Campaigners urge UN rights chief to act on China Xinjiang abuse report

Police officers patrol the square in front of Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, May 3, 2021. (REUTERS)
Police officers patrol the square in front of Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, May 3, 2021. (REUTERS)
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Updated 21 June 2024
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Campaigners urge UN rights chief to act on China Xinjiang abuse report

Police officers patrol the square in front of Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, May 3, 2021.
  • The August 2022 report, produced under the leadership of the last commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, said the extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang may be an international crime

GENEVA: Campaign groups called on the United Nations human rights chief on Thursday to take more action over what they said were documented abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
The groups, including the World Uyghur Congress and Amnesty International said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk had not followed up on a 2022 report by his own predecessor that found China may have committed crimes against humanity.
China defended its record and dismissed the groups’ statement given at a meeting in the Geneva headquarters of the UN Human Rights Council.
Volker did not attend the meeting and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. After taking office in October 2022, the Austrian former lawyer said he stood by the report and wanted to engage China over the findings.
The August 2022 report, produced under the leadership of the last commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, said the extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang may be an international crime.
China has repeatedly denied accusations of abuses in its northwest Xinjiang region.
Just before Turk took office, mostly non-Western members of the Rights Council voted down a motion brought by the US, Britain and other mostly Western powers to hold a debate about the report — a result that was seen as a diplomatic victory for Beijing.
“To date there has been no action, no meaningful action,” Zumretay Arkin, a spokesperson for the World Uyghur Congress, told Thursday’s meeting. “We are here to remind everyone ... that impunity cannot be the solution.”
The campaign groups, also including Human Rights Watch and the International Service for Human Rights, translated the 2022 report into five languages, published them and called for Turk to give an update on how his office and China had responded to the report’s recommendations.
China’s attache at its mission in Geneva, Zhu Kexing, told the session: “In order to discredit China and hinder China’s development, a small number of NGOs and Western countries do not hesitate to act as liars and rumor-makers to serve their anti-China separatist plots.”
Several countries including the United States and Australia also voiced concerns about the lack of follow-up on the 2022 report but stopped short of giving specific recommendations on how Turk’s office should react.

 


Trump announces Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as running mate

Trump announces Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as running mate
Updated 41 min 51 sec ago
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Trump announces Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as running mate

Trump announces Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as running mate
  • J.D. Vance is a one-time harsh critic who became one of Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress
  • One of the least experienced VP picks in modern history, the one-term senator is further to the right than the ex-president on many issues

MILWAUKEE: Donald Trump on Monday named right-wing Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as his running mate in the US presidential election, rewarding a one-time harsh critic who became one of his most loyal supporters in Congress.
Trump, 78, announced his pick on the first day of the Republican Party convention in Milwaukee, an extravaganza turbocharged by the attempted assassination of the former president.
Seen as the standard-bearer for a new kind of populism that has come to the fore under Trump, 39-year-old Vance embraces the ex-president’s isolationist, anti-immigration America First movement.
One of the least experienced VP picks in modern history, the one-term senator is further to the right than the ex-president on many issues including abortion, where he embraces calls for federal legislation.
He made his name with the 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” a best-selling account of his Appalachian family and modest Rust Belt upbringing, which gave a voice to rural, working-class resentment in left-behind America.
Critics have pointed to numerous awkward remarks one-time “Never Trump guy” Vance has made in the past, including calling the billionaire an “idiot,” “noxious” and “reprehensible” and suggesting he was “America’s Hitler.”
Vance reinvented himself as a Trump supporter in recent years and ultimately won the ex-president’s key endorsement in the 2022 Ohio Senate race.
Trump could have dropped his big reveal at any point in the days before Milwaukee, but all his pre-convention plans were upended when a gunman made an attempt on his life at a rally in Pennsylvania Saturday.

With the country still reeling from images of the bloodied Trump being escorted off a rally stage, some 50,000 Republicans descended on the shores of Lake Michigan for the four-day gathering, four months before the election against Democratic President Joe Biden.
The attempted assassination — in which one bystander was killed, and two more wounded — was expected to dominate proceedings, with Trump dismissing calls to postpone and vowing to be “defiant in the face of wickedness.”
“I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be dead,” he told the New York Post in an interview aboard his plane to Milwaukee, during which he reportedly had a white bandage on his ear and a large bruise on his forearm from where Secret Service agents gripped him.
The Secret Service, which is battling criticism it failed to protect Trump from the shooter, said it was “fully prepared” to ensure security at the convention.
Leading in multiple polls, despite being convicted at his hush-money criminal case in New York, Trump is exuding confidence.
Biden, 81, meanwhile is facing calls from his own side to quit the race over concerns around his age.
Trump scored another victory Monday as a judge dismissed the criminal case against him over accusations he endangered national security by holding on to top secret documents after leaving the White House.

