UK parliament declares genocide in China’s Xinjiang, raises pressure on Johnson

UK parliament declares genocide in China’s Xinjiang, raises pressure on Johnson
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Members of the Uyghur community demonstrate in London on April 22, 2021. (AFP)
UK parliament declares genocide in China’s Xinjiang, raises pressure on Johnson
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Members of the Uyghur community demonstrate in London on April 22, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 22 April 2021

UK parliament declares genocide in China’s Xinjiang, raises pressure on Johnson

UK parliament declares genocide in China’s Xinjiang, raises pressure on Johnson
  • So far the government has imposed sanctions on some Chinese officials and introduced rules to try to prevent goods linked to the region entering the supply chain
  • Ministers say any decision on declaring a genocide is up to the courts

LONDON: Britain’s parliament called on Wednesday for the government to take action to end what lawmakers described as genocide in China’s Xinjiang region, stepping up pressure on ministers to go further in their criticism of Beijing.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government again steered clear of declaring genocide over what it says are “industrial-scale” human rights abuses against the mainly Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang. Ministers say any decision on declaring a genocide is up to the courts.
So far the government has imposed sanctions on some Chinese officials and introduced rules to try to prevent goods linked to the region entering the supply chain, but a majority of lawmakers want ministers to go further.
Beijing denies accusations of rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Lawmakers backed a motion brought by Conservative lawmaker Nusrat Ghani stating Uighurs in Xinjiang were suffering crimes against humanity and genocide, and calling on government to use international law to bring it to an end.
The support for the motion is non-binding, meaning it is up to the government to decide what action, if any, to take next.
Britain’s minister for Asia, Nigel Adams, again set out to parliament the government’s position that any decision on describing the human rights abuses in Xinjiang as genocide would have to be taken by “competent” courts.
Some lawmakers fear Britain risks falling out of step with allies over China after the Biden administration endorsed a determination by its predecessor that China had committed genocide in Xinjiang.


Talks ‘intensify’ on bringing US back to Iran nuclear deal

Talks ‘intensify’ on bringing US back to Iran nuclear deal
Updated 10 min 44 sec ago

Talks ‘intensify’ on bringing US back to Iran nuclear deal

Talks ‘intensify’ on bringing US back to Iran nuclear deal
  • U.S. and Iran have signaled willingness to work out the major stumbling blocks
  • Russian delegate tweeted following Friday's meeting that “the participants agreed on the need to intensify the process”

VIENNA: World powers held a fourth round of high-level talks Friday in Austria aimed at bringing the US back into the nuclear deal with Iran.
Both sides have signaled willingness to work out the major stumbling blocks.
The talks began in early April and Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted following Friday’s meeting that “the participants agreed on the need to intensify the process.”
“The delegations seem to be ready to stay in Vienna as long as necessary to achieve the goal,” he wrote.
The US pulled out of the landmark 2015 deal in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump said the pact needed to be renegotiated. The deal had promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, and the Trump administration reimposed heavy sanctions on the Islamic republic in an unsuccessful attempt to bring Tehran into new talks.
Iran reacted by steadily increasing its violations of the deal, which is intended to prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran began enriching uranium to a greater purity, stockpiling more than allowed and beginning to use more advanced centrifuges, among other things, in an attempt to pressure the world powers remaining in the deal — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — for economic relief.
US President Joe Biden says he wants to rejoin the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, but that Iran needs to return to compliance.
Iran, which insists it does not want to produce a nuclear bomb, has said it is prepared to reverse all of its violations but that Washington must remove all sanctions imposed under Trump.
On the other side is the question of what Iran’s return to compliance would look like. Delegates to the Vienna talks concede, for example, that Iranian nuclear scientists cannot unlearn the knowledge they acquired in the last three years, but it is not clear whether Iran’s new centrifuges would need to be destroyed, mothballed and locked away, or simply taken offline.
Because the US is currently out of the deal, there was no American representation at the talks. Diplomats involved are shuttling between the Iranian side and a delegation from Washington elsewhere in Vienna.
Between the high-level meetings, expert groups have been meeting to try and come up with solutions to the outstanding issues.
Alain Matton, a spokesperson for the EU delegation in Vienna, which is chairing the meetings, said the expert discussions will continue in the days ahead.
“And the EU as a coordinator and facilitator of the JCPOA talks will continue with separate talks with all participants and with the US,” Matton told reporters. “The participants are continuing with discussions, which are held on various levels and which have as their objective the full and effective implementation of the deal by all sides and the US return to the JCPOA.”
Ahead of the talks, a senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the US position, said Washington has laid out the concessions it’s prepared to make and that success or failure now depends on Iran making the political decision to accept those concessions and to return to compliance with the accord.
The official said it remains possible to reach an agreement before Iran’s June presidential election, which some believe are a complicating factor in the discussions.
Iran’s delegate to the talks, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, told his country’s state-run IRNA news agency late Thursday that his team was trying to reach an agreement as soon as possible but would not act in haste and would act in Iran’s national interests.
“We are on a specified path about which there are, fortunately, agreements, but there are serious obstacles in the way as well,” Araghchi said.
Heading into the talks, Ulyanov tweeted that he saw positive signs from the Iranian minister’s statements.
“The head of the Iranian delegation is cautious in his assessment of the current state of affairs at the Vienna talks (very similar to assessments of the US colleagues),” he tweeted. “But both #Iran and #US refrain from pessimistic conclusions. This seems to be not a bad sign.”


