Turkey extends detention of civil society leader Kavala

Turkey extends detention of civil society leader Kavala
Lawyers and supporters of the Gezi solidarity group gather in front of the Caglayan Courthouse, as a Turkish court began the re-trial of philanthropist Osman Kavala and 15 others. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 May 2021

Turkey extends detention of civil society leader Kavala

Turkey extends detention of civil society leader Kavala
  • Kavala has been facing a myriad of shifting charges and remains in pre-trial detention in a high-security prison for nearly four years
  • The Parisian-born philanthropist's case has turned into an emblem of the political repressions

ISTANBUL: Turkish civil society leader Osman Kavala on Friday compared his treatment to a Nazi stage trial as a court extended his detention without a conviction despite global appeals for his release.
Kavala has been facing a myriad of shifting charges and has remained in pre-trial detention in a high-security prison on the outskirts of Istanbul for nearly four years.
The Parisian-born philanthropist’s case has turned into an emblem of the political repressions that followed a failed 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He will be jailed for life without the possibility of parole if found guilty of alleged offenses that include spying and attempts to overturn the constitutional order.
“Osman Kavala has been behind bars for nearly 1,300 days, even as the European Court of Human Rights demanded his release a year and a half ago,” said a joint Franco-German statement issued by the French embassy ahead of Friday’s hearing.
“Turkey’s treatment of Osman Kavala... (is) not worthy of a country governed by the rule of law or a long-standing member of the Council of Europe.”
The two countries’ council generals were among several Western diplomats attending at the criminal court hearing in Istanbul.
The court rejected an appeal to release Kavala by a majority decision and scheduled the next hearing for August 6.
Friday’s hearing put the 63-year-old on trial again on charges of which he and others had already been acquitted in February 2020.
The case stemmed from 2013 protests that began in defense of a small park in Istanbul before snowballing into a national protest movement that was eventually harshly dispersed by the police.
Kavala was acquitted of financing and organizing those protests.
But he was rearrested before he could return home and later charged with new offenses linked to the failed 2016 coup attempt.
A court then overturned his acquittal in the case linked to the 2013 protests and merged the two trials into one.
“The charges against me keep changing,” Kavala told the court in a statement released by his support team.
It is “like a baton handed over in a relay race, with various judges and courts carrying over my arrest, refraining from dropping it to the ground.”
He added that the espionage charge in particular “resembles the concept of ‘Landesverrat’ (treason) which was also utilized for charges of espionage in Germany during the Nazi period.”
A few dozen Kavala supporters rallied outside the court room under the rain as the first hearing in his case since February got underway.
“Kavala, who is still in prison as a political prisoner despite there being no concrete evidence against him, should be released,” said protester Akif Burak Atlar.


Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues

Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues
Updated 02 December 2021

Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues

Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues
  • A European diplomat confirmed draft documents had been handed over
VIENNA: Iran has provided European powers involved in its 2015 nuclear deal two drafts on sanctions removal and nuclear commitments, Iranian state media reported on Thursday.
“Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri, announced at the Vienna talks that ...Iran has delivered its proposed text on two issues of lifting oppressive sanctions and nuclear issues,” the official IRNA news agency reported. It did not give further details.
A European diplomat confirmed draft documents had been handed over.

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions
Updated 02 December 2021

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions
  • Israelis are still allowed to fly to other countries and must quarantine when they return
  • Bennett was attacked by political rivals and everyday Israelis itching to return to normalcy

TEL AVIV, Israel: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett came under fire Thursday after his wife and children flew abroad just days after the Israeli leader urged citizens to avoid international travel because of the new coronavirus variant.
Gilat Bennett and her children took off Wednesday on a personal visit, triggering a storm of criticism against the prime minister for not following his own guidelines.
Their trip comes after Israel tightened travel restrictions in light of the omicron variant. Israel closed its border to foreign visitors and barred travel to much of Africa but Israelis are still allowed to fly to other countries and must quarantine when they return.
The episode drew comparisons to incidents at the beginning of the pandemic, when former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spent the Passover holiday with members of their family who lived outside their residence, even as they urged Israelis to celebrate away from their relatives. That sparked an outcry and raised questions about the public’s trust in leaders at a time of a major crisis.
Bennett was attacked by political rivals and everyday Israelis itching to return to normalcy.
“It’s a testament to his behavior, to his responsibility to the public, to the lack of personal example. He thinks he can do what he wants,” opposition lawmaker Israel Katz told Israeli Army Radio.
Israelis took to social media to berate the prime minister on his social media pages, questioning his leadership.
“Send regards to the family abroad while we are all languishing here with the restrictions,” a user named Anna Gechtman wrote.
In a Facebook post Wednesday answering questions about the new variant, Bennett was asked about his family’s trip and said they were not violating the new travel rules. He said they were expected to fly to a country that subsequently was banned to travel for Israelis and then changed their destination. He also said more had been revealed about where the virus has spread since his decision to limit travel.
“I understand the criticism,” Bennett wrote. “Everyone is leaving while following the restrictions and will of course quarantine as is required.”
Bennett on Friday announced the tightened measures in a press conference on Friday. He counselled Israelis not to bother booking holidays because he expected more countries to be added to the no-travel list.
“If you ask me, I don’t recommend flying abroad right now with such a level of uncertainty,” he said.


Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada
Updated 02 December 2021

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada
  • Operation in Sanaa targeted one of the main stores of weapons and other supplies
  • The coalition also destroyed workshops that store ballistic missiles and drones in Saada

DUBAI: The Arab coalition on Thursday carried out air strikes on military targets in Yemen’s Sanaa and Saada, Al-Arabiya TV reported.
It further called on civilians not to approach the targeted sites.
The coalition said the operation in Sanaa targeted one of the main stores of weapons and other supplies. “In east of Sanaa, we destroyed two sites under construction as warehouses for military use,” it said.
The coalition also destroyed workshops that store ballistic missiles and drones in Saada.
Earlier on Wednesday, the coalition said they intercepted and destroyed a drone over Amran province after it was launched from Sanaa International Airport.
The Iran-backed Houthis have repeatedly target Saudi Arabia with explosive-rigged drones, mostly without causing much damage because of the Kingdom’s air defenses.
The coalition has carried out multiple sorties against targets in Sanaa, particularly hitting the airport after surveillance pictures and videos showed it has been converted into a military base for experts of the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.


Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation
Updated 02 December 2021

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation
  • Foreign workers are allowed to receive the vaccine for free

DUBAI: Foreign workers who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 15 face strict measures from the government, including deportation.

“The decision aims to protect public health, noting that prompting foreign workers to get vaccinated protects them against future infections and disease transmission,” a report from state news agency Petra said, quoting a statement from Jordan’s interior ministry.

Foreign workers are allowed to receive the vaccine for free, without the need to present their residency or work permits.

A total 4,142,489 individuals have received their first COVID-19 jab, while 3,754,055 are now fully vaccinated, a health ministry briefer noted.

Health officials on Wednesday reported 5,047 new coronavirus infections, putting Jordan’s caseload to 958,990, with 56,991 active cases currently receiving treatment.

Jordanian authorities earlier declared that the country had entered a third wave of the coronavirus ‘with the increase in the number of delta variant infections and hospital admission rates.’ The second wave occurred during the first quarter of this year.

Authorities have banned travelers South Africa and six other African countries from entering the, with the emergence of the omicron COVID-19 strain from these nations. It was first detected in South Africa.


UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question
Updated 02 December 2021

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question
  • General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid reiterated that a two-state solution is the only way forward and said ‘we cannot give up hope’
  • His comments came days after the 74 th anniversary of Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states

NEW YORK: There is more at stake in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than peace and security in the Middle East, according to Abdulla Shahid, the president of the UN General Assembly.

The reputation of the global community and its ability to work together to resolve international disputes, in keeping with the founding vision of the UN, is also on the line, he warned.

“That is why we cannot give up hope,” said Shahid as he called on member states to make every effort to join forces to resolve the conflict in line with international human rights and humanitarian laws, and the UN charter.

“We must maintain the credibility of this great institution and push for positive dialogue and engagement between the parties involved.”

Speaking on Wednesday during a plenary meeting of the General Assembly to discuss the Palestinian question and the situation in the wider Middle East, Shahid described as “disheartening” the lack of progress on an issue that has been on the UN agenda since the organization’s earliest years.

The situations in Palestine and the wider region are “deeply intertwined,” he said.

“We have seen time and time again how the spillover effects of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute undermine the stability of the broader region,” he added.

“As long as the Palestinian people are deprived of statehood, as long as illegal settlements continue to be built on land that Palestinians are justly entitled to, as long as Palestinian families are forced to flee the violence and injustices against them and they cannot return home, anger and bitterness will fester.

“This will contribute to a cycle of violence that has gone on for far, far too long.”

The plenary session came days after the 74th anniversary of resolution 181, which was passed by the General Assembly on Nov. 29, 1947. It called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem a separate entity to be governed by an international regime.

Facilitating a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders is the “most important thing” the world can do to help resolve the conflict, said Shahid, who called for an acceleration of the multilateral political process to find a just and peaceful settlement.

Turning to key issues affecting Palestinians, he said it is time for the international community to back its words with actions in terms of humanitarian assistance, support for efforts to resolve the conflict, and upholding the dignity of Palestinians.

“Year after year we speak of the appalling humanitarian crisis in Palestine, especially the Gaza strip,” Shahid said. “But words are insufficient. Words cannot substitute for the lack of running water, electricity, proper sanitation, and decent living conditions that millions of Palestinians endure.

“Words can express how COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges but they cannot resolve them. Words cannot save Palestinian people suffering from decades of occupation, arbitrary arrests and the use of excessive force against them. Words cannot restore their demolished homes or halt the proliferation of illegal settlements on their land.”

More than half of the five million Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive. That number rises to 80 percent in Gaza, where residents “cry out for access to even basic amenities and services,”  Shahid said.

The many Palestinian refugees across the Middle East are also in jeopardy, he added, highlighting the large shortfall in funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. He called on the international community to ensure it provides enough financial support to maintain the life-saving work of the agency.

“Let us all come together as an international community and reiterate our commitment to protect the rights of the Palestinian people,” said Shahid.

“Let us grant them what they have been justly demanding for so long: dignity, statehood and respect.”