He immediately took to Truth Social to call for the dismissal of all legal cases against him, insisting again that he was being targeted for political reasons.
Trump told the Post he had “prepared an extremely tough speech” about Biden’s “horrible administration” to deliver when he becomes the official Republican nominee on Thursday.
As some Republicans — including Vance — sought to blame Democrats’ anti-Trump rhetoric for the attack, Trump also said he hopes to “unite our country.”
Still, that would see him have to rein in the instinct to settle scores — demonstrated by his cry for supporters to “fight” in the seconds after Saturday’s attack.
The Milwaukee gathering is largely designed in Trump’s image, with digital banners beaming out a message in the cavernous convention arena: “Make America Great Once Again.”
The branding reflects his takeover of the party.
A diminished figure after his 2020 election loss and a subsequent riot at the Capitol by his supporters, Trump has spent much of the last four years reshaping Republican politics.
Installing loyalists including his daughter-in-law Lara Trump atop the Republican National Committee, the billionaire has effectively crushed dissent.
The Milwaukee convention is also a family affair, with Lara and the former president’s two eldest sons, Don Jr and Eric, all due to address delegates.


Heavy rains kill at least 35 in eastern Afghanistan — official

Heavy rains kill at least 35 in eastern Afghanistan — official
Updated 15 July 2024
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Heavy rains kill at least 35 in eastern Afghanistan — official

Heavy rains kill at least 35 in eastern Afghanistan — official
  • The storms and rains collapsed trees, walls and roofs of several houses in Jalalabad and Nangarhar
  • The tragedy comes after flash floods killed hundreds of people and swamped agricultural lands in May

KABUL: At least 35 people were killed and 230 injured on Monday after heavy rain in eastern Afghanistan, a local official said.
“On Monday evening, stormy rains killed 35 people and injured 230 others in Jalalabad and certain districts of Nangarhar” province, Quraishi Badloon, head of the department of information and culture, told AFP.
The casualties were caused by heavy storms and rains that collapsed trees, walls and roofs of people’s houses, Badloon said.
“There is a possibility that casualties might rise,” he went on, adding that the wounded as well as victims’ bodies were brought to Nangarhar regional hospital and Fatima-tul-Zahra hospital.
Images shared by Badloon’s department showed medical personnel wearing white and blue uniforms giving treatment to the wounded.
Other pictures on social media showed battered buildings and power masts.
Nangarhar authorities said on X that 400 houses were damaged, while electricity was out of service in the provincial capital of Jalalabad.
They added that several citizens had donated blood at the hospital to support the recovery efforts.
A camp at the Torkham border crossing with Pakistan, built for Afghans returning to their country, was particularly devastated as tents were swept away.
“We share the grief of the families of the victims,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban government.
“The relevant institutions of the Islamic Emirate have been directed to go to the affected areas as soon as possible,” Mujahid wrote on X, adding they would provide shelter, food and medicine to displaced families.
The tragedy comes after flash floods killed hundreds of people in Afghanistan in May and swamped agricultural lands in the country, where 80 percent of the population depends on farming to survive.
Among the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan is particularly exposed to the effects of climate change.
This year, it saw an unusually wet spring after an extremely dry winter.


Germany arrests suspected Hezbollah member

A masked demonstrator waves a Hezbollah flag during a demonstration supporting the Palestinians in Beirut. (File/AFP)
A masked demonstrator waves a Hezbollah flag during a demonstration supporting the Palestinians in Beirut. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 July 2024
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Germany arrests suspected Hezbollah member

A masked demonstrator waves a Hezbollah flag during a demonstration supporting the Palestinians in Beirut. (File/AFP)
  • The Lebanese man named as Fadel Z was arrested on Sunday, prosecutors said in a statement
  • He was “strongly suspected of membership of a foreign terrorist organization,” the prosecutors said

BERLIN: A suspected member of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has been arrested in Germany, accused of procuring components for drones believed to be used in attacks on Israel, German prosecutors said Monday.
The Lebanese man named as Fadel Z was arrested on Sunday, prosecutors said in a statement.
He was “strongly suspected of membership of a foreign terrorist organization,” the prosecutors said.
The man is believed to have “procured components, particularly engines for the assembly of drones” which “were supposed to be exported to Lebanon and used in terrorist attacks on Israel,” they added.
The prosecutors added that the man was suspected of having joined Hezbollah “no later than in summer 2016” and that he was apprehended in the town of Salzgitter in Lower Saxony province.
The Israeli military has been trading regular cross-border fire with Hezbollah since early October.
The Shiite Muslim movement has been supporting its ally Hamas since the group’s October 7 attack on Israel triggered war in the Gaza Strip.


