Saturday, April 26, 2014
Two Austrian girls who disappeared from their homes in Vienna and who are believed to have boarded a flight to Adana, Turkey, are likely to have become victims of forced prostitution for takfiri terrorists in Syria. Turkey is the main hub for trafficking of girls to the takfiri mercenary brigades. Domestically, 1,449 of 14,412 missing Turkish children over the past five years have not been found. Police reports that many of them have been kidnapped for their fighting potential and organ harvesting.
Two Austrian girls who made international headlines after their disappearance on April 10 are merely the tip of an iceberg of internationally organized forced prostitution of children and teenage girls, forced recruitment into military service and internationally organized organ harvesting. The Austrian-born 15 year-old Samra Kesinovic and the 15 year-old Sabina Selimovic disappeared from their home in the Austrian capital Vienna on April 10. Interpol has since issued a missing-person notice for the two teenagers whose parents immigrated to Austria from Bosnia in the 1990s. The two teenager’s parents told the Bosnian newspaper Dnevi Avaz that they had learned that their girls had boarded a flight from Vienna to the Turkish city of Adana, near the Turkish – Syrian border. The two girls have reportedly left letters for their parents, saying that they “had chosen the right path” and were going to fight for Islam in Syria. Pictures of the girls posing with weapons and in conservative Islamic dress which are being circulated to support the notion that the two teenagers were fighting holy war have so far all proven to be manipulated.
Rather than fighting “holy war” the girls are likely to have suffered the same fate as thousands of other girls who are being forced into prostitution for foreign-backed Jabhat al-Nusrah, ISIL and other mercenary brigades. Some of the girls are, according to official Tunisian sources, forced to “serve” 20 – 30 “holy warriors” per day. After the two Austrian – Bosnian teens began making headlines, Turkey’s intelligence service MIT, who is otherwise known to be cooperating with terrorist organizations in Syria, launched a large-scale effort to locate the two girls. Prominent members of Turkey’s opposition denounce this effort as cosmetic and for public relations, while the true scale of organized forced prostitution, forced military service and organ harvesting is covered up. Turkish intelligence announced that advanced techniques had enabled them to possibly identify a signal from one of the girls cellphones even though it was switched off. The Turkish Hürriyet newspaper reports that an intelligence official said that the signal was coming from an area in northern Syria that is controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). It is worth noticing that Turkey’s intelligence service MIT has repeatedly and consistently been implicated in cooperating with Turkish charities who support the mercenary brigades in Syria, as well as in the financing and arming of these brigades.Trafficking of Girls for “Sex Jihad” via Turkey is Internationally Organized. In October 2013, Tunisia´s Interior Minister, Lofti Ben Jeddou, complained that Tunisian Women are being trafficked through Turkey for Sex Jihad in Syria. The Tunisian Interior Minister announced to Tunisia’s National Assembly, that Tunisian girls are forced to satisfy the sexual needs of terrorists in Syria under the euphemism sexual jihad. Ben Jeddou stressed, that Turkey has become a bridgehead for sex jihad and declared that the trafficked Tunisian girls are forced into having sex with 20 – 30, in some cases 100 of the “holy warrirors”. The Tunisian Interior Minister stressed, that most of them return pregnant. Besides the psychological trauma the young Tunisian girls suffer, the large number of children which will be born due to the forced sexual service will create a sociological time bomb in Tunisia, he added. Another problem, which remains largely unaddressed, is that many of the girls who return, have been infected with sexually transmittable diseases, including HIV. Many of the girls, however, don’t return at all, and it is believed that many of them are being murdered after having served their purpose. Similar reports about internationally organized trafficking of teenage girls to takfiri mercenary brigades in Syria have come from Libya, Mali, Algeria, while recent developments indicate a growing trend to attempt tricking Czech, Austrian, Bosnian, Bulgarian and Hungarian girls into forced prostitution. 10 percent of 14,000 missing children cannot be found. Many of them kidnapped for exploitation. Turkey is also struggling with a domestic problem, which many fear to increase because of Turkey’s involvement in the war against Syria. The General Command of Turkey’s Gendarmerie police reported that over 14,000 children have gone missing over the past five years alone in Turkey. Turkey’s Hürriyet daily newspaper cites Gendarmerie General Arif Cetin as saying that 14,412 children have gone missing across Turkey. 13,528 of them have been found. The statement was made at a conference on missing children in Ankara. Cetin stressed that many of the children are being kidnapped for their organs and for their fighting potential. He did not specify how many of them were girls, who may have been kidnapped into organized child abuse or into the sex jihad networks operating in Turkey. With Turkey being the main hub for the trafficking of teenage girls to the mercenary brigades in Syria, the problem is likely to increase. The involvement of Turkey’s intelligence service MIT in supporting Jabhat al-Nusrah, ISIL and other brigades whom the girls are being trafficked to, prompts questions about MIT’s role in the investigation of the missing Austrian girls and its role in trafficking of women in general.
