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August 12, 2016

Four recorded dead in suspected chemical attack in Syria

Four recorded dead in suspected chemical attack in Syria

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Friday, August 12, 2016

A suspected chlorine gas attack, in the Syrian city of Aleppo, has left 4 people dead and another 55 injured.

Manager of Al Quds hospital in Aleppo, Hamza Khatib, told Reuters that they were currently in the process of treating the injured. Clothing of the victims is being collected for analysis.

The attack took place at approximately 7:30pm on Wednesday night when a barrel filled with what is suspected to be chlorine gas was dropped in the Aleppo neighbourhood of Zubdiya. If confirmed, the Zubdiya attack will be the third chemical attack in northern Syria in two weeks.

The use of chemical weapons is prohibited under international human rights law. Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International, Magdalena Mughrabi said that the targeting of civilians in Syria had to stop.

“It is imperative that chemical attacks and other war crimes end now” Ms Mughrabi added.

The use of chlorine gas in war is difficult to track as it quickly disperses and leaves no chemical trace. Between 2012 and 2015 it’s thought that over 2000 Syrians have been injured by chlorine gas attacks.



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November 27, 2015

At least 52, including six Shia Muslim activists, to be executed in Saudi Arabia

At least 52, including six Shia Muslim activists, to be executed in Saudi Arabia

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Friday, November 27, 2015

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In Saudi Arabia, six Shia Muslim activists, along with at least 46 other people, are to be executed for terrorism on an unspecified date, according to reports on Thursday.

Varying local media reports said at least 52 people will be executed. Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz said some of the people convicted of terrorism were members of the militant group Al-Qaeda, and were convicted of attempting to overthrow the government and planning terrorist attacks. The 52 have allegedly killed at least a hundred civilians and seventy security personnel.

Amnesty International said others who are also to be executed were people from the city of Awamiya, where most of the population consists of Shia Muslims, a minority within Saudi Arabia. Protests have been held there, across the past several years, over alleged mistreatment of Shias by the government. Among those convicted of terrorism were the six Shia Muslim activists, at least two of whom reportedly were minors when they allegedly committed their crimes. Amnesty International has said the trials leading up to their conviction were clearly “unfair”.

File photo of Dira Square, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where public executions are carried out under Sharia Law.
Image: Luke Richard Thompson.

James Lynch, Middle East and North Africa deputy director of Amnesty International, said Saudi Arabia was settling “political scores” under “the guise of counter-terrorism.”

The three Shias, Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher, and Hussein al-Marhoon, said they have confessed to their supposed criminal acts under torture, according to Lynch.

More than 150 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia in 2015, while only 90 were executed a year ago in 2014, said Amnesty International.

This news came after Saudi-born Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh was convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death by a court in Saudi Arabia, which Human Rights Watch researcher Adam Coogle called an example of Saudi Arabia’s “complete intolerance for anyone who may not share government-mandated religious, political, and social views.”



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September 16, 2015

Kuwaiti court sentences seven to death for June mosque bombing

Kuwaiti court sentences seven to death for June mosque bombing

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

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Image: Abza.

A court in Kuwait yesterday sentenced fifteen people for involvement in June’s bombing of the Imam Sadiq Mosque. Seven were sentenced to death.

The suicide attack in Kuwait City killed 26 and injured 227. The trial of seven women and 22 men before Judge Mohammad al-Duaij produced fourteen acquittals. All those sentenced to death were men; prison terms from two to fifteen years were imposed on the remaining convicts. A number were tried in absentia.

Sunni militants Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack. IS view Shi’ites as enemies. Conducted in the Shi’ite mosque during Friday prayers, the attack came during Ramadan. IS hold a large swathe of Iraq and Syria. Sunnis and Shi’ites live together peacefully in Kuwait. It was amongst the worst attacks to hit the nation in decades.

The accused include Kuwaiti, Saudi, and Pakistani citizens, as well as stateless individuals. Abdul Rahman Sabah Saud, stateless, admitted driving bomber Fahad Suleiman Abdulmohsen al-Gabbaa, Saudi, to the mosque. Saud, also accused of handling explosives, denied intending to harm any people.

