http://www.egyptindependent.com/Mohamed ElBaradei, National Salvation Front Coordinator, called on President Mohamed Morsy to apologise to Ethiopia and Sudan for “the irresponsible utterances” made during the national dialogue session held on Monday to discuss the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis. On his Twitter account, ElBaradei –also the President of the Dostour Party– demanded that Morsy offer similar apologies to both countries in the name of Egyptians. The live broadcast of the national dialogue on Monday sparked criticism by participants in the dialogue, including Ayman Nour –president of Ghad al-Thawra party. He called for holding responsible those who decided to broadcast on air what was supposed to be a closed dialogue session. Pakinam al-Sharqawy, assistant presidential adviser for political affairs, extended her apologies for "any unintended embarrassment caused to any of the political leaders who attended the national dialogue session to discuss the report submitted by the tripartite committee on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam." On her Facebook page, Sharqawy said the decision for the live broadcast of the dialogue session was taken just before the session, due to the significance of the Nile water dossier. The most controversial contribution during the session was made by Ayman Nour, who suggested that Egypt disseminate rumors that it is seeking advanced aircrafts. He said this is an intelligence technique of intimidation. “It might not be realistic, but it will bring results on the diplomatic path”, he said. Nour, however, stated he believes diplomatic efforts will not yield great outcomes: “Ethiopians have taken the decision, and it is highly difficult for them to backtrack”. Chairman of the moderate Islamist Wasat Party, Abul Ela Mady, suggested sending army destroyers to the Bab al-Mandab strait and spreading rumors that Egypt is about to strike the dam.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Speaking at the American-Turkish Council’s annual conference, vice president says country mustn’t choose between democracy and economic progressVice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that only Turks can solve the problem of anti-government protests sowing unrest in Turkey. But he added that the U.S. is concerned and isn’t indifferent to the outcome. Thousands have joined rallies voicing discontent with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 10-year rule. The protests spread after police cracked down on a peaceful sit-in over an Istanbul park’s demolition.Biden said the U.S. supports freedom of assembly, a free press and nonviolence by government and demonstrators. He said Turkey mustn’t choose between democracy and economic progress. Biden said the U.S. and Turkey sometimes disagree on tactics but share common goals, like a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, a non-nuclear Iran and a nonsectarian Syria. Biden spoke at the American-Turkish Council’s annual conference. One of Turkey’s deputy prime ministers also attended. En route to the OAS General Assembly in Guatemala, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a State Department official said. The foreign minister provided Kerry with the Turkish government’s perspective on the recent protests in Turkish cities and Kerry welcomed the update on efforts to calm the situation, the official said. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the conversation and requested anonymity.
Police inTurkey have arrested at least 25 people in the western city of Izmir for posting material on the social networking website, Twitter, as anti-government protests enter the sixth day across the country.
