Trump moves toward sanctions over Iran protests

Donald Trump’s administration is mulling targeted sanctions as well as working with international partners to censure Tehran over it’s crackdown on protesters. (AP Photo)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Trump moves toward sanctions over Iran protests

NEW YORK: US president Donald Trump’s administration is considering slapping sanctions on Iranian individuals who are behind a crackdown on protesters in the biggest wave of anti-government anger Iran has seen since widespread rallies in 2009.
In an interview with the state-backed broadcaster VOA (Voice of America), deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, Andrew Peek, said Washington was mulling targeted sanctions as well as working with international partners to censure Tehran.
“For our part, we will hold accountable those people or entities who are committing violence, from the top to the bottom, against the protesters,” Peek said. “That involves examining actions we can take against those individuals, like sanctions and other means.”
Trump has used Twitter to warn he is “watching” events in the Islamic Republic, where the security services are cracking down on a wave of protests against rising prices, corruption and Iran’s costly military interventions in Syria and Yemen.
“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime,” Trump tweeted to his 45.6 million followers on Tuesday, before blasting the nuclear deal his predecessor, Barack Obama, brokered with Tehran in 2015.
“All of the money that president Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights.”
As many as 22 people have died in clashes between protesters and security forces since a wave of anti-government protests began on Thursday in the city of Mashhad, and have since spread across the country and to the capital, Tehran.
Speaking to reporters at the UN on Tuesday, US ambassador Nikki Haley said Washington was not planning any unilateral action but called for meetings of the UN Security Council and the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“This is the precise picture of a long-oppressed people rising up against their dictators. The international community has a role to play in this. The freedoms that are enshrined in the United Nations charter are under attack in Iran,” she said.
The rallies are a rare public display of ire against a political elite that has kept a tight grip on power since the 1979 revolution against the pro-Western Shah.
The threat of US sanctions comes ahead of a congressional deadline Trump faces this month on whether to continue waiving sanctions that were frozen under the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers.
Last year, Trump declined to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal, but Congress did not act on a provision allowing lawmakers to reimpose the nuclear-related curbs within 60 days. Trump can also impose new sanctions, unrelated to the accord.


Families bury victims as Tanzania ferry disaster toll passes 200

Updated 23 September 2018
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Families bury victims as Tanzania ferry disaster toll passes 200

  • Divers were also set to continue their grim search in the waters around the boat
  • With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers, Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya

UKARA, Tanzania: Grieving families were on Sunday preparing to bury victims of Tanzania’s devastating ferry disaster, with more than 200 confirmed dead after the crowded boat capsized in Lake Victoria.
Hopes were fading of finding any more survivors three days after the ferry sank on Thursday, even after rescuers pulled out an engineer who had managed to find refuge in an air pocket in the upturned vessel.
“We are going to start burying bodies not yet identified by relatives,” said John Mongella, governor of Mwanza region, where the MV Nyerere ferry had been coming in to dock on the island of Ukara.
“The (burial) ceremony will be overseen by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, in the presence of clergy members of different denominations,” Mongella said Saturday on TBC 1 public television.
Divers were also set to continue their grim search in the waters around the boat, where late Saturday they were watched by anxious crowds gathered just meters (yards) away on Ukara’s shore.
Mongella said 218 people had been confirmed dead, while 41 escaped the tragedy with their lives — a total figure far above the official capacity of the boat, which was in theory only able to carry 101 passengers.
One survivor was an engineer who shut himself into a “special room” with enough air for him to stay alive until he was found, said local lawmaker Joseph Mkundi.
Transport Minister Isack Kamwelwe said on Saturday that 172 of the victim’s bodies had been identified by relatives.
State television cited witnesses reporting that more than 200 people had boarded the ferry at Bugolora, a town on the larger Ukerewe Island. It was market day, which usually sees the vessel packed with people and goods.
Witnesses told AFP the ferry sank when passengers rushed to one side to disembark as it approached the dock. Others blamed the captain, saying he had made a brusque maneuver.
Dozens of wooden coffins lined the shore on Saturday, waiting to be seen by families as police and volunteers sought to keep hundreds of curious locals at bay.
Aisha William came to collect the body of her husband. “He left on Tuesday around noon, but he never came home. I do not know how I am going to raise my two children,” she said.
Ahmed Caleb, a 27-year-old trader, railed at a tragedy “which could have been prevented. I’ve lost my boss, friends, people I went to school with,” he sighed.
The aging vessel, whose hull and propellers were all that remained visible above water, was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas and cement, when it capsized.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday ordered the arrest of the ferry’s management and declared four days of national mourning.
In a speech broadcast on TBC 1, Magufuli said “it appears clear that the ferry was overloaded,” adding that the government would cover the funeral expenses of the victims.
With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers, oval-shaped Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
It is not uncommon for ferries to capsize in the lake, and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many people in the region cannot swim.