Saturday, October 11, 2014
15-year-old says she shot her first ‘husband,’ a Palestinian man, before escapingThe young Yazidi girl rocked apprehensively as she described the ordeal that took her from her family, snatched from her home by militants in Iraq, then sold as a slave in Syria before finally escaping to Turkey. The 15-year-old is now with what is left of her family — two of her brothers and some more distant relatives — living in a makeshift roadside shelter in this tiny village in northern Iraq, along with other families shattered by the onslaught from the Islamic State militant group. Her two sisters remain in the militants’ hands, and her father, other brothers and other male relatives have vanished, their fates unknown. The girl was among hundreds of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority captured by Islamic State fighters in early August when the militants overran her hometown of Sinjar in northwestern Iraq. Hundreds were killed in the attack, and tens of thousands fled for their lives, most to the Kurdish-held parts of northern Iraq. Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry said at the time that hundreds of women were abducted by the militants, who consider the Yazidis a heretical sect. The Associated Press spoke to the girl and several other young women who escaped captivity by the Islamic State group. While specifics of their stories could not be independently confirmed, they reflected circumstances reported by the United Nations last month. They each independently painted a similar picture of how the militants scattered them around the broad swath of territory controlled by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and sold the girls to the group’s foreign fighters or other supporters for “marriage.” For weeks after being snatched from Sinjar, the 15-year-old girl and two of her sisters were shifted from one place to another, she said. The AP does not identify victims of abuse, and the girl also did not want to be named for fear of reprisals against her relatives still being held by the militants. As she told her story, the girl rubbed her hands and avoided eye contact. But she spoke decisively and clearly, never hesitating when asked questions. She asked her relatives to leave the room, saying she was more comfortable speaking alone. First, she said, she and other girls were taken to the nearby town of Tal Afar, where she was kept in the Badosh Prison. When US airstrikes began around the town, the militants took her and many other girls with them to the Islamic State group’s biggest stronghold, Mosul, in northern Iraq. From the city of Mosul, she and her sisters were taken to the militants’ de facto capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa. There they were held in a house with other abducted girls. “They took girls to Syria to sell them,” she said, her body shyly hunched over as she spoke. “I was sold in Syria. I stayed about five days with my two sisters, then one of my sisters was sold and taken (back) to Mosul, and I remained in Syria.” In Raqqa, she said, she was first married off to a Palestinian man. She claims she shot him, saying the Palestinian’s Iraqi housekeeper who was in a dispute with the man helped her by giving her a gun. She fled, but she had nowhere to run. So she went to the only place she knew, she said — the house where she was first held with the other girls in Raqqa. There, the militants did not recognize her and sold her off again — for $1,000 to a Saudi fighter, she said. The Saudi militant took her to a house where he lived with other fighters. “He told me, ‘I’m going to change your name to Abeer, so your mother doesn’t recognize you,'” she said. “You’ll become Muslim, then I will marry you. But I refused to become a Muslim and that’s why I fled.” She said she saw the fighters at time taking a powdered drug. So she poured it into tea she served to the Saudi and the other men, causing them to fall asleep. Then she fled the house. She found a man who would drive her to Turkey to meet her brother. Her brother then borrowed $2,000 from friends to pay a smuggler to get them both back to Iraq. They ended up in Maqluba, a tiny roadside hamlet just outside the Kurdish city of Dahuk, where several other Yazidi families are staying. The other women who spoke to The AP described difficult conditions, where the militant fighters would deprive them of enough food, water or even a place to sit. They all reported having seen dozens of other Yazidi women and children as young as 5-years old in captivity, and they all said that they have relatives who are still missing. Amsha Ali, a 19-year-old, said she was taken from Sinjar to Mosul. Ali was around six months pregnant at the time. The last she saw of her husband and other men in her family as she was being dragged off, was the scene of the militants forcing them to lie on the ground, apparently to shoot them. Ali agreed to be identified, saying she wanted the ordeals of the women to be known. In Mosul, she said, she