Turkey’s top judge has harshly slammed the government over its interventions into the judiciary and its strongly worded criticisms of the Constitutional Court’s verdicts, accusing it of committing “a corruption of conscience” against justice. “Accusing the Constitutional Court of having political purposes or of issuing ‘non-national verdicts’ is a shallow accusation,” Constitutional Court Head Haşim Kılıç said in his address on the occasion of the 52nd anniversary of the court’s foundation. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who had slammed the court’s verdict to lift the ban on Twitter, accusing it of “not serving Turkey’s national interests,” were also present at the ceremony. “In states under the rule of law, courts neither work according to orders and instructions nor are they directed by friendships and enmities. The [Twitter] ruling merely determined that an executive procedure has no legal basis,” Kılıç said. The Constitutional Court’s recent verdicts lifting the Twitter block and partially annulling the law on the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) have been repeatedly slammed by government figures, some of whom have floated plans to restrict the scope of individual application to court. Kılıç addressed such moves directly, recalling former Mikhail Gorbachev’s statement on the eve of the collapse of the Soviet Union: “In this age of globalization, you cannot issue visas to antennas.” Stressing that his court would continue to distribute justice with determination by promoting rights and freedoms to all 76 million citizens, Kılıç indirectly accused the government of trying to “occupy the judiciary by imposing a new sort of tutelage.” “Those who occupy the castle used the judiciary as a tool of revenge against their adversaries and to provide logistical support for their ideological opinions. It’s a dream to build an independent judiciary unless it gets rid of such an understanding and occupation. A judiciary under tutelage cannot provide legal safety,” he said. The Constitutional Court president also touched on the government’s ongoing fight against what it calls the “parallel state,” expressing concern that many judges and prosecutors were being profiled as members of this alleged organization. “The judiciary is not and should not be a place for setting a trap for the people’s will. The judiciary has recently been confronted with a heavy accusation, being described as a ‘parallel state’ and a gang. It’s not possible for the judiciary to survive as long as this accusation is there,” he said. “Today, even the simplest court decisions are subject to discussion and confidence in the judiciary is badly damaged,” Kılıç said, adding that the government should “document and investigate” the claims rather than engage in massive purges of judicial officials. Erdoğan had slammed the Constitutional Court’s verdict that the government’s Twitter block was unconstitutional, saying he “does not respect the decision.” He has since made an individual application to the court demanding that the block on Twitter be reintroduced on the grounds that his personal rights were breached on the social media website. The court had ordered authorities to lift the ban on Twitter on April 2, adding that it constituted a violation of free speech guaranteed by Article 26 of the Constitution. During his speech on April 25, Kılıç repeated that the judges “understand” all the reactions. However, “We don’t have a character that can keep changing shirts. In the same way that we stood by the citizens whose rights were violated yesterday, we will keep standing by them against anyone today,” Kılıç said. Also condemning “hate speech” spurred by political motives, Kılıç warned of an “emotional disengagement” in the society. “We can promise you that our determined stance to protect the value of human honor will continue,” he added.
Professor Ersin Kalaycıoğlu from Sabancı University spoke to Sunday's Zaman about the most recent developments in the Turkish political sphere at a time when every criticism against the government is considered illegitimate and every critic is declared traitor. Stressing that Turkey is now an authoritarian regime, Kalaycıoğlu says, “Turkey has become a regime where the people have no role other than praising the ruling party after casting their votes.” According to the leading political scientist, it has become evident that Erdoğan views democracy as a means to achieve his goals. Indicating that the political administration cannot cope with corruption charges through censorship, Kalaycıoğlu further says that the Constitutional Court should be the last resort in legal processes. Stressing that a democracy cannot exist without checks and balances, Kalaycıoğlu also says that it is a general observation in the world that governments do not like judicial control. It is fashionable to discuss the Republican People's Party (CHP) election failure. But you believe that this is a futile debate. Why? The most common conviction during the 1980 military coup, based on a bipolar view of the world, was that Turkey was under Soviet threat. This view was that the Red Army would be invited to the eastern part of Turkey after the east was partitioned in a Kurdish rebellion. A new organization was created based on this conviction. A new regime was designed from the assumption that left-wingers were a threat no matter how moderate they were, and that this threat should be addressed. So the reason for staging a coup was on the basis of policy? Yes. During the period between 1980 and 1983, we saw efforts to eliminate political parties, civil society organizations and unions. This was silently approved by business circles back then because they were complaining about the activities of the emerging unions. Membership in unions declined from 20 percent back then to 8 percent in 2012. In 1983, the military administration formed political parties that would submit to their will. A right-wing party would come to power, a center-left party would remain in the opposition and those remaining would not be able to have seats in Parliament because of the election threshold. Through this move, a model where state elites would have control -- control that was presented as democratic rule -- would be introduced. Turgut Özal changed this. So the plan did not work out.? No, it did not. Engineering generally does not work in politics. Kenan Evren remained president up until 1989; he had been pretty successful in dealing with the political left. Coincidentally, the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Therefore, it became evident that socialism was utopian and could not be an alternative to capitalism. And this contributed to the process that started in 1980. Therefore, by 1992, the political left was frozen in Turkey. And of course, the political left moved to a more secularist stance because of its fears. True. But this came later; it is a process that started in 1993. In 1992, the political left in Turkey was practically paralyzed. And it still is. There is no strong organizational structure that can carry this. People no longer define themselves as workers; instead, they base their identity on religious, ethnic and sectarian orientations. The sense of belonging to the working class has been destroyed. What would the presence of a social democrat party mean in an environment where there is no social democrat? The political left was eliminated; I doubt whether it was a real threat. But this was consistent with Turkey's NATO and American policy, as well as the domestic political setting. Did the political left have a class base before this? The union movement in Turkey started in 1963 when a new law on labor was passed. This law was made by the coalition government, of which Bülent Ecevit was labor minister. This bill was the source of Ecevit's image as a friend of workers. Ecevit became the Robin Hood of the workers. The growing interest of the labor unions in Ecevit as he was becoming a more popular figure within the CHP led to a relationship between the labor unions and the center-left party, as observed in Europe, in Turkish politics in the 1970s. But this started to disappear in the 1980s. What did the political left in Turkey do? The leftist parties were able to serve as the representative of the Alevis, who were excluded and denigrated. However, the headscarf issue has been traditionally dealt with by the right-wing parties. The image of excluded women developed in different patterns in Europe and Turkey. The headscarved women in Europe are mostly middle-class, whereas the women in Turkey tried to integrate more with urban life. Because the lifestyle and priorities of the women in Turkey were