Trump targets Democrats as more than 2,000 Honduran migrants resume journey to the US

1 / 4
Honduran migrants take part in a caravan towards the United States in Chiquimula, Guatemala on October 17, 2018. A migrant caravan set out on October 13 from the impoverished, violence-plagued country and was headed north on the long journey through Guatemala and Mexico to the US border. President Donald Trump warned Honduras he will cut millions of dollars in aid if the group of about 2,000 migrants is allowed to reach the United States. / AFP / ORLANDO ESTRADA
2 / 4
Honduran migrants take part in a caravan toward the United States in Chiquimula, Guatemala on October 17, 2018. (AFP / ORLANDO ESTRADA)
3 / 4
Honduran migrants take part in a caravan towards the United States in Chiquimula, Guatemala on October 17, 2018. (AFP / ORLANDO ESTRADA)
4 / 4
Honduran migrants take part in a caravan towards the United States in Chiquimula, Guatemala on October 17, 2018. (AFP / ORLANDO ESTRADA)
Updated 18 October 2018
0

Trump targets Democrats as more than 2,000 Honduran migrants resume journey to the US

  • The migrants are fleeing widespread poverty and gangland violence in one of the world’s most murderous countries
  • Many blame Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez for what they call unlivable conditions back home

CHIQUIMULA, Guatemala: More than 2,000 Honduran migrants traveling en masse through Guatemala resumed their journey toward the United States on Wednesday as US President Donald Trump sought to turn the caravan into a political issue three weeks before midterm elections.
A day after warning Central American governments they risk losing US aid if they don’t do something and saying that anyone entering the US illegally would be arrested and deported, Trump turned his sights on Democrats and urged Republican allies to campaign on border security.
“Hard to believe that with thousands of people from South of the Border, walking unimpeded toward our country in the form of large Caravans, that the Democrats won’t approve legislation that will allow laws for the protection of our country. Great Midterm issue for Republicans!” Trump said in a Wednesday morning tweet.
“Republicans must make the horrendous, weak and outdated immigration laws, and the Border, a part of the Midterms!” he continued.
In Guatemala, the migrants rose early and many left without eating breakfast, bound for Zacapa, the next city on their route. Overcast skies and a light drizzle took the edge off the sweltering heat and humidity, making the trek more bearable.
Luis Navarreto, a 32-year-old migrant in the caravan, said he had read about Trump’s threats to his country but was undeterred.
“We are going to continue,” Navarreto said. “It is God who decides here. We have no other option but to move ahead.”
The migrants are fleeing widespread poverty and gangland violence in one of the world’s most murderous countries, and many blame Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez for what they call unlivable conditions back home.
“We are here because of Juan Orlando,” said Nelson Zavala, a 36-year-old laborer.
The previous day the migrants advanced about 30 miles (40 kilometers) from the Honduras-Guatemala border to arrive at the city of Chiquimula.
That is a tiny portion of the almost 1,350 miles (2,200 kilometers) they would have to travel to reach the closest US border.
Some were able to hitch rides, packing the flatbeds of pickups and farm trucks, and even cargo holds of semis, while many more continued on foot with backpacks, strollers and Honduran flags. Hundreds advanced farther and faster than the main group to reach the Guatemalan capital, according to the Casa del Migrante shelter there.
The caravan has snowballed since about 160 migrants departed Friday from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, with many people joining spontaneously while carrying just a few belongings. Estimates of their numbers ranged up to 3,000.
Three weeks before the US elections, the caravan was bound to draw Trump’s ire. But he did not follow through on a similar threat to cut aid to Honduras in April over an earlier caravan, which eventually petered out in Mexico.
On Tuesday, Honduras’ president accused unnamed “political groups” organizing the caravan based on lies in order to cause problems in Honduras.
“There are sectors that want to destabilize the country, but we will be decisive and we will not allow it,” Hernandez told reporters.
Earlier the Foreign Ministry alleged that people had been lured to join the migration with “false promises” of a transit visa through Mexico and the opportunity to seek asylum in the United States.
In a joint statement Wednesday, Mexico’s Foreign Relations and Interior departments said anyone in the caravan with travel documents and a proper visa will be allowed to enter, and anyone who wants to apply for refugee status can do so.
But the statement said all cases must be processed individually, suggesting that authorities have no intention of letting the migrants simply cross the border en masse without going through standard immigration procedures.
It warned that anyone who enters Mexico in an “irregular manner” faces detention and deportation.
None of the migrants The Associated Press spoke to on the road was carrying a passport. When agents in Guatemala near the Honduran border asked a crowd of them what documentation they were carrying, they held up national personal ID cards, which allow them to move through most countries in Central America — but not Mexico, which requires foreigners to present a passport for entry.
Late Tuesday, Trump said via Twitter that Washington had told Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that the US will stop aid “if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally.”
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said Wednesday that he had spoken twice with US President Mike Pence.
As for Guatemala’s government, Morales said, “We do not accept conditions; we do not impose conditions. What we do is accept our responsibilities and we are going to prioritize what our laws say.”
He added that he had also discussed with Honduras’ Hernandez the facilitation of “the most comfortable, feasible and humane return possible for any who wish to go back.”
Morales said that while Central Americans are legally free to transit from country to country, a “massive ingress of people without registering” puts Guatemala in a difficult position because it’s impossible to know who the people are and what may be the intentions of any of their leaders.
Luis Arreaga, the US ambassador to Guatemala, posted a video message on Twitter to migrants thinking of entering the United States illegally.
“If you try to enter the United States, you will be detained and deported,” Arreaga said in Spanish. Addressing those already en route, he added: “Return to your country. Your attempt to migrate will fail.”
Also Wednesday, a group of Hondurans arrived at the El Salvador border hoping to make it to join the caravan in Guatemala.
A Salvadoran government statement said the Hondurans tried to enter “without going through the obligatory migration control,” and soldiers and police closed a border bridge between the two countries. Some from the group went through the standard migration processing and were allowed to enter El Salvador.


