Monday, November 26, 2012
Radio PakistanPresident Asif Ali Zardari has asked the Interior Minister Rehman Malik to submit a comprehensive report on the sporadic incidents of violence in D.I. Khan and Rawalpindi during the 10 days of Muharram. The president said these incidents seemed to mar the arrangements made for ensuring sectarian peace and harmony during Ashura. Presidential spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said the President also commended the efforts made by the government for peace during Ashura. Howsoever such unfortunate and condemnable sporadic incidents of violence cannot detract the overall atmosphere of peace that was witnessed during Ashura. For this the Ministry of Interior and Minister Rahman Malik‚ the law enforcing agencies‚ the provincial governments and all those who worked hard to ensure peace deserve to be complimented. He also commended the common citizens‚ volunteers and religious ulema for the part played by them in maintaining peace and ensuring the safety of the people who were in the state of mourning during the Ashura. The President particularly appreciated the successes made in timely detection of gory plots of sectarian and militant violence in different parts of the country that helped prevent potentially huge human and material losses during Ashura mourning and said that they deserved special commendation. The President also expressed sympathies with the bereaved families and said the blood of innocent people shed while performing religious obligations would never go in vain. He urged the people from all walks of life not to be provoked and to maintain unity in confronting the common enemy‚ whether militants or religious zealots‚ who stirred sectarian violence and never felt any qualms in killing innocent people in the name of religion while not sparing even women and the children.
http://www.albanytribune.comThe Afghan government should not grant Taliban representatives amnesty from prosecution for serious crimes as part of talks with the insurgent group, Human Rights Watch said Sunday. On November 17, 2012, the chairman of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, Salahuddin Rabbani, told journalists that Taliban officials who join peace negotiations with the Afghan government will receive immunity from prosecution and will have their names removed from the United Nations sanctions. “Future government talks with the Taliban should not hinge upon denying justice to victims of war crimes and other abuses,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Afghanistan’s civilians should not be forced to choose between justice and peace.” Last week, the Pakistani government released nine imprisoned Taliban officials after the High Peace Council requested their release during a visit to Pakistan. More of the estimated 50 Taliban members in prison in Pakistan are expected to be released at the council’s request in the future. Rabbani has described those released as including, “Afghan citizens who expressed their willingness to work for peace.” Providing immunity from prosecution for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious human rights abuses violates international law. International treaties, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which Afghanistan has ratified, and customary international humanitarian law, require parties to a conflict to ensure alleged perpetrators of serious crimes are prosecuted. Those responsible for war crimes and other serious abuses on both sides should be investigated and prosecuted. Afghanistan has a troubling history of providing amnesty for war crimes. In 2007 a coalition of powerful warlords and their supporters in the parliament were able to pass the National Stability and Reconciliation Law. This law seeks to prevent the prosecution of individuals responsible for large-scale human rights abuses in the preceding decades. The law states that all those who were engaged in armed conflict before the formation of the Interim Administration in Afghanistan in December 2001 shall “enjoy all their legal rights and shall not be prosecuted.” It provides that those engaged in current hostilities will be granted immunity if they agree to reconciliation with the government, effectively providing amnesty for future crimes. President Hamid Karzai, who had previously promised not to sign the National Stability and Reconciliation Law, quietly permitted it to be published in the government’s official gazette and to enter into force in early 2010. Human Rights Watch at that time urged the repeal of the law, calling it “an invitation for future human rights abuses” and expressing concern that its extension to those currently engaged in hostilities “allows insurgent commanders to get away with mass murder.” The official adoption of the law passed largely unremarked by the international community, leading to concerns that Afghanistan’s international partners were prepared to tolerate impunity for war crimes. “The High Peace Council’s call for immunity shows the dire predictions about the amnesty law coming true,” Adams said. “Amnesty for war crimes does not need to be, and should not be, a precondition for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.” The UN, Human Rights Watch, and others have collected considerable information implicating Taliban members in war crimes, including attacks targeting civilians, indiscriminate attacks by suicide bombers and pressure-plate mines, summary executions, and use of children in combat including as suicide bombers. Commanders who ordered unlawful attacks, or who knew or should have known about serious abuses by their forces but made no effort to stop them, are subject to prosecution for war crimes. The Taliban has a code of conduct for its fighters, which in some ways reflects international law on armed conflict. It includes provisions for protection of civilians, stating that all Taliban members “with all their power must be careful with regard to the lives of the common people,” and that those who fail to do so shall be punished. It also prohibits use of children as fighters. Taliban spokesmen frequently deny claims that its members commit violations of international law. For example, the Taliban in October stated that “our Mujahedeen never place live landmines in any part of the country but each mine is controlled by a remote and detonated on military targets only.” On November 6 the Taliban issued a statement saying that it “assures the nation that it will never forgive the civilian slayers whosoever they may be.” “Why is the High Peace Council rushing to offer amnesty to Taliban officials when even the Taliban’s own code of conduct and statements acknowledge that targeting civilians is illegal?” Adams said. “The High Peace Council cannot ignore the demands of justice.”
