Abductions in Turkey spark ‘rogue’ security fears

Abductions in Turkey spark ‘rogue’ security fears
Students protest outside Bogazici University in Istanbul on January 4, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 23 February 2021

Abductions in Turkey spark ‘rogue’ security fears

Abductions in Turkey spark ‘rogue’ security fears
  • The abducted students were threatened by their kidnappers with death and then left in isolated parkland
  • The abductions were considered to be a warning against those joining student protests across the country

ANKARA: The abduction of three university students snatched from a busy Ankara street has sparked fresh concerns about the safety of Turkish citizens following a recent increase in similar cases.  

The students, all known to have left-wing leanings, were threatened by their kidnappers with death and then left in isolated parkland in the city on Feb. 18. 

The abduction was considered to be a warning against those joining student protests across the country in opposition to the appointment of a political figure as the rector of Turkey’s prestigious Bogazici University. 

Several people have been abducted recently by individuals who introduce themselves as “state officials” and carry out criminal record checks. 

Some of the victims, after being mistreated and tortured, were allegedly asked to spy for intelligence services and then warned that they would be automatically arrested if they continued attending protests. 

“Wherever you go, we will be after you” was among the most frequent warnings they heard.

Last year, New York-based Human Rights Watch drew attention to the abductions with a report that focused on the statements of 16 people who had been forcibly seized by intelligence agents. 

“Enforced disappearances are serious crimes under international law and are prohibited at all times. The prohibition also entails a duty to investigate allegations of enforced disappearance and prosecute those responsible,” the report said. 

Ankara Bar Association Human Rights Center also issued a report last year on the forced disappearance of seven people and filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutor. 

Human Rights Association (IHD) has been following up on the abduction problem for years and released frequent reports since 2018. 

“The abduction trend is on the rise, especially following the failed coup attempt in 2016. We have held several meetings with the Interior Ministry and the parliamentary commissions about our findings, and we expect an effective investigation to be launched,” Ozturk Turkdogan, president of the IHD, told Arab News. 

Some public officials who were dismissed from their post just after the failed coup attempt have also been kidnapped in recent years, and information on their whereabouts withheld from theor families. 

According to Turkdogan, forced disappearances — a common practice during the 1990s by intelligence officers against civilian Kurds and leftists in Turkey — are most probably conducted by an illegal structure within the state apparatus in order to suppress dissident voices.

“It shows that the state has lost its control on this structure. Several victims prefer remaining silent about their experiences during the abduction period, while those who file a criminal complaint have not yet seen anyone facing trial,” he said.  

The European Court of Human Rights has said that the Turkish state has been responsible for several abductions in the past. 

Ozgur Ozel, group deputy chair of the main opposition party CHP, recently urged the Turkish parliament to open an investigation commission into forced disappearances in the country. 

“The allegations about torture, threats of rape and beating should be investigated very seriously. If those who commit them are public officers, they should be identified and held accountable for these crimes. However, no progress has been achieved so far with these investigations,” he told Arab News. 

Ozel will meet the university students who were recently abducted in Ankara. “It is a must to bring these cases into the spotlight to prevent them from bein g repeated,” he said. 


Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
Updated 59 min 44 sec ago

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate

Egypt announces first fully vaccinated governorate
  • South Sinai is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over
  • South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt

CAIRO: Officials in South Sinai have announced that it has become the first governorate in Egypt whose eligible population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

According to health sources, it is the governorate with the fewest COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as the highest recovery and vaccination rate among people aged 18 and over — the allowed age for inoculation. 

South Sinai, where the town of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, is one of the most famous tourist governorates in Egypt. It also includes famous religious sites such as Mount El-Tur and St. Catherine’s Monastery.

Maj. Gen. Khaled Fouda, governor of South Sinai, said there have only been 81 deaths from COVID-19 there since the start of the pandemic — the lowest rate among Egypt’s governorates. 

He added that South Sinai recorded only one case on Sunday night after recording no cases for two weeks in a row, bringing the total number of cases to 1,371 since the start of the pandemic, with only 29 hospitalizations. 


