No Smoking In Russia? Tough New Antitobacco Rules Come To The Land Of Cigarettes

MOSCOW — A group of pro-Kremlin youth activists approaches a middle-aged woman smoking outside a subway station — a no-smoking zone as of last year. Filming her with a handheld camera, they insist that she put out her cigarette.

Initially, the woman refuses. “Why don’t you get a job?” she says, showing her backside to the camera. But in the end, she gives in, throwing the lit cigarette at one of the young men and storming off in a huff. 

This Moscow street scene, circulated on the Internet in a video, illustrates the tensions between smokers and antitobacco activists as tough new legislation comes into force in Russia, the world’s second-largest cigarette market.

The latest provisions of the law came into force on June 1 and prohibit smoking in most public indoor places — including bars, restaurants, offices, and public transportation.

“It’s horribly inconvenient!” says Anush Zogranyan, an accountant and smoker in her 40s, who on a cool, overcast weekday was smoking outside a Moscow cafe that until this month would be thick with tobacco smoke. She adds that she has “morally” steeled herself for the ban, but is not looking forward to smoking outdoors in winter.

Others say the ban is cramping their social life. “I’ve started going out less,” says Aleksei, a 30-year-old advertising worker who was having a cigarette before entering a restaurant on his lunch break. “I used to go out every week, but now it’s more like once a month.”

Meanwhile, some in the hospitality industry are reporting a loss of revenue.

Igor Bukharov, head of the Federation for Restaurants and Hotels, told the daily “Izvestia” that in some establishments revenue has fallen 15-20 percent since the ban. “This is very serious. Those are the statistics for cafes, restaurants, and bars,” he added. “We didn’t count clubs.” 

Grudging Support

The legislation, signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in February 2013, came into effect in several stages.

Last year, the minimum price on cigarettes was raised slightly — although at approximately $ 1.50 a pack they are still considerably less expensive than in the West. Smoking was also outlawed in recreational areas like parks and beaches, outside subway stations, and inside jails and hospitals.

As of June 1, in addition to the indoor smoking ban, cigarettes cannot be displayed in stores, and showing the inhaling of tobacco smoke in films and on television is illegal “unless it is an integral part of the artist’s idea.” 

The law aims to reduce smoking among Russians by 15 percent by 2020, increase budget revenue by 1 trillion rubles ($ 29.6 billion), and reverse the precipitous population decline that hit Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Some lawmakers have sought to take the smoking ban even further. This month, Communist Party lawmaker Ivan Nikitchuk, in an apparent effort to improve birthrates, introduced a bill to the State Duma banning women under 40 years of age from smoking. The measure, however, was not passed. 

Despite the inevitable grumbling, the tough new antismoking measures have some support — even among smokers.

Raisa, a 60-year-old smoker, says the legislation is long overdue — mostly for the sake of the younger generation. “My grandchildren are growing up,” she  says, perching on a street bench outside an Uzbek restaurant. “I always leave the apartment to smoke when they are in. Children should not have to breathe smoke.”

And even some bar managers are saying the smoking ban actually helps business. “In our case, people are happier about it. More people are coming to us,” says Pyotr Baryshnikov, 24, who helps run The Delicatessen, a Moscow bar and restaurant that caters to a young urban-middle-class crowd.

“This is a cellar bar and when people smoked here it was really smoky and not everyone liked it,” he adds. “I think we are already seeing a generation that is against nicotine and that lives more healthily.”

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Pope leaves Holy Land with call for peace

Jerusalem — Pope Francis finished his three-day visit to the Holy Land on Monday with a whirlwind tour of religious and political sites, including an unscheduled stop arranged by the Israeli prime minister in order to make a political point.

The pontiff’s itinerary covered Al-Aqsa mosque and the Western Wall; meetings with Israel’s president, prime minister, and two chief rabbis; a trip to the Holocaust memorial and a private mass in Jerusalem at a contentious site.

Much of his day was sterile in contrast to Sunday’s colourful mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square and several public events in Jordan the day before. Jerusalem’s streets and holy places had been cleared for the pope, and he had no opportunity to talk to pilgrims or residents of the city.

He started the morning at Al-Aqsa, the third-holiest site in Islam, where he met with the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein . The pope urged members of the three monotheistic faiths, “all communities who look to Abraham” not to “abuse the name of God through violence”.

The grand mufti said: “Peace in this land will not happen until the end of the occupation, and when people get their freedom and full rights”.

The pope then visited the Western Wall, the remains of the biblical Second Temple and the holiest site at which Jews are permitted to pray. He followed tradition and left a written prayer inside the cracks of the wall, reportedly the text of the Lord’s Prayer written in his native Spanish.

Politics and prayers

It was his next stop, at the tomb of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionist ideology, that provided the day’s political moment. The visit itself was symbolic: Francis became the first pope to lay flowers on the grave, 110 years after Pope Pius X met Herzl and rejected the idea of a Jewish state.

Afterwards, at the behest of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, the pope made a brief stop at a nearby memorial for Jews killed by Palestinians. It was a response to the pope’s unplanned prayer yesterday at the separation wall between Israel and the occupied West Bank, a dramatic moment which provided the defining image of his trip. 

“If the incitement against the state of Israel ceases, along with the terrorism, there will be no need for … the security fence, which has saved lives,” Netanyahu told the pope during a private meeting later, using the preferred Israeli name for the barrier.

Netanyahu and the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, met Francis separately on Monday afternoon. Peres, along with his Palestinian counterpar Mahmoud Abbas, have both accepted an invitation to a “joint prayer for peace” at the Vatican on June 6.

The pope’s final stop before the airport was a mass at the Cenacle, the site where Christians believe Jesus held the Last Supper. Jews believe it is the burial site of the biblical King David, and several groups held protests in the run-up to the pope’s visit, believing that Israel was planning to give the Vatican sovereignty over the site. Monday’s mass was uneventful, however.

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Syria: Fear and Famine Stalk a War-ravaged Land

By John J. Metzler

United Nations — Syria’s harrowing civil war has taken a new turn as the beleaguered Mid East country now faces a deepening drought and food crisis in the midst of an expanding conflict.

UN relief agencies warn that the drought may cut food production thus adding to the country’s woes.

With over nine million Syrian civilians already refugees or internally displaced since the conflict started three years ago, the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) warns that “Low production scenarios combined with the ongoing conflict, will further strain Syria’s already fragile food security situation. The main implications are an increased dependence on imports at a time when Syria’s import capacity is severely diminished by the collapse of real economic growth.”

Hell: Food lines in February in Damascus await assistance by the U.N.’s Relief and Works Agency. Daily Telegraph

Economists state that growth has been in a free fall with an almost 19 percent annual drop.

In a troubling new report on the drought and food security, the WFP states, “During the decade preceding the conflict, drought had been the main event causing significant losses to the national wheat and barley production; since 2012, the civil war has had a market impact on the Syrian cereal production capacity.”

Even optimistic figures reveal that this year’s projected wheat production would be about two million tons, a fall of 17 percent from last year.

WFP’s coordinator for Syria, Muhannad Hadi said, “It has taken a massive effort from WFP and partners to reach 4 million people in March, but we fear now that a possible drought, if rainfall doesn’t pick up, could put the lives of millions more at risk.” He added, “Syria suffered from five years of drought right before the conflict broke out and vulnerable communities in affected areas hardly had time to recover before they were hit by the conflict.”

continued — Tragically, some of the worst affected conflict areas such as Aleppo and Hama, account for about half of the wheat production. According to relief agencies, more than six million Syrians may need emergency food aid, up from the current number of just over four million people.

Yet as the conflict churns on between the Assad family dictatorship, backed by Russia and Iran, and a gaggle of rebel groups , many of them Islamic fundamentalists and Al Qaida affiliates, a political settlement looms as elusive as ever. The U.N. Security Council, in diplomatic deadlock between the West and Russia/China concerning Syria, has frozen further in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated, that he is “extremely concerned that groups listed as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council continue to brutalize the civilian population”. He added that the tragic killing of a Dutch Catholic priest, Father Frans van der Lugt, S.J., who was shot by an unknown gunman, was an “inhumane act of violence.”

The 75 year-old priest had been living in Syria for over forty years and had refused to leave the besieged city of Homs.

The Syrian civil war has seen a deliberate targeting of the country’s ancient Christian minority by some rebel groups. Despite being out of the headlines, the conflict continues with at least 140,000 people killed in the past three years.

And beyond the widening refugee spill over into neighboring countries especially Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, there’s the acute danger from foreign rebels returning to Europe and spreading terror. United Kingdom intelligence agencies estimates cite hundreds of British nationals who are currently fighting alongside the Syrian rebels, as presenting a radicalized and trained terrorist threat to the U.K. upon their return from the Middle East. The Syrian war serves as a magnet to home-grown Islamic militants throughout Europe.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated unequivocally, “There is a belief by too many in Syria and beyond that this conflict can be won militarily. More violence will only bring more suffering and instability to Syria and sow chaos in the region.”

Tragically this war will not end until there’s the exhaustion of all parties to the conflict who will then grudgingly concede to a peace settlement.

Assyrian International News Agency

Possible Land Exchange May Help In Kyrgyz-Tajik Border Dispute

Tensions have been high following a shootout between Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards in January that left several people injured. (file photo)

BISHKEK — Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are discussing possible land exchanges to resolve long-festering border disputes.
 
The head of the village of Kok-Tash, Raziya Osorova told RFE/RL on March 24 that Kyrgyz villagers living along the border may be relocated into Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region if the land they are currently living on is exchanged with Tajikistan for other disputed territory.
 
A joint Kyrgyz-Tajik commission is discussing the possible relocation of residents in the Kyrgyz villages of Maseit, Aryk-Asty, and Tash-Tumshuk.
 
The joint commission has been discussing the border issue since January after a shooting incident along the border left several Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards injured.
 
The shootings were caused by the Kyrgyz construction of a new highway across a disputed area around a Tajik exclave inside Kyrgyzstan.
 
The border has been closed since then.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Turkey Returns Less Than Half of Assyrian Monastery’s Land it Seized


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Assyrian International News Agency

Deadly floods drown swathes of Bolivian land

Heavy rains and flooding have killed at least 38 people in Bolivia according to the Bolivian Defence Ministry, as authorities declared a state of emergency in response to the crisis.

The floods have washed away people’s homes and are causing illnesses, survivors said on Friday.