Turkey has bought $21 million in tear gas and pepper spray – mainly from US and Brazil – over the past 12 years, Turkish media reported. The US is known for its exports of crowd control munitions to countries rocked by widespread protest. In total, Turkey imported 628 tons of tear gas and pepper spray between 2000 and 2012, Turkish newspaper Sozcu reported quoting Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici. Turkey is currently being rocked by its biggest wave of anti-government protests in years. At least two people have been killed and thousands injured from clashes with police since the protests began on Friday. Videos and images have emerged on social media showing police in riot gear firing tear gas, using pepper spray and physically beating demonstrators. Ankara has been criticized for its mass crackdown on the protests and its widespread use of tear gas and pepper spray to disperse demonstrators. On Tuesday, the UN's human rights office urged Turkey to conduct an independent probe into how its security forces have treated the anti-government protesters. "We're concerned about reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement officers against protestors in Turkey," UN high commissioner for human rights spokesperson Cecile Pouilly said. Opposition Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] leader Devlet Bahceli condemned the police’s excessive use of tear gas: “Yes it is true that the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP has established gas chambers similar to the Nazis, it is true that the AKP pokes its nose into everybody’s private lives,” Bahceli told his party members in Parliament.Human Rights Watch urged Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government to “end police violence and excessive use of force against protesters across Turkey,” the group said in a statement published on its website. “The police’s record on abusive policing has been surpassed as they use tear gas and water cannon fire against peaceful demonstrators,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc apologized on Tuesday for the initial treatment of the protesters at the planned demolition of Taksim Gezi Park to build a mall. He said that the police’s actions were wrong, and said that security forces have been ordered not to use tear gas except in cases of self-defense. "The excessive violence that was used in the first instance against those who were behaving with respect for the environment is wrong and unfair. I apologize to those citizens," Arinc said at a news conference. However, Prime Minister Erdogan has referred to the protests as the work of secular enemies who have failed to come to terms to the electoral win of his own AK Party. US a major dealer of crowd control munitions The US has a history of selling tear gas and other crowd control munitions to countries wracked by widespread protest. Amnesty International harshly criticized the US State Department for approving export licenses for the shipment of crowd control munitions and tear gas to Egypt amidst the violent and often lethal crackdowns on protesters by security forces in 2011. Amnesty confirmed that one US companies had shipped 21 tons of ammunition to Egypt – enough for 40,000 rounds of tear gas grenades and canisters – in addition to a separate shipment of 17.9 tons. In 2013 alone, Egypt's Interior Ministry ordered 140,000 teargas canisters from US, amounting to nearly $2.5 million. Egypt's opposition has said the purchase recalls the rule of ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish authorities to immediately halt the brutal police repression in protests triggered by the demolition of Taksim Gezi Park at the heart of Istanbul, adding that the use of tear gas against demonstrators was a violation of human rights. "The use of tear gas against peaceful protesters and in confined spaces where it may constitute a serious danger to health is unacceptable, breaches international human rights standards and must be stopped immediately," said the Director of Europe and Central Asia Programme at Amnesty International, John Dalhuisen, in a statement May 31. "The use of violence by police on this scale appears designed to deny the right to peaceful protest altogether and to discourage others from taking part," he added. Quoting activist who observed that some protesters were hit with truncheons, the organization also urged a transparent investigation on the police intervention. Officials have put the number of injured to 12 after the police's morning crackdown on Taksim Gezi Park May 31. However, according to witnesses' accounts more than a hundred have been injured during the police interventions and at least two have received emergency surgery.
The Express TribuneThe Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health department does not seem to be taking adequate measures to control the recent outbreak of measles in the province. In fact, the department does not even have a record of deaths which resulted from the disease. By local estimates, measles killed 79 children in the last five months in Peshawar alone. In stark contrast, the department claims only seven such deaths occurred in K-P. Pointing fingers at parents, the department says they do not get their children vaccinated despite vaccines being available free of cost in hospitals. Parents, on the other hand, say a door to door campaign should be conducted for children who missed routine vaccinations. According to data available with the K-P health department, a total 4,414 cases of measles were reported in K-P in the last five months along with seven deaths. These included three children in Upper Dir and two each in Karak and Nowshera. The highest number of measles cases was reported in Peshawar — 2,343. Data obtained from three major hospitals in Peshawar showed the Lady Reading Hospital registered 878 cases with 58 deaths, Hayatabad Medical Complex received 318 cases with 15 deaths and Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) registered 171 cases and six deaths. Out of the 171 cases KTH received, 69 children were found to be unvaccinated. A female doctor working in KTH Children’s Ward B also contracted measles while treating patients. This shows a large number of patients are visiting hospitals and the outbreak is reaching epidemic levels in the district. “A door-to-door vaccination campaign for measles needs to be carried out just like it is done for polio,” Assistant Professor Dr Irshad Ahmad told The Express Tribune. “People hardly bring children to hospitals for inoculation and they have only become aware of the problem after dozens of children became infected in the province.” Ahmad added many parents also did not get their children vaccinated because healthcare centres were located far from their homes. Despite these concerns, the government still has not started a mass vaccination campaign against the curable disease. The provincial health department’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) gives the impression it is only focusing on eradicating polio while other diseases are ignored. Many donors, including the WHO and UNICEF, have poured money into a provincial government which continues to rely on the centre to begin a mass vaccination campaign, even asking the federal government for Rs430 million for the purpose. This amount is yet to be issued. “We may begin a campaign in the province in September or October. Residents of specific villages will be assembled at a certain place and vaccinated. A door to door campaign is not possible right now,” said a high-ranking EPI official requesting anonymity. Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by nose and throat secretions of an infected person. The germs can also be found in airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The first sign of the disease is a high fever which begins approximately 10-12 days after exposure and lasts seven days. During this period, the patient may develop a runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots on the inside of cheeks. Measles is prevented with two vaccination doses. The first is administered when the child is nine months old and second when 15 months old. Almost all non-immune children contract measles if exposed to the infection.