Investigation launched into attack outside London mosque

Several people were pelted with eggs and stones outside the Ilford Islamic Center in the east of London this week. (Screenshot/Google Street View)
Several people were pelted with eggs and stones outside the Ilford Islamic Center in the east of London this week. (Screenshot/Google Street View)
Updated 19 min 49 sec ago

Investigation launched into attack outside London mosque

Several people were pelted with eggs and stones outside the Ilford Islamic Center in the east of London this week. (Screenshot/Google Street View)
  • Four people sought in connection with Islamophobic incident in east of the UK capital

LONDON: Police in London have launched an investigation into a suspected Islamophobic attack on a group of worshippers in the city during Ramadan.

Several people were pelted with eggs and stones outside the Ilford Islamic Center in the east of the city on Tuesday, May 4, with witnesses claiming the items were thrown from a passing car driven by a white man with a shaved head. The car carried at least three other passengers.

The Metropolitan Police said it had received a report of a racially aggravated incident, including criminal damage, at around 11 p.m. The Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organizations said five people had been struck by objects, but reported no serious injuries.

The Ilford Islamic Center’s director and secretary, Ahmed Nahwaz, said: “I was caught by surprise because leading up to this we had a very quiet and peaceful 20-odd nights, and then this happened.

“We weren’t expecting it this kind of time in the period of reflection for everyone, having gone through (the coronavirus disease) COVID-19. It’s a shame (but) we’re used to it. We’re a strong community and we take it on the chin. It makes us weary rather than fearful,” he added.

“We just want to be treated like humans, just like everyone else.”

The incident stirred a strong political response, with the MP for Ilford South, Sam Tarry, saying he was “shocked and saddened” at what had happened.

“These disgraceful acts of violence and hatred have no place in Ilford, and I hope that the perpetrators face justice as soon as possible,” he said on his Twitter account. “Solidarity with the victims.”

The leader of Redbridge Council, Jas Athwal, said: “Racist incidents like this have no place in our borough and we will work with our friends and neighbors at Albert Road Mosque (Ilford Islamic Center) and the police to ensure the safety of all worshippers.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman said: “We take all reports of hate crime very seriously and have launched an investigation.

“Incidents like this will not be tolerated and my officers will be undertaking enhanced patrols in the area to provide reassurance to the local community and visitors to the mosque,” he added.


Maldives ex-president ‘critical’ after assassination attempt

Maldives ex-president ‘critical’ after assassination attempt
Updated 45 min 40 sec ago

Maldives ex-president ‘critical’ after assassination attempt

Maldives ex-president ‘critical’ after assassination attempt
  • Nasheed is the Maldives’ first democratically elected president
  • He has undergone 16 hours of life-saving operations in the capital Male for injuries to his head, chest, abdomen and limbs after the explosion