In the northeastern department of Beni, navy and army officials came together as they prepared to reach isolated communities cut-off by the floods.

Officials reported that over 17,000 hectares of prime agricultural land has been flooded across Bolivia, devastating subsistence farmers and leaving communities without food and drinking water.

According to local media, the intense rains which had started in October 2013, have affected nearly 45,000 families in more than 100 municipalities, around five times more than last year, with the central and northern regions of the country hardest hit.

Captain Jose Ramiro Prado Flores told Reuters they will try and reach communities near the Secure River.

“We’re on our way to Santa Maria together, it’s about a 39-hour journey and there we will distribute the aid which is rice, sugar, noodles, oil and flour to all coastal communities of the Secure River,” he said.

Medics will join army officials in the journey as officials fear the spread of disease in flood-ravaged regions.

“This is a hospital boat that will provide medical services, that will assist also in giving food but could also evacuate people voluntarily is they would like to go back to the city of Trinidad or any community that could have them in healthy conditions,” said Presidency Minister Juan Ramon Quintana.

With relentless rains expected to batter parts of Bolivia until mid-March, some believe the recent floods could be worse than the country’s devastating 2007 “El Nino” floods which displaced nearly half a million people.

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AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Two rockets land in US embassy Kabul compound

Two Taliban rockets have landed inside the US embassy compound in Kabul, causing no casualties but  underlining Afghanistan’s continuing security problems as many foreigners in the capital marked Christmas Day.

The Taliban, which has been fighting the US-backed government since being ousted from power in 2001, claimed responsibility for the attacks on Wednesday, which included at least one other strike in the city.

Rocket attacks in Kabul have been rare in recent years, but the insurgents have vowed to step up pressure on the US and Afghan authorities before next year’s presidential election and the withdrawal of US-led NATO combat forces.

“At approximately 6:40 local time in Kabul, approximately two rounds of indirect fire impacted the US Embassy compound,” a statement from the embassy said. “All Americans are accounted for and no injuries were sustained.

“The Embassy continues to investigate the attack.”

Another rocket landed near a hill where former kings and members of the old royal family are buried in a large mausoleum, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security told the AFP news agency.

“One impacted near Maranjan hill, about one mile (1.6 kilometres) from the presidential palace. There are no reported casualties,” Lutfullah Mashal said.

In a text message to AFP, the Taliban claimed to have caused heavy casualties, but the insurgents regularly make exaggerated claims after attacks.

“Today at around 6am four rockets were fired at the US embassy in Kabul. All hit the target (causing) heavy casualties,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in the message.

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AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

The Jihadist Cleansing of Christianity From the Holy Land

Fox News reported that in Iraq, “Christians are afraid to put up a Christmas tree or other decorations, according to one Christian pastor in Iraq. Such displays of faith in an increasingly extremist nation can bring threats and violence, say human rights groups. Christian churches must be regularly guarded, but congregants are even more on edge during their holiest days.”

And in Nigeria, according to Reuters, “fearing attacks by Islamist militant group Boko Haram over Christmas, Nigerian police said on Sunday they had ordered extra patrols, surveillance and covert operations to better secure potential targets during the festive period. The militants have struck every Christmas for the past three years, most dramatically in 2011, when they bombed three churches. One of them, on St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, on the edge of Abuja, killed 37 people and wounded 57.”

Likewise in Indonesia, Reuters reported that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono “has ordered police to step up security around churches over the Christmas holidays following reports of possible attacks.”

Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that last Saturday, “Syria’s armed rebels fired multiple mortar shells on a church in Syria’s southern province of Daraa, killing 12 people and injuring many others.” Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham “told Xinhua in an interview that Syria’s long-term crisis has displaced more than 450,000 Christian Syrians and killed more than a thousand of them.” IB Times reported Thursday that in the Central African Republic, Muslims recently murdered Christians wholesale, “killing nearly 1,000 men over a two-day period and systematically looting civilian homes.”

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako recently said that Iraqi officials were readily giving Christians visas to leave the country, saying that there was “a whole strategy to help Christians leave Iraq” and warning: “The Middle East is going to empty of Christians.”

David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization dedicated to defending persecuted Christians worldwide, agreed, saying: “We’re deeply concerned that Christianity is being squeezed out to extinction maybe in the next decade or so in the Middle East.” He explained: “There’s a culture of fear that has developed there that makes it hard for people to want to go to church to express their faith, especially at the holiday season.”

Curry ascribed this “culture of fear” to the negative influence of “extremists”: “These extremist groups desire religious cleansing and they’re increasing in number particularly in northern Iraq….Some of these countries, especially Iraq, have environments that are very hostile because of extremists in the region.”

The Fox News article in which Curry’s quotes appeared did not identify what kind of “extremists” were menacing the remaining Christians in Iraq. And that’s part of the problem: there is little chance that these “extremists” will be defeated, and the Christians in Muslim lands defended, if we can’t even talk about who they are and why they are doing what they are doing.

Nor is Fox the only one guilty of this criminal silence. Steven B. Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, in the Washington Post in October compared the persecution of Christians to Kristallnacht, without ever naming who exactly was doing the persecuting. Everyone knew who perpetrated Kristallnacht, and why they did it, and Steven B. Nasatir, I am sure, knows full well who is persecuting Christians today. He may even know why despite ubiquitous attempts to cover up the reasons, but in his entire piece he fastidiously avoids mentioning who is behind the persecution.

This sort of thing can be expected from the egregiously compromised Washington Post, but it does raise a question: how does Steven B. Nasatir, and the WaPo for that matter, propose to combat this persecution if we are not even allowed to name the persecutors? How can we combat an enemy we cannot even name?

The problem is wider still. Patriarch Gregory recently said plaintively: “I do not understand why the world does not raise its voice against such acts of brutality.” Yet he need not have looked far for the answer: all too many of his brother clerics in the West think that to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East would be in poor taste, and perhaps even “Islamophobic.” Robert McManus, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, articulated the prevailing sentiment last February: “Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally,” he wrote, “might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.”

So we must keep silent about Muslim persecution of Christians so as to avoid offending the peaceful Muslims in the U.S. with whom we are in dialogue, and who presumably would be offended by a discussion of that persecution even though they ostensibly repudiate and denounce it. And apparently the “positive of achievements” of this “inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims” have not, throughout the course of 2013, done a single thing to ease the plight of the Christians suffering in Muslim lands — and the silence of Bishop McManus and others like him about the Muslim persecution of Christians has arguably made the situation of Middle Eastern Christians even worse, for their persecutors know that there is no one who cares, no one who will dare to speak up for their victims.

Barack Obama, for his part, is no help. He has made only occasional, brief and perfunctory references to the Muslim persecution of Christians — in stark contrast to his solicitude for the Muslims battling Buddhists in Burma, and for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, despite its dismal record of targeting Christians and burning churches, blaming the Christians for its having been toppled from power in a popular uprising last summer.

And so Christians are being harassed, discriminated against, physically menaced, exiled, and killed in Muslim countries the world over, and no one cares. Indeed, anyone who does dare raise concern about their plight and dare to identify their persecutors will be tarred as an “Islamophobe” and a “bigot” and vilified accordingly, while the Right runs for cover and shuns the “controversial” speaker.

Thus the one thing we can be certain of at Christmas 2013 and into the new year is that Islamic jihadists will kill more Christians. And there is one other certainty as well: no one will care.

Assyrian International News Agency

In Belarus, Your T-Shirt Can Land You In Jail

MINSK — In Belarus, government critics have been jailed for merely clapping their hands or posting photos of teddy bears on the Internet.

Now, a new offense has been added to the long list of crimes punishable by jail: wearing T-shirts with slogans critical of iron-fisted President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

A court in Minsk on November 11 sentenced a middle-aged man to five days in jail for wearing a T-shirt that called for Lukashenka’s resignation.

Leanid Smouzh was arrested wearing the offensive T-shirt, which called for a “Belarus Without Lukashenka,” during a sanctioned memorial march outside the capital on November 10 to honor the victims of Soviet-era repressions.

Smouzh told RFE/RL at the rally that he opposed Lukashenka’s policies, including a proposed “tax on idleness” under which unemployed citizens may soon have to pay penalties to the state.

“I protest against the decrees and the directives of our leader, which come out of his mouth as often as bees from a beehive,” Smouzh said. “I protest particularly against the bill on idleness. This year my health is not very good, I passed the medical commission with difficulty. Next year, I will become either a criminal or a slave because I will formally become idle.”

Witnesses in court testified that Smouzh neither shouted slogans nor resisted police.

No other participants at the event, organized by an opposition party, were detained.

Smouzh’s jailing comes just a week after another man, Yury Rubtsou, was sentenced to three days in prison for wearing a T-shirt that said “Lukashenka, Go Away!”

Clapping Protests

Rubtsou, a pensioner, was also detained while taking part in a march outside Minsk honoring the memory of people killed during Soviet purges in the 1930s.

Demonstrators say police officers twisted his arms before pushing him into a van.

At his trial, Rubtsou argued that he had a right to ask for Lukashenka’s resignation since the president himself pledged in a televised statement that he would leave his post if the Belarusian people requested it.

Lukashenka, a former collective farm director, is accused of overseeing rampant human rights violations since coming to power almost two decades ago.

The T-shirts incidents underscore his government’s mounting intolerance to any form of criticism. And the crackdown, critics say, has become so indiscriminate as to verge on the absurd.

In 2011, dozens of people were jailed for up to 15 days after participating in so-called “clapping protests,” during which participants simply clapped in unison to protest Lukashenka’s policies. The clapping tactic was an effort to bypass tough laws prohibiting public demonstrations.

Police violently dispersed the rallies, arresting almost 2,000 people, including a one-armed man who was fined the equivalent of $ 200 for clapping.

The unemployed man, Konstantin Kaplin, said the fine represented more than twice his monthly pension.

Last year, a journalism student, Anton Suryapin, was held for one month after posting photographs online of stuffed bears bearing pro-democracy messages.

Authorities accused Suryapin and another man, Syarhei Basharimau, of aiding a Swedish advertising agency which had earlier dropped some 1,000 teddy bears into Belarus by a plane.

The charges against both men — who had faced up to seven years in prison — were eventually dropped in June 2013.

Halina Abakunchyk of RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reported from Minsk. Claire Bigg reported and wrote from Prague

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Return of Assyrian Monastery Land to Be Debated Today in Turkey

The return of the lands of the historic Mor Gabriel Monastery to the Syriac [Assyrian] community in Turkey will be discussed today at the assembly of foundations, the highest decision-making body of the general directorate for foundations.

Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old historic monastery located in the southeastern province of Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Cadaster Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarlı and Eğlence sued the monastery for allegedly occupying their fields.

The lawsuit was finalized last year, recognizing the monastery as an “occupier.” The case was then brought to the European Court of Human Rights.

“The land of the Mor Gabriel Monastery will return to the monastery’s foundation,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised last week, while declaring a wide range of reforms on democracy.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com

Assyrian International News Agency

Turkey’s Assyrian Monastery Welcomes Return of Its Land

Chairman of Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation, most vital Assyrian (Syriac Orthodox) monastery in Turkey, Kuryakus Ergun said on Tuesday that they appreciated Monday’s democratization package announced by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with all eyes on Turkish capital of Ankara, as it stipulated the return of their land in Midyat district of Turkey’s southeastern Mardin province to the Monastry.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency in an exclusive, Ergun noted that the Turkish Premeir himself stated that their demands were well-heard and the problem related with the land would be resolved.

“The decision to return the land to the Monastry pleased all the Assyrian community,” said Chairman.

Closely following the announcement of the package, Ergun said the news of returning the monastry land aroused excitement within the Assyrian community.

He reminded the numerous ongoing cases since 2008 related with the land, including those as subjects of international law, underscoring that both the Mor Gabriel Foundation and several NGOs at different platforms repeatedly voiced the need for a solution for the issue with regards to human rights.

“Since the onset of the process, we always stated that we are a family and must solve the issue within our family,” said Ergun, expressing gratitude for Turkish Premier Erdogan and all those contributing to the preparation process of the package.

On Monday, Turkish PM Erdogan said an area of 276 hectares that belonged to the Mor Gabriel Monastery, also known as Deyrulumur, located in Midyat district of Mardin province, in southeastern Turkey would be returned to the Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation,

“We will return an important right of our Assyrian community in this way, protecting their property rights,” he added.

http://www.worldbulletin.net

Assyrian International News Agency

Assyrians to Regain Monastery’s Land As Part of Erdogan’s Democratization Package

Assyrians to Regain Monastery’s Land As Part of Erdogan’s Democratization Package

The land of the historic Mor Gabriel Monastery will be returned to the Syriac [Assyrian] community in Turkey as part of the “democratization package” announced by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today, while the package fell short of meeting the expectations that the Halki Seminary could be reopened.

“The land of the Mor Gabriel Monastery will return to the monastery’s foundation,” Erdoğan promised today, while declaring a wide range of reforms on democracy.

“In fact, our government has shown a great sensitivity in this issue throughout the [Turkish] Republic’s history and has made serious efforts in return for such rights. We have taken sincere steps with regulations we made about the removal of such injustices in 2003, 2008 and 2011 and we received concrete results. We have returned more than 250 [properties], costing more around 2.5 billion Turkish Liras to the original owners,” said Erdoğan. Erdoğan also said that they would continue to return the properties of minorities without occasioning the suffering of others.

Mor Gabriel is a 1,700-year-old monastery located in Mardin’s Midyat district. In 2008, the Forestry Ministry, the Land Registry Office and the villages of Yayvantepe, Çandarlı and Eğlence sued the monastery for allegedly occupying their fields. The court recognized the monastery as an “occupier,” after which the case was brought to the ECHR.

The package, announced by Erdoğan today, however, lacked any development about the reopening of the Halki Greek Orthodox seminary on Istanbul’s Heyebeliada Island, which has been an ongoing point of debate for years.

The reopening of the school has been postponed due to a lack of clarity over its status, as well as the principle of reciprocity with Greece, which has refused to allow Turkish minorities to elect their own religious officials.

On Sept. 12, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said that they would take the necessary steps for the reopening of the Halki Seminary “when certain local and international conditions are constituted.” He also gave signals of solving the Mor Gabriel Monastery issue in the same speech. “We have to apply the law on the matter but an alternative formula could resolve the problem [of Mor Gabriel monastery],” Arınç said.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com

Editor’s note: click here for complete coverage of the St. Gabriel Monastery case.

Assyrian International News Agency

Three ISS Crew Land Safely Back On Earth

Two Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut have arrived safely back on Earth after a 166-day mission on the International Space Station.

Outgoing station commander Pavel Vinogradov, NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, and Russian cosmonaut Aleksander Misurkin landed in Kazakhstan early on September 11 aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule.

Before leaving, Vinogradov, a veteran of three spaceflights, transferred command of the $ 100 billion station to fellow cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, who remains aboard with Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA’s Karen Nyberg.

The space station has been continuously staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and ITAR-TASS

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Property prices expected to fall after the distribution of residential land among the poor

BAGHDAD – Farah pumice

saw parliamentary committee competent that the government’s decision to distribute residential land among the poor and those with limited income, will reflect on the real estate sector in a positive way. Committee considered the economic parliamentary government’s decision to «step sound» in providing live well for the Iraqi people, usually the real estate sector «safe haven» for investment.
comes at a time that was considered by the Committee of Finance representative said the decision is a step to revive areas uninhabited and increase the turnout of citizens to buy them. Commission decision MP Mahma Khalil said »Sabah»: The «decision the government is a positive step because it serves the citizens and supports the real estate sector and housing, as it is the prime mover of the economy, job creation ». saw Khalil He (the government’s decision) will contribute to the reduction of real estate prices if the distribution on an ongoing basis and in all provinces, and will contribute to job creation, urging the concerned parties to continue to implement this program leads to positive movement in reviving the real estate market.
said the Commission’s decision that the prices of real estate during the current term high What can not the owners of low-income home buying, real estate, indicating that the real estate market is a safe haven for investment., in turn, member of the Finance Committee parliamentary MP Najiba Najib said »Sabah»: The «government’s decision Saeb in providing live and good housing for the Iraqi people, as stipulated by the Constitution». indicated that Article 15 of the Constitution reads as follows: »Everyone has the right In life, security and freedom, and may not be deprived of these rights or restricted except in accordance with law »., while Article (30) as follows:» The State shall guarantee for the individual and the family, especially children and women, social security and health, and the essential ingredient to live in the life of free and dignified , provide them with suitable income and appropriate housing ». saw Najib said the move will support the areas inhabited by providing housing units, and to provide the requirements necessary water, electricity and sanitation, arguing that these areas will be the same purchasing power and an attraction for citizens to possess them. added that real estate with high prices is likely to be impaired and that the lack of request, noting it is a step towards moving away from slums and squatters will be to reduce this phenomenon gradually, as it will contribute to increase the beauty of the country through informal housing.

LINK

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Middle East, Holy Land Christians Are Suffering Most

Minority religious groups face the reality of targeted violence against them in the region

The leader of the Maronite Catholic Church has said that Christians are suffering the most from the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï said that the situation in the Middle East is worsening, and that ‘whenever a conflict breaks out in the Middle East, whenever chaos ensues, Muslim groups attack the minority Christian community, as if they were always the scapegoat.’

The patriarch, whose church is in full communion with the Vatican, said Christians were ‘paying the price’ of outside interference in both Egypt (above, Egyptian soldiers stand guard at an entrance to Tahrir Square in Cairo) and Syria.

“I have written to the Holy Father twice to describe what is happening. I appeal again to the Holy Father, who only talks about peace and reconciliation,” said the Maronite leader, who was made a cardinal in 2012.

He also accused the international community of ‘total silence’ over Iraq, where he said 1.5 million Christians had fled in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s fall.

Holy Land custodian

The cardinal’s concerns were echoed by Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, the custos of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, who said that religion is being attacked by parties in several conflicts.

He believes Christians are facing the spectre and often the reality of targeted violence against them.

“What I see is a kind of instrumentalisation or manipulation of religions,” he said. “Of course there are problems, but there [is] also great peaceful coexistence among [different religious groups].”

Fr Pizzaballa also said the words and example of Pope Francis in favour of peace and concord among people across religious lines have been well-received.

“We need to stress, following his example peaceful coexistence and the need of dialogue among all of us,” he said.

Rabbi’s view

Closer to home, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East was also raised this week by Lord Sacks, the outgoing Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom

“I think this is a human tragedy that is going almost unremarked. I don’t know what the name for this is, it is the religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing,” he said. “We are seeing Christians in Syria in great danger, we are seeing the burning of Coptic churches in Egypt. There is a large Coptic population in Egypt and for some years now it has been living in fear. Two years ago the last church in Afghanistan was destroyed, certainly closed. There are no churches left in Afghanistan. “

Lord Sachs said as a Jew he felt sorrow at this ‘very deeply and personally.’

“I think sometimes Jews feel very puzzled that Christians do not protest this more vociferously,” he added

“Between half a million and a million Christians have left Iraq. At the beginning of the 19th century Christians represented 20 per cent of the population of the Arab world, today two per cent.

“This is a story that is crying out for a public voice, and I have not heard an adequate public voice.”

http://www.sconews.co.uk

Assyrian International News Agency

The launch of the Land Bank loans

08-17-13 Baghdad / Ahmed Yassin: Iraqi Real Estate Bank announced the resumption of firing building housing loans for all citizens by KD 30 million and an interest rate of 2% and pay extends to 20 years.

An official source at the bank that the bank resumed its activity in the launch of housing loans for all citizens in Baghdad and the provinces and the amounts of money ranging from 20 to 30 million and an interest rate of not more than a maximum of 2% for the purposes of construction or start construction.

The source called on all citizens to review the bank branches in the capital and the provinces in order to obtain housing loans form and promote transactions for the purposes of official sponsor and the loan amount, purpose and register on the housing loan for the next period.

He said the controls and instructions for granting housing loans for the construction of housing units involved to have the loan amount by building area and nearly 20 million for the construction of new space (75 m 2 – 100 m 2) and $ 25 million for an area (101 m 2 – 125 m 2), as well as giving $ 30 million for the construction of the space (126 m 2 and above) the duration of the payment period for (20) years and a loan service (2%).

LINK

Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

During Ramadan, A Long Wait For Dusk In The Land Of The Midnight Sun

On August 8, many Muslims will celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the feast marking the end of the monthlong Ramadan fast.

Ramadan, which is based on lunar cycles rather than the international calendar, can occur at any time of the year.

This year, the Islamic holy month coincided with the longest days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere for the first time since the 1980s.

