Queen Rania demands justice for Rohingyas

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Queen Rania of Jordan shakes hands with Rohingya Muslim children, who have crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, during her visit to Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state since Aug. 25 to escape persecution that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Queen Rania of Jordan shakes hands with Rohingya Muslim children, who have crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, during her visit to Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Hundreds of hard-line Buddhists have protested to urge Myanmar's government not to repatriate the nearly 600,000 minority Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh since late August to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Queen Rania of Jordan shakes hands with Rohingya Muslim children, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, during her visit to Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Hundreds of hard-line Buddhists protested Sunday to urge Myanmar's government not to repatriate the nearly 600,000 minority Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh since late August to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, rest inside a school compound at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh on Monday, October 23, 2017. (AP)
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Queen Rania of Jordan shakes hand with a Rohingya Muslim man, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, inside a school compound used as temporary shelter for refugees during her visit to Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. More than 580,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when Myanmar security forces began a scorched-earth campaign against Rohingya villages. Myanmar's government has said it was responding to attacks by Muslim insurgents, but the United Nations and others have said the response was disproportionate. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Queen Rania of Jordan, center, talks to a Rohingya Muslim baby, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Hundreds of hard-line Buddhists have protested to urge Myanmar's government not to repatriate the nearly 600,000 minority Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh since late August to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Jordan's Queen Rania meets with Rohingya refugees during her visit to the Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia on October 23, 2017. More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since violence erupted in northern Rakhine in August, a UN report said October 22. The grim new landmark comes as authorities in Bangladesh were bracing for another possible surge in Rohingya arrivals, with thousands from the Muslim minority believed to be stranded along the border waiting to cross. / AFP / TAUSEEF MUSTAFA
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Queen Rania of Jordan watches as a Rohingya Muslim girl, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, sings a song inside a school at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Hundreds of hard-line Buddhists have protested to urge Myanmar's government not to repatriate the nearly 600,000 minority Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh since late August to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Queen Rania of Jordan looks at drawing made by Rohingya Muslim children, who have crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, inside a school during her visit at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Hundreds of hard-line Buddhists have protested to urge Myanmar's government not to repatriate the nearly 600,000 minority Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh since late August to escape violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Queen Rania of Jordan listens to a Bangladeshi official as she sits near a Rohingya Muslim family, who has crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, during her visit to Kutupalong refugee camp, in Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state since Aug. 25 to escape persecution that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Queen Rania of Jordan, speaks to media during her visit to Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. U.N. humanitarian officials, high-level government envoys and advocacy group leaders on Monday opened a one-day conference aimed at drumming up funds to help ethnic Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, as the influx from Myanmar has topped 600,000 since late August. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Queen Rania of Jordan talks to Rohingya Muslim women, who have crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, during her visit to Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. U.N. humanitarian officials, high-level government envoys and advocacy group leaders on Monday opened a one-day conference aimed at drumming up funds to help ethnic Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, as the influx from Myanmar has topped 600,000 since late August. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
Updated 24 October 2017

Queen Rania demands justice for Rohingyas

COX’S BAZAR: Queen Rania of Jordan visited Rohingya refugee camps in Ukhia and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh on Monday.
As a board member of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and an advocate of the work of UN humanitarian agencies, Queen Rania made the trip to highlight the urgent need for greater aid efforts in support of those displaced by violence and persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
“Jordan will always stand beside Rohingyas,” the queen said.
Her visit took place on the same day as the EU and Kuwait co-hosted a pledging conference for the Rohingya refugee crisis in Geneva, which aimed to raise $434 million, although a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Vanessa Huguenin, said on Monday it had only reached 26 percent of that target.
Taking to local media after her visit, Queen Rania described the refugees’ accounts as “heartbreaking and harrowing,” and urged the international community in Geneva to give generously.
“It is clear to everybody that there is an urgent need to scale up the humanitarian response,” she said. “So, I urge (those) gathering today in Geneva to respond effectively, quickly and generously. It is unforgivable that this crisis is unfolding on the world stage to a largely indifferent audience.”
The queen continued, “One has to ask: Why is the plight of this Muslim minority group being ignored? Why has this systematic persecution been allowed to play out for so long? The world seems to be silent on what many are now acknowledging as an ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims
“I urge the UN and the international community to do all they can to stop the suffering and the violence that is being committed against the Rohingya Muslims. Not because it is our job to do so, but because that is what justice demands.”