different, the left failed to pay attention to them. Were both the Kurds and the women wearing headscarves considered a source of concern for the country's regime? First of all, the Kurds are extremely religious. Therefore, it is possible to win the hearts of the Kurds through a religious agenda. Pro-Kurdish nationalism is a fairly strong movement. As you may be able to conclude, the CHP would not be able to reach out to the Kurds through religiosity. Another option it could have used was Kurdish nationalism. [But] when it did this, it was accused of partitioning Turkey and of backing the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party]. Because it was unable to sustain this policy, the CHP abandoned this approach. As a result, it was unable to mobilize the Kurds. In the past, the CHP had some sort of link to the Kurds because the Kurds were mostly workers. Then, this connection was also eroded. But there were still attempts to carry out the engineering that you believe started in the 1980s? The system created by the 1982 Constitution included three main components: the military, the pro-Turkish figures and the Islamists. In other words, a Turkish-Islamic synthesis was the ideological basis of the 1982 Constitution. The government was able to stand against the leftist threat, whereas the coalition government started to collapse after the end of the Cold War in 1991. It was concluded that the existence of religious organizations and their activities violated the general principles in the 1982 Constitution in Turkey. Secondly, the coalition had a disagreement over what to do to address the PKK threat that emerged in 1984. The pro-Turkish figures argued that reconciliation was not an option and that the PKK should be wiped out using violent measures. The military implemented this view and idea. The Islamists, on the other hand, argued that it was possible to have a connection with the Kurds because they were religious people but, that to do this, secularism should be abandoned. Therefore, a disagreement that would destroy the coalition emerged in the 1990s. The problem and disagreement became more visible when the PKK and Kurdish issue turned into a chronic crisis subsequent to the Iraqi invasion. Consequently, in order to return the genie to the bottle, the military started to place pressure on the Islamists. This was the reason why we experienced a military intervention in the Feb. 28 incident. With this move, the coalition would be recreated and the military would become the dominant actor, while the two parties that constituted the government would be supportive of this actor. This has remained the case up until 2002. In the process that started with the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] coming to power, Islamists became dominant actors. The military and the nationalists had to play a secondary role. But the struggle for a position in this hierarchy still continues. So it seems that the Kurds had to pay the bill during this process. In the aftermath of the economic crisis in 1991, the people in Turkey were recovering in economic terms. However, the people in Southeast Anatolia experienced hardships due to the embargo imposed upon Iraq. News reports indicated back then that the unemployment rate was around 40 percent among the Kurds. Maybe we should also cite growing pressure by the state. If you take a look at the number of PKK militants who were killed during the period between 1984 and 1991, you would see that it was 1,500. But this increased to 30-40,000 after the Gulf War in 1991, when the people started to support Kurdish nationalism and the PKK. The local people had to pay the greater portion of the bill incurred by a mismanaged economic crisis, which contributed to the rise of Kurdish nationalism. It should also be noted that the 1991-1999 period was an era where Turkey was experiencing a social revolution. In 2002, the AK Party introduced a process of democratization. But things have changed over the past three to four years. Why? It was perceived that democracy is the most useful tool to achieve this sort of change in Turkey. The EU membership bid and American support were key components of this strategy that would democratize the military-civilian relationship. But today, we realize that democracy was used as an instrument in this process. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had already implied this in the 1990s when he relied on a metaphor likening democracy to a tool. Now, he says that checks and balances are things that we should get rid of. However, as underlined by James Madison [when writing] the American Constitution, checks and balances have remained main elements of all democratic designs since the 18th century. Was not this the main issue in the discussions over implementing a presidential system after 2011? This is the real problem. A regime that does not have checks and balances cannot be a democracy. So what would we call the current regime? I am asking this because there are debates on this matter. There are a few definitions for this in the literature of political science. One is offered by Terry Karl: electoralism. [This is] where the winners of elections feel that they are not bound by fundamental rights and freedoms or the principle of the supremacy of law. Is there any such regime right now in the world? We have some Latin American countries -- Venezuela, for instance. We actually want to have a regime like the one in Venezuela. There was the Alberto Fujimori experience in Peru. Shelving democracy like he did is called “Autogolpe.” This is the formation of a regime through reliance on illegal means and constitutional violations after coming to power. Fujimori was accused of doing this; eventually he fled to Japan and then was extradited to his country where he was prosecuted and convicted. There are many such examples in Latin America. Another type of such a regime is what our colleague [Guillermo] O'Donell calls delegative democracy. This is a regime where the people cast their votes but do nothing else in the aftermath with the exception of praising the winning party. This is what we are expected to do now in our system as well. This is another definition of an authoritarian system. The third is competitive authoritarianism, a term used to describe regimes in countries like Russia and Ukraine. This is a type of regime where the winning party becomes dominant in a competition where there is no promotion of rights and freedoms and supremacy of law. So which one describes the situation in Turkey? Turkey may fit in any of these types. Turkey is currently an authoritarian regime. The issue is whether we will be able to move toward democracy again. We are a country that has been in the process of democratization -- and one that has failed to consolidate its democracy -- over the last 70 years. You know that some recent corruption allegations were covered up and that the election win was presented as an exoneration of these charges. What would you say about this? This is not acceptable. It is not right. There is no such case of this in the world. And the people were asked to believe this. Besides, this attracts support. True. But the majority did not vote for the AK Party. This should be underlined. They failed to attract the support of the majority. It received 43.3 percent of the vote. When you compare it to 2011, you will see a decline of 6.5 percentage points. This means that about 13 percent of those who voted for this party did not vote [for them] this time. It is weird to present this as a mass endorsement. We have such a problem here: Can a president or a prime minister who may have committed a crime rule the country in an administration viewed as a legitimate government? There is a clear answer to this in political science: no. In a democratic state, this investigation should be properly carried out by an independent and impartial judiciary. You may postpone this, but you cannot eliminate it. Eliminating this means that Turkey is not governed by a legitimate government. You may preserve your power, but you cannot preserve how you are perceived? And you cannot preserve your power either. Your power comes from legitimacy. The only thing you will have in a country where legitimacy is not preserved is police violence. You can govern a country by reliance on intimidation and coercion up until the point when people [start risking] their lives. And when this happens, you will see developments like those in Egypt, Ukraine and Tunisia. Therefore, this is a risky move. The media is trying to give the message that this job is done, but there is no evidence suggesting that the doubts were addressed and that there is no corruption. First, the opposition