MALÉ, Maldives: Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was in a “critical” condition on Friday following an assassination attempt, doctors said.
Nasheed, 53, the Maldives’ first democratically elected president and still an important figure in the island nation’s murky politics, was rushed to hospital after an explosion late Thursday.
Since then he has undergone 16 hours of life-saving operations in the capital Male for injuries to his head, chest, abdomen and limbs.
The private ADK hospital said Friday evening that Nasheed was “in a critical condition in intensive care.”
In a televised address to the nation, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih announced that a team from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would arrive Saturday to help with the investigation into the blast.
Solih described the attack as an assault on the fledgling democracy, promising the perpetrators “would face the full force of the law.”
Police said officials from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have also been asked to assist in the investigation.
Maldivian police said they were treating Thursday’s bomb attack as a “deliberate act of terror” and urged the public to provide any information that could identify the perpetrators.
Police said a device attached to a motorcycle was detonated as Nasheed got into a car in the capital.
The hospital said earlier that shrapnel had been removed from one of his lungs and from his liver but that another piece was still in the same organ.
“We are hopeful of a full recovery,” said a family member who did not want to be named, adding that Nasheed was responsive and spoke with doctors when he was admitted.
One of his bodyguards as well as a British national were also wounded and taken to hospital.
The Indian Ocean nation of 340,000 Sunni Muslims is best known for its luxury holiday resorts popular with honeymooners, but it suffers from regular political turmoil.
There was no claim of responsibility for Thursday’s bomb attack, but officials close to Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said they suspected vested political interests opposed to his anti-corruption drive.
Nasheed had vowed to investigate a $90-million theft from the state’s tourism promotion authority during the tenure of former president Abdulla Yameen.
“There are some dormant Islamists who could have collaborated with political elements threatened by Nasheed’s anti-corruption drive,” an MDP source told AFP.
The government has cracked down on extremism and foreign preachers are banned.
Violent attacks have been rare, though a dozen foreign tourists were wounded by a bomb blast in Male in 2007.
The Islamic State claimed a boat arson attack last year, but there is little evidence the group has a presence in the archipelago.
Nasheed, a liberal, is maybe best known internationally for holding a 2009 underwater cabinet meeting to highlight the threat of global warming, signing documents as officials wore scuba gear against a backdrop of coral reefs.
He was toppled in a military-backed coup in February 2012, convicted on a charge of terrorism and jailed for 13 years.
He left the country on prison leave for medical treatment and sought refuge in Britain.
He returned after his nominee Solih won the presidency in 2018, winning parliamentary elections the next year to become speaker.
Messages of support for Nasheed poured in on Friday from neighboring India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as Western nations, which have strongly backed his pro-democracy and environmental activism.


German report reveals how Iran uses proliferation to smuggle illegal goods

German report reveals how Iran uses proliferation to smuggle illegal goods
Updated 07 May 2021

German report reveals how Iran uses proliferation to smuggle illegal goods

German report reveals how Iran uses proliferation to smuggle illegal goods
  • The report states that Iran creates state-controlled “neutral” companies to hide the true nature of the purchase from buyers
  • Iran also uses “detour deliveries over ‘third states’ in order not to identify the final buyer”

DUBAI: An intelligence report from Germany revealed on Friday details of how the Islamic Republic uses proliferation techniques to smuggle illicit technology for deadly weapons.
“Proliferation-relevant countries such as Iran, North Korea and Syria, but also Pakistan, try to circumvent safety precautions and legal export regulations and to disguise illegal procurement activities. To do this, they turn to mostly conspiratorial means and methods,” wrote the intelligence agency in northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein,” the report explains.
“Proliferation is still one of the central tasks of counter-espionage in Schleswig-Holstein,” the report adds.
According to the agency, proliferation is the “spread of weapons of mass destruction (ABC weapons) and the necessary know-how, as well as the products used for their manufacture and associated carrier technologies.”
ABC commonly refers to atomic, biological and chemical weapons.
The report states that Iran creates state-controlled “neutral” companies to hide the true nature of the purchase from buyers and establishes “illegal procurement networks which belong to the front companies and middlemen.”
Iran also uses “detour deliveries over ‘third states’ in order not to identify the final buyer” and “the use and misuse of inexperienced freight deliverers and transporters,” the report added.
Iran also breaks down the deliveries of illegal deliveries into several “individual non-suspicious deliveries to avoid exposing the entire business.” 
The report also said that Iran “conceals the end user” and the “individual, company or institution with which the goods ultimately remain.”
The report cited Iran 19 times in the 218-page report, covering security threats to the state’s democracy.
It also said that states such as Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Syria and Russia strive to acquire dual-use goods, items which have both civil and military use.
“Proliferation is a serious threat to security in many regions of the world, including the Federal Republic of Germany and thus for the state of Schleswig-Holstein. The Federal Republic of Germany is one of the most important export nations in the world. The export of military as well as civilian goods are subject therefore to special control,” the report added.


China says ‘extremely low’ risk of damage on Earth from rocket re-entry

China says ‘extremely low’ risk of damage on Earth from rocket re-entry
Updated 07 May 2021

China says ‘extremely low’ risk of damage on Earth from rocket re-entry

China says ‘extremely low’ risk of damage on Earth from rocket re-entry

BEIJING: China said Friday the risk of damage on Earth from a rocket which fell out of orbit after separating from Beijing's space station was "extremely low", after the United States warned it could crash down onto an inhabited area.
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said "most of the components will be destroyed by ablation during the re-entry" into the atmosphere and "the probability of causing harm to aviation activities or people... on the ground is extremely low".