Jordanian advocate awarded Franco-German Prize for Human Rights

Jordanian advocate awarded Franco-German Prize for Human Rights
Hadeel Abdel Aziz was awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law
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Updated 23 January 2023

Jordanian advocate awarded Franco-German Prize for Human Rights

Jordanian advocate awarded Franco-German Prize for Human Rights
  • Abdel Aziz’s works provides access to justice to Jordan's most vulnerable citizens

AMMAN: Jordanian advocate Hadeel Abdel Aziz was awarded the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law on Sunday, the Jordan News Agency reported.

The prize honors human rights defenders around the world who work every day, often under dangerous conditions, to protect and strengthen human rights.

The ministers of foreign affairs of Germany and France have awarded one of the prizes this year to Abdel Aziz, who, as executive director of the Justice Center for Legal Aid,  provides access to justice to Jordan’s most vulnerable citizens.

“We were particularly impressed by Ms. Abdel Aziz’ lifelong dedication to the rule of law and in particular her work to promote and protect the human rights of women and girls. With the work of the JCLA, she has, from within the Jordanian legal system, not only advocated for an institutionalized state-funded legal aid system, but has also been instrumental in growing the JCLA from a small organization to a sustainable national model of justice organization,” German Ambassador to Jordan Bernhard Kampmann said.

Upon receiving the award, Abdel Aziz said: “It’s not about one big act of heroism, but the one hundred small battles. This recognition shows us that our work is seen and helps us continue.”

 


UNICEF calls for protection of children amidst violence in Palestine

UNICEF calls for protection of children amidst violence in Palestine
Updated 30 January 2023

UNICEF calls for protection of children amidst violence in Palestine

UNICEF calls for protection of children amidst violence in Palestine
  • Alarm over killing of 7 Palestinians, 1 Israeli since the start of 2023

AMMAN: UNICEF has raised the alarm at the number of children killed and injured because of the recent escalation in violence between the Palestinians and Israelis.

In a statement issued on Sunday, UNICEF said that seven Palestinian children and one Israeli child have been killed since the beginning of 2023.

“Children continue to pay the highest price of violence,” the organization said, fearing that more would suffer.

“UNICEF appeals to all parties to de-escalate, exercise the utmost restraint and refrain from using violence, especially against children, in accordance with international law.

“Violence is never a solution, and all forms of violence against children are unacceptable. This must end.” 

All children are entitled to special protection under international human rights law, in particular under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF stressed that all of their rights, including the right to life and protection, must be upheld at all times.

 


Blinken in Israel to calm flaring conflict with Palestinians

Blinken in Israel to calm flaring conflict with Palestinians
Updated 30 January 2023

Blinken in Israel to calm flaring conflict with Palestinians

Blinken in Israel to calm flaring conflict with Palestinians
  • Since the start of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 35 Palestinian adults and children
  • Over the same period six Israeli civilians, including a child, and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed

Tel Aviv: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Tel Aviv on Monday ahead of talks urging a de-escalation in violence that has flared in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Washington’s top diplomat arrived in Israel on the second leg of his Middle East tour, after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the country’s foreign minister in Cairo.
Israel is reeling from an attack Friday that killed seven civilians outside a synagogue in annexed east Jerusalem, a day after the deadliest army raid in years in the occupied West Bank claimed 10 Palestinian lives.
“We’ve seen horrific terrorist attacks in the last couple of days that we condemn and deplore,” Blinken earlier told Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya.
In a press conference in Cairo on Monday, Blinken urged “all parties to calm things down and deescalate tensions” while also stressing the “importance of working for a two-state solution.”
In the latest bloodshed, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian driver in the West Bank Monday, officials on both sides said, with the army saying the car had hit a soldier’s leg before speeding off.
Since the start of the year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 35 Palestinian adults and children — including attackers, militants and civilians.
Over the same period six Israeli civilians, including a child, and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed. All were shot dead in the attack Friday outside the synagogue in an east Jerusalem settlement.
The United States has historically taken a lead on Middle East diplomacy, and Egypt, which has relations with Israel, has long served as a mediator in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Blinken was due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a veteran leader who returned to power late last year at the helm of the most right-wing government in Israeli history.
The US envoy will also travel to Ramallah in the West Bank for talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
Abbas met with CIA chief William Burns in Ramallah late Sunday to discuss the “dangerous developments,” said the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. The US embassy declined to comment to AFP.
Blinken had long planned the visit, but the trip takes on a new urgency amid the spiralling violence.
The fatal east Jerusalem shooting was preceded by the deadliest Israeli forces operation in the West Bank in years.
Ten people were killed Thursday in the densely-populated Jenin refugee camp, in a raid Israel said targeted Islamic Jihad operatives.
The military later hit sites in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave.
Netanyahu’s cabinet has vowed a tough response and moved to punish “the families of terrorists that support terrorism” with home demolitions and other measures.
The government is also planning to rescind the rights to social security benefits of attackers’ relatives, and steps to make it easier for Israeli citizens to obtain permits to carry firearms.
French President Emmanuel Macron urged all parties to avoid feeding a “spiral of violence” and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for “maximum responsibility” on all sides.
Blinken on Monday met El-Sisi and then Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.
Blinken commended El-Sisi for “Egypt’s important role in promoting stability in the region” and “discussed ongoing efforts to de-escalate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” said the State Department.
The diplomats and intelligence services of Egypt — a major recipient of American military aid — are regularly called upon to intercede between Israelis and Palestinians.
Blinken’s Israel visit is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to engage quickly with Netanyahu, who had tense relations with the previous Democratic administration under Barack Obama.
While there, Blinken was expected to reiterate US support for a Palestinian state, a prospect few expect to advance under the new Israeli government.
The State Department said Blinken would call for the preservation of the status quo at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem.
Israel’s extreme-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, sparked global condemnation when he visited the site earlier this month, which is administered by Jordan.
The compound is the holiest site to Jews, who refer to it as Temple Mount, and the third most sacred place in Islam.