http://www.hindustantimes.comPakistan's teenaged rights activist
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has censured the French government for supporting the insurgents in Syria. “The question is how right it is to… decide to support another political force if that political force is in direct confrontation with the officially recognized government of another country,” Medvedev said prior to a visit to the French capital Paris on Monday. “And from the point of view of international law, it seems to me that is absolutely unacceptable.” France became the first European country to recognize Syria’s opposition coalition on November 13. Paris said it would look into the issue of arming the insurgents against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “The desire to change a political regime in another state through recognition of some political force as the sole sovereign representative seems to me not entirely civilized,” the Russian premier stated. Medvedev also defended the Russian military cooperation with Syria and said, “All we have delivered are arms for defense against external aggression.” He underlined the fact that it is up to Syrian people to decide about the future of Syria, reiterating President Vladimir Putin’s statements that Russia will take a neutral stance on the situation in Syria. Many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil that began in Syria in March 2011.
http://www.democracynow.orgThe Obama administration is quietly warning that Bahrain’s ongoing internal unrest could lead to the overthrow of the ruling Sunni monarchy. Protests have continued in Bahrain for nearly two years despite a U.S. backed-crackdown that has seen the use of military forces from neighboring Gulf regimes, the jailing and beating of opposition activists, and the recent ban of all public demonstrations. In a briefing to reporters last week, two State Department officials warned that Bahrain could "break apart" if the protests continue, an outcome they say would be beneficial to Iran while detrimental to the "enormous [U.S.] security interests" in Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The officials gave the briefing on the condition they not be identified by name. The White House says it is calling on Bahrain to heed the calls of an independent commission that urged political reforms one year ago. At the United Nations, a spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized Bahrain’s recent moves against the opposition, including revoking the citizenship of 31 political figures as well as sentencing medics who treated wounded protesters to three months behind bars. Rupert Colville: "The High Commissioner urges the government to reconsider this decision, which stands in clear violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, 'Everyone has the right to a nationality' and, 'No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality.' The High Commissioner is also concerned by the sentencing of 23 medical professionals on the 21st of November, and reiterates her call on the authorities to release all individuals who have been detained or sentenced simply for exercising their right to demonstrate peacefully." The United Nations says it will send a fact-finding mission to assess human rights conditions in Bahrain early next month.
http://zeenews.india.comThe Pakistan People’s Party-led government will complete its five-year term and the next general election will be held on time, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Monday. Only elements "who had been contesting elections with others' backing" are now talking about delaying the polls after losing that support, he said during an interaction with journalists here. Kaira, a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, said the law and order situation in the country was much better than that in 2008, when the last general election was held. Therefore, the polls could not be delayed on the pretext of a poor law and order situation, he said. He noted that during his speech at a recent rally at Malikwal in Punjab, the President had clearly said that the government would complete its constitutional term and the general election would be held on time. The PPP-led government is set to complete its term in March next year and polls are expected to be held before May.