UN chief urges global support for victims of terrorism

In this file photo taken on June 21, 2018 UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister in Moscow. (AFP)
Updated 23 August 2018
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UN chief urges global support for victims of terrorism

  • “When we lift up the victims and survivors of terrorism, listen to their voices, respect their rights and provide them with support and justice”

NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged people everywhere to support victims of terrorism and their families, saying it is “a moral imperative” to promote, protect, and respect their human rights.
The UN chief said in a statement on the first International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism on Tuesday that “caring for victims and survivors and amplifying their voices helps to challenge the narrative of hatred and division that terrorism aims to spread.”
“When we lift up the victims and survivors of terrorism, listen to their voices, respect their rights and provide them with support and justice,” Guterres said, “we are honoring our common bonds, and reducing the lasting damage done by terrorists to individuals, families and communities.”
The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution last December “deeply deploring the suffering caused by terrorism to the victims and their families” and proclaiming Aug. 21 as the annual day to honor and support victims and survivors.
At the opening of a UN exhibition last Friday titled “Surviving Terrorism: Victims’ Voices” to commemorate the first annual international day, the secretary-general said victims have a powerful role to play in combatting the “global menace.”
“We can all learn from those who have experienced terrorism,” Guterres said.
Iraqi Hasan Wahhab Al-Araji spoke of his anxiety and joyless life after his best friend Mohammed was abducted and killed by Al-Qaeda extremists, his 24-year-old lawyer cousin Saif was killed in a car bomb, and the body of another cousin, 31-year-old Yahiya, was found riddled with shrapnel after a suicide bomber targeted a neighborhood mosque.
“I had difficulty sleeping and was unable to concentrate,” Al-Araji said at the exhibition opening.
“I often displayed aggressive and nervous behavior. ... I often feared and imagined losing my own life and that more of my loved ones would soon be killed.”
He said it took him “a very long time to return to normalcy,” stressing that the need for medical and psychological treatment for victims in Iraq is “dire.”
Today, Al-Araji said, he works with local and international human rights organization to fight “the narrative of terrorism” and to “be part of a positive message that encompasses peace and hope.”
Nigerian Imrana AlHajji Buba spoke of being traumatized after Boko Haram extremists stopped a bus he was in heading to the University of Maiduguri where he was studying in June 2010, and he escaped being taken because “they thought that I was dead.”
While recovering from that trauma, he said two uncles were killed by a bomb dropped in a crowded place close to a market, a neighbor was murdered, and a friend was kidnapped for almost three weeks until his father paid a ransom.
“This is just a small picture of how Boko Haram attacks have affected many people in Nigeria,” Buba told the crowd at the exhibition opening.
He said these “horrific incidents” fueled a desire to stop the bloodshed and he founded the Youth Coalition Against Terrorism, a volunteer group of over 600 young people, most of whom are victims of terrorism.
It offers counseling to victims and provides “counter-radical peace education and skills training for unemployed youths,” Buba said.


UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

Updated 19 September 2018
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UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

  • Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016
  • France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

LONDON: Britain on Wednesday advised British-Iranian dual nationals against all but essential travel to Iran, tightening up its existing travel advice and warning it has only limited powers to support them if detained.

The advisory came in tandem with France’s decision to hold off on appointing a new ambassador to Iran, as it seeks clarification over an attempt to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

“The Foreign Secretary (Jeremy Hunt) has taken the decision to advise against all but essential travel by UK-Iranian dual nationals to Iran,” a foreign office spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
“British citizens who also hold Iranian nationality face risks if they travel to Iran, as we have seen all too sadly in a number of cases. The Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality, so if a dual national is detained our ability to provide support is extremely limited.”
Earlier this month Britain’s Middle East minister Alistair Burt used a visit to Iran to discuss cases of detained dual nationals, alongside other diplomatic issues.
Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter, now aged four, after a family visit.
She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.
Meanwhile, France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris last June, French officials said on Wednesday.
An Iranian diplomat based in Austria and three other people were arrested on suspicion of plotting the attack on a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Iran has said it had nothing to do with the plot, which it called a “false flag” operation staged by figures within the opposition group itself.
The incident has hit relations just as France and its European partners are seeking to salvage a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
France’s ambassador to Iran departed in the summer. Iran has also yet to replace its departed ambassador to Paris.
“We have a charge d’affaires today in Tehran and there is a high-level dialogue between French and Iranian authorities,” said a French presidential source.
“We are working together to bring to light what happened around this event ... I wouldn’t say there is a direct link (in not appointing an ambassador), but Iran has promised to give us objective facts in the coming weeks that would allow us to pursue our diplomatic relationship as it is today.”
A French diplomatic source said the nomination had indeed been suspended as a result of the alleged plot.
France’s Foreign Ministry in August told its diplomats and officials to postpone non-essential travel to Iran indefinitely, citing the plot and a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
President Emmanuel Macron is likely to discuss the issue with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when they meet on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the source said.
Along with Britain and Germany, France is trying save a 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which was thrown into disarray when US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord in May and re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Even so, tensions between Paris and Tehran have grown in recent months as Macron and his government have become increasingly frustrated with Iran’s activities in the Middle East region, in particular its ballistic missile program.