UK Labour suspends prominent MP over racism letter

UK Labour suspends prominent MP over racism letter
Diane Abbott. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 April 2023
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UK Labour suspends prominent MP over racism letter

UK Labour suspends prominent MP over racism letter
  • Diane Abbott, who has been a lawmaker since 1987, was the first Black woman to be elected to parliament in Britain

LONDON: Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has suspended high-profile lawmaker Diane Abbott over a letter she wrote in which she said the prejudice experienced by Jewish people was similar to, but not the same as, racism.

Labour, which polls indicate is likely to form Britain’s next government after an election expected next year, faced accusations of discrimination and harassment against Jews under its former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The equalities watchdog found in 2020 Labour had serious failings in the party’s handling of persistent antisemitism complaints.

Abbott, 69, was responding to a writer’s claims that Irish, Jewish and Traveler people suffered racism. 

She said that their experiences were similar to racism but that there were differences.

“They undoubtedly experience prejudice. This is similar to racism and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable,” she wrote.

“It is true that many types of white people with points of difference, such as redheads, can experience this prejudice,” she said in the letter. 

“But they are not all their lives subject to racism.”

Abbott, who has been a lawmaker since 1987, was the first Black woman to be elected to parliament in Britain, and is a close ally of Corbyn for whom she served as the party’s spokesperson for home affairs.

In her letter to the Observer, Abbott said that “in pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travelers were not required to sit at the back of the bus. In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote. And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.”

She later apologized “unreservedly” and withdrew her remarks.

“The errors arose in an initial draft being sent,” she said in a message posted on Twitter. 

“But there is no excuse, and I wish to apologize for any anguish caused.”

A spokesperson for Labour party said she had been suspended pending an investigation.

British politicians condemned her comments made in the letter.

The energy secretary, Grant Shapps, who is Jewish, said on Twitter that “once again, Jewish people have to wake up and see a Labour MP casually spouting hateful anti-Semitism.”

Corbyn himself was suspended and blocked from standing as a Labour candidate at the next general election expected next year after claimingantisemitism in the party during his leadership had been “dramatically overstated” for political reasons.

Britain’s equalities watchdog said earlier this year the Labour Party had made sufficient changes over the last two years to tackle antisemitism.


Rwandan expelled from US given life genocide term

Beatrice Munyenyezi is escorted by police officers at a court in Kigali, Rwanda. (AFP file photo)
Beatrice Munyenyezi is escorted by police officers at a court in Kigali, Rwanda. (AFP file photo)
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Rwandan expelled from US given life genocide term

Beatrice Munyenyezi is escorted by police officers at a court in Kigali, Rwanda. (AFP file photo)
  • The sentencing came days after Rwanda marked 30 years since the genocide carried out by the extremist Hutu regime between April and July 1994, which left more than 800,000 people dead, mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus, according to a UN tally

KIGALI: A Rwandan woman expelled to her homeland three years ago from the US has been given a life sentence for her role in the country’s 1994 genocide, The New Times newspaper reported on Saturday.
A court in the southern town of Huye found Beatrice Munyenyezi guilty of the charges of murder as a genocide crime, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide, and complicity in rape.
However, she was acquitted on a charge of planning genocide, the Rwandan-based national paper said.
The sentencing came days after Rwanda marked 30 years since the genocide carried out by the extremist Hutu regime between April and July 1994, which left more than 800,000 people dead, mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus, according to a UN tally.

FASTFACT

Beatrice Munyenyezi was deported in April 2021 from the US after serving a 10-year prison sentence there for lying about her involvement in the genocide as she set about obtaining American citizenship.