Ten dead in new toll after fresh Syria strikes

Ten dead in new toll after fresh Syria strikes
Updated 30 January 2023

Ten dead in new toll after fresh Syria strikes

Ten dead in new toll after fresh Syria strikes

BEIRUT: A total of 10 people were killed in a series of drone strikes targeting pro-Iran factions in eastern Syria, including three dead in strikes on Monday, a war monitor said.
A pro-Iran commander was among the three killed in the drone strikes Monday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that they had been inspecting the site of strikes that had killed seven others the previous evening.
"A commander in an Iran-backed group and two of his companions, all of them non-Syrian, were killed this morning after renewed drone strikes," the Observatory said Monday.
Pro-Iran factions, including Iraqi groups as well as Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah, have a major presence around the Iraq-Syria border, and are heavily deployed south and west of the Euphrates in Syria's Deir Ezzor province.
The commander's pick-up truck was targeted while he was inspecting the site of the Sunday evening strike that destroyed a convoy of six refrigerated trucks transporting Iranian weapons to Syria from Iraq.
The convoy was struck in the Albu Kamal border region, said the Observatory, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria.
The seven killed Sunday were truck drivers and their assistants, all of them non-Syrians, the Observatory said, adding that they were "killed as a result of unidentified aircraft targeting a convoy of Iran-backed groups".
The monitor could not verify the identities of the victims.


An Iraqi border official however told AFP that the vehicles targeted in Sunday's attack were Iraqi trucks.
But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press, said that the trucks were not transporting Iraqi goods and had crossed illegally into Syria.
"Iraq does not export anything to Syria," he said Monday.
No country claimed the assault, but Israel has carried out hundreds of air and missile strikes against Iran-backed and government forces in Syria, where the US military is also active.
"The trucks were transporting Iranian weapons," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman had told AFP Sunday.
Tehran provides military support to its ally Damascus in Syria's civil war, including through armed factions.
The strikes hit a convoy of trucks, but also the headquarters of Iran-backed groups in the area, activist Omar Abu Layla, who heads the Deir Ezzor 24 media outlet, told AFP Monday.
"There was heavy damage in the area that was struck," he said.
A pro-Syrian government radio station had reported Sunday that "unidentified war planes targeted, in a number of raids, six refrigerated trucks", without providing further details.
The Syrian government did not immediately comment on the strikes.


The Observatory said at least two similar convoys had entered Syria from Iraq this week, offloading their cargo to pro-Iran groups in the eastern town of Al-Mayadeen.
Both Albu Kamal and Al-Mayadeen are in Deir Ezzor, and Albu Kamal has seen similar strikes in the past.
The Observatory said in November that a strike in the area hit a pro-Iran militia convoy of "fuel tankers and trucks loaded with weapons", killing at least 14, though an Iraqi border guard official said there were no casualties.
In December, Israel's then-military chief Aviv Kohavi said his country had launched the raid, adding that the convoy was carrying weapons bound for Lebanon, where Hezbollah has an influential role.
Israel rarely comments on individual raids but has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of air and missile strikes in Syria since civil war broke out in 2011.
A US-led coalition fighting the remnants of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria has also carried out strikes on pro-Iran fighters in Syria in the past.
The conflict in Syria started with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers and global jihadists.
Nearly half a million people have been killed in Syria's conflict, which has also displaced about half of the country's pre-war population.