and other women were taken to a house full of Islamic State fighters to be married off. “Each of them took one of us for themselves,” she said. She too was given to a fighter. She said she was never raped by the man — likely because of her pregnancy, she said — but she witnessed other girls being raped. After several weeks, she was able to slip out of a bathroom window at night and escape. A Mosul resident who found her in the streets helped her get out of the city to nearby Kurdish territory on Aug. 28, she said. She said she tried to convince other women to flee with her, but they were too afraid. “Because they were so terrified, they are left there and now I know nothing about them,” she said. Now Ali is with her father and a surviving sister living in an unfinished building in the town of Sharia, where some 5,000 Yazidi refugees live, also near Dahuk. “The killing was not the hardest thing for me,” she said of seeing fellow Yazidis slain in the assault on Sinjar. “Even though they forced my husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law on the ground to be murdered — it was painful — but marrying (the militant) was the worst. It was hardest thing for me.” Read more: Iraqi Yazidi girl tells of captivity in IS group | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/iraqi-yazidi-girl-tells-of-captivity-in-is-group/#ixzz3FtcwpNEG Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook
100,000 displaced near Tripoli in last three weeks alone as service provision crumbles under pressure.A spike in clashes between rival militias in Libya has pushed the number of people driven from their homes to an estimated 287,000, the United Nations' refugee agency said Friday. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters that some 100,000 people had fled over the past three weeks from Warshefana, on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli. Another 15,000 people were estimated to have been displaced around Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, he said. The oil-rich North African nation of some six million peopla has been in turmoil since an uprising toppled longtime leader Moamer Gaddafi three years ago, with interim authorities facing powerful militias that fought to oust him. A total of some 287,000 people are estimated to have fled conflict and are scattered in 29 towns and cities countrywide, many of them in dire straits, he said. "The need for healthcare, food, and other basic commodities - plus for shelter ahead of winter - has become critical," said Edwards. He said aid agencies were working flat out to help those in need but faced "major constraints in funding for the internally displaced, while the security situation over recent months has posed challenges in reaching those in need." Most displaced people are living with locals who in some cases have opened their homes to several families at a time to meet the growing need for shelter, Edwards said. Those unable to stay with relatives or host families were sleeping in schools, parks and non-residential buildings converted into emergency shelters. Host communities were finding themselves swamped, Edwards said, giving the example of the small town of Ajaylat, some 80 kilometres west of Tripoli. The community of around 100,000 people had taken in 16,000 more who fled fighting, placing a massive strain on health facilities. - See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/almost-300000-people-displaced-libya-violence-un-1324904783#sthash.OFRpU23y.dpuf
Parties announce decision to boycott next month's parliamentary vote, saying it would cement absolute authoritarianism.Bahrain's Shia-led opposition has said it will boycott parliamentary elections planned for next month, saying the vote would cement "absolute authoritarianism" in the Sunni-ruled kingdom. Four opposition groups, including the main Shia movement Al-Wefaq, said on Saturday that they would pursue "peaceful protests" instead, until their demand for a constitutional monarchy was achieved. The Gulf kingdom had scheduled elections for a new 40-seat lower house of parliament on November 22, the first since protests rocked the country in 2011. The opposition groups denounced the planned elections as "a new autocratic step" by the government and urged Bahrainis to join the boycott. "The fact that the authority has taken this decision... [is] a new autocratic step added to its continuous persistence to maintain its totalitarian rule," it said. In a statement published on twitter, Al-Wefaq accused Bahraini authorities of not representing "the will of the people," calling it "absolute authoritarianism." A proposal by authorities in September to relaunch a national dialogue was given a frosty reception by Al-Wefaq. Bahrain's opposition is demanding an independent election commission and the dissolution of the Consultative Council, parliament's upper chamber whose members are appointed by the king. They are also demanding the prime minister be appointed by parliamentary majority, instead of the king.