What started as a peaceful sit-in over plans to demolish a park in central Istanbul has grown to become the biggest protest movement against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan since he was elected more than 10 years ago. What prompted the protests? Gezi Park sits in Istanbul's main commercial district and is the last green space in the city center. So, it didn't go down well with many residents when authorities announced they want to raze the park and put in its place a replica of 19th Century Ottoman barracks -- containing a shopping mall. On Friday, a district court ordered a temporary stop to any construction. Mayor Kadir Topbas emphasized the park demolition was not related to the shopping mall project, but was a part of a wider renovation project of Taksim Square.But many of the demonstrators say their anger is no longer directed against the proposed government plan. In Istanbul, the crowds have been chanting "Tayyip resign" -- referring to Erdogan -- and "shoulder to shoulder against fascism." Why did the demonstrations turn violent? At first, the protests involved a handful of angry residents holding sit-ins. But the numbers quickly grew. Riot police moved in, lobbing tear gas and pepper spray and protesters responded by hurling bottles, blocking bulldozers and setting up barricades. Then, outraged by the behavior of security forces, demonstrators began attacking police. International human rights groups Amnesty International and Greenpeace have denounced what they describe as the excessive use of police force against peaceful protesters. A spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement that said Ashton "regrets disproportionate use of force by members of the Turkish police." Ashton also called for talks between the two sides. Erdogan conceded Saturday that Turkish security forces had made excessive use of tear gas against demonstrators. "There have been errors in the actions of the security forces, especially with regard to use of pepper gas. Right now that is being investigated, researched," he said. "There is an error there, sure. When it is used excessively we are against it as well. And in fact there was such excess." How widespread are the protests? Since Friday, there have been protests in 67 of Turkey's 81 provinces, according to Turkey's semi-official Andalou News Agency. There have been reports of confrontations in the capital, Ankara, as well as the port cities of Izmir and Adana. More than 700 people have been detained since Tuesday, and most have been released, the agency said. Fifty-eight civilians are still hospitalized and 115 security officers have been injured. Why do the protesters want Erdogan to step down? The police crackdown on the park demonstrators set off the wider unrest. Now, the scope of the protests shows there is a bigger issue, about freedom of speech and accusations of heavy-handed government, at stake. Elected to power than a decade ago, Erdogan is the most powerful and popular politician Turkey has seen in generations, but his approach to leadership doesn't sit well with all Turks, said Asli Aydintasbas, a columnist for Milliyet Newspaper. "We have a prime minister who has done great deeds and he really has run the economy well," she said. "But you also have this paternalistic style: 'I know what's good for you. I, as your father, can decide on the park, the bridge, the city and the constitution.' So, I think people are just wanting to have a more inclusive form of democracy in Turkey." Tuncay, a 28-year-old demonstrator, told CNN on Saturday. "The Erdogan government is usually considered as authoritarian. He has a big ego; he has this Napoleon syndrome. He takes himself as a sultan... He needs to stop doing that. He's just a prime minister." How has Erdogan reacted? A defiant Erdogan shows no inclination to give in to protesters' demands. On Monday, he dismissed allegations that security forces used excessive force, and denied that Turkey could be on the cusp of its own "Arab Spring." "We are servants of the people, not masters. We did not use violence," he said before leaving for a four-day trip to North Africa. "Those in Turkey who speak of the Turkish Spring are right; the season is, in fact, spring," he said. "But there are those trying to turn it into a winter." He said opponents who had failed to defeat his party in elections were trying to beat it "by other means." "The issue of trees in Gezi Park thing is just the trigger," he said. Fadi Hakura, associate fellow and manager of the Turkey Project at London-based think-tank Chatham House, said demonstrations were not equivalent to the uprisings that led to the toppling of other Arab leaders two years ago. "Unlike Egypt and other Arab countries, Turkey is a functioning, albeit incomplete, democracy and has been since 1950," he said. "Erdogan received a resounding mandate of almost half the vote in the last general