will keep questioning this because the prime minister confessed that he rigged public tenders and interfered with the judicial process. This should be properly investigated. Could we say that the judiciary is under the influence of the political administration? Not just me, the opposition leaders argue this; the bar associations also join this argument. At the same time, EU reports and American reports make the same point. There is a lot of evidences proving this argument. For this reason, it is not right to argue that this government is now unquestionable because of the election win. The voters said in the election that our economic interests would be protected if this government remains in power; that is all. We will see whether this is right because if such a government, one that contributes to the erosion of justice, remains in power, will political and economic stability continue in Turkey? The IMF [International Monetary Fund] reduced the growth rate in Turkey from 3.5 to 2 percent. Moody's turned Turkey's economic outlook to negative. Why? Turkey has started to become economically unstable because we are have a government that imposes censorship and [blocks] the Internet. Does this government make international investors confident? Do you think that there is political vacuum in Turkey right now? Such major changes rarely take place in elections. The 1950 elections are an example, and so are the elections of 1983 and 2002. Democracy will remain [if] some minor changes [are made]. We will wait for the 2015 elections; let us see what will happen. We should note that the AK Party lost 6.5 percentage points in its vote count in this election. Therefore, as long as these [corruption] accusations remain, the decline will also continue. If you rely on censorship to cover up allegations, this is not a measure or option that the general people will endorse. You should take a look at who was able to remain in power by imposing censorship measures. It seems that we are ready to become a closed state and society. No, not really. The voters did not realize that the votes they cast meant that. But when they do, things will start to change because of serious economic losses. So did voters endorse a closed society design? Of course; they endorsed censorship. Why is the prime minister still talking about Twitter? He is doing so because of the support he received from the voters. The voters endorsed the way the corruption claims have been framed. They ignored the constitutional violations by the prime minister. Why did they do this? They thought that they were doing ok terms of economics and that this government would preserve their economic interests. What do you think the Constitutional Court is doing? Without intending to, it now adopts an approach that is consistent with the principles of the supremacy of law. Of course, this is not how it is perceived. There is an executive branch that perceives this approach of the Constitutional Court as a power struggle against it. Executive branches all over the world complain about judiciaries. If the executive branch complains about the judiciary, this means that the judiciary is doing its job right. [Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio] Berlusconi was also complaining about the judiciary. Even [US President Barack] Obama is complaining about it.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to resolutely crack down on terrorism and secessionism with high intensity to safeguard national security. Xi made the remarks on Friday at the 14th group study session on national security and social stability by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. Calling terrorism the common enemy of the people, Xi urged improving counter-terrorism systems and abilities and the public to build a "wall of bronze and iron" to fight against terrorism. "(We must) make terrorists become like rats scurrying across a street, with everybody shouting 'beat them!'" Xi said. Resolute and decisive measures must be taken and high pressure must be maintained to crack down on violent terrorists who have been swollen with arrogance, he said. Violent terrorists ignore basic human rights, trample humanism and justice and challenge the bottom-line of human civilization, Xi said. It is neither an issue of nationality nor one of religion, but the common enemy of people of all nationalities, he said. Xi also emphasized the fight against secessionism and promotion of ethnic unity and common prosperity. He called on a resolute strike on secession, infiltration and sabotage by hostile forces within and outside China. Xi urged all regions and departments to shoulder responsibilities and cooperate to maintain national security and social stability which are "extremely urgent" for deepening reforms and realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. While China has managed to remain stable in providing a sound environment for reforms and opening-up, threats and challenges to the country's national security and social stability are increasing and reinforcing each other, he warned. We must keep a clear mind and effectively prevent, manage and settle these security risks, he said. To implement the overall national security outlook, China must attach importance to both external and internal security, homeland security and the safety of its people as well as traditional and non-traditional security, he said. China must pay attention to both development and security, as well as its own security and common security, he added. To safeguard national security, China must promote development in a more comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable way and improve people's livelihood so as to eliminate sources of social conflicts, Xi said. He also called on perfecting systems to protect people's legal rights and the rule of law so that social conflicts can be settled through legal means effectively.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed as unacceptable US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim the RT news channel, which provides an alternative stance on world events, is a “propaganda bullhorn.” “Speaking on mass media like this is not very cultured,” Lavrov told a CIS Youth Diplomats Forum Friday. He said he “could understand John Kerry as Russia Today has today become a serious rival for CNN and other Western media.” The international multilingual Russia-based television network RT, previously known as Russia Today, has broken the monopoly of Western media and its alternative angle of events is gaining more popularity across the world, Lavrov said. Some time ago, Western media were sure that they possibly had a full monopoly and faced no rivals, Lavrov said adding that “Russia Today has earned a huge audience in the US, West Europe, without speaking about Latin America and the Arab world.” “We will be actively supporting this independent alternative viewpoint on what the Western propaganda tells us,” Lavrov said. Earlier this month, RT was honored with a prestigious gold medal award at the New York Festivals, besting US-based CNN, and claiming an additional two bronze medals. At a press conference at the State Department on Thursday, Kerry criticized the RT network. “In fact, the propaganda bullhorn that is the state-sponsored RT program has been deployed to promote – actually, RT network – has been deployed to promote President [Vladimir] Putin’s fantasy about what is playing out on the ground,” he said. RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said the news channel would send an official request to the US State Department to “point out the specific examples where RT distorted facts.” “We regret that the head of the US foreign ministry knows so little about the situation that is really happening in Ukraine,” Simonyan said, adding that Kerry refuses to acknowledge the facts which he doesn’t like and allows himself to make such “unfounded accusations.” Tensions between Moscow and Washington rose to a fever pitch following the reunification of Crimea with Russia in March. While the US supports the new Ukrainian authorities, who recently launched a military operation against pro-federalization supporters, Moscow has urged the White House to use its influence on Kiev to make it acknowledge responsibility for the ongoing crisis and implement an agreement reached last week in Geneva.