http://jurist.org/Saudi Arabia is persecuting rights activists and silencing government critics, according to a report [text, PDF; press release] issued Friday by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website]. According to AI, members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) have been persecuted since the Arab Spring in 2011. The Saudi Arabian government has reportedly targeted 11 of the founding members of the ACPRA individually since 2011, eight of whom are currently detained, and the remaining three of whom are awaiting outcomes of their trials. The Director of AI's Middle East and North Africa Programme, Said Boumedouha claimed that "Saudi Arabian authorities have sought to wipe out all trace of ACPRA, just as they have sought to stamp out all critical voices demanding peaceful reform." AI urged the Saudi Arabian government to cease its campaign against these political protesters: By defending rights and speaking out, the ACPRA members and a small group of other courageous human rights advocates, appear to have been seen by Saudi Arabia's rulers as challenging their authority and policies, and to have been targeted in consequence. ... Amnesty International considers all eight detained members to be prisoners of conscience and is calling on the Saudi Arabian authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally. The organization is also calling on the authorities to drop the charges against those facing trial and ensure that the sentences and convictions of all ACPRA members are quashed. AI also urged members of the international community to pressure the Saudi Arabian government to improve human rights standards. Saudi Arabia's justice system has drawn international criticism in recent years, especially with regard to its high number of executions. Last month two experts from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to implement an immediate moratorium on the death penalty [JURIST report] following an increase in executions, with a significant number of the executions completed by beheading. In July then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navy Pillay, expressed deep concern [JURIST report] over the harsh sentences and detention of peaceful human rights advocates in Saudi Arabia in recent months. In February JURIST Guest Columnist Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch argued [JURIST op-ed] that a new Saudi Arabian terrorism law was a vague, catch-all document that can—and probably will—be used to prosecute or jail anyone who criticizes the Saudi government and to violate their due process rights along the way. Also in February AI criticized [JURIST report] the Saudi Arabian counterterrorism law on the basis that the law will deepen existing patterns of human rights violations and will be used to crack down on peaceful dissent.
Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, addressed the UN this week, saying that Turkey and Saudi Arabia should account for their own involvement in the Syrian conflict before leveling “null and baseless accusations to the Syrian government”. Syria’s government has been accused of chemical attacks in northern Syria in recent months, Syrian Arab News Agency reported. Speaking before the UN’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security at the UN General Assembly on Friday, al-Jaafari accused the countries of being “directly involved in providing these terrorist organizations with chemical weapons,” the source said. He also criticized the states for supplying the Syrian opposition with financing and weaponry, claiming that Turkey alone provided support for 106 militant organizations active in Syria. This, he said, includes open state support for the Free Syrian Army. Al-Jaafari commented that instead of lending “a helping hand to Syria to overcome the crisis...this Turkish government...became one of the main support bases for these terrorist organizations,” the source noted. Al-Jaafari proposed that the UN Arms Trade Treaty should be updated to account for the illicit trafficking of small and light arms, noting the need to “utterly [prohibit] supplying weapons to non-state elements and armed terrorist organizations. Facts which we are witnessing today in Syria and in a number of countries in the region and outside it prove the veracity of our concerns regarding the aforementioned treaty,” he said. Ambassador’s Statements Follow US Vice President’s Forthright Comments Ambassador al-Jaafari made his comments in the aftermath of candid remarks by US Vice President Joe Biden, who criticized Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for supporting radical fighters in Syria. Speaking at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy Forum on October 2, Biden noted that the US allies were “so determined to take down Assad” that “they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad –except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of Jihadis coming from other parts of the world,” the Washington Post reported. Biden said that even despite al-Nusra’s classification as a terrorist organization by the US State Department early on in the conflict, “we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them.” The Vice President has since apologized for his remarks, but his frankness lead Foreign Policy to title their piece on the subject “Joe Biden Is the Only Honest Man in Washington.” The Islamic State, which today controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, had previously been affiliated with al-Nusra, Al Qaeda’s front in Syria, before the two split in early 2013. Armed clashes between the two began at the start of this year.