elections in 2011. He still remains the most popular politician in Turkey, while the opposition is widely seen by many Turks as weak and ineffective." Hakura said the protests coincided with a "rapidly slowing economy" and "the ultimate determinant of Erdogan's staying power will be the state of the Turkish economy rather than anti-government demonstrations." So is Erdogan authoritarian? In November 2012, Erdogan won leadership of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP, for the third time, reaching the party's term limit. However, the AKP's internal constitution was amended during the party congress to allow parliamentarians who have already served three terms -- such as Erdogan -- to be re-elected after sitting out an election cycle. "One of the most important aspects of the convention was the message that the prime minister is not going anywhere," Suat Kiniklioglu, a former AKP parliamentarian and director of the Strategic Communication Center based in Ankara, wrote in an e-mail to CNN at the time. "Instead he will try to become a president who can maintain his party affiliation, or will try to change the system into a presidential or semi-presidential system," he said. Has religion played any role in the unrest? Hakura says the protests partially reflect "the deep ideological polarization between secular, liberal-minded Turks, and the more religious Turks." The modern Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious orders. "Secular Turks complain that the Islamist-rooted government is intolerant of criticism and the diversity of lifestyles," he says and "so far, Erdogan's robust and muscular stance vis-à-vis the demonstrators has reinforced those perceptions." Erdogan describes his AKP party as a "conservative democratic" party but some fear the AKP's conservative Islamic values are encroaching on Turkey's traditional secularism. Writing for Hurriyet Daily News, Yusuf Kanli said an "arrogant" Erdogan had taken a series of wrong steps ahead of the protests, including passing legislation that placed additional restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol. Erdogan had referred to "two boozers" who had introduced liberal alcohol laws, Kanli said. "That was an obvious reference to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the diehard secular founding father of the republic, and his comrade in arms and second president Ismet Inonu," he wrote. Culture wars frequently pit Turkey's ruling Muslim elite against more secular segments of Turkish society. The AKP narrowly avoided being banned from politics in 2008 when it was fined by the country's constitutional court for alleged anti-secular activities. The court has also blocked legislation to lift a ban on Islamic headscarves at public universities. Read more: Turkey's Erdogan hails constitutional referendum win Last month, there was an outcry in social media and newspaper columns when Turkish Airlines -- which is 49% government-owned -- announced it was banning certain shades of lipstick and nail polish among flight attendants. A similar uproar had ensued when the company announced it would stop serving alcohol on a number of domestic and international routes. Do Turks have freedom of speech? Last month, Emma Sinclair-Webb, from Human Rights Watch, said that one of Turkey's "most fundamental human rights problems is in fact intolerance of free speech." "Politicians regularly sue journalists for defamation. Editors and publishers are mostly unwilling to permit much criticism of the government for fear of harming their bosses' other business interests," Sinclair-Webb said. "The European Court of Human Rights has found over and over that Turkey has violated free speech. But prosecutors, courts, and government figures are still applying different standards to Turkey, muzzling views they don't want to hear," she said. Read more: Turkey silencing the guns -- and critics Turkey applied to join the European Union in 1987. In a 2012 progress report, The European Commission said "important reforms are needed to strengthen human rights structures and the number of criminal proceedings brought against human rights defenders is a matter of concern." It said an increase in violations of freedom of expression also raised "serious concerns" with "pressure on the press by state officials and the firing of critical journalists" leading to widespread self-censorship. In a statement on its website, Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says promotion and protection of human rights are "among the priority policy objectives of Turkey." "In this regard, Turkey has been going through a comprehensive reform process in recent years with a view to further strengthening democracy, consolidating the rule of law and ensuring respect for fundamental rights and freedoms." Erdogan's chief adviser, Ibrahim Kalin, said Saturday that the protesters had a right to express their discontent, within limits. "People are entitled to disagreement with the government; they can exercise their democratic rights, but they can do so within the context of a democratic society," he said. Is it safe to visit Turkey at the moment? Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised British nationals to avoid all demonstrations "following recent demonstrations in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey in which police used tear gas and water cannons," but it has not told its citizens to avoid travel to Istanbul. The U.S. has also warned its citizens to beware of demonstrations, in Turkey, which is one of Washington's key allies in the Middle East. "U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Turkey should be alert to the potential for violence, avoid those areas where disturbances have occurred, and avoid demonstrations and large gatherings." Australia advised its citizens to "avoid protests and demonstrations throughout Turkey as they may become violent." Meantime, war-torn Syria has warned its citizens not to visit its neighbor. ''The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry advises the Syrian citizens against traveling to Turkey during this period for fear for their safety, due to the security conditions in some Turkish cities that have deteriorated over the past days and the violence practiced by Erdogan's government against peaceful protesters," it said in a statement Sunday.
Fed up with the continued power outages, two talented brothers in Banjot area constructed a power generation plant on a mountain stream. Talking to The News, Inayatullah and Hidayatullah, said that the loadshedding in Swat valley had affected businesses and domestic consumers. “We knew that the problem in our area could be resolved by properly utilising the water resources. We decided to install power generation plant on a mountain stream on our land in Banjot in Manglawar near Mingora,” Inayatullah said. They said they sold all their valuables and purchased machinery for the power plant, which was producing one megawatt electricity. The electricity generated from the plant is provided to all the domestic consumers and small industrial units in the area, they said. “This might be the only place in the country now where consumers are getting 24-hour power supply,” Hidayatullah said. He claimed they could provide electricity to the entire Mingora town if they were provided 500 KV transformer. They said the hydel-power produced in such a way would be cheap and pollution-free. Many tailors in Swat were trying to rents shops in the locality to meet the customers’ demand in time.
One of Turkey's big trade union groups is staging a two-day strike to support continuing anti-government protests in a number of cities. The left-wing Kesk trade union confederation, representing some 240,000 workers, accused the government of committing "state terror". Protests and clashes with police continued into the night on Monday. A second death in the protests has been confirmed by the governor's office in the southern city of Antakya. Abdullah Comert, 22, a member of the youth wing of the opposition Republican People's Party, was was "seriously wounded... after gunfire from an unidentified person," the governor's office said, adding that he died later in hospital. Earlier, the Turkish Doctors' Union said 20-year-old Mehmet Ayvalitas was hit by a car on Sunday which ignored warnings to stop and ploughed into a crowd of protestors in the Mayis district of Istanbul.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan went ahead with a trip to Morocco and insisted the situation was improving. The strike on Tuesday and Wednesday is expected to affect schools and universities along with government offices. In a statement, Kesk said: "The state terror implemented against entirely peaceful protests is continuing in a way that threatens civilians' life safety." The confederation, representing 11 unions, accused the government of undermining democracy. Mr Erdogan remained defiant on Monday in the face of continuing violence, dismissing any suggestion of a "Turkish Spring". In a televised news conference he said: "The main opposition party CHP has provoked my innocent citizens. Those who make news [and] call these events the Turkish Spring do not know Turkey." After arriving in Morocco, he insisted the situation was "calming down"."On my return from this visit, the problems will be solved," he told reporters. In contrast, President Abdullah Gul, adopted a more conciliatory tone, defending the right to protest while urging calm. "If there are different opinions, different situations, different points of view and dissent, there is nothing more natural that being able to voice those differences," he was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency. More clashes There were further clashes on Monday between police and protesters which