For fasting Muslims that has meant especially long, hot days with no food or water between dawn and dusk.

The holiday presents a particular challenge in the northern countries of Scandinavia, where summertime means nearly full-time daylight.
 
The Finnish capital, Helsinki, at 60 degrees latitude, is one of the world’s northernmost cities, with the summertime sun setting as late as 10:30 p.m. and rising just a few hours later.

Ramil Bilal, an ethnic Tatar mufti who has lived in Helsinki for the past 10 years, says the long days mean local Muslims have as little as three or four hours at night to eat and drink.

“This year, we agreed within the community that everyone would try to fast from the very first day,” Bilal says. “If 20 hours without water and food was too long for someone, he was supposed to try one more day. After that, he could decide to stop fasting and fast later instead, during the winter months. We also suggested that people could fast according to the time in Saudi Arabia. Iftar, the evening meal, is between 7 and 7:30 p.m. in Saudi Arabia. Here in Helsinki, it’s between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Those three hours can make a huge difference for some Muslims.”

Northern Advantages

In 1986, the last time Ramadan fell so close to the summer solstice, there were relatively few Muslims living in Scandinavia.

But now there are believed to be at least 60,000 Muslims living in Finland alone, including Turks, Arabs, Tatars, and Bosniaks.

The northern location has some advantages — for example, comparatively comfortable summertime weather for those going without water.

Daytime temperatures in Helsinki hover around 24 degrees Celsius — considerably cooler than the 38 degrees Celsius seen currently in Mecca.

Long summertime days also mean long wintertime nights — meaning no fear of hunger pangs the next time Ramadan falls near the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, around the year 2030.

Some Scandinavian Muslims, however, say they stick to the Saudi Arabian timetable every year in order to avoid such extreme fluctuations.

But Bilal, who was born in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region, says others rise to the latitudinal challenges — even in the northernmost reaches of Finland, where the summertime days can last a full 23 hours. 

“In some northern towns in Finland, where the nights are even shorter — just one hour — Muslims schedule their fasting according to the time of the nearest southern state and take a two to three hour break from fasting,” he says. “As for myself, this is my first experience with fasting for 20 hours. I thought it would be hard, but with Allah’s will, we’ve accomplished it. It was easier than I expected.”

Written in Prague by Daisy Sindelar based on reporting by Landysh Kharrasova; Alsu Kurmasheva also contributed to this report

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Turkey Rebukes Armenia for Land Claim

Armenia “should know the limits of its capacity,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu warned Yerevan yesterday, referring to territorial claims recently made by the country’s prosecutor general, as he paid a one-day visit to neighboring Azerbaijan at a critical time.

The foreign minister called on “those who dare to take a pebble from Turkey” to know their limits, according to remarks reported by Anadolu Agency. “Apart from offering such a thing, it is out of question to think about it,” he said.

The prosecutor general of Armenia, Aghvan Hovsepyan, recently said Armenia should re-obtain its lost territories as the 100th anniversary of the 1915 killings at the hands of the Ottomans approaches. The Turkish Foreign Ministry had expressed fury at Hovsepyan’s declaration that the border between Turkey and Armenia has never been legally established and that lost Armenian land should be returned to Armenia.

Davutoğlu said the statements made by the Armenian officials over the issue were the product of “delirium,” arguing that possible peace in the Caucasus would only be possible when all parties knew their limits and boundaries. “I invite all to common sense. The territorial integrity of Turkey and Azerbaijan is pivotal for us,” he said.

Davutoğlu paid a one-day visit to Baku yesterday to hold discussions with Azerbaijani officials. According to Azerbaijan media reports, Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan’s foreign minister, gave information to his Turkish counterpart about a July 12 Vienna meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, which is trying to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. He emphasized that Azerbaijan supports the idea of holding a meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Anadolu Agency also published a photo showing Davutoğlu being briefed by a Turkish military attaché over the Caucasus Battle. The battle consisted of armed conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire in 1918 during World War I. The land warfare was accompanied by Russian naval activity in the Black Sea region of the Ottoman Empire.

The visit also came as the Turkish and Azerbaijani armies launched joint military exercises on July 12 that will run in Baku and Nakhchivan until July 28. The land forces of the two countries will be involved in the war games; an infantry division will be involved in the Baku exercises, while a mechanized infantry division will take part in the exercises in Nakhchivan. In the region, Russia and Iran are also planning to conduct a joint naval exercise in the Caspian Sea in the second half of 2013.

Davutoğlu’s visit coincides with a project to carry gas from Azerbaijan through Turkey and Greece to Europe as part of the Trans-Adriatic-Pipeline (TAP), which was officially confirmed last month.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com

Assyrian International News Agency

Kurdish Mob Attacks Assyrian Village in North Iraq — Attempts Land Grab

North Iraq (AINA) — Armed Kurdish men, mostly belonging to the Zebari tribe, attacked the Assyrian village of Rabatki on Thursday at 18:00 local time in Northern Iraq. The motive behind the attack was to forcefully claim parts of the village.

When the villagers realized that the large truck filled with construction material and bricks approaching their village was an attempt by the Kurds to forcefully erect a house on their lands, they quickly formed a road block using their cars, effectively blocking the truck from entering the village. The move angered the Kurds, who then left only to come back less than one hour later, at 18:00 with seven cars full of Kurdish men armed with Kalashnikovs and other weapons.

A fight broke out between the male inhabitants of the village and the attackers and several rounds were shot in the air by the Kurds to try to scare the villagers. The village chief, Mr Zaya Barcam Khoshaba, was beaten in the face by one of the attackers with the side of the kalashnikov. The attack stopped only when police were called to the area.

The village of Rabatki lies in the district of Aqra in the Dohuk province. The village, which has never had any Kurdish inhabitants, has been fending off land grab attempts since the early 1990s. The Kurds living in the area belong to the powerful Zebari clan, with their most known clan member being Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s current foreign minister and a prominent member of the Kurdish political elite.

The first court ruling concerning the ownership of the village and its lands came in 1992. The verdict stated that the village and its lands belong to its Assyrian inhabitants. The Kurds would not accept the outcome of the civil process and continued to file complaints, which they continued to lose. The problem pressed on even after the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein. In 2006 the American Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Dohuk investigated the ownership issue after Kurdish complains only to conclude what former court cases had found more than a decade earlier — the Kurds did not have any valid ownership claims over the village and its lands.

Assyrians, who are the indigenous people of Northern Iraq, have been subjected to massive land grabs and discrimination by the Kurdish political establishment, headed by Masoud Barazani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party. Dozens of Assyrian villages in Northern Iraq are either partly or entirely occupied by Kurds.

Assyrian International News Agency

Turkish Forces Syrian Passenger Plane To Land

Turkish military jets have forced a Syrian passenger plane to land at Ankara airport. 

The Airbus A-320 was flying from Moscow to Damascus. 

Turkish officials suspected its cargo could include Russian weapons for the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.  

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Airbus A320 with 37 passengers and crew would be allowed to leave, but  its cargo had been confiscated.   

Earlier, Davutoglu told Turkey’s TGRT television that the plane was intercepted on suspicion it was carrying illicit cargo to Damascus.  

According to ITAR-TASS, Russia was to demand Turkey explain why it detained the plane. 

Shortly after the Syrian plane was intercepted, Ankara warned Turkish airlines to avoid using Syrian airspace as it was unsafe. 

Meanwhile, Turkey’s military chief warned of a more forceful response if shelling continued to spill over the border.

Necdat Ozel was speaking as he toured the Turkish border town of Akcakale, the site of a Syrian mortar attack last week that killed five civilians.

Turkey has bolstered its military presence along its 900-kilometer border with Syria. 

Over the past week, Turkish forces have responded to gunfire and shelling coming across from northern Syria, where forces loyal to Assad have been fighting rebels for control of large patches of territory. 

On October 9, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the 28-member military alliance had plans in place to defend Turkey.

He gave no further details, but a senior U.S. defense official said NATO would likely react if Turkey made a request for assistance.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, meanwhile, announced U.S. military personnel were now in Jordan to help the government contend with Syrian refugees, bolster its military capabilities and prepared for any trouble with Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles.

In Damascus, the Syrian government said that an appeal by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for a cease-fire was only acceptable if the rebels agreed to abide by it too.

Based on dpa, Reuters and AP reporting

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Assyrians Get Land Title in Turkey After 25-Year-Old Legal Struggle

Posted GMT 8-3-2012 0:34:19

The General Directorate of Foundations has agreed on the return of the patriarchate building in Gümüşsuyu to the Syriac [Assyrian] Catholic community, the community learned during a meeting with President Abdullah Gül.

The Syriac community had taken the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), but said the directorate’s move was a “nice gesture,” and that they would consider withdrawing the compensation case from the ECHR if no obstacles occurred.

A lawsuit has been in process for 25 years between the Syriac Catholic Community and Turkey, and after exhausting domestic remedies the community took the case to the ECHR four years ago.

The Syriac Catholic community received the good news during a meeting in which President Abdullah Gül hosted the leaders of minority foundations at the Huber Köşk in Tarabya on July 27. Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, Syriac Catholic Foundations head Zeki Paşademir said the director general of foundations, Adnan Ertem, announced during the meeting that the land title of the disputed building would be delivered to the Syriac Catholic community.

Paşademir said the building used to belong to Latin Catholics, but that with a government initiative in 1986 the Syriac community had signed a contract to rent the ruined building for 99 years. “Despite this, the General Directorate of Foundations opened a legal case against us in 1988. They said the building belonged to them. When we understood that the problem could not be solved through national legal procedures, we took the case to the European Court of Human Rights four years ago,” Ertem said.

‘Nice Gesture’

Paşademir said they expected the decision of the ECHR soon. “I welcome the decision as a nice gesture, if an obstacle does not come up at the last moment we are planning to withdraw the compensation case. Turkey is our homeland; we don’t want to demand compensation from our homeland.”

The director general of foundations has requested the files, including the contract made in 1986, in order to initiate procedures. “Actually, we didn’t expect such a result from the meeting with the president. What is more, we will have the land title,” Paşademir said.

Paşademir said the building was almost ruined when they bought it from the Latin Catholics, and that the Syriacs had restored it with the community’s limited means.

“It is offensive to feel like a parasite in a building we have used all of our means to restore,” he said. The church in the patriarchate building has a 200-person capacity and the population of the Syriac Catholic community living in Istanbul is 2,000, Paşademir said.

