimage last year.



    Shiite religious events and sites are considered prime potential targets for suicide attacks by the Islamic State group and huge security deployments were visible across Baghdad.



    Many of the main thoroughfares have been blocked to traffic for days to minimise the risk of car bombs and allow the pilgrims to reach the shrine. Some of them walk several days, mostly from southern Iraq.




Monday, April 03, 2017

Bahrain cuts Sheikh Ali Salman jail term: judicial source

Dubai, Apr 3 - Bahrain's top court today reduced the jail sentence of Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, who has been in prison since 2014, a judicial source said.

The Sunni-ruled kingdom's court of cassation reduced Salman's sentence from nine to four years, the source said on condition of anonymity.
No further details were immediately available.

The court of cassation in October had ordered a retrial of the 51-year-old cleric, who headed the now-banned Al-Wefaq Shiite opposition movement.

Salman had been arrested on charges of inciting hatred and insulting the state in December 2014.
He was found guilty in July 2015 and sentenced to four years in jail.

An appeals court later more than doubled his jail term to nine years, after reversing an earlier acquittal on charges of calling for regime change by force.

Salman is considered a moderate who has pushed for a constitutional monarchy in Bahrain compared to more hardline groups who have demanded the toppling of the Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty in a string of protests that go back to 2011.

Bahrain has cracked down over the past six years on dissent by members of the Shiite majority, whom it accuses of being manipulated by Iran.
Shiite Iran has consistently denied any involvement.

The kingdom last year ordered the dissolution of Al-Wefaq, the country's main Shiite opposition party, for "harbouring terrorism".
Al-Wefaq was the largest bloc in Bahrain's elected lower house of parliament.

Its lawmakers resigned en masse in protest against the state crackdown on the 2011 protests.
In 1995, Salman was among a string of oppositionists exiled from Bahrain, moving to the United Arab Emirates and then Britain.

In 2001, he returned to Bahrain under a general amnesty and set up Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society with other Shiite opposition figures.

In 2006 he was elected secretary general of the group.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Exposed : Netanyahu held secret Arab peace meeting: report

Jerusalem, Feb 19 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met secretly with Arab rulers last year to hear then US secretary of state John Kerry pitch a regional peace plan, an Israeli newspaper reported today.

    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also attended the February 2016 talks hosted by King Abdullah II in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, Haaretz said, citing former senior officials in the Obama administration who asked to remain anonymous.

    It said Kerry wanted the sides to endorse six principles, which he laid out publicly in a December speech.
    They included a call for Israel to vacate territory it occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War, subject to land swaps agreed between the two sides.

    A former Obama administration official, who asked not to be identified, confirmed to AFP that the meeting was held but would not comment on the substance of Kerry's proposal.

    Since 1967, Israel has pulled out of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip but annexed east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

    It continues to occupy the West Bank, where hundreds of thousands of Israelis live in settlements seen as illegal by the international community.
    Kerry's parameters envisioned a Palestinian state, with Palestinians recognising Israel as a "Jewish state".

    Both would share Jerusalem as the "internationally recognised capital of the two states".
    Israel claims the city as its "undivided" capital.
Netanyahu's coalition government, the most right-wing in Israel's history, rejects talk of ceding any part of it to Palestinian sovereignty.

    "Netanyahu did not accept Kerry's proposal and said he would have difficulty getting it approved by his governing coalition," Haaretz wrote on today.
    Netanyahu's spokesman and Jordanian officials refused to comment on the report.

    Meeting on Wednesday at the White House, Netanyahu and President Donald Trump each spoke of prospects of a regional Middle East understanding to end the stalemated Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    "For the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but increasingly as an ally," Netanyahu told Trump.

    "We think the larger issue today is how do we create the broader conditions for broad peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Arab countries," Netanyahu said the following day on MSNBC.
    Trump said Netanyahu's proposal for a regional alliance was something that "hasn't been discussed before", adding that it would take in "many, many countries and it would cover a very large territory".