Cquote1.svg The court draws attention to the dangers of this extremist ideology Cquote2.svg

—Judge Mohammad al-Duaij

Judge al-Duaij found Fahad Farraj Muhareb to be an IS leader and sentenced him to death. Muhareb and Saud are in Kuwaiti custody. Saudi brothers Mohammad and Majed al-Zahrani, who have been detained in their homeland but were tried in absentia, were held to have transported the explosives used out of Saudi Arabia. Two stateless men convicted of being IS soldiers and a man whose identity is unclear were also sentenced to death in their absence.

Of the eight given prison terms, three were men and five women. They were convicted of offences such as assisting the attack, training IS fighters, and withholding knowledge about the bombing. The death row convicts faced more serious charges such as premeditated murder.

Appeals are possible. The prosecution had sought death sentences for eleven defendents.

Amnesty International acknowledged the bombing was “an utterly heinous and callous criminal act” but said the death sentences are “misguided” and “must be overturned”. The group, which is categorically opposed to the death penalty, said Kuwait conducted five executions in 2013 and none at all last year.

Judge al-Duaij said in delivering his judgement “The court draws attention to the dangers of this extremist ideology that resorts to terrorism for its implementation.”



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December 18, 2014

Nation mourns, world condemns Taliban attack on Pakistan army school

Nation mourns, world condemns Taliban attack on Pakistan army school

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

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In the wake of Tuesday’s high-school attack by the Pakistani Taliban (TTK) on an army public school, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a three-day period of official mourning. In addition to condemnation from world leaders — who include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, and Deputy director David Griffiths of Amnesty International — news agency Reuters are reporting the Afghan Taliban have also issued a statement condemning the attack.

The statement carried by Reuters, claiming to be from Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, reads: “The intentional killing of innocent people, children and women are against the basics of Islam and this criteria has to be considered by every Islamic party and government.” Tuesday’s attack on the Army Public School in Pakistan‘s north-western city of Peshawar claimed the lives of 132 children, and nine staff from the school.

Official reports, following police and military action against the attackers, insist seven people took part in the school attack; although a statement, issued by the TTK, insists there were only six, their targets being older pupils. The attack began in the mid morning local time, with the assailants observed entering the compound wearing suicide vests. Shortly thereafter, shots were heard with survivors reporting the gunmen were shooting people indiscriminately, going from classroom to classroom, killing teachers and students as they found them.

The massacre sparked a public outcry, both national and international; which, press speculate, led to the TTK stressing the intent to only target older students at the army school.

Turkey announced one day of national mourning. Described as impossible to justify and “blood-curdling” by the UN Secretary-General, EU Parliamentary President Schulz labelled the attack “abominable and cowardly [demonstrating] the inhuman attitude of the Taliban, their inhuman ideology, their remorseless fanaticism”, and Indian Nobel Prize-winner Kailash Satyarthi, condemned the attackers as “enemies of Allah” and stated: “The militants, be they Taliban or any other militants, who kill children, are the enemies of humanity. This attack is a blot on humanity”.

In addition to a three-day period of national mourning, President Sharif reintroduced Pakistan’s death penalty.



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August 20, 2013

Pakistani Prime Minister agrees to put all state executions on hold

Pakistani Prime Minister agrees to put all state executions on hold

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

File photo of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998.
Image: R. D. Ward.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif put all state executions on hold on Sunday, having been urged to do so by President Asif Ali Zardari.

“In due deference to the wish of the president, it has been desired that all executions of death sentences may be held in abeyance till the discussion takes place,” a statement from the government said.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed on Sunday said Sharif and Zardari will meet when the President returns to Pakistan from a trip, to discuss state execution in Pakistan. More than 8000 Pakistani prisoners are on death row according to Amnesty International.

Zardari and Sharif differ in their position on capital punishment. President Zardari banned state executions in Pakistan in 2008, a policy Prime Minister Sharif reversed in June this year, when his government came into office. Sharif had planned to re-introduce executions by the end of this month.

Although Zardari as President put a temporary hold on state executions, he will step down from office in September this year. Mamnoon Hussain is to take his place as President of Pakistan, a firm supporter of Prime Minister Sharif.

The stay on state executions may conflict with the scheduled hangings of two Islamist extremists, Attaullah and Muhammad Azam, who were originally to be hung between August 20 and 22. The men are members of Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and were found guilty in 2004 of the 2001 murder of a Shia doctor named Ali Raza Peerani.



