Migrants aiming for Croatia blocked from border in Bosnia

Bosnian police officers prevent migrants to cross the border in Izacici near Bihac, on Bosnia's border with Croatia, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP)
Updated 23 October 2018
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Migrants aiming for Croatia blocked from border in Bosnia

  • The group wanted to enter Croatia, a European Union member, and continue west on to other EU countries
  • Bosnian police blocked the migrants from reaching the border and buses arrived later to take them back to an asylum center

IZACIC, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Several dozen migrants sought to be allowed to cross from Bosnia into Croatia Tuesday after spending the night in the open near the border between the two countries.
The group wanted to enter Croatia, a European Union member, and continue west on to other EU countries. Bosnian police blocked the migrants from reaching the border and buses arrived later to take them back to an asylum center.
Earlier, children could be heard shouting “Croatia, Croatia.”
“Our situation is very bad, so we came here because of our situation and maybe they have to understand what we are going through,” Ezent Laue, who said he was from Syria, pleaded.
Croatian police said in a statement they would not allow illegal entry to the country. They warned of false rumors being spread that Croatia’s borders would be opened to allow people to enter freely.
The migrants walked some 15 kilometers (9 miles) Monday from the asylum center to draw attention to borders remaining closed to people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa or Asia.
Bosnian police first stopped the group Monday evening about one kilometer (about a half-mile) from the border crossing. The migrants set up small tents, put out blankets and slept rough by the road as cars and trucks passed by.
Parents wrapped children in warm clothes and blankets to protect them from the autumn chill. Sympathetic locals offered food, beverages and blankets.
Another group of migrants set off Tuesday morning toward a separate border crossing with Croatia.
Several thousand migrants are staying in war-ravaged Bosnia unable to continue their westward journey. Migrants have turned to Bosnia to avoid more heavily guarded routes in the Balkans.
Hundreds of thousands passed through the region before countries stepped up border controls in 2016.


Beijing dismisses ‘hearsay’ on Muslim internment

Updated 13 November 2018
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Beijing dismisses ‘hearsay’ on Muslim internment

  • Critics say China is seeking to assimilate Xinjiang’s minority population and suppress religious and cultural practices that belong in the minority
  • Beijing has repeatedly described the camps as vocational “training centers” that were built to help people drawn to extremism

BEIJING: China defended its internment of Muslims in the country’s northwest as a terror prevention measure on Tuesday, calling on the international community to reject “hearsay” and believe its official line.
Up to a million Uighurs and other Chinese Turkic-speaking minority groups have been placed in political re-education camps in the Xinjiang region, according to a group of experts cited by the United Nations.
After originally denying the existence of the centers, Beijing has repeatedly described the camps as vocational “training centers” that were built to help people drawn to extremism to stay away from terrorism and allow them to be reintegrated into society.
But the program has faced rising criticism outside the country — notably from the United States and human rights groups.
“We hope our journalist friends and our other foreign friends will take into consideration the information and briefings on the situation given by the Chinese authorities,” said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
“Rumours and hearsay should not be believed,” he said standing next to his German counterpart Heiko Maas at a press conference.
“It’s quite clear that the government in Xinjiang knows best what is happening in Xinjiang — not other people and third party organizations.”
Critics say China is seeking to assimilate Xinjiang’s minority population and suppress religious and cultural practices that conflict with Communist ideology and the dominant Han culture.
Former inmates of the camps say they were detained for having long beards or wearing the veil.
Attacks attributed to Uighurs have left hundreds dead over the last few years in China, many of them in Xinjiang, where Beijing says its concerned about a rise in Islamic radicalism.
The authorities have put in place intrusive measures of security — ubiquitous surveillance cameras, DNA sampling, home visits by officials and GPS trackers in cars.
“We call that a combination of repression and prevention. But we place the priority on prevention. If it’s done well, terrorism won’t expand and take root. It’s the most effective way to combat terrorism,” Wang Yi said.
The German foreign minister did not mention the Xinjiang region at the press conference, but did say he had “spoken on the question of human rights” during his closed meeting with his Chinese counterpart.
A debate on the situation in Xinjiang was held in the German parliament last Thursday.
China’s ambassador to Berlin expressed Beijing’s “profound discontent” and put in an official protest following the “blatant interference” in its “domestic affairs.”