Guam residents pray for peace amid North Korea missile threat

A group of people sit and pray under the tree for peace at Plaza de Espana, in Hagatna, Guam Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Residents of the U.S. Pacific island territory face a missile threat from North Korea.(AP)
Updated 13 August 2017
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Guam residents pray for peace amid North Korea missile threat

HAGATNA, GUAM: The Catholic faithful in Guam led prayers for peace Sunday in the shadow of North Korean missile threat, with the western Pacific island’s archbishop appealing for “prudence” amid an escalating war of words between the US and Pyongyang.
The largely Catholic territory should pray for a “just resolution of differences, and prudence in both speech and action,” said Archbishop Michael Byrnes, echoing a flurry of international calls for US President Donald Trump to show greater rhetorical restraint.
A “prayers for peace” lunchtime rally in the capital Hagatna drew around 100 people. But despite Guam having become the center of a threatened showdown between the US and nuclear-armed North Korea, many said they were unfazed.
“I am really not scared because if it’s our time to die it is our time to die,” added Sita Manjaras, 62, a retired teacher from Tamuning.
Father Mike Crisostomo said their response to the threat was to have faith and pray.
“This goes to show to the other worlds, to the other nations and the countries, that Guam maybe small, our faith and our trust is big,” he said.
Dora Salazar, 82, who made the 14 kilometer (nine mile) journey from the village of Mangilao for the peace rally, said she was praying for the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un.
“We pray that God will touch his heart,” she said.
In response to Trump’s threat of “fire and fury,” North Korea has pledged to have plans ready in a matter of days to launch an “enveloping fire” of missiles toward Guam.
At the island’s main church, the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica, Father Paul Gofigan told the congregation to be prepared in case North Korea does launch its missiles.
“What would you do if you have only 14 minutes left? The thing to do is pray and reflect,” he said
“Prioritise your life. This is a wake-up call, no matter what happens.”
Trump has been engaged all week in verbal sparring with the North over its weapons and missile programs, declaring Friday that the US military is “locked and loaded.”
He has told Guam Governor Eddie Calvo that US military was prepared to “ensure the safety and security of the people of Guam.”
While 85 percent of Guam’s 162,000 residents are Catholic, with temperatures hovering around 31 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit) many locals and tourists preferred to head to the beach rather than church.
“No one feels threatened. Should we? Definitely not,” said Australian tourist Kirstie Bridgement.
“Guam is the most protected island. We feel safer than ever.”
The island houses two large US military bases and is home to more than 6,000 US military personnel.
American tourist Bryan Sanchez said it was difficult to understand the threat “especially with the way culture is like with memes, anything is going to be turned into a joke.
“People just aren’t, I guess, as aggressive or too worried about that kind of stuff in our day and age.”
Meanwhile, two community groups opposed to the presence of the US military in Guam, Independent Guahan and Prutehi Litekyan, have organized a “People for Peace” rally in Hagatna on Monday.
“What’s happening in Guam is a global issue, because if our island is attacked, it could be the catalyst for a global catastrophe,” Kenneth Gofigan Kuper of the Independent Guahan movement said.
The rally organizers said in a statement that “Guam has been forced in the middle of other nations’ conflicts, particularly as an unincorporated territory of the United States.
“As a result, many of Guam’s people know the painful and horrific effects of war as World II survivors and as veterans.
“Thus, the members of Independent Guahan and Prutehi Litekyan, both organizations dedicated to the decolonization and demilitarization of Guam, feel it is imperative for the community to stand together in a call for peace.”


Britain would not block death penalty for Daesh suspects

Updated 2 min 20 sec ago
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Britain would not block death penalty for Daesh suspects

LONDON: Britain’s interior minister has indicated London would not object to Washington seeking the death penalty against two British Daesh militants if they are extradited to the United States, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.
According to a leaked letter published in the newspaper from British Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Britain was prepared to waive its long-standing objection to executions in the case of captured fighters, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh.
The two men are suspected of being two of four militants, dubbed the “Beatles” because of their English accents, who took part in the kidnap, torture and murder of Western hostages.
They were captured in Syria in January by a US-backed Syrian force, and Britain and the United States have been in discussions about how and where they should face justice.
According to the Telegraph, Javid wrote to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying Britain was not intending to request that the two men be sent to the United Kingdom, saying a successful prosecution in the United States was more likely.
Furthermore, he said Britain would not insist on guarantees the men would not be executed.
“I am of the view that there are strong reasons for not requiring a death penalty assurance in this specific case, so no such assurances will be sought,” the letter said.
“As you are aware, it is the long held position of the UK to seek death penalty assurances, and our decision in this case does not reflect a change in our policy on assistance in US death penalty cases generally, nor the UK Government’s stance on the global abolition of the death penalty.”
A Home Office spokesman said the government would not comment on leaked documents and Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman said Britain wanted the militants to be tried in the most appropriate jurisdiction.
“It’s a long-standing position of the government to oppose the death penalty ... as a matter of principle,” the spokeswoman told reporters. “We are continuing to engage with the US government on this issue and our priority is to make sure that these men face criminal prosecution.”
Guantanamo
The opposition Labour Party accused Javid of “secretly and unilaterally” abandoning Britain’s opposition to the death penalty.
“By doing so he is not just playing with the lives of these particular terrorists but those of other Britons — including potentially innocent ones — all over the world,” said Labour’s Shami Chakrabarti.
The Telegraph also reported that other documents suggested that Britain would not oppose the men being sent to the US-run Guantanamo Bay military facility.
However, the Home Office spokesman appeared to reject this saying: “The UK government’s position on Guantanamo Bay is that the detention facility should close.”
The most notorious of the four so called “Beatles” was Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John,” who is believed to have been killed in a US-British missile strike in 2015.
He became the public face of Daesh and appeared in videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and other hostages.
The mother of James Foley said she did not want the men to be executed if found guilty.
“I think that would just make them martyrs in their twisted ideology. I would like them held accountable by being sent to prison for the rest of their lives,” Diane Foley told BBC radio.