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have discussed the Ukrainian crisis during a telephone conversation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "Lavrov has emphasized the necessity to take urgent measures to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, firstly to cease the military operation against protest participants and stop aggressive actions of radical nationalists of the Right Sector," the document said. The Russian foreign minister has also raised "the issue of political prisoners and urged the United States to use its influence for the release of protest movement leader arrested in southeastern Ukraine," the statement said. "The attention of the Secretary of State has been drawn to the proposals of the Party of Regions and public movements of the southeast regarding the beginning of all-Ukraine national dialog and constitutional reform," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "Kerry assured that Washington will aspire to use its capabilities to encourage the Kiev authorities for certain steps to decrease tension and expressed hope that the southeastern regions will respond to these steps," the statement said. "The parties have also discussed the measures being taken to resolve the situation with the detention of military monitors of European countries, who arrived to Ukraine upon the invitations of the Kiev authorities in the framework of procedures stipulated in the Vienna document of 2011 on measures to enhance trust and security and who went to the southeast without appropriate notification of public structures controlling the situation on sites," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Lavrov and Kerry have also "exchanged opinions on the operation to destroy the Syrian chemical weapons and its components, having noted that, as of today, 92% relevant materials have already been moved from Syria," the document said. The telephone conversation was held upon the US initiative, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. In a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, April 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for an end to the army operation against protesters in southeastern Ukraine and for stopping aggressive actions of ultranationalists from the Right Sector. Lavrov also urged Kerry to use his influence for getting arrested protest leaders release Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_26/Lavrov-urges-US-to-assist-release-of-protest-movement-leaders-arrested-in-southeastern-Ukraine-2670/
South Korean investigators are seeking arrests of the last four crewmen from sunken ferry that left more than 300 people dead or missing.
Preliminary results show Afghanistan's April 5 presidential election will have to go to a second-round run-off vote between former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah and former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani. Afghan election officials said Saturday that neither of the top two candidates won a majority of the overall vote. The official count shows Abdullah won 44.9 percent of the vote and Ghani 31.5 percent. A run-off election is required unless a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the ballots. No details of a run-off have been set yet, since Saturday's preliminary results will be updated when the final official count is released on May 14. Abdullah finished second in Afghanistan's last presidential election, in 2009. President Hamid Karzai was declared the winner amid allegations of irregularities and ballot fraud. Officials have been investigating complaints of possible fraud and other irregularities in the current election. The winner of the April 5 election will replace Karzai, who could not run again because of constitutional limits. The next president will oversee a transition during which a majority of international troops will be withdrawing from Afghanistan.
Five service members were killed when a British helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, the NATO-led coalition forces and the British Ministry of Defense said. An Afghan official said the helicopter carrying soldiers from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had crashed due to technical problems. "ISAF is still in the process of reviewing the circumstances to determine more facts," ISAF said. It did not provide details of their nationalities. A spokesman for Kandahar Governor Tooryalai Wesa confirmed the crash occurred near Kandahar City. "Today at 11 am (0630 GMT) an ISAF helicopter crashed due to technical problems in Takhteh Pol district. As a result five ISAF soldiers were killed," spokesman Dawakhan Minapal said. In London, the Ministry of Defense said the helicopter was British but did not elaborate on the nationalities of the dead. "We can confirm that a UK helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan today," the ministry said in a statement. "The incident is under investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further until families have been notified." Foreign forces casualties have fallen in the past few months, as U.S.-led forces start to wind down operations ahead of a year-end deadline to leave Afghanistan. The United States has been at odds with President Hamid Karzai who has refused U.S. entreaties to sign a bilateral security agreement that would permit about 8,000 U.S. troops to remain in the country after the formal U.S. withdrawal at the end of the year. The leading contenders to replace Karzai have, however, said they will sign the agreement to allow the small contingent of U.S. forces to stay in the country for counter-terrorism and Afghan training purposes. Since the start of the year, nearly twice as many foreign civilians have been killed in attacks this year compared to foreign troops. At least 24 foreign civilians, including doctors and journalists, have been shot or killed in bomb attacks.
ABC US News | ABC Business News It's all about who you know! An unemployed dad's little girl offered First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama her dad's resume on April 24. During a Q&A with the children of Executive Office employees at the White House's annual "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day," in Washington, D.C., 10-year-old Charlotte Bell raised her hand infront of FLOTUS, but instead of asking a question, the courageous little girl walked straight up to Mrs. Obama. “My dad’s been out of a job for three years and I wanted to give you his resume,” Bell told President Barack Obama's wife. A surprised FLOTUS responded: "Oh my goodness. Well, it's a little private, but she's doing something for her dad, right?" Obama then told the adorable girl, "Got it," and gave her a big hug. Bell's father, Ben Bell, who worked on the Obama campaign in 2012, has been actively trying to get a job with the Obama administration. FLOTUS reportedly left the event with the resume in tow. Read more: http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/young-girl-gives-first-lady-michelle-obama-jobless-dads-resume--2014254#ixzz300aI0kk1 Follow us: @usweekly on Twitter | usweekly on Facebook
http://www.rferl.org/In its annual report, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has offered a bleak assessment of the plight of women, laborers, children, and religious minorities in the country. The report, released on April 24, says that at least 869 women lost their lives in honor killings in the country last year, while more than 800 Pakistani women committed suicide in 2013. The report says that only 18 percent of Pakistani women have secondary or higher education and only 28 percent are formally counted in the workforce. Hussain Naqi, a spokesman from the HRCP in the eastern city of Lahore, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that women in Pakistan face significant challenges as they try to "assert their rights." Naqi notes that the lives and property of all religious minorities in Pakistan are protected by the constitution, as well as their right to profess their faiths. Nevertheless, the report said that violence against religious minorities is on the rise as well. According to the report, 687 people were killed in more than 200 sectarian attacks last year, an increase of 22 percent over 2012. According to the report, around 800,000 children die in Pakistan each year of polio, dengue fever, and malnutrition. The report also says that the government allocated less than 2 percent of gross domestic product for education in the country, with Pakistan remaining 180th out of 221 countries in the world with regard to literacy. Around 5.5 million school-age children could not enroll in classes, the report concludes. Only 1.6 million workers, out of a labor force of 59 million, have access to social security, while unemployment continues to grow. The report also says an estimated 2 million Pakistanis are trapped in various forms of modern-day slavery.
http://news.stv.tv/A man jailed under Pakistan's blasphemy laws has spoken of his experience after he escaped to the Scotland.