Turkiye’s opposition pledges to strip president of powers

Turkiye’s opposition pledges to strip president of powers
Updated 30 January 2023

Turkiye’s opposition pledges to strip president of powers

Turkiye’s opposition pledges to strip president of powers
  • The opposition pledged to change the constitution back to the way things worked throughout most of Turkiye’s post-Ottoman history
  • The program was unveiled at a ceremony attended by cheering crowds thirsting for a chance to reverse Erdogan’s transformation of Turkiye into a more religiously conservative country

ANKARA: Turkiye’s opposition vowed on Monday to crimp the president’s powers and broadly expand democratic rights if they seize power in May 14 presidential and parliamentary polls.
The six parties that are united against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also pledged to agree on February 13 to a joint candidate for the crucial vote — widely seen as Turkiye’s most consequential in generations.
The opposition’s long-awaited election program aims to roll back many of the powers Erdogan has amassed over his two-decade rule.
It limits the president to a seven-year term and makes a powerful new prime minister accountable to parliament.
“We will shift to a strengthened parliamentary system,” the program says.
“We will put an end to the president’s power to issue decrees.”
Erdogan began his rule in 2003 as prime minister and was elected president — at the time a more ceremonial post — when his mandates ran out in 2014.
He then rammed through constitutional changes in 2017 that eliminated the premiership and created a powerful new executive that allowed the president to effectively rule by decree.
The opposition pledged to change the constitution back to the way things worked throughout most of Turkiye’s post-Ottoman history.
Constitutional changes can be ratified by 400 votes in the 600-seat parliament.
They can also be put up for a national vote if the opposition gathers the 360 votes needed to trigger a constitutional referendum.
The opposition’s pledge to rewrite the constitution adds particular importance to the parliamentary vote.
Erdogan briefly lost control of parliament during his second decade in power and now relies on support from a far-right party that has seen its support slip in the past year.
Opinion polls point to a tightly contested election that is too close to call.
The opposition pledged to “urgently” amend the constitution and “put an end to the vague and arbitrary restriction of the freedoms of assembly and demonstration.”
“We will strengthen the freedoms of thought, opinion and expression,” it added.
Erdogan unleashed sweeping purges after a failed 2016 coup attempt that curbed many of the freedoms enjoyed under his more prosperous and publicly popular first years of rule.
Analysts estimate that 90 percent of Turkiye’s media are now under government or its business allies’ control.
Thousands of activists — many of them Kurds — are languishing in prison on terror-related charges that rights groups believe Erdogan is using to crack down on political dissent.

The program was unveiled at a ceremony attended by cheering crowds thirsting for a chance to reverse Erdogan’s transformation of Turkiye into a more religiously conservative country that was slowly losing support from the West.
Some of the biggest applause came from promises to crack down on corruption and restore the strength of Turkiye’s traditional institutions — including its state media.
The opposition vowed to make Turkiye’s TRT national broadcaster and Anadolu state news agency abide by “the principles of independence and impartiality.”
Its foreign policy section stressed the importance of restoring “mutual trust” with the United States and achieving Turkiye’s stalled goal of gaining “full membership in the European Union.”
It made no direct mention of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We will maintain relations with the Russian Federation with an understanding that both parties are equal and strengthened by balanced and constructive dialogue at the institutional level,” the program said.
Erdogan’s refusal to join Western sanctions on Moscow has turned Turkiye into a key route for Russia to access Western goods and services.
The resulting boom in bilateral trade has added to Erdogan’s tensions with Washington and the European Union.


Azerbaijan embassy in Iran suspends work after deadly attack

Azerbaijan embassy in Iran suspends work after deadly attack
Updated 30 January 2023

Azerbaijan embassy in Iran suspends work after deadly attack

Azerbaijan embassy in Iran suspends work after deadly attack

BAKU: Azerbaijan said on Monday it was suspending work at its embassy in Iran, days after a gunman stormed the mission, killing one guard and wounding two others.
Iran has said the attack on Friday was motivated by personal reasons but Baku labelled it an act of terrorism.
“The operation of Azerbaijan’s embassy in Iran has been temporarily suspended following the evacuation of its staff and their family members from Iran,” Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman Ayxan Hacizada told AFP.
“That doesn’t mean that diplomatic ties had been severed,” he said, adding that Baku’s consulate general in the Iranian city of Tabriz was “up and running.”
In a phone call on Saturday with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said he hoped “this violent act of terror would be thoroughly investigated.”
Tehran’s police said the attacker, who was arrested, was an Iranian man married to an Azerbaijani woman.
The United States condemned “unacceptable violence” and urged a prompt investigation. Russia’s foreign ministry said Moscow was “shocked” by the attack.
Iran is home to millions of Turkic-speaking, ethnic Azeris and it has long accused Azerbaijan of fomenting separatist sentiment inside its territory.
Relations between the two countries have traditionally been sour, with the former Soviet republic a close ally of Iran’s historical rival Turkiye.
Tehran also fears that Azerbaijani territory could be used for a possible offensive against Iran by Israel, a major supplier of arms to Baku.