10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
Updated 19 October 2021

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF

10,000 children killed or maimed in Yemen since 2015: UNICEF
  • Four out of every five children need humanitarian assistance in Yemen

GENEVA: Ten thousand Yemeni children have been killed after the Iran-aligned Houthi group ousted the government in 2015, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on Tuesday.
“The Yemen conflict has just hit another shameful milestone. We now have 10,000 children who have been killed or maimed since ... March 2015,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told a UN briefing in Geneva after returning from a visit to Yemen.
“That is the equivalent of four children every single day,” Elder said, adding that many more child deaths or injuries went unreported.
Four out of every five children — a total of 11 million — need humanitarian assistance in Yemen, while 400,000 are suffering from acute malnutrition and more than 2 million are out of school, Elder said.
UN-led efforts to engineer a nationwide cease-fire have stalled as the Houthis resist compromise to end more than six years of a war that has caused what the UN calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Hundreds of Yemenis are trapped by fierce fighting between government and Houthi forces in the northern Marib governorate, residents and a local official said last week, after battles for control of the gas-rich region displaced some 10,000 people.


Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister
Updated 19 October 2021

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

Qatar forms climate change ministry, appoints finance minister

DUBAI: Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has appointed Ali Bin Ahmad Al-Kuwari as finance minister in a government reshuffle, according to a statement issued by the emiri court on Tuesday.

Al-Kuwari had been serving as commerce and industry minister and as acting finance minister before the reshuffle.

Qatar's emir created an environment and climate change ministry on Tuesday, naming Faleh bin Nasser al-Thani as its minister. 

Two women were handed cabinet posts for education and social development. They join Health Minister Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, who had been the only woman in the cabinet.

 

(with Reuters)


Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
Updated 19 October 2021

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo

Egypt aviation sector sees jump in flights, passengers, cargo
  • There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July

CAIRO: There were 18,500 flights into and out of Egypt in July compared to 6,500 in the same month last year, an increase of 185 percent, according to the country’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

In June there were some 14,000 flights, compared to 500 in the same month last year.

There were 2.1 million aircraft passengers in July, more than quadruple the 500,000 passengers in the same month last year.

In June there were 1.6 million passengers, compared to 300,000 in the same month last year.

There were 19,200 tons of cargo transported by plane in July compared to 16,700 in the same month last year, an increase of 13 percent.

In June 21,300 tons were transported compared to 16,100 in the same month last year, an increase of 32 percent.


Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue
Updated 19 October 2021

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

Lebanese parliament confirms March polls amid efforts to secure IMF rescue

CAIRO: Lebanon's parliament voted on Tuesday to hold legislative elections on March 27, parliamentary sources said, giving Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government only a few months to try to secure an IMF recovery plan amid a deepening economic meltdown.
Lebanon's financial crisis, labelled by the World Bank as one of the deepest depressions of modern history, had been compounded by political deadlock for over a year before Mikati put together a cabinet alongside President Michel Aoun.
The currency has lost 90% of its value and three quarters of the population have been propelled into poverty. Shortages of basic goods such as fuel and medicines have made daily life a struggle.
Mikati, whose cabinet is focused on reviving talks with the International Monetary Fund, had vowed to make sure elections are held with no delay and Western governments urged the same.
But a row over the probe into last year's Beirut port blast that killed over 200 people and destroyed large swathes of the capital is threatening to veer his cabinet off course.
Some ministers, aligned with politicians that lead investigator Judge Tarek Bitar is seeking to question over the explosion, last week demanded that the judge be removed from the probe.
Mikati has since said the cabinet will not convene another meeting until an agreement is reached on how to deal with the matter.
On Thursday, Beirut witnessed the worst street violence in over a decade with seven people killed in gunfire when protesters from the Hezbollah and Amal Shi'ite movements made their way to demonstrate against Judge Bitar.
The bloodshed, which stirred memories of the 1975-1990 civil war, added to fears for the stability of a country that is awash with weapons.
The early election date - elections were originally expected to be held in May - was chosen in order not to clash with the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.
Once a new parliament is elected, the Mikati cabinet will only act in a caretaker role until a new prime minister is given a vote of confidence and tasked with forming a new government.