According to sources, the Delhi Colony blast was an incident of sectarian violence.The ongoing investigation has found evidences of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) being involved in the Delhi Colony blast while banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Swat and Mohmand group) in the attack on slain inspector Shafiq Tanoli. According to sources, the Delhi Colony blast was an incident of sectarian violence. Meanwhile, police nabbed around 43 suspects during a targeted operation in Delhi Colony and adjoining areas. On the other hand, police killed key activist of a banned outfit in an encounter in Lyari area of Karachi. According to police, the accused Qari Noshad belonged to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Huge cache of arms including 6 rockets, rocket launcher, 486 grenades, two pistols was also seized. A case has also been registered against ‘unknown people’ regarding yesterday’s bomb blast in Delhi Colony of Defence area. The case was registered under anti-terrorism act on government’s complaint. Meanwhile, the police have arrested 43 suspects during search operation in Delhi Colony and adjoining areas. The suspects have been shifted to undisclosed location for interrogation.
Over fifty police officers have been killed in Karachi in 2014 alone. Shafiq Tanoli was just one of them. Along with high-profile cases like Safwat Gayur and Chaudhry Aslam, terrorists have targeted around 5,272 officials of the law-enforcement agencies (mostly police). Why is the police a target? They are a symbol of the state; not guarded like the GHQ or cordoned off in the Presidential Palace, but on the streets, visible in uniform. As such they are a symbolic target for those who want to sabotage the state. There have been three major jailbreaks in Bannu and D.I.Khan, and in each case, heavily armed militants got away without resistance. In the Rawalpindi court attack, the police refused to fire in fear of a counterattack. The enemy is organized, taking the initiative, ambushing while heavily armed (200kg of explosives were used to kill Chaudhary Aslam). Often, militants have undergone war and combat training while the police forces have had none, existing without any real policy framework and without the authority to arrest high level targets. As such, police officers have little authoritative clarity but plenty of inquiries, transfers, explanations, and court cases to suffer through. The narrative against terrorism is also incoherent and this affects police psyche. Many consider the militants “our own people” and “our brothers gone astray,” who should be talked to, not fought. The police are at the tactical end, and any real change has to be at the policy level. There has to be upgraded equipment for searching vehicles and personnel, like scanners, sniffer dogs and security cameras. The long overdue National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) should finally be implemented. NACTA was to “coordinate and unify” national counter-terrorism efforts. Since there is no coordination between the different security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, a supra agency is needed to fix loopholes and prevent intelligence failures. The separate Counter Terrorism Department in Punjab and the new Punjab Anti-terrorism Force is not a real substitute for this institutional unification. The police should maintain law and order, not the Rangers, Army or Frontier Constabulary. This is only possible with a sound anti-terror policy, a uniform narrative at all levels, a truly empowered police force and a security/intelligence apparatus that ensures that the community as a whole is safe. Otherwise the policemen searching our cars at police posts, are only searching for their own deaths.
The Express TribuneOnly 16 per cent of children in Balochistan are immunised against eight preventable diseases, says a Unicef report released during World Immunisation Week, running from 24-30 April. With the discovery of the poliovirus from sewage in March, an estimated 2.2 million children in the province are at risk of being infected by the poliovirus. “There has been no virus detected here since June 2012, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently confirmed the virus strain in the environment here, which puts the children at risk,” the report said. Unicef found that 84 per cent of families living in the province do not bring their children for vaccination or do not complete the full course of vaccination. A Unicef report, ‘Pakistan Demographic Health Survey’, released in March found the state of child health in Balochistan alarming, with an estimated 111 children of every 1,000 births dying before their fifth birthday. Ninety-seven of these children do not make it to the age of 1 year. Additionally, Unicef found that there is no vaccination centre in 39% of Union Councils in the province and there is a dire need of 600 vaccinators to make the existing EPI centres functional. Every year, immunisation prevents an estimated 2-3 million deaths from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles – diseases that disproportionately affect children. “The Balochistan government has launched a campaign to improve healthcare and coverage,” Rehmat Saleh Baloch, the provincial health minister, told The Express Tribune. “We have recently started the Sehat Mand Balochistan (Healthy Balochistan) Programme, under which several issues are being covered.