Munyenyezi, 54, denied all the charges against her.
But the court concluded she was guilty of ordering and committing murders and attacks herself, including that of a nun who was raped on her orders.
Nicknamed the “commander,” the investigation and several witness accounts said that Munyenyezi was supervising a roadblock in Huye — then called Butare — where she identified Tutsis and had them killed, and also encouraged Hutu extremists to rape women.
She was deported in April 2021 from the US after serving a 10-year prison sentence there for lying about her involvement in the genocide as she set about obtaining American citizenship, saying she faced persecution in her own country.
The case attracted US attention as her mother-in-law Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a former minister in the genocidal regime, and her husband Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, a former local militia leader, were also on trial for genocide crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.
They were also sentenced to life in prison, in 2011, before their terms were reduced to 47 years on appeal.

 


Somalia refuses to accept Ethiopian naval base in breakaway region

Somalia refuses to accept Ethiopian naval base in breakaway region
Updated 5 min 5 sec ago
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Somalia refuses to accept Ethiopian naval base in breakaway region

Somalia refuses to accept Ethiopian naval base in breakaway region
  • Somalia called the deal illegal as it considers Somaliland part of its territory even though it has had effective autonomy since 1991

NAIROBI: Somalia will never accept Ethiopia’s plan to build a naval base in its breakaway region of Somaliland but would consider granting Ethiopia commercial port access if discussed bilaterally, a senior Somali official said.
Landlocked Ethiopia sparked a diplomatic row with Mogadishu in January by signing a deal with Somaliland to lease 20 km of its coastline in return for recognizing the region as an independent state.
Somalia called the deal illegal as it considers Somaliland part of its territory even though it has had effective autonomy since 1991.

BACKGROUND

Landlocked Ethiopia sparked a diplomatic row with Mogadishu in January by signing a deal with Somaliland to lease 20 km of its coastline in return for recognizing the region as an independent state.

To defuse the acrimony, Kenya, in consultation with Djibouti and the Eastern African Bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, has proposed a maritime treaty to govern how landlocked states in the region can access ports on commercial terms, a senior Kenyan official said on Thursday.
Somalia’s state minister for foreign affairs, Ali Omar, said that before discussing port access bilaterally, Ethiopia must annul its agreement with Somaliland.
“Somalia will never accept (a) naval base,” Omar said.
“Somalia is ready for commercial access in accordance with the international law of the sea.”
He added that Somalia was willing to discuss proposals as long as they met the country’s interests, which are to “safeguard (our) sovereignty, political independence and unity.”
A spokesperson for Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

 


Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions

Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions
Updated 27 min 42 sec ago
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Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions

Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions
  • Soon after the White House announced the change of plans, the Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart
  • Amid the Israel-Hamas war, tensions have escalated since a suspected Israeli strike this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria

DELAWARE, USA: President Joe Biden is cutting short a weekend stay at his Delaware beach house and returning to the White House on Saturday to meet with his national security team and monitor the situation in the Middle East.
Soon after the White House announced the change of plans, the Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart “to discuss urgent regional threats ... and made clear that Israel could count on full US support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies.
Amid the Israel-Hamas war, tensions have escalated since a suspected Israeli strike this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria killed 12 people, including senior Iranian generals. Israel is bracing for a possible Iranian attack, raising concerns about the United States being pulled into deeper regional conflict.
Biden on Friday said the United States was “devoted” to defending Israel and that “Iran will not succeed.”
Asked by reporters what his message was for Iran, the president’s only reply was: “Don’t.”
He ignored a question about what would trigger a direct US military response, and when asked how imminent an Iranian attack on Israel was, Biden said he did not want to get into secure information, “but my expectation is sooner than later.”
During the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, there have been near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group along the Israel-Lebanon border. US officials have recorded more than 150 attacks by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria on US forces at bases in those countries since war started on Oct. 7.
One attack in late January killed three US service members in Jordan. In retaliation, the US launched a massive air assault, hitting more than 85 targets at seven locations in Iraq and Syria.
Meantime, on Saturday, commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard rappelled from a helicopter onto an Israeli-affiliated container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel.
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US strongly condemned the seizure and urged Iran to release the ship and crew immediately.
“We will work with our partners to hold Iran to account for its actions,” she said.
Also Saturday, the Israeli-occupied West Bank also saw some of the worst violence since Hamas’ attack on Israel.


Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says

Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says
Updated 13 April 2024
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Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says

Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says
  • “I am grateful to the chancellor for the decision to supply another, additional Patriot system to Ukraine,” Zelensky said
  • He described their conversation as “important, productive” and said: “I call on all other leaders of partner states to follow this example“

KYIV: Germany will supply a US-made Patriot air defense system and air defense missiles to Ukraine at a “critical time” as Kyiv struggles to defend its energy system from Russian bombardment, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.
More than two years into its full-scale invasion, Russia has staged three massive airstrikes on power stations and substations in recent weeks, prompting Kyiv to issue desperate appeals for supplies of high-end air defenses.
“I am grateful to the chancellor for the decision to supply another, additional Patriot system to Ukraine, as well as missiles for the existing air defense systems,” Zelensky said after speaking by telephone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
He described their conversation as “important, productive” and said: “I call on all other leaders of partner states to follow this example.”
Germany will hand over the Patriot system immediately and it will be in addition to air defense systems that were already delivered and planned, the defense ministry said in a post on X.
An April 10 German government summary of arms and military equipment transfers to Ukraine included two Patriot systems on a list of air defense supplies already delivered, making this the third from Germany.
Zelensky said last week that Ukraine needed 25 US-made Patriot air defense systems to cover the country from Russian attacks.
In his statement on the Telegram app on Saturday, the Ukrainian leader said he and Scholz also discussed preparations for a reconstruction conference in Berlin and a peace summit in Switzerland in June.


Sydney knife attacker shot dead after killing 6 in Bondi mall

Sydney knife attacker shot dead after killing 6 in Bondi mall
Updated 13 April 2024
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Sydney knife attacker shot dead after killing 6 in Bondi mall

Sydney knife attacker shot dead after killing 6 in Bondi mall
  • Five of the six victims killed were women, while eight people were taken to hospital with stab wounds
  • Australia has some of world’s toughest gun and knife laws, attacks such as the one on Saturday are rare

SYDNEY: An attacker who fatally knifed six people in a Sydney mall was shot dead by police in the beachside suburb of Bondi on Saturday, police said, as hundreds fled the scene.
The assailant was shot by a police officer after he attacked shoppers in the busy Westfield Bondi Junction shopping center, police said in a statement.
Five of the six victims killed were women, while eight people, including a nine-month-old baby, were taken to hospital with stab wounds, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb told a press conference.
Police at this stage do not believe the attack was terrorism-related, Webb said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there was no indication yet of the man’s motive.
“This was a horrific act of violence, indiscriminately targeting innocent people going about an ordinary Saturday doing their shopping,” he told a press conference.
“Tonight the first thoughts of all Australians are with the victims of these terrible acts.”
Australia has some of the world’s toughest gun and knife laws, and attacks such as the one on Saturday are rare.
’ON THE RAMPAGE’
Emergency services were called to the mall, about three kilometers (1.9 miles) from Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach and popular with children and families, just before 4 p.m. (0600 GMT) after the stabbing reports, police said.
Ayush Singh, 25, was working in a cafe in the mall when he saw the attack and then heard gunshots as police responded.
“I saw the guy with the knife running and chasing people. As he walked just past beside me I heard two or three gunshots and the guy was neutralized,” he told Reuters.
“People around me were terrified. There were some old ladies I helped to get them inside a safe place inside the cafe.”
Two other witnesses told Reuters they heard shots.
“Even 20 minutes after people were rushed out of the mall, I saw SWAT teams of people sweeping the surrounding streets,” one witness said.
The other witness said they saw a woman lying on the ground and took shelter in a jewelry store.
An eyewitness described the police officer shooting the attacker to state broadcaster ABC.
“If she did not shoot him, he would have kept going, he was on the rampage,” said the man, who did not give his name. “She went over and was giving him CPR. He had a nice big blade on him. He looked like he was on a killing spree.”
Several posts on social media showed crowds fleeing the mall and police cars and emergency services rushing to the area.
The mall will remain closed on Sunday while an investigation continues, police said.