“We don’t have any other requests for now, maybe we will in the future. We are currently holding our crowded wedding ceremonies in Latin Catholic churches,” Paşademir said after being asked whether they would appeal for another church in the near future, as the Syriac Kadim community had done. The Syriac Kadim community currently has no church, although their population in Istanbul is around 15,000, so they conduct religious ceremonies in other churches that they rent. The community demanded land from the state to build a new church, but procedures have continued for two years.

By Vercihan Ziflioğlu
www.turkishweekly.net

Assyrian International News Agency

Assyrians in Turkey Offered Land Already Belonging to Other Minorities

Posted GMT 7-13-2012 23:59:54

Controversy has risen over plots of land that Turkey’s Syriac [Assyrian] community has claimed were offered to them for the establishment of their first church in Istanbul. Two alternative spaces also offered to the Syriac community by the Istanbul municipality belong to the Armenian and Greek foundations respectively, it has emerged.

One of the land plots offered is allegedly a historical cemetery belonging to the Armenian community and the only property belonging to the Surp Stephanos Church Foundation in Istanbul’s Yeşilköy district. The other piece of land belongs to the Greek Hagios Stephanos Foundation.

The land options were proposed to the Syriac community 10 days ago, according to K.H., one of the leading figures of the Syrian community.

“They present us lands belonging to other minority communities,” K.H said. “They aim to create polemics by giving us land which belongs to another minority community. This is a scandal in its true sense.”

Officials from the Surp Stephanos Church Foundation expressed disapproval at the municipality’s recent offering. “This is the only property belonging to our foundation. We have difficulties in meeting our needs, so how could we give this land to someone else?” Arev Cebeci, one of the administrators of Yeşilköy Surp Stephanos Church Foundation, said.

The Surp Stephanos Church Foundation is currently involved in a legal case against the municipality over the return of property. “Just after the approval of the new foundation law to return properties, we opened a legal case against the municipality and won. However, the Metropolitan Municipality brought the case to the Court of Appeal. We believe that the court’s decision will be in our favor,” Cebeci said. The foundation would consider releasing the land on only one condition, Cebeci said. “If the Syriac community wants to buy the land, we could consider delivering it.”

Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality refused to comment on questions from the Hürriyet Daily News. “As an individual, I believe in the importance of cooperation between the different minority groups in Turkey,” said Greek-origin Laki Vingas, who is in charge of minority foundations in the Foundations Directorate General.

“The Syriacs have been struggling to establish their own church for a long time. Their struggle should be supported, but I insist on the fact that my individual opinion does not interest my community,” he said.

www.hurriyetdailynews.com

Assyrian International News Agency

Turkish Court Takes Monastery’s Land, Declares Assyrians ‘Occupiers’

Posted GMT 6-29-2012 5:52:52

(AINA) — The final decision of the [Turkish] Supreme Court of Cassation in the legal case of St. Gabriel, ordering it to transfer the lands which the monastery has owned for 14 centuries to the State Treasury marks a major legal scandal. Cynically, it was the same institution which in 1974 ruled against the [non-Muslim] minority foundations in Turkey and has played an important role in intensifying minority problems. The latest ruling, in which the State is designated as the ‘land owner’ and the ‘other’ (being St.Gabriel) as the ‘occupier’ proves that not much has changed in Turkey’s policy towards minorities. The court decision sheds light on an important parameter of the process that has been labeled as “democratization.”

The confiscation of properties, trusts and estates of non-Muslim minorities by the government or by third parties is one of the darkest pages in the history of the [Turkish] Republic. Even though the Law of Foundations has been subject to various revisions within the framework of EU reforms over the last ten years, due to the nationalistic understanding that aims to preserve the existing status quo, the problems of minority foundations have not received a profound and lasting solution. This is very much related to the hegemonic perception that has been formed historically towards minorities in Turkey. Minorities, as a group in Turkey, have been regarded not only as infidel [Turkish gavur] for many years, but also as groups that foster secret ambitions, who “have stolen the wealth that belonged to us,” or as “hostile” and “unreliable” element within the Turkish nation formation. The deep traces of such institutionalized discourses can be read in the reflexes of the judicial and political authorities in the context of the legal trials of Hrant Dink, St. Gabriel and Publishing House.

Many people have written about the St. Gabriel case and the trial has been well documented (full coverage). But what is striking in this case is that the legal procedure started and concluded to the disadvantage of the monastery during a process which has been hailed as transition towards “democratization” by many people. Turkish elites have preached continously that “many things have changed in Turkey, and matters are no longer as they were.” However, the case of the monastery is just another example which proves the opposite.

Unfortunately, while many in Turkey did not know much about Assyrians [known as Süryani in Turkey], they got to learn about them thanks to the St. Gabriel trial. Despite being a non-Muslim minority according to the definition of the Lousanne Treaty, the Assyrians have not received any legal status throughout the history of the Republic. Policies of denial and assimilation have resulted in the loss of cultural identity, excluding them from political participation for decades while institutionalizing their third class status. With the beginning of the EU accession process in Turkey, they started to be remembered and rediscovered afresh as an exotic culture. Within the framework of the rediscovery phenomenon, Assyrians have been converted to a ‘touristic object’ on one hand, while on the other hand the state presented them as an example of its generous “tolerance.”

The challenges brought to St. Gabriel during the judicial process need to be understood in close relation to the unfair and discriminatory practices Assyrians are facing in Turkey. Beside the fundamental problems of identity and legal status, in recent years efforts have been made to systematically label them with the description of the others and to display them as an elemet of threat. Their monasteries are presented as “missionary centers.” In history textbooks, approved by the Ministry of Education and used in 10th grade high school classes, Assyrians are portrayed as “traitors” during World War I (AINA 10-2-2011). Furthermore, Dogan Bekin, a writer of the National Newspaper (Milli Gazete), recently categorized Assyrians as an “Israeli-type group” which has ambitions to establish a country through land acquisition.

Isn’t it quite strange that even before the ink of Dogan Bekin’s article could dry, the Supreme Court of Cassation signed a decision in that same spirit? In order to understand whether these types of explanations and decisions reflect a state-oriented principal policy towards Assyrians, we need to look at the stance of the AKP [Justice and Development Party] government. It is a fact that under the leadership of the populist AK Party in Turkey some steps were taken on many issues regarding “democratization” and that the military wardship disappeared, which had existed for decades. However, it is also a fact that there has been no progress in terms of reducing alienation of non-Muslim minorities, particularly in the dominant approach of suspicion towards them. The attitude of the government and the Turkish judiciary system in the context of the lawsuits filed againts the monastery of St. Gabriel are the most important testimony for this.

The recent developments in the case of St. Gabriel remind us directly of the case of Hrant Dink, who was killed in 2006. Interestingly, in both cases the Turkish government took shelter under the pretext of “We cannot intervene in the judiciary” and “the judiciary makes its own independent decisions,” hence sidelining the issues based on blatant unwillingness to solve the problem.

As pointed out by Professor Baskin Oran, who closely follows the case of St. Gabriel, the party representing the state treasury against the monastery is under the control of the government and is composed of appointed bureaucrats. If the Turkish government wanted to demonstrate a good faith approach, the problems that St. Gabriel monastery has been facing could easily be resolved. But the stance pursued by the Turkish executive powers with regards to this case reveals the existence of deep politics. While the Assyrians on the one hand are being punished with this case, on the other hand homage to a post-modern Turkish supremacy culture is dictated to them.

The punishment part of the job is related to the increasingly institutionalized genocide (Seyfo in Assyrian) recognition activities Assyrians in the Diaspora in recent years. This obviously creates discontent among Turkish ruling elites, a relationship many Assyrian activists have been pointing to. Through this case, the message is conveyed to the Assyrians is “Look, we are becoming a democracy, writing a new constitution. But you as a minority, however, you have to know your boundaries. Stop dealing with issues such as the genocide!”

If the Turkish government is willing to solve the historically shaped problems of minorities in a sincere manner, it needs to start taking positive steps in the aforementioned key cases and should regard improvements in how minorities are perceived as essential work of peace, reconciliation and democratization. Otherwise, everyone has the right to question whether anything has really changed in Turkey.

By Soner Önder

Soner Önder is doctoral student at Amsterdam Social Science Research Institute (AISSR).

The article appeared in Turkish on acsatv.com and in a modified version in the Turkish Newspaper Radikal.

Translated from Turkish for AINA by Abdulmesih BarAbraham.

Assyrian International News Agency

Liberia At the Crossroads: Extractive Industries, Land Grabs & Corporate Accountability

firestone rubber worker

In the wake of the visit by Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Washington DC, IPS’ Foreign Policy In Focus will host a lunchtime briefing with 2 of Liberia’s premier civil society leaders to discuss issues of corporate responsibility and worker rights in the extractive industries – Agriculture (biofuels and rubber) oil, and mining. The briefing will also spotlight issues of land rights and Green Advocates recent report documenting 2 million acres of Liberia’s land expropriated (“grabbed”) by foreign investors in the last 2 years alone.

Featured Speakers:

  • Alfred Brownell is an environmental justice lawyer. He is the Lead Campaigner of Green Advocates, Liberia’s environmental justice advocacy organization.
  • Edwin Cisco is one of the leading trade unionists in the country. He is the General Secretary of the Firestone Agricultural Workers’ Union of Liberia (FAWUL).

Bios:

Alfred Lahai Brownell is the Lead Campaigner and Founder of the Association of Environmental Lawyers of Liberia (Green Advocates), based in Monrovia. Green Advocates, under Alfred Brownell leadership, is leading other human rights and environmental groups calling for a halt to slave style and child labor at Bridgestone/Firestone rubber plantation in Liberia. His research work with workers on the plantation led to the filing of an Alien Tort Claim Complaint against Bridgestone/firestone in the United States. He was also successful in delaying the expansion of a multinational rubber plantation owned by SOLFINCO/Liberia Agriculture Company until the company could dialogue with local communities and meet Environmental Impact Assessment requirements. Green Advocates founded three national networks; Publish What You Pay Liberia Coalition, the Civil Society Budget Watch Network, and the Alliance for Rural Democracy for convening rights groups and local community based organizations to press for transparency and accountability in the management of Liberia’s economy and its natural resources.

Edwin Cisco is General Secretary of the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia (FAWUL). FAWUL represents the thousands of Liberian rubber workers who earn $ 3 on a good day, but whose hard labor creates the profits that Bridgestone Firestone uses to sponsor marquee events like Super Bowl half time shows and inaugural races like the Baltimore Grand Prix. Edwin was himself a child laborer in Firestone’s plantation and has now committed himself to fighting for the rights of workers in the rubber industry and beyond.