Dr Haider Shah
The main issue here is not if the charge against the ISI and its chief is correct or not. What concerns me more is why such a situation prevails in the country where we are not clear about whose side our men in uniform are onThey both landed in Karachi on the same fateful Saturday. One was the former dictator charged with the offence of ‘high treason’. The other was a journalist who had been campaigning against any deal, which would facilitate the fleeing of the dictator. Enjoying his VVIP protocol, the dictator is readying his suitcases to board for a flight aboard. Riddled with six bullets,the journalist is making a slow recovery in Agha Khan Hospital while a section of the media is running a campaign to malign the victim.This is how Pakistan appears to the outside world. Recently, the influential Foreign Policy magazine compiled a list of the top 25 failed states of the world. Mostly civil war stricken African states appear on that list. Pakistan occupies the unlucky 13th positionon the list. Personally, I have always maintained that it is unfair to categorise Pakistan as a failed state. It has a constitutionally elected democratic set up, independent judiciary and an assertive media. The inability of the state to provide security to its citizens while the non-state actors grow in strength and influence does make Pakistan arguably a‘failing state’ but not a ‘failed state’. The Hamid Mir saga, however, plunges the state into a new quagmire. Trapped between its democratic credentials of being a media friendly political party and pressure from the military establishment, the PML-Ngovernment seems to be awkwardly getting crushed. Judging by the discourse in the media after the assassination attempt on Hamid Mir,it is not hard to see that dehumanisation has gripped society to its core.For promoting their commercial interests and settling petty old scores, various groupings can happily go down to any low. The disturbing evidence emerged as soon as Hamid Mir was attacked. Almost all channels, except the one he works for, not only censored this shocking news but, to add insult to injury,kept reportingMusharraf’s movement from ChakShahzad to Karachi. The silence on other channels only changed into a loud chorus when they were fed with an excuse to curse the victim. Some began a marathon smear campaign against the bed ridden, bullet-wounded journalist. Veterans like Zaid Hamid are now joined by the new kid on the block,Faisal Raza Abidi, to issue certificates and medals of loyalty and treason. Not that I see things in black and white, and do not find any problems with our electronic media. Not that I find any affinity with the worldview of AnsarAbbasi but I would be proving myself a real ‘liberal fascist’ if I allow my differences of opinion on certain fundamental issues to influence my position when these journalists are taking a stand on a just cause and are facing life threats. As President Kennedy once borrowed a quote from Dante’s Inferno, “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in time, of moral crisis preserve their neutrality”, we cannot pretend to be balanced analysts by not taking a clear side. The main issue here is not if the charge against the ISI and its chief is correct or not. I do not know;we are often not even supposed to know. What concerns me more is why such a situation prevails in the country where we are not clear about whose side our men in uniform are on. If journalists are suspected of breaking any law or involvement in anti-state activities the intelligence agencies can collect evidence and get them prosecuted in a court of law through the police. That is how terrorist suspects are arrested and prosecuted in the UK. What are the laws that empower the personnel of intelligence agencies and which laws define their boundaries? My concern is that I do not have an answer. Once, Mr Farhatullah Babar had asked thissame question in the senate but the then senate chairman nervously did not allow the question to be discussed. In SaleemShahzad’s case, the inquiry commission recommended a legal framework for regularising the work of intelligence agencies. Yes, the media has been, on many occasions, irresponsiblebut media channels work under accountability pressures of the market at least. The viewers can easily switch over to MubasharLuqman and Zaid Hamid if they do not like Hamid Mir and NajamSethi. The customer is under no compulsion to stay loyalto any channel. However, in the case of law enforcement agencies, no such free choices are available. If there is the need for a media code there is an even greater need for a code to regulate the affairs of the intelligence agencies. Wali Babar was allegedly killed by the militant wing of the MQM, Raza Rumi was ambushed by a banned sectarian outfit andExpress News cameramen were killed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). If, in the case of SaleemShahzad and Hamid Mir, fingers get pointed at our guardians then it is a very alarming situation. The captain of a football team should not be apprehensive of the self-goals of his own players. The channels accusing Hamid Mir’s private television channel, not a long time ago, ran live press conferences of Malik Riaz where the then chief justice was vehemently abused. They also aired malicious speeches of Faisal Raza Abidi. No heavens came crashing down then. The activists of certain political parties in Karachi often disrupt various channels. When people in uniform conduct themselves in the same way I find it more difficult to argue my case with those who call Pakistan a failed state.
A LITTLE discussed but crucial aspect of the government’s dialogue with the banned TTP is the issue of militants of foreign origin who live or have found sanctuary in militant strongholds in Fata. As reported in this newspaper yesterday, the foreign militants, with an eye on the government-TTP dialogue, are keen to secure safe passage out of Pakistan and move on to other arenas of jihad, especially Syria. But the principal concern here should hardly be what foreign militants living on Pakistani soil want. It should, instead, be how to devise a coherent strategy to nudge out foreign militants from Pakistani soil while simultaneously reducing their influence on the Pakistani militancy spectrum. To begin with, what the government ought to demand is a full accounting of foreigners associated with militancy in Pakistan and living in the tribal areas. Given the long history of militancy in the region, there are a number of people from the time of the first Afghan jihad in the 1980s who, in their post-jihad career, settled down in Pakistan, married Pakistanis and are living here having long abandoned militancy and violence. Those particular individuals are of little consequence today and pose no obvious threat to the state. However, there are other foreigners — in the scores, hundreds, perhaps even a couple of thousand — who live in Pakistan, are active in militancy and pose a very serious danger to this country and possibly other states too. Here the government will have to be more firm and insistent in its negotiations with the TTP. To begin with, the TTP must provide a comprehensive and verifiable list of active foreign militants living in Fata, both those living under the TTP’s umbrella of protection and otherwise. Next, the TTP must guarantee the disarming and decommissioning of the foreign militants. That has been one of the basic conditions of any peace deal that governments have struck with militants over the past decade and it would be disastrous to move away from that at this point. After that, the question of safe passage can be taken up on a case-by-case basis, but only to allow foreigners to return to their home countries. For obvious reasons, most foreign militants may prefer to move to yet another country to continue their so-called jihad, but the government here must be careful to take into account the potential ramifications: does Pakistan want to be blamed for exporting its militancy problem to other parts of the globe? The worrying bit is that the government has been quiet on the issue of foreign militants. The TTP is unlikely to easily cut ties with or abandon its allies among foreign militants, so the lack of clarity and purposefulness on the government’s part may encourage the TTP to demand concessions even on this front. What exactly does the government have in mind here?