According to media reports, Louisa Greve, a director of the National Endowment for Democracy of the US (NED), was already meeting with the key people from "Occupy Central" several months ago, to talk about the movement. Louisa Greve is the vice president of NED who is responsible for its Asia, Middle East and North Africa programs. For many years, her name has frequently appeared on reports about "Tibetan independence", "eastern Turkistan", "democracy movement" and other forces destabilizing Chinese affairs and interfering with the Chinese government. She also hosted or participated in conferences about the "Arab spring" and the "Color Revolutions" of other regions. It is hardly likely that the US will admit to manipulating the "Occupy Central" movement, just as it will not admit to manipulating other anti-China forces. It sees such activities as justified by "democracy", "freedom", "human rights" and other values. The mainstream media of the US have showed exceptional interest in "Occupy Central". Their reports and comments are full of approval and praise. "Occupy Central" is depicted as a pro-democracy movement, and the Hong Kong version of the "Color Revolution". They have branded the movement "The Umbrella Revolution". Associated Press published an article titled ‘Umbrella Revolution’ Protests Spread in Hong Kong, "Umbrella Revolution" appeared on the cover of The Times Asia, and the Wall Street Journal's report Hong Kong's Democratic Awakening reads: "For years the people of Hong Kong avoided direct conflict with Beijing in the hope that Chinese authorities might be persuaded to grant them self-government. Now they realize that their only chance for democracy is to demand it." Three former U.S. consuls-general in Hong Kong recently united to publish an open letter criticizing the nomination committee system for the Hong Kong chief executive. This simply made the political situation in Hong Kong even worse. It is inevitable that these new moves on the part of the US government, non-governmental organizations and media will be associated with the US involvement in the "Color Revolutions" in the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere. The US purports to be promoting the "universal values" of "democracy", "freedom" and "human rights", but in reality the US is simply defending its own strategic interests and undermining governments it considers to be "insubordinate". In US logic, a "democratic" country is one that conductss its affairs in line with American interests. The results of Amreica's "Color Revolutions" have hardly been a success. The "Arab spring" turned to be an "Arab winter" and Ukraine's "street politics" have resulted in secession and conflict. There is little evidence of any real democracy in these countries, but the US turns a blind eye. The US may enjoy the sweet taste of interfering in other countries' internal affairs, but on the issue of Hong Kong it stands little chance of overcoming the determination of the Chinese government to maintain stability and prosperity.
China on Friday expressed strong dissatisfaction with a U.S. congressional report supporting the unlawful "Occupy Central" Hong Kong protest. The Congressional-executive Commission on China released an annual report on Thursday saying the U.S. should follow Hong Kong's democratic development, enhance exchanges with the region and deploy senior officials there. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei criticized the report,saying it attacks China's human rights record and law, distorts the facts and is fraught with bias on China's internal affairs. "We firmly oppose it," Hong told a daily press briefing. "We demand that the committee stop damaging China-U.S. ties." Hong stressed that no foreign government, organization or individual has the right to get involved in Hong Kong's affairs, which were a purely internal matter for China. Foreign governments, organizations and individuals were urged to act prudently and not to provide support for the illegal occupation.
At least four suspected militants including a local Taliban commander were killed in yet another US drone strike in Shawal tehsil of North Waziristan Agency on Saturday night raising the toll from a series of attacks this week to 29. Intelligence sources said that a US drone fired two missiles at a vehicle in Maraga area of Shawal tehsil of the troubled North Waziristan Agency bordering Afghanistan. Four suspected militants including a commander have died in the strike, they added. Sources also said that the Taliban commander has been identified as Mustafa, who they claimed belonged to Hafiz Gul Bahadur group. The incident, however, could not be independently verified as access of journalists is restricted in the area.Earlier in the day, a US drone strike had killed four suspected militants and left several others injured on the Pak-Afghan border area near Khyber Agency’s Tirah valley. Official sources said that the drone targeted militant hideouts in the Cancharo Kandoa area on the Afghan side. The village is right on the zero-line but the area which was targeted falls under the Afghan jurisdiction. The identity of the dead militants is yet to be ascertained. Khyber and North Waziristan are among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous regions governed by tribal laws and lies near the Afghan border. The Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked groups, who stage attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, are known to have strongholds in the zone. The Pakistani military launched a major anti-militant offensive, Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan in June and say they have killed more than 1,000 so far, with 86 soldiers losing their lives in the operation. Drone attacks are widely unpopular across Pakistan and according to survey conducted in June this year, 66 per cent of the country's citizens oppose these strikes. Earlier in the day, a US drone strike had killed four suspected militants and left several others injured on the Pak-Afghan border area near Khyber Agency’s Tirah valley. Official sources said that the drone targeted militant hideouts in the Cancharo Kandoa area on the Afghan side. The village is right on the zero-line but the area which was targeted falls under the Afghan jurisdiction. The identity of the dead militants is yet to be ascertained. Khyber and North Waziristan are among Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous regions governed by tribal laws and lies near the Afghan border. The Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked groups, who stage attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, are known to have strongholds in the zone. The Pakistani military launched a major anti-militant offensive, Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan in June and say they have killed more than 1,000 so far, with 86 soldiers losing their lives in the operation. Drone attacks are widely unpopular across Pakistan and according to survey conducted in June this year, 66 per cent of the country's citizens oppose these strikes.