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February 5, 2013

UN adds to criticism of Australian offshore centers

UN adds to criticism of Australian offshore centers

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) echoed criticism from other human rights groups yesterday as its new report called on Australia to cease the practice of holding asylum seekers in an uncertain status in its offshore facilities.

The UNHCR spent three days in January at an Australian facility located on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Following Australian mandatory policy, the more than two hundred detainees held there were detained upon requesting asylum. More than 30 children are being held at this Australian facility. The UNHCR report raised the crowded conditions at the camp as a cause for concern, as well as the impact isolation could have on the children. Australia has another facility for asylum seekers on the island of Nauru. The UNHCR report made clear Australia does not have a process for clearing the asylum seekers, which means their detention in the camps is indefinite and a violation of international human rights.

Caught in the middle of the debate is the new immigration minister Brendan O’Connor. O’Connor was named immigration minister this weekend. The following night, a boat load of 60 refugees who were approached near Christmas Island sought asylum. Monday, the UNHCR issued its report. Union leaders, amongst them Brendan’s brother Michael O’Connor who is national secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, are calling for and end to current migration deals.

A report from Monash University found immigrants have taken 200,000 jobs created during the last two years, depressing employment of young, lower skilled Australians. Polls show a 70 percent majority of Australians stand opposed to the growth in population that will result from immigration.

Amnesty International points out that those migrants held in offshore processing facilities are not typical immigrants but rather asylum seekers. It says the latter category accounts for only three percent of Australia’s influx from immigration. Moreover, Amnesty International says the practice of offshore facilities for asylum seekers runs afoul of Australia’s own international agreements, such as the UN Refugee Convention, and laws, Australian Migration Act 1958.

In August, Prime Minister Julia Gillard indicated in talks with Nauru and Papua New Guinea that Australia was interested in quickly processing the asylum seekers.



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April 26, 2012

Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor convicted in war crimes trial

Liberian ex-President Charles Taylor convicted in war crimes trial

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

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Former President of Liberia Charles Taylor was today found guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, Netherlands. Taylor was acquitted of actually ordering the offences or being part of a joint enterprise to conduct them.

A school destroyed by RUF rebels.
Image: Laura Lartigue.

The eleven-count indictment produced a four-year trial that heard allegations of rape, murder, sexual slavery, cannibalism, arms dealing, “blood” diamond trade, and use of child soldiers. Prosecution witnesses totalled 94 whilst the defence had 21 including the accused. Taylor spent his seven months of evidence claiming he was a peacemaker.

The allegations date to civil war in Sierra Leone, which ran from 1991 to 2002. Taylor, who had been a warlord since the ’80s, backed the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Taylor was elected Liberian president in 1997 after a different civil war concluded.

Six years later he was ousted when an arrest warrant was issued and fled to Nigeria. He was arrested there in 2006 whilst again trying to flee. Taylor, who had been facing a rebellion against him since 1999 in Liberia, had received training from Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Testimony included claims that Taylor-backed fighters adorned roads with human intestines and ate human flesh. One claimed to have seen Taylor himself eat human liver, something Taylor denied. One described asking RUF rebels to sever his only hand in exchange for his young son’s life.

Further allegations said teenage children were involved in the fighting and that Taylor sold illegally mined diamonds to finance arms purchases for the RUF. Western celebrities Naomi Campbell, a model, and Mia Farrow, an actress, described an incident at a charity dinner held by Nelson Mandella, then South Africa’s head, in 1997. Campbell and Farrow said Taylor gifted Campbell a number of diamonds. Taylor is claimed to have ordered seizure of Sierra Leone’s diamond deposits by RUF soldiers.

It was claimed in court that child soldiers were used in conflict, as diamond mine guards, and to carry out amputations. Allegations of forced amputation were made.

The court, which has spent a year considering its verdicts, unanimously found Taylor guilty. It ruled Taylor knew at least from 1997 the full extent of RUF activities in Sierra Leone, and that he helped bankroll activities dealing in blood diamonds. A judge said more than a thousand youngsters had ‘RUF’ carved into their skin to prevent escape. From the moment he receives the full judgement Taylor has two weeks in which to file an appeal.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International welcomed the verdict, which is the first conviction of a head of state before an international court since the Nuremburg trials prosecuted Nazi leaders after World War Two. Karl Dönitz was convicted after he took brief control of Germany in the aftermath of Adolf Hitler‘s suicide.

Former President of Yugoslavia Slobodan Milosevic faced trial but died before a judgement was handed down. Laurent Gbagbo, once Presldent of the Ivory Coast, is in custody at The Hague awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court. Taylor joins eight other Special Court convicts, all of whom are from Sierra Leone. He is the first African ruler to appear in The Hague.

The Special Court was formed jointly by Sierra Leone’s present administration and the United Nations.

The Netherlands agreed the process could be held there on the condition Taylor did not serve sentence there if convicted. He is expected to be sent to the UK, where Foreign Office has promised to uphold an agreement to imprison him there made by ex-Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.



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March 29, 2012

Pope Benedict visits Cuba urging openness, religious freedom

Pope Benedict visits Cuba urging openness, religious freedom

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

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Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba on Monday beginning a three day trip in which the leader of the Catholic church met with Cuban leaders and publicly spoke on the need for religious freedom. Pope Benedict spoke before a large audience yesterday in the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana. Benedict called for change in Cuba and the rest of the world.

Pope Benedict XVI
Image: Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland. (2010)

Cquote1.svg Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity. Cquote2.svg

—Pope Benedict XVI

“Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity,” he said.

Benedict’s arrival in Cuba comes 14 years after the first papal visit by Pope John Paul II. The late pope addressed the nation in 1998 and said that Cuba should “open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba.” Benedict’s speech in Havana focused on the rise of religious freedom in Cuba since the 1990s – when the country dropped official atheism – as well as the need for more religious freedom in the country.

“It is with joy that in Cuba there have been steps so that the church can carry out its mission. … The right to freedom of religion, as an individual and a community, manifests the unity of a human being, citizen and believer at the same time,” he said.

While Benedict kept the speech mostly apolitical, during the trip he made comments that could be interpreted as criticism of the communist country.

“There are those who wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves up in ‘their truth’ and try to impose it on others,” Benedict said.

Also during the trip, the pope prayed for greater freedom for Cubans at the statue of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre in Santiago. The pope also said Cuba’s political system “no longer corresponds to reality.”

Cquote1.svg In Cuba, there will not be political reform. Cquote2.svg

Marino Murillo

In response, Marino Murillo, vice president of the island’s council of ministers, said Cuba is sustainable and will not change. “In Cuba, there will not be political reform,” Murillo said.

According to groups on the island, 60 individuals were detained or put on house arrest during Pope Benedict’s televised Mass. Amnesty International also reported that Cuban human rights organizations, such as the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, were unable to communicate via phones or mobile-phones starting Monday.

Cquote1.svg … some have had their houses surrounded to prevent them (from) denouncing abuses during Pope Benedict’s tour. Cquote2.svg

—Amnesty International

“The clampdown has seen an increase in arrests, activists’ phones have been disconnected, and some have had their houses surrounded to prevent them (from) denouncing abuses during Pope Benedict’s tour,” Amnesty International said.

In addition to visiting various cities in Cuba and celebrating Mass in Havana, Benedict also met with former Cuban President Fidel Castro yesterday. According to a Vatican spokesman, Castro asked for a “modest and simple” meeting with the pontiff. The two spoke for 30 minutes in which the former president – who stepped down in 2006 due to illness – asked the pope about the evolution of the Catholic church over the years and what life is like as a pope.

Castro spoke of the pope in a positive light: “…a man whose contact with children and humble members of society has, invariably, raised feelings of affection.”

Pope Benedict left Cuba Wednesday evening.



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January 25, 2012

One year on: Egyptians mark anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak

One year on: Egyptians mark anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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Across Egypt hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets for the day, marking exactly one year since the outbreak of protests leading to 83-year-old longstanding ruler Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. The country’s decades-long emergency rule was partially lifted this week; meanwhile, a possible economic meltdown looms and a newly-elected parliament held their first meeting on Monday.

Protestors in Tahrir Square during the revolution.
Image: Jonathan Rashad.

Protestors in Tahrir Square today.
Image: Gigi Ibrahim.

Despite the new parliament, military rule introduced following Mubarak’s fall last spring remains. Echoing the demands from a year ago, some protesters are demanding the military relinquish power; there are doubts an elected civilian leader will be permitted to replace the army.

