Villagers: Myanmar army beheaded high school teacher

Villagers: Myanmar army beheaded high school teacher
The school at Taung Myint village in the rural Magway region of Myanmar, above, which has been closed since last year, was also burned. (AP)
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Updated 21 October 2022

Villagers: Myanmar army beheaded high school teacher

Villagers: Myanmar army beheaded high school teacher
  • Myanmar’s military has arrested tens of thousands of people and been blamed for the deaths of more than 2,300 civilians since seizing power last year

BANGKOK: The decapitated body of a high school teacher was left on grotesque display at a school in central Myanmar after he was detained and killed by the military, witnesses said Thursday, marking the latest of many abuses alleged as the army tries to crush opposition to military rule.
According to witnesses’ descriptions and photos taken in Taung Myint village in the rural Magway region, the headless body of 46-year-old Saw Tun Moe was left on the ground in front of the school’s spiked gate and his head was impaled on top of it. The school, which has been closed since last year, was also burned.
Neither the military government nor the state-controlled media have released information about the teacher’s death.
Myanmar’s military has arrested tens of thousands of people and been blamed for the deaths of more than 2,300 civilians since seizing power last year from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
In September, at least seven young students were killed in a helicopter attack on a school in a Buddhist monastery in the Sagaing region in north-central Myanmar. The military government denied responsibility for the attacks. The UN has documented 260 attacks on schools and education personnel since the army takeover, the UN Child Rights Committee said in June.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military’s February 2021 seizure of power was met by nationwide peaceful protests and civil disobedience that security forces suppressed with deadly force. The repression led to widespread armed resistance, which has since turned into what UN experts have characterized as a civil war.
The army has conducted major offensives in the countryside, including burning down villages and driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, allowing them little or no access to humanitarian assistance.
Myanmar’s military has long been accused of serious human rights violations, most notably in the western state of Rakhine. International courts are considering whether it committed genocide there in a brutal 2017 counterinsurgency campaign that caused more than 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority to flee to neighboring Bangladesh for safety.
The slain teacher, Saw Tun Moe, was a longtime educator who had participated in anti-military protests before taking charge of a high school founded by the country’s pro-democracy movement in his native Thit Nyi Naung village.
The National Unity Government, an underground organization opposed to military rule that styles itself as the country’s legitimate administrative body, opened a network of schools this year as an interim education system in parts of the country where it believed armed militias loyal to it were strong enough to defend themselves.
Saw Tun Moe also taught mathematics at his village school and another nearby alternative school and was involved in the administration of Thit Nyi Naung, where he lived with his family. He previously taught at a private school in Magway, also known as Magwe, for 20 years.
The NUG’s education arm mourned his death in a statement late Thursday that praised him and other fallen teachers as “revolutionary heroes” and expressed solidarity with the teachers and students who continue their resistance to the military.
His death occurred as a column of about 90 government soldiers carried out sweeps of at least a dozen area villages this month.
A villager told The Associated Press by phone that she was among about two dozen villagers including Saw Tun Moe who were hiding behind a hut in a peanut field at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday when a group of more than 80 soldiers accompanied by armed civilians arrived, shooting their guns into the air. The military arms and employs civilian auxiliaries who serve as guides and take part in raids.
The villager, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared being punished by the authorities, said they were caught by the troops, who seized their phones and other belongings and at an officer’s command separated three men from the group, but took away only Saw Tun Moe.
“Our heads were bowed at that time and we didn’t dare to look at them. Later, one of the soldiers called to him, “Come. Come fatty, follow us,” and took him away. The soldiers treated him leniently, so we didn’t think this would happen,” the villager said.
She said Saw Tun Moe was taken to Taung Myint village, more than a kilometer north of Thit Nyi Naung, and killed him there the following day.
“I learned on Monday morning that he had been killed. It is very sad to lose a good teacher who we depended on for our children’s education,” the villager added. She said her two children studied at his school.
A villager from Taung Myint village said he saw Saw Tun Moe’s body at about 11 a.m. Monday after the soldiers had left.
“First, I called my friends, then I looked at the body more closely. I immediately knew that it was Teacher Moe. He used to visit our village as a schoolteacher in the past few months, so I recognized his face,” said the villager from Taung Myint, who also asked not to be named for his own safety.
Photos taken by his friend showed the teacher’s body and head. An old campaign poster with Suu Kyi’s photos covered the corpse’s thigh. Fingers severed from his right hand had been placed between his thighs, according to the villagers. A three-finger salute is a gesture adopted by the country’s civil disobedience movement, inspired by “The Hunger Games” series.
On an outside wall of the school, which was partially burned Sunday by the soldiers, is scrawled graffiti with an ominous warning: “I will be back, you (expletive) who ran away.”


Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers

Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers
Updated 9 sec ago

Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers

Wife of Daesh leader jailed for 8 years in Somalia over terror fund transfers
  • Fartun Abdirashid, wife of Abdiqadir Mumin, head of the Daesh group, was sentenced on Monday at a military court

MOGADISHU: A military tribunal in Somalia has sentenced the wife of the head of a terrorist organization linked to Daesh to eight years in prison for passing on information and organizing financial transactions for the group, a military official said on Monday.

Fartun Abdirashid, wife of Abdiqadir Mumin, head of the Daesh group, was sentenced on Monday at a military court.

She has been under custody since her arrest in March last year in the capital, Mogadishu.

Abdirashid was accused of frequently transferring $100 to $200 to the group’s members, the public prosecutor’s office said.

She had a working relationship with Bilal Al-Sudaani, a senior Daesh official who was killed on Wednesday in a US raid in Somalia’s northern Bari region.

Mumin, a former Al-Shabab cleric, pledged his allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in 2015.

Daesh holds a smaller footprint in Somalia compared to the Al-Shabab terrorist group that has carried out numerous attacks in the country.

Somalia’s forces are carrying out an offensive against Al-Shabab that has been described at the most significant in more than a decade.

The first US Cabinet member to visit Somalia since 2015 urged the world’s distracted donors to give immediate help to a country facing deadly famine, which she calls “the ultimate failure of the international community.”


Young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Japan by Foreign Ministry

File photo of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo. (ANJ)
File photo of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo. (ANJ)
Updated 30 January 2023

Young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Japan by Foreign Ministry

File photo of the Foreign Ministry building in Tokyo. (ANJ)
  • Four Israelis and four Palestinians were invited to Japan as part of Japan’s efforts to realize a “two-state solution”

TOKYO: Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is hosting a group of Palestinians and Israelis as part of the 2022 Israeli-Palestinian Joint Youth Invitation Program.

Four Israelis and four Palestinians were invited to Japan as part of Japan’s efforts to realize a “two-state solution” by establishing a future “Palestinian state” alongside Israel.

The program with the youths “aims to provide a forum for building mutual trust and deepen understanding of Japan’s efforts toward peace in the Middle East, foreign policy, economy and culture.”

The invitation program is now in its 23rd year and more than 220 people have been invited from Israel and Palestine.

During their stay, the delegation will visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, exchange opinions with the students, and tour Tokyo and local cities, including Kyoto and Hiroshima.

This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan. Click here to read it.


Three injured in knife attack near EU Brussels headquarters

Emergency personnel arrive outside of a metro station near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP)
Emergency personnel arrive outside of a metro station near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP)
Updated 28 min 47 sec ago

Three injured in knife attack near EU Brussels headquarters

Emergency personnel arrive outside of a metro station near EU headquarters in Brussels, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP)
  • The suspected attacker was known to police for “psychiatric problems,” a source close to the investigation said

BRUSSELS: Three people were injured, one seriously, in a knife attack Monday in a metro station near the European Union headquarters in Brussels, officials said, adding that the attacker had been arrested.
Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said the man was speedily detained due to coordinated police action at the Schuman metro station.
Police said one of the injured was in “critical condition.”
The suspected attacker was known to police for “psychiatric problems,” a source close to the investigation said.
The attack took place at rush hour around 6:00 pm.
European Union chief Charles Michel, a former Belgian prime minister, thanked the police in a tweet and said his thoughts were with the victims.
An AFP journalist at the site said a woman told people not to enter the station, saying there was a man inside armed with a knife as police rushed in.
Traffic was interrupted on the line.
 


Afghans urge international support amid Taliban bans

Afghans urge international support amid Taliban bans
Updated 30 January 2023

Afghans urge international support amid Taliban bans

Afghans urge international support amid Taliban bans
  • UN, aid organization officials have visited country this month
  • Needs of Afghanistan a ‘priority,’ top UN aid chief said last week 

KABUL: Afghans are calling for more international support following increasingly restrictive edicts issued by the Taliban administration, as the US special representative for Afghanistan began a trip on Monday aimed at refining an international response to support the country.

The Taliban has introduced a series of restrictions on Afghan women since taking control of the country in 2021, including barring women from university and secondary schools. Authorities in December ordered all NGOs to ban women employees, though those in health were allowed to return to work earlier this month.

The moves drew widespread condemnation, with high-ranking UN officials and leaders of major international organizations visiting Afghanistan this month to try and reverse the Taliban’s crackdown on women and girls.

Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West will travel to Pakistan, Germany and Switzerland on a mission to “consult with partners, Afghans and humanitarian relief organizations,” the US Department of State said in a statement, in one of the latest efforts to address the situation in the South Asian country.

“SRA West will work with counterparts to refine a unified regional and international response that reflects a collective commitment to Afghan women and girls’ rights, and access to vital aid,” the statement added.

Afghans are hopeful that West’s trip could benefit Afghanistan, with some urging the international community to increase pressure on the Taliban.

“No doubt this mission will help in the case of Afghanistan. I believe if this mission is implemented in a way to find a solution for the misery of Afghan people it will most definitely work,” Mohibullah Sharif, an Afghan political expert based in Kabul, told Arab News.

“However, if like previously, the mission is only for securing the interests of regional and international players, this will bring no good for Afghans and will worsen the situation.”

Life in Afghanistan has grown increasingly difficult for women, said Shamsia Hassanzadah, a member of the Afghan Women’s Network and former director of Star Education Center in Kabul, who was affected by the ban on women working for NGOs.

“Women in NGOs should be allowed to work because a woman’s work is very important for their family economy,” Hassanzadah told Arab News, adding that she was the breadwinner in her family.

“We want the international community to bring further pressure on the current government of Afghanistan and we believe such steps and measures will help to decrease the Taliban’s restrictions toward Afghan women,” she added.

“It will also prevent or even stop the Taliban from issuing further decrees against women’s education and employment in Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan needs more support from the UN and the global community, according to women’s rights activist Farimah Nikkhwah, who was also affected by the recent ban.

“In the current situation, Afghanistan needs the special attention of the UN and the international community to prevent the negative and illogical actions of the Taliban,” Nikkhwah told Arab News.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said last week following a Kabul visit that Taliban ministers are working on new guidelines to allow women more freedom in humanitarian work.

“The needs of Afghanistan, for us, are of the highest importance because of its people, because of its obvious, deserved priority for us in our humanitarian world. The need for Afghanistan to be properly serviced by humanitarian operations is also a global priority,” Griffiths told AFP in an interview.

When it comes to Afghan girls’ education, pleas are also coming from within the country, said Dr. Hatef Mokhtar, head of the Afghanistan International Strategic Studies Center.

“Afghans want Afghanistan to come out of isolation,” Mokhtar told Arab News.

“The opening of Afghan girls’ schools is not the voice of the world, but it is the voice of the Afghans themselves. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan should take this issue seriously and open the girls’ schools as soon as possible.”


Body of missing Saudi Arabian tourist Abdulrahman Al-Anazi found in US

Body of missing Saudi Arabian tourist Abdulrahman Al-Anazi found in US
Updated 30 January 2023

Body of missing Saudi Arabian tourist Abdulrahman Al-Anazi found in US

Body of missing Saudi Arabian tourist Abdulrahman Al-Anazi found in US
  • Body found in the waters of Lake Erie early on Monday
  • National Weather Service reported that temperatures at the location were only 2 C

CHICAGO: The body of missing Saudi Arabian tourist Abdulrahman Al-Anazi was discovered early on Monday in Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Al-Anazi was reported missing after having a meal with friends and a relative on Friday morning, Jan. 27. They said Al-Anazi had walked away and was not seen again.

Cleveland Police officials said they sent search teams to find the man, near to where he was last seen in the popular tourist district near the East 9th Street pier along the lakefront.

Al-Anazi’s family immediately contacted the authorities in Clevland and the Saudi embassy in the US to investigate his disappearance.

“He left without his jacket, without his mobile phone and wallet, on the condition that he would return after that,” his brother Badr Falah Al-Anazi told MBC News 24. “Meanwhile, his cousin was waiting for him in the car, provided that he would after 10 minutes,” he added.

His body was found in the waters of Lake Erie early on Monday, near to where he had last been seen, it was reported.

The National Weather Service reported that temperatures at the location were only 2 C.

The official cause of death will not be announced until he is examined by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner.

Cleveland police told Arab News they were concerned about Alanazi's whereabouts. He reportedly could not speak English, was unfamiliar with the area and that his disappearance status was listed by the police as “endangered.”

Relatives told local news media that Alanazi had been in the US to accompany his brother, who was receiving liver transplant treatment. 

Al-Anazi’s passing comes after the death of 25-year-old Saudi student Alwaleed Algheraibi who was found stabbed to death in his Hansberry Street property in Germantown Philadelphia on Jan. 23.

A Pennsylvania judge has denied bail for Nicole Marie Rodgers, 19, who is accused of the Jan. 23 murder.