During a meeting with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin Saturday, China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang stated that the West was wrong in imposing economic sanctions against Russia. “The city of Sochi reflects the vitality of Russia. Therefore, we came to think that Western countries were wrong in imposing sanctions against Russia,” the Chinese vice premier said, adding that sanctions are “erroneous actions". “We are certain that despite external factors of instability, the Russian people will be able to show determination and patience to overcome all sorts of current difficulties,” he added, asserting that “China opposes the West’s use of sanctions to exert pressure." The Russian Deputy Prime Minister and the Chinese Vice Premier met during the 18th session of the Russian–Chinese Commission for the Preparation of Regular Meetings of the Heads of Governments, which is currently taking place in Sochi. The United States and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia’s largest banks, energy and defense companies, as well as certain individuals, over Moscow’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied.
Protecting Ukrainian citizens and especially children, 20 of whom died in bombings in September alone, is a direct responsibility of the Ukrainian authorities, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi told RIA Novosti in a Saturday interview. "It is the responsibility of the Ukrainian government to save their citizens, particularly children. Safety of the children will be their utmost priority. I will appeal to the Ukrainian government so as to ensure that such incidents against children will not occur in future," Satyarthi said. He also argued children must not carry the consequences of armed conflicts, regardless where and for which reasons they occur. "Whatever happening in Syria, Ukraine and Palestine is due to political reasons, but children are bearing the brunt of these crises. It's very painful that we have not made our place safer for children. So far we have not been able to create a world where children will be safe. They are innocent and have nothing to do with violence but often they are on target," the Indian humanitarian argued, adding that the international community should not only condemn such action, but also act against it. An armed conflict in Ukraine's South-East began in April when Kiev launched a military operation against independence supporters in the region. Almost 3,700 people have been killed and over 8,800 have been wounded since the start of the operation, according to a UN report published this week.
Tens of thousands of people are flooding the streets of cities all over Europe on Saturday in mass rallies against a controversial trade agreement between the US and the EU. Talks on the pact, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), started last February and, having been mostly held behind closed doors, have raised widespread concerns in the European Union and beyond. Social networks have been mobilized for a mass campaign that has been calling on Europeans and Americans to take action against “the biggest corporate power grab in a decade.” One of the organizers of Berlin’s demonstration, Michael Efler, told RT’s Peter Oliver: “We are protesting here against the free trade deal completely negotiated in secret, because they give corporations more rights they’ve ever had in history.” Protests were planned in 22 countries across Europe – marches, rallies and other public events – in over 1,000 locations in UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic and Scandinavian countries. According to the international organization ATTAC, the decentralized Day of Actions unites an unprecedented number of civil society groups and individuals, social movements, trade unions and rights defenders. The main aim of the wave of protests is “to reclaim democracy,” which in this case stands for putting an end to the negotiations on three major trade agreements: the EU-US deal (TTIP), the EU-Canada deal (CETA) and the trade in services deal (TiSA). A controversial free trade agreement, TTIP is destined to bring down regulatory barriers. Its supporters promise a 100 billion euro GDP growth for the EU, and almost $90 billion growth for the US, as well as the creation of over 700,000 extra jobs in the US. Opponents of TTIP warn that these figures are too optimistic, however. While cheaper goods and services would deluge the EU, the deal would create environmental problems, a loss of economic sovereignty, and bring torrents of genetically modified food and unemployment, they say. In the UK, where over a dozen protests are taking place, people fear for the future of the country’s public services – the healthcare system, the education system and even the BBC may be susceptible to interference from large US companies. In London, British historian and investigative journalist Andy Worthington told RT’s Harry Fear that people have reasons not to trust politicians who have been reassuring them since 1980s, yet “handing over more and more power to corporations.” The trade agreement between the EU and the US could be finalized by the end of this year. The leaders of Canada and the EU signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) this September, which is yet to be finalized. It will remove over 99 percent of tariffs between the two economies by 2016. The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is planned to liberalize the trade of services such as banking and transport between 23 parties, initiated by the US. Its draft version was released this June by WikiLeaks, which was followed by rising criticism. Apart from the actions to stop TTIP, people from all over the globe are participating in another protest on Saturday – Global Frackdown Day, aimed at protesting against controversial oil and gas technique of fracking. Initiated by Food & Water Watch consumer right group, Global Frackdown Day unites all continents in their struggle to protect air, water, climate and communities from fracking.