The brief unity against Mubarak has since fragmented, with Secularists and Islamists marking the revolution’s anniversary splitting to opposing sides of Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square and chanting at each other. Initial demonstrations last year were mainly from young secularists; now, Islamic parties hold most of the new parliament’s seats — the country’s first democratic one in six decades.

Salafis hold 25% of the seats and 47% are held by the Muslim Brotherhood, which brought supporters to Cairo for the anniversary. Tahrir Square alone contained tens of thousands of people, some witnesses putting the crowd at 150,000 strong. It’s the largest number on the streets since the revolution.

Military rulers planned celebrations including pyrotechnics, commemorative coins, and air displays. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces took power after last year’s February 11 resignation of Mubarak.

Alaa al-Aswani, a pro-democracy activist writing in al-Masry al-Youm, said: “We must take to the streets on Wednesday, not to celebrate a revolution which has not achieved its goals, but to demonstrate peacefully our determination to achieve the objectives of the revolution,” — to “live in dignity, bring about justice, try the killers of the martyrs and achieve a minimum social justice”

Alexandria in the north and the eastern port city of Suez also saw large gatherings. It was bitter fighting in Suez led to the first of the revolution’s 850 casualties in ousting Mubarak. “We didn’t come out to celebrate. We came out to protest against the military council and to tell it to leave power immediately and hand over power to civilians,” said protestor Mohamed Ismail.

“Martyrs, sleep and rest. We will complete the struggle,” chanted crowds in Alexandria, a reference to the 850 ‘martyrs of the revolution’. No convictions are in yet although Mubarak is on trial. Photos of the dead were displayed in Tahrir Square. Young Tahrir chanters went with “Down with military rule” and “Revolution until victory, revolution in all of Egypt’s streets”.

If the protestors demanding the military leave power get their way, the Islamists celebrating election victory face a variety of challenges. For now, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi — whose career featured twenty years as defence minister under Mubarak — rules the nation and promises to cede power following presidential elections this year.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, pictured whilst he was still Mubarak’s defence minister, is now ruling the country.
Image: Helene C. Stikke, US DoD.

The economy is troubled and unemployment is up since Mubarak left. With tourism and foreign investment greatly lower than usual, budget and payment deficits are up — with the Central Bank eating into its reserves in a bid to keep the Egyptian pound from losing too much value.

Last week the nation sought US$3.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF insists upon funding also being secured from other donors, and strong support from Egypt’s leaders. IMF estimates say the money could be handed over in a few months — whereas Egypt wanted it in a matter of weeks.

The country has managed to bolster trade with the United States and Jordan. Amr Abul Ata, Egyptian ambassador to the fellow Middle-East state, told The Jordan Times in an interview for the anniversary that trade between the nations increased in 2011, and he expects another increase this year. This despite insurgent attacks reducing Egyptian gas production — alongside electricity the main export to Jordan. Jordan exports foodstuffs to Egypt and has just signed a deal increasing the prices it pays for gas. 2011 trade between the countries was worth US$1 billion.

The anniversary also saw a new trade deal with the US, signed by foreign trade and industry minister Mahmoud Eisa and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. President Barack Obama promises work to improve U.S. investment in, and trade with, nations changing political systems after the Arab Spring. Details remain to be agreed, but various proposals include US assistance for Egyptian small and medium enterprises. Both nations intend subjecting plans to ministerial scrutiny.

The U.S. hailed “several historic milestones in its transition to democracy” within a matter of days of Egypt’s revolution. This despite U.S.-Egypt ties being close during Mubarak’s rule.

US$1 billion in grants has been received already from Qatar and Saudi Arabia but army rulers refused to take loans from Gulf nations despite offers-in-principle coming from nations including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. Foreign aid has trickled in; no money at all has been sent from G8 nations, despite the G8 Deauville Partnership earmarking US$20 billion for Arab Spring nations.

A total of US$7 billion was promised from the Gulf. The United Kingdom pledged to split £110 million between Egypt and Arab Spring initiator Tunisia. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says G8 money should start arriving in June, when the presidential election is scheduled.

The African Development Bank approved US$1.5 billion in loans whilst Mubarak still held power but, despite discussions since last March, no further funding has been agreed. The IMF offered a cheap loan six months ago, but was turned away. Foreign investment last year fell from US$6 billion to $375 million.