continued into a fourth night in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara. Thousands of demonstrators again gathered in Istanbul's Taksim Square, the focus of the protests. Many protesters shouted "Tayyip, resign!" while waving red flags and banners and blowing whistles, and tear gas could be seen wafting over the square. Police also used tear gas again to disperse protesters near Mr Erdogan's office in the Besiktas district of the city. Hundreds of protesters were reported to have gathered in the early hours of Tuesday in Ankara where they were met by more tear gas and water cannon. Share values in Turkey were hit badly by the unrest, with the main share index falling by 10.47%.The cost of insuring Turkish debt rose to a two-month high. In a sign of continuing concern in Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of "excessive use of force" by the police. "We obviously hope that there will be a full investigation of those incidents and full restraint from the police force," he said. The protests began on 28 May over plans to redevelop Gezi Park near Taksim Square in Istanbul. They soon mushroomed, engulfing several cities and including political demands. Unrest was also reported on Sunday in the western coastal city of Izmir, Adana in the south and Gaziantep in the south-east. Protesters accuse the Turkish government of becoming increasingly authoritarian. They fear Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to impose conservative Islamic values on the officially secular country and infringe on their personal freedoms, correspondents say. Officials said more than 1,700 people have been arrested in demonstrations in 67 towns and cities, though many have since been released.
Associated PressThe Obama administration voiced concern Monday over Turkey’s crackdown on protesters and urged authorities to exercise restraint and all sides to refrain from violence. The White House said the United States believes the vast majority of those protesting have been peaceful, law-abiding citizens. Presidential spokesman Jay Carney called them ordinary citizens exercising their rights to free expression. But Carney also said that all democracies have to work through issues, adding that Washington is concerned about Turkey’s response to protesters but expects the U.S. ally to work through the issue while respecting its citizens’ rights. Police in Turkey have used tear gas for a fourth day to disperse demonstrations that grew out of a sit-in to prevent the uprooting of trees at Istanbul’s main square. Carney said the U.S. has concerns about excessive use of force and he called for the events to be investigated. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has traveled to Turkey three times since becoming America’s top diplomat, said the U.S. is following the situation closely and is troubled by reports of excessive force by the police. He also said Washington is “deeply concerned” by the large number of people who have been injured. Kerry also said the U.S. ambassador to Turkey had conveyed those messages directly to Turkish officials. “The United States supports full freedom of expression and assembly, including the right of people to peaceful protest, because that is fundamental to any democracy,” Kerry told reporters at the State Department. He maintained that his comments were not intended as interference in Turkey’s internal affairs, but rather an honest expression of the importance the United States places on such values in all countries. “We are concerned by the reports of excessive use of force by police,” he said at a joint news conference with the visiting foreign minister of Poland. “We obviously hope there will be a full investigation of those incidents and full restraint from the police force with respect to those incidents. We urge all people involved ... to avoid any provocations or violence.” Earlier, Turkey’s president defended the right of citizens to protest, in contrast to the dismissive stance of the prime minister. The demonstrations have spiraled into Turkey’s biggest anti-government disturbances in years, challenging Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s power. The protests are seen as a sign of frustration with Erdogan, who has appeared to be increasingly authoritarian and is accused of meddling in all aspects of life. On Monday, there was scattered violence in areas close to Erdogan’s offices in Istanbul and Ankara. The Dogan news agency said police fired tear gas at the group in an area close to Erdogan’s Istanbul office. The protesters responded by hurling stones. The agency said as many as 500 people were detained overnight after police clashed with more militant protesters and then moved in to break up thousands of people demonstrating peacefully. Turkey’s Fox television reported 300 others detained in a similar crackdown in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city.