Shutdown and protests in Kashmir Valley after custodial death

Indian Kashmiri villagers shout anti-Indian slogans following the death of school teacher Rizwan Assad Pandith, in police custody in Awantipora of Pulwama district, south of Srinagar on March 19, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 5 min 42 sec ago
0

Shutdown and protests in Kashmir Valley after custodial death

  • Rizwan was one of six siblings and was planning to do a doctorate
  • A police statement said Rizwan had died in police custody and that he had been taken in for a “terror case investigation”

NEW DELHI: There have been protests and a shutdown in Indian-administered Kashmir following a custodial death, as residents warned that local anger over police brutality cannot be contained.

Rizwan Asad Pandit, 29, was declared dead on Tuesday by police after he was picked up late on Sunday night from his home.

His brother, Mubashir, said Rizwan had been taken to an interrogation center known locally as Kashmir’s torture camp.

“Police should tell us what the charges against Rizwan are and why he was killed in this manner,” Mubashir told Arab News.

“I could not look at the body of my brother when I saw it for the first time after his death. There was a cut on his forehead, his thigh was cut open, his eyes have been gouged out, his vital organs were damaged, it was such a gory sight to see.

“These security forces don’t have any human values, human compassion. Who treats a normal human being like this? What crime has Rizwan committed? I want justice for my brother. The whole of Kashmir is shocked by this inhumanity.”

A police statement said Rizwan had died in police custody and that he had been taken in for a “terror case investigation.”

Arab News contacted the inspector general of Jammu and Kashmir, S. P. Pani, but he refused to take questions related to Rizwan’s death.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, which they both claim in full but administer in part, and rebels have been fighting Indian rule for decades, demanding that Indian-controlled Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or established as an independent country.

According to a report from a rights group, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, 2018 was the deadliest year of the past decade in the Kashmir Valley.

It said a total of 586 people were killed in 2018, of which 160 were civilians. The remaining numbers comprised 267 militants and 159 members of the Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir police.

“In Kashmir, custodial killing has become normalized with overlapping tragedies,” Khurram Parvez, a Srinagar-based activist, told Arab News. “The incident has created anger. The issue is that when the prime minister of the country says that he has given free hand to the soldiers, this emboldens the soldier on the ground who feel that he is not accountable to anyone.”

Nobody was saying what the charges were against Rizwan, he added, or who arrested him. He asked what kind of investigation could be expected when basic information was not being provided. 

“The tragedy is that all these killings and human rights violations are escalating tensions among the people. I feel it will further increase the frustration of young people in the valley.”

The valley observed a complete shutdown in response to calls for a strike by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), an alliance of separatist leaders from the area.

There have also been protests since news of the custodial death became public.

Mubashir said that late on Sunday police came to the house and locked family members in one room while separating Rizwan from them. “Then the security personnel seized all our laptops and mobiles and took away Rizwan without telling us what the charges against him were.

“We came to know about his death only through social media. Police didn’t have the courtesy to inform us.”

Rizwan was one of six siblings and was planning to do a doctorate. He was a principal at a local private college and nurtured ambitions to be a professor.

“When you push the Kashmiris to wall, they will also push you back and react. The anger such kind of brutalities create among Kashmiris cannot be easily contained,” Mubashir said.

Dawood Riyaz lost his sight in his left eye following a pellet attack in 2017. He accused the Indian government of being “hell-bent” on destroying the young generation of Kashmiris.

“We are also human. We have the right to dissent. You cannot crush dissent with this level of brutality. Youngsters are really feeling frustrated with the regime in Delhi and its insensitivity,” he told Arab News.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a separatist leader and member of the JRL, said Rizwan’s death exposed the “helplessness, vulnerability, and insecurity” of Kashmiri lives even as the “impunity of authorities” kept rising.

Kashmir’s former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, tweeted: “I had hoped custodial deaths were a thing of our dark past. This is an unacceptable development and must be investigated in a transparent, time-bound manner. Exemplary punishment must be handed out to the killers of this young man.”