Rights, justice and public order remain contentious issues. Tantawi lifted the state of emergency on Tuesday, a day before the revolution’s anniversary, but left it in place to deal with the exception of ‘thuggery’. “This is not a real cancellation of the state of emergency,” said Islamist Wasat Party MP Essam Sultan. “The proper law designates the ending of the state of emergency completely or enforcing it completely, nothing in between.”

One year after the protests that led to his loss of power, Hosni Mubarak faces death if convicted of killing those protesting against him.
Image: 2008 World Economic Forum.

The same day, Amnesty International released a report on its efforts to establish basic human rights and end the death penalty in the country. Despite sending a ten-point manifesto to all 54 political parties, only the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (of the Egyptian Bloc liberals) and the left-wing Popular Socialist Alliance Party signed up. Measures included religious freedom, help to the impoverished, and rights for women. Elections did see a handful of women win seats in the new parliament.

The largest parliamentary group is the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, who Amnesty say did not respond. Oral assurances on all but female rights and abolition of the death penalty were given by Al-Nour, the Salafist runners-up in the elections, but no written declaration or signature.

“We challenge the new parliament to use the opportunity of drafting the new constitution to guarantee all of these rights for all people in Egypt. The cornerstone must be non-discrimination and gender equality,” said Amnesty, noting that the first seven points were less contentious amongst the twelve responding parties. There was general agreement for free speech, free assembly, fair trials, investigating Mubarak’s 30-year rule for atrocities, and lifting the state of emergency. A more mixed response was given to ensuring no discrimination against LGBT individuals, whilst two parties claimed reports of Coptic Christian persecution are exaggerated.

Mubarak himself is a prominent contender for the death penalty, currently on trial for the killings of protesters. The five-man prosecution team are also seeking death for six senior police officers and the chief of security in the same case. Corruption offences are also being tried, with Gamal Mubarak and Alaa Mubarak accused alongside their father Hosni.

The prosecution case has been hampered by changes in witness testimony and there are complaints of Interior Ministry obstruction in producing evidence. Tantawi has testified in a closed hearing that Mubarak never ordered protesters shot.

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Hisham Talaat Moustafa, an ex-MP and real estate billionaire, is another death penalty candidate. He, alongside Ahmed Sukkari, was initially sentenced to death for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim. A new trial was granted on procedural grounds and he is now serving a fifteen-year term for paying Sukkari US$2 million to slit 30-year-old’s Tamim’s throat in Dubai. Her assassin was caught when police followed him back to his hotel and found a shirt stained with her blood; he was in custody within two hours of the murder.

The court of appeals is now set to hear another trial for both men after the convictions were once more ruled unsound.

A military crackdown took place last November, the morning after a major protest, and sparking off days of violence. Egypt was wary of a repeat this week, with police and military massed near Tahrir Square whilst volunteers manned checkpoints into the square itself.

The military has pardoned and released at least 2,000 prisoners jailed following military trials, prominently including a blogger imprisoned for defaming the army and deemed troublesome for supporting Israel. 26-year-old Maikel Nabil was given a three year sentence in April. He has been on hunger strike alleging abuse at the hands of his captors. He wants normalised relations with Israel. Thousands have now left Tora prison in Cairo.

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October 23, 2011

UN wants Gaddafi\’s death probed

UN wants Gaddafi’s death probed – Wikinews, the free news source

UN wants Gaddafi’s death probed

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

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A photo of Muammar Gaddafi in 2009.
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The United Nations and two human rights groups are pressing for an investigation into the death of Muammar Gaddafi.

U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville from the Office of the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights said in a statement on Friday that “there seem to be four or five different versions of how he died,” and that “more details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in the fighting or after his capture.”

Specifically pressed on the possibility Gaddafi was executed whilst detained, he said, “It has to be one possibility when you look at these two videos. So that’s something that an investigation needs to look into.”

“Summary executions are strictly illegal under any circumstances. It’s different if someone is killed in combat. There was a civil war taking place in Libya. So if the person died as part of combat, that is a different issue and that is normally acceptable under the circumstances,” Colville said.

“But if something else has happened, if someone is captured and then deliberately killed, then that is a very serious matter,” he said.

Amnesty International, a human rights group, has urged the National Transitional Council to reveal the circumstances surrounding Gaddafi’s death.

Questions have lingered about the true cause of Gaddafi’s death, with two separate videos showing him wounded and bloodied but alive and another showing him already dead with a bullet wound on his head.



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