Top diplomat implicates Trump in explosive impeachment testimony

Updated 21 November 2019

Top diplomat implicates Trump in explosive impeachment testimony

  • Sondland said Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani led the effort at Trump’s direction to pressure Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky
  • Trump said he barely knew Sondland and had not spoken to him much

WASHINGTON: A senior US diplomat directly implicated President Donald Trump Wednesday in a scheme to force Ukraine to probe a political rival, in bombshell testimony to a televised impeachment hearing.
Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, told lawmakers he followed the president’s orders in seeking a “quid pro quo” deal for Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden in exchange for a White House summit.
Sondland said Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani led the effort at Trump’s direction to pressure Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky for the investigation and that top officials in the White House and State Department knew about it.
The unexpectedly damning testimony drew a sharp backlash from Trump who tweeted: “This Witch Hunt must end NOW. So bad for our Country!.”
Trump said he barely knew Sondland and had not spoken to him much, despite the senior diplomat having donated $1 million to his inauguration and testifying that he had spoken to the president some 20 times while ambassador.
Democrats said Sondland’s seven hours of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee had bolstered their case for Trump’s impeachment for what they have labeled “extortion.”
“Today’s testimony is among the most significant evidence to date,” said committee chairman Adam Schiff.
“It goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery as well as other potential high crimes or misdemeanors.”
A succession of Democrats hoping to win the nomination to take on Trump in next year’s election also said the testimony had strengthened the case for impeachment as the issue dominated the opening exchanges in their latest televised primary debate.
Sondland said Trump directed him and two other senior diplomats to work with Giuliani.
From early in the year, Giuliani mounted a pressure campaign on Zelensky’s government to investigate Biden over his son Hunter’s ties to a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, and to probe a conspiracy theory espoused by Trump that Ukraine helped Democrats against him in 2016. Biden is one of the favorites to challenge Trump in next year’s presidential election.
“Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election/DNC server and Burisma,” Sondland told the panel.
“Mr Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky.”
Far from being a “rogue” operation outside normal US diplomatic channels, Sondland told the hearing top officials — including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — were kept constantly informed.
“We followed the president’s orders,” he said.
Like Trump a multimillionaire developer with a chain of high-end hotels, Sondland, who wore a $55,000 Breguet white gold watch to the hearing, fended off pressure from both Democrats and Republicans.
He had not implicated the president in earlier private testimony, when he answered scores of questions by saying he could “not remember.”
But subsequent testimony by other witnesses which had further implicated him in the Ukraine pressure scheme had jolted his memory, he said on Wednesday.
While he confirmed the linkage between the investigations and a White House meeting between Zelensky and Trump, he would not attest to allegations that Trump froze $391 million in aid as well to Ukraine to add pressure on Ukraine.
“I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement” of the investigations, he said, contradicting testimony from two other diplomats.
In separate testimony, a Pentagon official appeared to undermine a key Republican defense in the impeachment battle, that Kiev did not even know until late August or even September about the July 18 aid freeze, rendering moot Democrats’ allegations that Trump had extorted Ukraine.
Laura Cooper, the Pentagon official in charge of Ukraine affairs, said Kiev voiced concern over a holdup in aid on July 25.
That was the same day that Trump told Zelensky in a phone call that he wanted a favor, asking for investigations into Biden specifically and the 2016 conspiracy theory.
“The Ukrainian embassy staff asked, ‘What is going on with Ukrainian security assistance?” she told the committee.
At the White House, Trump denied making the demand of Zelensky, citing Sondland’s own recall of their September 9 phone call on the Ukraine issue.
Reading from large-print notes, he said that he told Sonderland: “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.”
“If this were a prizefight, they’d stop it!” he said of the inquiry.
Speaking at the Democrats’ debate, Biden dodged a question on the role of his son but said the testimony had shown that “Donald Trump doesn’t want me to be the nominee.”
And Bernie Sanders, another of the frontrunners for the nomination, said Trump had been shown to be “not only a pathological liar” but also “the most corrupt president in the modern history of America.”