Recent reports have painted a bleak picture of Pakistan’s fight against poliovirus.“Pakistan which currently stands at the top in the last three polio endemic countries in the world for housing big wild poliovirus (WPV) reservoirs, will be the last place on earth in which polio exists,” is a disturbing information shared at a meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) held in the first week of this month in the World Health Organisation’s headquarters at Geneva. SAGE is the principal advisory group to the WHO for vaccines and immunisation. A senior government official told Dawn that a brief of the meeting, released this week, depicted the level of concern of the world about the persistent emergence of the wild poliovirus in Pakistan. The full meeting report will be published in the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record on May 23. The SAGE meeting was called in the aftermath of the resurgence of polio cases in the polio-endemic countries — Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Pakistan is at the top among other endemic countries, with 50 wild poliovirus cases in the current year so far. Earlier, he said, the WHO had predicted India as the last ‘polio-endemic country’ because of the size of its population and ‘unmanageable’ health infrastructure but it surprised the world by getting the polio-free nation status. Peshawar, Fata and Karachi remained the centre of discussion at the meeting due to persistent wild poliovirus transmission. “The current situation in Pakistan is a powder keg that could ignite widespread polio transmission,” the official quoted the report as saying. The government has been slow to grasp the fundamental seriousness of the situation. “If the current trend continues, Pakistan will be the last place on earth in which polio exists,” it said. Another report compiled by local offices of the international polio eradication partners, including Unicef and WHO, last week revealed an alarming situation in respect of refusal cases and the increase in the number of polio cases. “Pakistan continues to be the country with most polio cases in the world this year followed by three in Afghanistan and one in Nigeria,” said the report. The official said this week five new cases were reported in Pakistan (two wild poliovirus type 1 — WPV1, and three circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 —cVDPV2). Four of the cases were from Fata and one from Gadap in Karachi. The officials were shocked to learn that out of the total 50 children who were paralysed by the wild poliovirus in Pakistan so far, 44 were reported with zero-dose. Forty-one of the cases were reported from Fata, eight from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and three from Sindh. Balochistan and Punjab reported no polio case. In the report, Unicef and the WHO noted that the number of unvaccinated children in Pakistan had shot up to an unexpectedly high level. The calculations showed that KP reported 700 refusal cases, Punjab 404, including 250 in Rawalpindi, Sindh 386, Fata 269 and Balochistan reported 251 refusal cases during the last round of polio vaccination. Giving comparison of the cases with the last years, the report said, one polio case was reported in Pakistan by the end of April in 2011, two in 2012 and 12 cases in 2013 but the cases reported in the same months in the current year were hundred times more. Rawalpindi has been forecast second ‘Peshawar’ for housing a large number of migrant families who come from Fata, Bajaur Agency, North and South Waziristan, Mohmand Agency and Afghanistan. Peshawar had again been declared a major reservoir for poliovirus transmission. According to the WHO the densely-populated Peshawar valley is considered to be the main ‘engine’ of poliovirus transmission, alongside North Waziristan, due to large-scale population movements through Peshawar from across this region, and into other areas of Pakistan.
Now that Hamid Mir has regained consciousness and spoken about the attack against him perhaps we can put behind us the notion that he is anti-army. Mir, in a statement released through his brother, said that receiving multiple bullet wounds allowed him to better appreciate the sacrifices made by the jawans who protect this country. He very rightfully distinguished between the bravery of soldiers and the possible plotting of some in the agencies. Note that Mir did not make any accusations; he simply explained the circumstances in which his life was threatened in the weeks leading up to his shooting. As Mir tells it, members of an intelligence agency came to his residence and told him that he was on a hit list. For some reason they did not tell him who had made this hit list. This is a rerun of the interactions the agency had with Saleem Shahzad prior to his murder and since Shahzad himself was convinced that he would be targeted by them, it is understandable that Mir would be similarly worried. Perhaps, rather than taking punitive action against Mir’s employers, the agency in question would now like to clarify if this warning was actually delivered to Mir and who they believed had placed him on the hit list. Others, like the Sindh Assembly which passed a resolution condemning Geo TV for maligning the ISI, should also be focused on answering these questions rather than embroiling themselves in an unnecessary controversy. Mir’s other complaint against the authorities is equally legitimate. He wants to know why no one was apprehended after he was nearly killed by a bomb placed under his car in 2012. The TTP had claimed responsibility for that attempt but Mir says the police showed no interest in tackling the case. Other threats he has received have not been investigated. Is this a matter just of incompetence and lack of interest or is something more sinister involved? The stands Mir has taken recently have not endeared him to the powers-that-be. He, almost alone in the electronic media, brought media attention to the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons long march which, according to Mir, led to complaints from the ISI. Mir is on the road to recovery and soon will be back on the airwaves. He has vowed not to be silenced. But such personal bravery should not have been needed in the first place. Hamid Mir is a hero but the villains who put him in this position need to be tracked down at once.
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Wife of senior Geo News anchor Hamid Mir has said that the matter of threatening phone calls to her husband were made at the end of the PPP's term in government. In a response issued through his wife to Chaudhry Nisar's statements, Hamid Mir said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had raised the matter of threatening phone calls in the National Assembly. Mir's wife said that over PPP leader Khurshid Shah's advice the speaker of the assembly constituted a committee led by the opposition member Ahsan Iqbal. The committee's report is available in the record of the National Assembly, she added. Earlier, talking to media, Nisar said that former Islamabad police officials denied that any complaint was lodged over an attack on Mr. Mir's wife and children. However, Mir's wife said that the incident had taken place in Islamabad after which Geo News Islamabad's Admin Officer Younis Arain had lodged the complaint, Mir's wife said. Younis Arain lodged complaint over the attack on Hamid Mir's wife and his children. She said Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had issued a statement in 2010 against the secret agencies harassment to Hamid Mir. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had also issued condemnation over the issue, she added. Mir's wife said phone numbers were sent to IG Islamabad through speaker National Assembly. The security provided to Hamid Mir by the PPP-led government was withdrawn by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, she said. She asked as to where the investigation has reached over the issue of bomb planted under Mir's car in Islamabad.