Two Austrian teenage girls who ran away to Syria to join Islamic State fighters are beginning to regret their decision. Security service insiders told Austrian media that the girls have managed to contact families and one wants to go home. The pair left home to join Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or ISIL) in April. Little information was immediately known, aside from that one had been 16 and one 14 at the time of their departure. Both reportedly married Chechen fighters after their arrival in Syria and became pregnant. Samra Kesinovic and her friend, Sabina Selimovic, are originally from Bosnia, but grew up in Vienna. The Daily Mail reports that their parents were from Iraq. On their departure from Austria, they left a note, telling their parents: “Don’t look for us. We will serve Allah – and we will die for him.” Since their departure, pictures have emerged online of the pair brandishing Kalashnikov rifles and wearing the full niqab. However, Austrian police have claimed that their social media accounts were overtaken and manipulated by IS. “It is clear that whoever is operating their pages, it probably is not the girls, and that they are being used for propaganda,” a security expert told the Austrian Times. Interpol released images of the two girls in April, after they disappeared. Both sets of parents have been attempting to make contact and unconfirmed reports have stated that communication has been established. Both are currently believed to be in Rakka, in northern Syria. According to Vienna-based newspaper Österreich, Samra wants to return home as the horrors of Syria “have become too much.” The newspaper, which is known for its close links both to the security services and the children’s families, says that death is a “constant companion” for the girls. There is some hope for women wishing to flee IS, however. In recent days, a Syrian woman fled from IS to Turkey. However, Sabina was reportedly “not yet ready to return.” Anyway, they may find attempts to return difficult. “The main problem is about people coming back to Austria. Once they leave it is almost impossible,” said Karl-Heinz Grundboeck, a spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry.
A New York City airport has become the first in the United States to begin a stepped-up screening program for possible Ebola infection. New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport Saturday began screening travelers coming from the West African countries devastated by the virus. Agents are screening incoming travelers for fever and other symptoms using questionnaires and infrared, non-contact thermometers. Coast Guard medical personnel initially are handling the screening. Over the next week, screenings will begin at airports in Newark, New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Illinois; and Atlanta, Georgia. Together, the five airports receive an estimated 90 percent of passengers entering the United States from the worst-affected African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Death toll rising On Friday, the World Health Organization said the death toll from the Ebola outbreak has risen to more than 4,000 people. The U.N. agency said nearly 8,400 cases of the disease have been recorded in seven countries, with 4,033 people dying from the epidemic. It said all but nine of the deaths were in the three Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Eight people died in Nigeria and one patient died in the United States. The data also includes one Ebola case each in Spain and Senegal, but no deaths in those countries. A separate Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 43 people. International aid falls short Also Friday, the United Nations said it had received only a quarter of its appeal of $1 billion to respond to the outbreak. The virus that causes Ebola spreads only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person who is showing symptoms.
Kailash Satyarthi has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against child labor. In an exclusive DW interview, the activist talks about the importance of the prize and plans to work alongside co-winner Malala.For decades, Kailash Satyarthi has dedicated his life to helping millions of children forced into slavery. Born in India in 1954, the electrical engineer founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), or the Save the Childhood Movement, a non-profit organization aiming to eliminate child trafficking and labor, in 1980.
DW: What does this prestigious award mean to you and your work?Kailash Satyarthi: The award gives me more strength and power in the fight against child slavery and exploitation, as it is the biggest recognition ever for the cause of child rights, particularly to eradicate child labor. It's a great honor and recognition for the voices of hundreds of millions of children who have been neglected or ignored. The award is therefore very important for my cause.
What drove you to take a stand against child labor?I've been quite passionate about the issue since my childhood and during my student life. I then came to the conclusion that I had to work for the children who are deprived of their childhood. But when I began my work there wasn't much awareness regarding the issue of child labor. There was therefore no one to learn from, but slowly I realized that child labor amounted to a violation of fundamental human rights, as well as a denial of freedom and of a good future. So we took on the challenge and began the fight which has had a gradual ripple effect.