100 injured as Bangladesh student groups clash over job quotas

100 injured as Bangladesh student groups clash over job quotas
Updated 15 July 2024
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100 injured as Bangladesh student groups clash over job quotas

100 injured as Bangladesh student groups clash over job quotas
  • The quota system reserves more than half of well-paid civil service posts totalling hundreds of thousands of government jobs
  • These jobs are reserved for specific groups, including children of heroes from the country’s 1971 liberation war from Pakistan

DHAKA: Rival students in Bangladesh clashed on Monday leaving at least 100 people injured, as demonstrators opposing quotas for coveted government jobs battled counter-protesters loyal to the ruling party, police said.
Police and witnesses said hundreds of anti-quota protesters and students backing the ruling Awami League party battled for hours on Dhaka University campus, hurling rocks, fighting with sticks and beating each other with iron rods.
Some carried machetes while others threw petrol bombs, witnesses said.
The quota system reserves more than half of well-paid civil service posts totalling hundreds of thousands of government jobs for specific groups, including children of heroes from the country’s 1971 liberation war from Pakistan.
“They clashed with sticks and threw rocks at each other,” local police station chief Mostajirur Rahman told AFP.
Masud Mia, a police inspector, said “around 100 students including women” were injured, and had been taken to hospital. “More people are coming,” Mia added.
Students launched protests earlier this month demanding a merit-based system.
They have continued despite Bangladesh’s top court suspending the quota scheme.
Anti-quota protesters blamed the ruling party students for the violence.
“They attacked our peaceful procession with rods, sticks and rocks,” Nahid Islam, the national coordinator of the anti-quota protests, told AFP.
“They beat our female protesters. At least 150 students were injured including 30 women, and conditions of 20 students are serious.”
Critics say the system benefits children of pro-government groups who back Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Hasina, 76, won her fourth consecutive general election in January, in a vote without genuine opposition parties that saw a major crackdown against her political opponents, who boycotted the poll.
Injured student Shahinur Shumi, 26, said the protesters were taken by surprise.
“We were holding our procession peacefully,” she said from her hospital bed at Dhaka Medical Hospital.
“Suddenly, the Chhatra League (the ruling party student wing) attacked us with sticks, machetes, iron rods, and bricks.”
Police said hundreds of students from several private universities shouting anti-quota slogans joined the protests in Dhaka, halting traffic near the US embassy for more than four hours.
“Some 200 students squatted and stood on the road,” deputy police commissioner Hasanuzzaman Molla told AFP.
Thousands of students also marched in a dozen universities overnight Sunday into the early hours of Monday morning, protesting against what they said were Hasina’s disparaging comments.
Protesters said they were compared to collaborators of the Pakistani army during Bangladesh’s war of independence.
“This is unacceptable,” a female student from Dhaka University said, asking not to be named for fear of reprisal.
“We want a reform of the quota system so that meritorious students can get a fair chance.”
Violence also erupted during protests in Bangladesh’s second city Chittagong late on Sunday, anti-quota students said.
Khan Talat Mahmud Rafy, the organizer, said two fellow protesters were injured.
“Dozens of Chhatra League activists attacked one of our processions,” Rafy said.
Students are demanding that only those quotas supporting ethnic minorities and disabled people — six percent of jobs — should remain.
Bangladesh was one of the world’s poorest countries when it gained independence in 1971, but it has grown an average of more than six percent each year since 2009.
But much of that growth has been on the back of the mostly female factory workforce powering its garment export industry, and economists say there is an acute crisis of jobs for millions of university students.


Pro-Palestinian activists held after protest at UK war memorial

Youth Demand activists hold placards reading “Stop arming Israel” and “Never again for anyone.”
Youth Demand activists hold placards reading “Stop arming Israel” and “Never again for anyone.”
Updated 15 July 2024
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Pro-Palestinian activists held after protest at UK war memorial

Youth Demand activists hold placards reading “Stop arming Israel” and “Never again for anyone.”
  • A Palestinian flag was laid in front of the Cenotaph and “180,000 killed” spray-painted on the ground in front of the monument
  • The Cenotaph is the focus every year of of national events to commemorate Britain’s war dead

LONDON: UK police on Monday arrested two pro-Palestinian demonstrators after a protest at Britain’s Cenotaph war memorial in central London.
A Palestinian flag was laid in front of the Cenotaph and “180,000 killed” spray-painted on the ground in front of the monument, photos and video footage showed.
The Cenotaph is the focus every year of of national events to commemorate Britain’s war dead.
“Two women were quickly arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and are in custody,” the Metropolitan Police said on X, adding that damage was caused to the road and not to the monument itself.
In a statement, the Youth Demand group said its supporters had taken action to “commemorate the thousands killed in Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.”
It said Youth Demand was calling for a two-way arms embargo on Israel and for the new UK government to halt all new oil and gas licenses granted since 2021.
Supporters planned to disrupt the State Opening of Parliament by head of state King Charles III on Wednesday, it added.
Youth Demand last month staged a protest at the constituency home of former prime minister Rishi Sunak.
The war in Gaza was sparked by Hamas’s surprise October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel responded with a military offensive that has killed at least 38,584 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data provided by the Gaza health ministry.