FPIF Latest Content

Time to Recall the Land Grabbers

INTRODUCTION

On 5 December 2011, GRAIN received the 2011 Right Livelihood Award, often referred to as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. GRAIN was awarded “for its worldwide work to protect the livelihoods and rights of farming communities and to expose the massive purchases of farmland in developing countries by foreign financial interests”. GRAIN seized on the opportunity to demand an immediate end to land grabbing and a restitution of lands to local communities. The following speech was delivered to the Swedish Parliament by GRAIN during the Awards Ceremony.

THE SPEECH

Three weeks ago, on the 16th of November, Cristian Ferreyra was shot dead by two masked men in front of his house and his family. Cristian lived in San Antonio, a village north of Santiago del Estero in Argentina. He was part of an indigenous community and a member of one of our partners, the indigenous peasant organisation MOCASE Via Campesina. His “crime”? To refuse to leave his homeland in order to make way for a massive soybean plantation, one of so many that have been encroaching on rural communities throughout Argen- tina in the last decade. So the plantation owners had him assassinated. Cristian was only 25 years old.

Six weeks ago, on the 26th of October, one farmer died and 21 others were injured, ten of them critically, in the village of Fanaye in northern Senegal. They, too, were trying to stop the takeover of their lands. Government officials had handed over 20,000 hectares surrounding their area to an Italian businessman who wanted to grow sweet potatoes and sunflowers to produce biofuels for European cars. The project would displace whole villages, destroy grazing areas for cattle and desecrate the local cemeteries and mosques. Fanaye is not an isolated case. Over the past few years, nearly half a million hectares in Senegal have been signed away to foreign agribusiness companies.

Gambela is a region in Ethiopia that borders South Sudan. It is home to one of the most extreme cases of land grabbing in the world. Over half of the arable land in the region has been signed away to Indian, Saudi and other investors who are now busy moving the tractors in and the people out. Ethiopia is in the midst of a severe food crisis and is heavily dependent on food aid to feed its people. Yet, the government has already signed away about 10% of the country’s entire agricultural area to foreign investors to produce commodities for the international market. Earlier this year, we were involved in the production of a video on the situation of the indigenous Anuak peoples in Gambela, who now face losing their farms, their villages and their ancestral territories. We wanted to help raise their voices to the international level, but in the video we had to distort their voices and hide their faces – to pro- tect them from backlash by the Ethiopian government.

One could continue with many more examples of how people who just want to grow food and make a living from the land are being expelled, criminalised, and sometimes killed, to make room for the production of commodities and someone else’s wealth. Today, we are witnessing nothing less than a frontal assault on the world’s peasantry. This is not only happening in the global South. Here in the European Union, we have lost three million farms since 2003. This amounts to a loss of one fifth of our farms in just eight years. Living from the land is becoming more difficult and, in many parts of the world, more danger- ous by the day. Peasants who have been feeding the world for thousands of years – and still are – are now increasingly being cast as backwards, inefficient and obstacles to development. The not-so- subtle message is: they should cease to exist.

GRAIN was established two decades ago to help stem the loss of the world’s agricultural biodiversity, and the traditional knowledge associated with it. We learned, however, that the problem was not so much the loss of indigenous seeds and breeds but the loss of the people who create, nurture and sustain that diversity. “Genetic erosion”, as we called it 20 years ago, is really just a consequence of a larger development that is promoting industrial farming and leading to the annihilation of the world’s rural peoples.

But these people, all over the world, are fighting back. In all corners of the globe there are dynamic movements of resistance and rebuilding, where people are struggling to hold on to their territories and keep control over their resilient food systems.

FARMERS COOL AND FEED THE WORLD

Via Campesina, the international peasant movement, has called today, the 5th of December, the “International food sovereignty day to cool down the earth”. Right now, Via Campesina members and allies are out in the streets of Durban, South Africa, protesting the negotiations over false solutions to climate change, and insisting that small farmers can not only cool the world but can feed it too. They are right.

The basic idea of food sovereignty is that the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food, rather than the demands of trans- national corporations, should be at the heart of our food systems. It prioritises local food production, based on agro- ecology and family farming, and local markets. It keeps seeds and biodiversity in the hands of farming communities, and GMO free. It nurtures and builds on indigenous knowledge of soils, seeds and farming systems. It recognises the crucial and central role of women.

The world desperately needs food sovereignty. It is our best hope to solve the planet’s most pressing crises. Today, over a billion people on the planet do not have enough to eat. Around 80% of these people are food producers living in the countryside. This intolerable situation is not due to a lack of food or technol- ogy. It is due to government policies that deliberately replace peasant agriculture with an industrial model driven by the needs of transnational corporations. This model produces commodities for the global market. It does not and can- not feed people.

We are all acutely aware of the climate crisis. But how many people realise that the current industrial food system con- tributes around half of all global green- house gas emissions? You get this figure if you add up the emissions from agriculture itself, plus the change in land use when forests are turned into plantations, plus the enormous distances that food and feed are transported around the globe, plus the energy that goes into processing, cooling and freezing, plus the waste of energy and food in the increasingly centralised supermarket chains. Food sovereignty, which prioritises agro-ecological farming and local markets, can massively reduce these emissions. GRAIN has calculated that just by focusing on soil fertility restoration in agricultural lands, we could off- set between one-quarter and one-third of all current global annual greenhouse gas emissions! Small farmers can indeed cool the world.

They can also feed the world. Earlier this year, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food presented a report showing that agroecology, if sufficiently supported, can double food production in entire regions within 10 years while mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty. Others have shown that policies oriented towards promoting local markets, short food- transport circuits and peasant farming, all help to do the same. The issue is as simple as keeping food in the hands of people, rather than corporations.
Still, peasants, fishers and other food producers have never been more in danger of extinction.

STOP LAND GRABBING

Never before has so much money gone into the industrial food system. The last decade has witnessed a spectacular increase in speculation on food commodity markets, increasing food prices everywhere. With today’s global financial and economic crises, speculative capital is searching for safe places to multiply. Food and farmland are such places. “Everyone has to eat” is the new mantra preached in boardrooms. The race is on to take control of the world’s food-producing resources – seeds, water and land – and the global distribution of food. Today, much of those resources and food systems are still in the hands of the poor. For example, 90% of India’s milk market, the largest in the world, is in the hands of millions of small dairy farmers and vendors who collect milk and bring it fresh to consumers. These are the kind of markets that corporations, banks and investors now want to take over.

Money is also flowing directly into farming and land acquisition. Banks, investment houses and pension funds are actively buying up farmland all over the world. The data and the contracts are very hard to acquire, but current estimates are that 60-80 million hectares of land have fallen under the control of foreign investors for the production of food in the last few years only. This is equal to half the farmland of the EU! Most of this is happening in Africa, where people’s customary rights to land are being grossly ignored.

This latest trend in global land grabbing – that for outsourced food production – is only one part of a larger attack on land, territories and resources. Land grabs for mining, tourism, biofuels, dam construction, infrastructure projects, timber and now carbon trading are all part of the same process, turning farm- ers into refugees on their own land.

There is much to be done. But GRAIN would like to use this opportunity, here in the Swedish Parliament, to call for one specific action. We want an immediate end to the global farmland grab – an urgent and massive “recall” of land grabbers, analogous to what food safety authorities do when recalling contaminated food. We call on everyone to do whatever is possible to stop the inter- national flow of money for the global acquisition of farmland and to return lands to all affected rural communities. Stopping land grabbing is not just about what is legal. It is about what is just.

Here in Sweden, people can start by taking on companies, like Black Earth Farming, that have bought or leased farmland overseas. They are not allowed to do this here in Sweden and should not be permitted to do so abroad. Campaigns can be launched to pressure Swed-fund, which is using taxpayers’ money to finance the land grabber Addax in Sierra Leone. The Swedish pension fund AP2 is also going into global farmland acquisitions as a new strategy, supposedly to protect the retirement savings of working Swedes. Swedish development aid projects ought to be scrutinised, as there are already indications that some are promoting land grabbing activities in Mozambique and elsewhere. Such actions and campaigns are already brewing in other parts of Europe and in the US. These should be strengthened and supported, in order to stop land grabbing at the source.

Rural communities have fed the world for millennia. Today, the massive expansion of large scale industrial farming is destroying our capacity to move on. At GRAIN, together with peasant organisations and others social movements, we will continue exposing what is going wrong, while fighting for an equitable, just and sustainable food system. This award gives this struggle a tremendous boost. We see it not only as an acknowledgement of our work but also as a powerful recognition of the contributions of countless people and organisations engaged in the fight for genuine community-based food sovereignty. Together, we will continue this struggle. We have no other option if we are to survive on this planet with some dignity.

Thank you very much for this award, and for your attention.

FPIF Latest Content

* (Tibbits from around Dinar Land): Dinar Recaps 5/10/12

janiesmiles] Did you all hear my very own personal bank story today….. WF has called me back 3 times just to let me know they had taken care of what I needed and even CALLED a couple in our group!!!! Personally

rsuperduty] i have to stop saying “how stupid can you be” i think ppl are starting to take it as a challenge rofl

[PKDinar] Hello family how is going???? Just want to let you guys know that my Iraqi guy called me about 2 hours ago he said there is little delay in process but it should be very very soon. So as I said I will be back soon is hear from him. This fellow is in CA

PKDinar] He said few things needs to taken care but he did not want to talk to much on the phone.

[PKDinar] Also he said his family relatives from Canada are standing  by to come in USA and cash in. So that tell me there will be not much delay.

New Hours for Caps Corner: [.TS] Ok all, after spending the afternoon in the room gathering everyone’s opinions, this is now going to be our schedule…5:09 pm [..ts] the chat room will be opened everyday from 7:00 pm cst – 10:00 pm CST..

JstBringIt] AndieZ1 I run a PC shop and we recommend Norton Internet Security, and add MWB and Advanced system care for extra maintenance and recommend to run those at least monthly. They make a great team!

JstBringIt] AndieZ1 I’ll second the recommendation of Malwarebytes! It’s good stuff!!!!

JstBringIt] bookings Nah, malwarebytes doesn’t run actively in the background, but it will kill most stuff that sneaks in under the radar of your Antivirus program!