What obstacles have you had to face in your struggle against child labor?Child labor is a social evil so we have to fight in order to change the mindset of the people. The practice is unlawful and a crime against humanity.It is therefore necessary to ensure that laws are in place and being properly implemented. It is also a struggle against the mafia and organized criminals. It has always been a tough fight. I lost two of my colleagues: one was shot dead and the other one was beaten to death. Moreover, my family and I have been attacked on numerous occasions. So it hasn't been easy. What I have come to realize is that those trying to kill me or my loved ones are notorious people who feel challenged by my work.
How much work is still left to eradicate child labor in India?There is still a lot to do. But as I said, the award will inspire many activists and civil society organization to help draw attention to this struggle at many different levels, both in government as well as in the private sector. I hope this will help raise awareness and increase pressure on all those who are exploiting children and profiting from their labor.
The prize was also awarded to Pakistani citizen and human rights activist Malala Yousafzai. How do you feel about an Indian and a Pakistani sharing such a prestigious prize, especially given the recent escalation of tensions in the region?I respect Malala. She is a wonderful young lady. I spoke to her on the phone after the announcement and we talked at length about how we can fight together on many issues, including education for girls and child labor. But more importantly, we also discussed about how to restore and create an environment of peace both in our region as well as globally.
Will this award change your work in any way?The fight against child labor will go on as before. The only thing is that I work in over 140 countries, under the umbrella of the network Global March against Child Labor. After this award, my partner organizations and fellow activists worldwide may demand my presence more often. So I think the only thing that may happen is that I get to travel more often than before.
Kailash Satyarthi is the winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Malala Yousafzai. He is also the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), or the Save the Childhood Movement a non-profit organization aiming to eliminate child trafficking and labor.
Teenage Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai has won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, together with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children's rights activist. Speaking in Birmingham, England, Malala said the award is a great honor and a motivation to continue working for the rights of all children to receive an education.
Every Pakistani is today burdened with the debt and liabilities of over Rs101,338 as against Rs90,772 in June last year when the PML-N government took over. It means each Pakistani is overburdened by at least Rs10,000 during the last 14 months of the present regime.The debt on each Pakistani was Rs80,894 in October 2012 whereas it was only Rs37,170 in early 2008. According to the State Bank of Pakistan, the total debts and liabilities (both internal and external) reached Rs18,241 billion in June 2014. These figures were Rs16,339 billion in June 2013, which means during the last 12 months of the present regime almost Rs1900 billion has been added as debts and liabilities. Since June 2008 the total debts and liabilities have more than doubled the amount accumulated during the first 60 years of Pakistan’s independence. The debt/liabilities burden added during the last PPP tenure was almost Rs10,000 billion. It was Rs6,691 billion till June 2008. In view of the latest figures as shown by the State Bank of Pakistan, every Pakistani is presently burdened with the debt and liabilities of Rs101,338 as against Rs37,170 in early 2008, an addition of Rs64,168 during the last six-seven years. In a country in which according to the government’s own reports poverty has risen and 58 percent of the population faces food insecurity, this additional burden means more miseries for the future generations of Pakistan. Sector-wise breakdown of the total debt and liabilities (Rs18241 billion) as per the State Bank of Pakistan is, government domestic debt Rs10907 billion; government external debt Rs4,791 billion; debt from IMF Rs298 billion; external liabilities Rs324 billion; private sector external debt Rs486 billion; public sector enterprises external debt Rs205 billion; public sector enterprises domestic debt Rs366 billion and commodity operations Rs492 billion. According to the statistical supplement of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Annual Report 2009-2010, the total debts and liabilities of the last 60 years till June 2008 were Rs6,691 billion, meaning thereby what successive governments in Pakistan could not accumulate in six decades have been accumulated in last six years. Experts believe corruption, misrule, massive tax evasion and poor economic policies have burdened the nation with such an alarming rise in the total debts and liabilities.The State Bank figure shows that the major burden is not external but domestic debt alone has crossed the figure of Rs10,000 billion. In the federal budget for the year 2012-2013, the federal government had allocated Rs926 billion for payment of interest on debt. This figure of interest allocation was over Rs1100 billion in 2013-2014 whereas it reached Rs1326 billion in the current budget. Because of huge government borrowing from the banks, it is said, the pre-tax profits of the banking sector have greatly risen in the recent years.The banks instead of performing their real job of advancing loans to the private sector, businessmen etc for growth of economy, are giving maximum loans to the government where income from interest is guaranteed and no risk is involved.
Malala Yousafzai needs little introduction. The 17-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl, education advocate and survivor of a Taliban assassination attempt is her country's most famous teenager and has been the darling of the international community for more than two years now. Her triumph today — winning the Nobel Peace Prize alongside an Indian activist who fought against child labor — makes her both the youngest person ever to be awarded the prize and only the second Pakistani. But the story of the first Pakistani Nobel laureate is worth remembering, and not for particularly happy reasons.
His Nobel prize in 1979 was the source of muted celebration at home, but received far more acclaim elsewhere, including in India, Pakistan's archrival neighbor. Pakistan's Express Tribune recounts:
While [Salam] was shunned in his own country, the world held him in high regard. The then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, invited him to India and bestowed a great gesture of respect by not only serving him tea with her own hands, but also sitting by his feet.In Geneva, Switzerland, a road was named after him. In Beijing, the prime minister and president of China attended a dinner hosted in his honour while the South Korean president requested Salam to advise Korean scientists on how to win the Nobel Prize. Salam was also presented with dozens of honorary degrees of doctorate and awards for his hard work. Just this past week, the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, a U.N.-affiliated institute based in Trieste, Italy, commemorated its 50th anniversary. But none of Salam's great accomplishments mitigated bias against his community in Pakistan. There are roughly 3 million Ahmadis in Pakistan; other communities exist throughout South Asia and Southeast Asia. In Pakistan, further religious laws tightened the scope of their religious practice — Ahmadis, for example, aren't technically allowed to call their places of worship "mosques" — and created a legal basis for the Ahmadis' continued persecution. On grounds that they are supposed "apostates," Ahmadis face the perpetual risk of prosecution for simply observing their faith. The community also became vulnerable to violence from intolerant religious extremists. This year alone, at least 13 Ahmadis have been killed in targeted attacks in Pakistan. The Taliban insurgency in Pakistan, steeped in sectarian slaughter, has called for the death of Ahmadis and the destruction of their holy sites. Per his own instructions, Salam's body was taken back to Pakistan and buried next to the graves of his parents. His gravestone epitaph read, "First Muslim Nobel Laureate." But a local magistrate ordered the word "Muslim" to be obscured — much like Salam's larger legacy in Pakistan. The sad, pathetic irony of all this was that Salam was a proud Muslim and saw his scientific pursuits as an extension of his Islamic identity. Here's Pervez Hoodbhoy, a leading Pakistani scientist and commentator, on Salam's worldview: Intensely proud of the Muslim contributions to science and civilization, and upset at how they are usually forgotten or sidelined, Salam would gently but eloquently admonish Western audiences for their ignorance. Significantly, he began his Nobel Prize speech about the travel of the Michael the Scot to Muslim Spain in the search for knowledge; in those days the lands of Islam were the sole repositories of learning. Before Muslim audiences he would make passionate exhortations that Muslims should re-enter the world of science and technology before they became utterly marginalized. Nothing hurt him more than the stony barrenness of the intellect in Islamic countries today. That "stony barrenness" is now once more in view. Like Salam, Malala Yousafzai, whom the Taliban tried to kill for her outspoken role in promoting education for girls, lives in de facto exile in Britain. She is the source of a conspicuous and disgraceful amount of slander back home, with some critics deeming her a stooge of Western interests, a CIA agent, and a "useless type of girl." Islamists of various stripes, including some figures with a great deal of influence, have all heaped such calumny upon the teenager and will likely continue to do so, even as many others in Pakistan celebrate her mission and her achievements. Out of safety concerns, Malala may not return to Pakistan for many years to come. One can only hope that the country's second Nobel laureate won't remain as cut off from her homeland as its first.
Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls´ right to education, said she was honoured to have been chosen as joint winner of the Nobel Prize on Friday.“I´m feeling honoured that I´m being chosen as a Nobel Laureate,” she said, speaking from Birmingham, England where she is now based. “I´m proud that I´m the first Pakistani and first young woman, or the first young person, who is getting this award.” The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to 17-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi for their work promoting children’s rights on Friday. The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the prize saying that peaceful global development can only come about if children and the young are respected. Malala is the youngest person to be awarded the globally prestigious annual prize.