[JstBringIt] AndieZ1 The relatively new version of Microsoft Security Essentials is about the best free one out there. AVG is good, but is a nag about scans and updates constantly.

docremeyer] AndieZ1 Saw words on Internet Security earlier.I use Norton 360 Security and I love it. It does everything but burp the baby. It can be set to run any of four programs separately. I also have a freebie, PC Cleaner, Crap Cleaner we call it, for quick daily swabs of cookies, temp files, etc.

docremeyer] AndieZ1 The Norton is on a small network we have and I have had it for years, updates come often, renews each yr. is at times overzealous, esp. on email protection, which is easily fixed. Yes, it eats up some memory, but I don’t find things appreciably slower. It’s worth it for what it does.


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Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Land Causes Friction Between Shias and Sunnis in Kirkuk

Posted GMT 5-4-2012 5:20:29

KIRKUK, Iraq — A dispute over the ownership of large areas of has erupted between the Arab Shia and Sunni communities of the volatile province of Kirkuk.

Following a visit by a group of Shia religious leaders to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad, nearly 5,000 dunams of land (approximately 1,200 acres) that belonged to the province’s Sunni religious establishment was given to the Shia endowment.

Most of the land lies in the towns of Kirkuk and Daquq in Kirkuk province.

Kirkuk is a multiethnic, multireligious province that has been disputed between various groups for decades, especially Kurds and Arabs.

After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003 and the breakout of sectarian conflict between the Arab Shia and Sunni factions in Iraq, the chronic conflict in Kirkuk became more complicated.

Ahmed Jamil, head of the Sunni endowment in Kirkuk, said, “We will not stay silent and will not let all that land be taken over.”

He said there are legal documents that prove the Sunni endowment owns the land.

Most of the land in question is located in Kurdish areas of the province.

But Sheikh Habib Samin, head of the Shia religious endowment in Kirkuk, denies that his institution has taken over Sunni land.

“According to law No. 19 of the year 2005, we will take back any land that belonged to the Shia endowment and was occupied by the Sunni endowment,” says Samin.

Jamil alleges that the Shia endowment managed to change the property deeds for the land at Kirkuk’s land registration office through use of “20 cars full of armed men from Baghdad.”

While the heads of both Shia and Sunni endowment offices claim to be victims of injustice, the head of Kirkuk’s municipality says the real victim is “Kirkuk city itself.”

“Both endowments occupy land and have turned it into places of worship for themselves,” said Abdulkarim Hassan, head of Kirkuk’s municipality.

Hassan added that the Shia and Sunni religious endowments have illegally built 200 mosques and seven Husseiniyas, sites of worship for Shia Muslims.

Rebwar Talabani, deputy chairman of Kirkuk Provincial Council, said the Shias took over the disputed land after the 2005 parliamentary elections which were boycotted by Sunni Arabs.

The boycott led to a marginalization of Sunni Arabs in power centers in the country.

Talabani said the lands were previously owned by the Sunni endowment.

By Nawzad Mahmoud
www.rudaw.net

Assyrian International News Agency

* Kuwait: Iraq and agreed on the demarcation of land and sea borders once and not touching the debt

Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Kuwaiti meetings conducted by a few days ago in Baghdad with the Iraqi government resulted in an agreement on the demarcation of the border once and for all, pointing out that the issue of Iraqi debt to Kuwait had not been addressed during these meetings.

U.S. Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait Khaled Al-Jarallah’s “Arab Net” that “the meetings that took place in Baghdad has left a number of agreements the most important maintenance of border markers between the two countries,” adding that “It was agreed finally on the demarcation of maritime borders, land and shipping in the Khor Abdullah, as well as to establish a joint committee between the two countries to oversee the implementation of the agreement. “

He noted the neighbor of God, who participated in the meetings conducted by the Kuwaiti delegation in Baghdad that “the two sides did not touch upon other issues Kalmdioniat Iraq,” explaining that “the terms of meetings was agreed upon in advance.”

There were meetings of the Iraqi-Kuwaiti joint in Baghdad in the 29 April 2012, and announced, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, following the end of the meetings for the signing of a protocol with Kuwait for the organization of navigation in the Khawr Abd Allah, confirming that Iraq will sign a number of protocols with Kuwait during the visit of Prime Minister of Kuwait Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to Iraq in the last quarter of this year, and that the discussions conducted by the two sides Tnawat compensation owed by Iraq under the UN resolutions thoroughly, and pointed out that Iraq has made significant progress on the path out of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations through understanding and cooperation of the Kuwaiti side, but that Zebari did not refer to the issue of the final agreement on land border demarcation and Almaúih between the two countries.

For his part, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al-Sabah in a speech during the conference he held with his Iraqi counterpart, said yesterday that any project undertaken by Kuwait would be studied from all sides so as not to harm its neighbors, “stressing that what was achieved during a meeting of the Joint Commission was the culmination to visit the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah to Baghdad, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Kuwait, and the desire of the parties and their quest to build better relationships.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki expressed during a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al-Sabah, on Sunday, (April 29, 2012), his optimism, “the results of the High Joint Committee between Iraq and Kuwait as to promote relations between the two countries and two peoples,” calling to “open prospects for cooperation and exchange of visits at both official and popular.”

The Ministerial Committee was formed Iraqi-Kuwaiti joint in the 12 of January 2011, to resolve the outstanding issues between Iraq and Kuwait, according to international resolutions, having held its first meeting in the 27 of March 2011, her talks in Kuwait to resolve outstanding issues between the parties.

The media delegation Kuwaiti annexation of ministers, MPs called for Friday (April 27, 2012), to the need for Iraq’s accession to the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the activation of the Silk Road to serve the common interests and economic development in the region, while assured Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the importance of developing relations between Iraq and Kuwait in all fields, particularly economic, renewed the invitation of Kuwaiti companies to invest in Iraq.

The invitation Kuwait to Iraq’s accession to the GCC, about eight days to visit the son of the Emir of Kuwait and the Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad, who to Sulaymaniyah in (April 19, 2012), revealing which of the existence of orientation Kuwaiti partnership with Iraq within the system of regional countries of the northern Gulf , while pointing out that his country aims, through this system to diversify its economy so that it does not depend on the oil completely.

This is the orientation of Kuwait in partnership future with Iraq include the formation of a system for the countries of the northern Gulf is the first of its kind since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime on the ninth of April 2003, and represents a reference to the existence of progress in the relations between the two countries. Participated Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in the work of Arab summit conference in Baghdad (29 March 2012), in a visit described as historic, being the first to the Emir of the State of Kuwait since the Iraqi occupation of the emirate Gulf in August 1990.

As a result of improved relations re-Kuwait flights to Iraq, as it landed at the airport in Najaf (April 17, 2012), the first Kuwaiti plane after 22 years on the last trip to Iraq, as confirmed Jazeera Airways that it will be two trips a week to the airport can be increased, as well as for flights to other airports in the rest of the country.

Saw the Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations in the recent progress in relation to solving some outstanding problems, as the parties agreed during the visit of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the last of Kuwait (14 March 2012) to end the issue of compensation for KAC and maintenance of border markers, as was agreed to foundations and frameworks to solve all common files, within the short time scales, with Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who accompanied al-Maliki during his visit to what was agreed upon is significant progress with respect to the exit of Iraq from Chapter VII.

It is noteworthy that Iraq is under since 1990 under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations imposed after the invasion of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, the State of Kuwait in August of the same year, this item allows the use of force against Iraq as a threat to international security, in addition to large amounts of frozen financial assets in international banks to pay compensation to those affected by the invasion.

LINK


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Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

* Kuwait: Iraq and agreed on the demarcation of land and sea borders once and not touching the debt

Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Kuwaiti meetings conducted by a few days ago in Baghdad with the Iraqi government resulted in an agreement on the demarcation of the border once and for all, pointing out that the issue of Iraqi debt to Kuwait had not been addressed during these meetings.

U.S. Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait Khaled Al-Jarallah’s “Arab Net” that “the meetings that took place in Baghdad has left a number of agreements the most important maintenance of border markers between the two countries,” adding that “It was agreed finally on the demarcation of maritime borders, land and shipping in the Khor Abdullah, as well as to establish a joint committee between the two countries to oversee the implementation of the agreement. “

He noted the neighbor of God, who participated in the meetings conducted by the Kuwaiti delegation in Baghdad that “the two sides did not touch upon other issues Kalmdioniat Iraq,” explaining that “the terms of meetings was agreed upon in advance.”

There were meetings of the Iraqi-Kuwaiti joint in Baghdad in the 29 April 2012, and announced, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, following the end of the meetings for the signing of a protocol with Kuwait for the organization of navigation in the Khawr Abd Allah, confirming that Iraq will sign a number of protocols with Kuwait during the visit of Prime Minister of Kuwait Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to Iraq in the last quarter of this year, and that the discussions conducted by the two sides Tnawat compensation owed by Iraq under the UN resolutions thoroughly, and pointed out that Iraq has made significant progress on the path out of Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations through understanding and cooperation of the Kuwaiti side, but that Zebari did not refer to the issue of the final agreement on land border demarcation and Almaúih between the two countries.

For his part, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al-Sabah in a speech during the conference he held with his Iraqi counterpart, said yesterday that any project undertaken by Kuwait would be studied from all sides so as not to harm its neighbors, “stressing that what was achieved during a meeting of the Joint Commission was the culmination to visit the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah to Baghdad, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Kuwait, and the desire of the parties and their quest to build better relationships.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki expressed during a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al-Sabah, on Sunday, (April 29, 2012), his optimism, “the results of the High Joint Committee between Iraq and Kuwait as to promote relations between the two countries and two peoples,” calling to “open prospects for cooperation and exchange of visits at both official and popular.”

The Ministerial Committee was formed Iraqi-Kuwaiti joint in the 12 of January 2011, to resolve the outstanding issues between Iraq and Kuwait, according to international resolutions, having held its first meeting in the 27 of March 2011, her talks in Kuwait to resolve outstanding issues between the parties.

The media delegation Kuwaiti annexation of ministers, MPs called for Friday (April 27, 2012), to the need for Iraq’s accession to the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the activation of the Silk Road to serve the common interests and economic development in the region, while assured Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the importance of developing relations between Iraq and Kuwait in all fields, particularly economic, renewed the invitation of Kuwaiti companies to invest in Iraq.

The invitation Kuwait to Iraq’s accession to the GCC, about eight days to visit the son of the Emir of Kuwait and the Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad, who to Sulaymaniyah in (April 19, 2012), revealing which of the existence of orientation Kuwaiti partnership with Iraq within the system of regional countries of the northern Gulf , while pointing out that his country aims, through this system to diversify its economy so that it does not depend on the oil completely.

This is the orientation of Kuwait in partnership future with Iraq include the formation of a system for the countries of the northern Gulf is the first of its kind since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime on the ninth of April 2003, and represents a reference to the existence of progress in the relations between the two countries. Participated Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in the work of Arab summit conference in Baghdad (29 March 2012), in a visit described as historic, being the first to the Emir of the State of Kuwait since the Iraqi occupation of the emirate Gulf in August 1990.

As a result of improved relations re-Kuwait flights to Iraq, as it landed at the airport in Najaf (April 17, 2012), the first Kuwaiti plane after 22 years on the last trip to Iraq, as confirmed Jazeera Airways that it will be two trips a week to the airport can be increased, as well as for flights to other airports in the rest of the country.

Saw the Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations in the recent progress in relation to solving some outstanding problems, as the parties agreed during the visit of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the last of Kuwait (14 March 2012) to end the issue of compensation for KAC and maintenance of border markers, as was agreed to foundations and frameworks to solve all common files, within the short time scales, with Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who accompanied al-Maliki during his visit to what was agreed upon is significant progress with respect to the exit of Iraq from Chapter VII.

It is noteworthy that Iraq is under since 1990 under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations imposed after the invasion of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, the State of Kuwait in August of the same year, this item allows the use of force against Iraq as a threat to international security, in addition to large amounts of frozen financial assets in international banks to pay compensation to those affected by the invasion.

LINK


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Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Clashes as Palestinians mark ‘Land Day’

Clashes have broken out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem amid ‘Land Day’ demonstrations.

At least 121 people have been injured in clashes at the checkpoint, mostly from tear gas inhalation, according to medical sources and Al Jazeera’s correspondents in Qalandiya.

Four medical workers were reported to have been shot with rubber coated bullets and one car was set ablaze.

Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry reported that Israeli security forces tried to push hundreds of protesters back toward the nearby West Bank town of Ramallah, using water cannon and tear gas. Rocks were thrown, tires set alight and Red Crescent ambulances could be seen at the scene.

“This is a place where we frequently see clashes, and what we’re seeing here is the Israeli army needing to put a barrier up and not let people through,” our correspondent said.

“These clashes seem to be a bit more fierce today, and have started earlier in the day than usual.”

Perry said hundreds of Israeli police had been deployed in occupied East Jerusalem and high levels of security were in place across the city.

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian organiser, said that activists from 82 countries were expected to participate in Land Day activities, which commemorate six Palestinian-Israelis killed by Israeli security forces in 1976 during protests over the confiscation of their land.

Mahmoud Aloul, a Palestinian leader in the occupied West Bank involved in preparations there, said demonstrations were also underway in Bethlehem, where at least six people were reported injured. 

Other events were held in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, were at least three people were said to have been wounded in clashes with the Israeli border police, medical sources told Al Jazeera.

Activists in Gaza planned to hold a demonstration about a kilometre from the Israeli border, but said they did not plan to move closer to minimise the chance of clashes.

Supporters in neighbouring countries also planned marches near the Israeli borders in a solidarity event dubbed a “Global March to Jerusalem”.

Israel on Thursday announced a general closure of the West Bank from late on Thursday until late on Friday “in accordance with security assessments”, while authorities have deployed thousands of troops and police across the country and along its borders.

Yohanan Danino, the Israeli police chief, raised the nationwide level of alert “in order to handle any possible scenario, expected or not”.

Police were also expected to impose an age limit on worshippers attending the weekly Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s old city.

In a statement to mark the day, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said Israel’s policy of denying access to land was “at the heart of the conflict”.

Palestinians had a right to demonstrate peacefully and to demand “the fulfillment of their national and legal rights”, he said.


AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Israeli Backlash to Palestinian Land Day Global March to Jerusalem

Global March to JerusalemIn commemoration of Palestinian Land Day, activists from all continents are gearing up for peaceful protests along the Israeli borders on March 30. These marches are being organized by the non-governmental organization Global March to Jerusalem whose intended aim is

“to mark it as an international event to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinians and to protect Jerusalem. This will be achieved by organizing a Global March to Jerusalem or to the nearest point to it. The march will demand freedom for Jerusalem and its people and to put an end to the Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation policies affecting the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem.”

Protests are set to take place along the Israeli borders and at various Israeli embassies in Europe. Although the protests are primarily comprised of Arab protesters, the movement has received endorsements from a number of high profile European and American NGOs and individuals such as U.S. based NGO Code Pink and public figures such as Cornel West, Tariq Ali, Judith Butler, and Noam Chomsky.

There is some uncertainty about the nature of the protests. New sources like Al-Arabiya and Haaretz, have reported disputes between the protests organizers who are calling for a peaceful end to Israeli occupation and outside participants who “might use the protest marches to seek confrontations on Israel’s borders, particularly the Lebanese and Syrian frontiers” (Al-Arabiya).

The Israeli government has responded to the anticipated protests by putting border police in Israel and the West Bank on alert, as well as sending additional forces to back up IDF soldiers at the northern borders.

Despite GMJ calls for “peaceful national movements,” the movement has received aggressive backlash from members of the Israeli media who have categorized it as violent anti-Israeli rioting. Responses are being put forth by op-ed pieces by people like Loay Abu Haykel in JPost that herald the March 30 Land Day protests as “potentially … the most violent-ever.” Others like Alex Joffe argue that the protests, due to the nature of the conflict will be inherently violent, writing,

For the Palestinians, nonviolence is merely another tool on a spectrum. Violence is almost never completely disavowed. Indeed, stone-throwing is not regarded as violence at all, just free speech; and the “absolute right of people under occupation to resist” is inevitably paired with the phrase “by whatever means necessary,” making protestations of nonviolence unpersuasive. In any case, the demand for a “right of return” carries the explicit threat of violence at all levels – personal, legal and cultural.

In contrast, the global March West Bank organizer Said Yakin has told Media Line News,

 “We are against violence…We do not choose to clash with the Israeli soldiers and are calling on them to be careful because we are without weapons. We are under occupation and we look to live in peace without settlements and checkpoints, blood and discrimination.”

Despite countless reassurances from the organizers of the protest that the intent is to raise awareness about occupation and civil rights, the Israeli media continues to offer dire forecasts of violence.

Melissa Moskowitz is an intern at Foreign Policy in Focus.

FPIF Latest Content

* BULLDOG75 (‘WE KNOW OUR PLANE IS GOING TO LAND’): OOM 3/16/12

MARCH 16,2012

BULLDOG75

Bulldog75: 11:30AM CST: BULLDOG75: WE KNOW OUR PLANE IS GOING TO LAND. NO ONE CAN CONTROL DETAILS OF THE WIND SPEED, NAVIGATIONAL SYSTEM DETAILS OR EXACT FLIGHT PLAN. THAT IS CLEAR AND SO ARE THE SKIES. WE SIMPLY CONTINUE TO HAVE PATIENCE AND WISDOM KNOWING THIS WILL COME TO FRUITION.

THIS WILL HAPPEN FOR THE ECONOMY OF THE WORLD. OUR 747 AIRCRAFT IS SAFE AND BEST ABOVE 12,000 FT. PASSPORTS PROTECT OUR PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION. WE USE ONLY PO BOXES/DROP BOX ADDRESSES AND NEVER OUR HOME ADDRESS EVER AGAIN. ALL ACCOUNTS ARE NON-INTEREST BEARING FOR NOW. WE USE BLACK DEBIT CARDS AND CASHIERS CHECKS. WIRING IS OK. NO FRETS, NO SWEATS, NO RUSH, & WE DO TAKE CARE OF PERTINENT PERSONAL DETAILS NOW. PLEASE SEE ALL SECURITY LINKS.

BULLDOG75 ‘NEWLY REVISED SECURITY UPDATES’ http://www.okieoilman.net/t16266-bulldog75-newly-revised-security-updates-01-13-12


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Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

* Maliki: to reach an agreement with the Kuwaiti side of the airline and the land border

Aloza Prime Nuri al-Maliki to reach an agreement with the Kuwaiti side of the airline and the land border.

The breaking news channel reported that Iraq’s semi-official “Maliki said reaching an agreement with the Kuwaiti side about the airlines and land borders.”

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki arrived in Kuwait this morning at the head of high-level delegation met upon his arrival the Prince of Alkwytbbah Ahmad Al-Sabah in a two-day official visit.

Accompanying the Prime Minister an official delegation Iraqi includes a 5 ministers are Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Wizeralmalah Rafie al-Issawi and Wizeranakl Hadi al-Amiri and Ozyrhakouk man Mohammed broadly the Sudanese Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs purity of net debt and the national security adviser, Faleh al-Fayad, and a number of officials in the Iraqi ports.

LINK


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* Kurds Seize on Iraqi Crisis to Advance Bid for Oil, Land

MOSUL, Iraq—Iraq’s Kurds are using a contract with Exxon Mobil Corp. and a national political crisis to strengthen their region’s control of resource-rich patches of disputed land, raising the stakes in a long-running standoff with the central government in Baghdad. Exxon Mobil’s oil exploration and production deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government, announced in November, [...]
Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Iraq Forms Committee to Restore Land to Kurds and Turkmen

ERBIL (AKnews) — The Iraqi government will soon form a committee to either restore confiscated Kurdish and Turkmen lands in Kirkuk or compensate them. Speaking to AKnews, Kheyrullah Hassan, Iraqi Trade Minister (a Kurd) told AKnews that the minister will work to annul nine orders by Saddam Hussein’s deposed regime under which some 400,000 acres of
Assyrian International News Agency

* Proposed solutions to the ownership of land investment

□ Baghdad / term Economic Commission declared the economy and investment representative for a solution to the problem of ownership of land and acquisitions between the National Investment Commission and the ministries and state institutions, noting that many of the ministries and state institutions were hindering the work of the investment projects because of its [...]
Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

* Maliki: Iraq, the Promised Land for human rights

10/12/2011 14:33 BAGHDAD, Dec. 10 (AKnews) – Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq, where detainees are reportedly tortured and held in secret prisons, called on the countries of the world to form an integrated system to combat the phenomenon of human rights violations. Maliki spoke on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day. He [...]
Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits