NCPA receives over 8,000 complaints

NCPA receives over 8,000 complaints

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) has received 8,548 complaints about children’s harassments , sexual assaults and abuses from January to December.
The Colombo District has recorded the highest number of complaints (1,232). Gampaha recorded 925, 550 from Kalutara, 647 from Kurunegala, 490 from Ratnapura, 564 from Galle, 177 from Jaffana, 122 from Vavunia, 170 from Batticaloa, 125 from Mulativu, and 117 from Killinochchi.
The NCPA has taken steps to investigate all complaints.
The public was asked to call on TP No. 1929 and complain against child abusers and similar offences, Senior Director of Education W.M. Balasooriya said speaking at a conference of government principals of the Kurunegala district held recently at the Wariyapola Teachers’ Resources Centre, Kurunegala.
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Musthapha condemns racist attitude of two ministers

Musthapha condemns racist attitude of two ministers

No Confidence Motion filed against Minister Faiszer Musthapha
2017-12-16
Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faizer Musthapha yesterday castigated two Muslim ministers for what he described as their ‘racist attitude’ by not being present at the voting on the local government electoral amendments.
He told a news conference the two Muslim party leaders and ministers kept away because they did not have a guts to support or oppose the amendments.
“They may tell their people that they did not vote for the LG electoral amendments because it will affect the Muslims. Their action is selfish and detrimental to the larger interests of the people,” the minister said.
Introducing late Soma Edirisinghe’s daughter Deepa Edirisinghe as a UPFA candidate for the Colombo Municipal Council the minister said he was able to persuade her to contest the elections because the new law that requires a minimum of 25% women candidates.
“Another policy adopted by the SLFP was not to include two candidates from the same family. We asked them to adhere to the policy of nominating only one member from one family. This policy will put an end to nepotism in the SLFP,” the minister said. “Since the independence, all political parties, the UNP and the SLFP in particular have given opportunities to political families to thrive. It is extremely difficult to win a seat in a LG body, a provincial council or Parliament without powerful political connections. That is how political power was handed down from father to son, husband to wife, father-in-law to son-in-law and from brother to sister. This undemocratic practice must end.” Ms. Edirisinghe also addressed the media. (Sandun A Jayasekera)
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A Time of Gifts Winding up

A Time of Gifts Winding up



By Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha-2017-12-16

Since I could do no work till I got the official result, I had a glorious summer. There was much socializing, even with some of the by now much younger generations of undergraduates, though mainly with old friends, in London or when they came back.
After term I went back to the cottage we had taken the previous year in Ireland, this time with just two friends. Again we had a delightful though much less strenuous time than when we had had a car. Then I settled down to work, which did not prove too taxing.
I spent the first two terms after I got back in the lower flat at Norham Gardens, since the rooms Bruce and I had occupied had been taken over by two Union friends. Two others had taken on the downstairs flat, including the defeated Secretary of the Union who had been elected President at the end of the previous summer, and I took over his room which he had vacated at the end of the previous year.
22 Norham Gardens
30 May 1979
Thanks for your letter – don’t bother about the accommodation as I’m almost certain now I shan’t be back in October and won’t try – my supervisor pointed out gracefully in reply to my own elegant complaints that I oughtn’t really to have fixed myself so arbitrary a deadline, and I think he’s right. I have a clearer idea now about the revision, though not yet an official one, and I’m afraid the examiners recommend, though not demanding, that criticism – which is what the troublesome chapter is about – should be mentioned in footnotes elsewhere. So, though the argument still remains intact, the actual logistics of presentation will take up time. Could you or Thatha please mention this to Ashley? – I’ve written already, suggesting that they proceed with another appointment as it’s only fair to them to offer the option of my resignation. I’m not too upset – and that, I think, only in case both of you are which I hope you’re not. There is, however, one problem, namely my return ticket, which expires on 18 June. I shall go down to London next week to try to get it changed, or a refund, failing which I wonder whether I should send it back for Thatha to deal with more effectively. If he’d like to ring me (!!!), I’m in most mornings, but after 8, the portering still going on apace; and enjoyably, though regrettably less frequently.
Christopher Bowden’s very good at touristy things, and would probably much appreciate Anuradhapura et al, and, of course, Kandy; and could manage the touring himself, unless of course you were free and wanted to have a break yourselves.
I think he’d want to cram as much as possible into his time, so it may be best to send him on rapid exhausting tour to the ruins, and take him on a more leisurely one yourselves to the hills. I also think he’d appreciate Old Place, though not of course at the expense of more prominent things. Let him pay for himself unless you’re with him – and even then perhaps occasionally, as he may be embarrassed otherwise. It would be nice if he could meet someone Parliamentary – say, Bernard – as well as see the place. You may recall that he’s Mary’s boyfriend – as in the girl you met in ’75, when her then boyfriend John – Christopher’s then flatmate – was playing tennis.
I’ve been relatively quiet over the last few weeks, though this, being 8s week, is a bit more hectic, with people down for the weekend and parties given by people I know – which isn’t generally the case any more. A symptom of middle-age, perhaps (I gave up sugar in coffee and tea to mark being 25), is that I find few things more enjoyable than sitting in the flat reading long novels and listening to opera – Bruce very kindly having brought me last weekend lots of records to add to my own sets – now much expanded with Anila’s birthday present of Wagner’s Ring – 11 records, nearly 20 hours worth of glorious noise. I suspect, also, that it’s had its therapeutic effect during the relative frustration of the last few weeks when I could do nothing and would, ordinarily, have been annoyed, but wasn’t.
Thatha’s letter mentioned something about Annette, which sounded quite upsetting – do elucidate. Anila’s letter to me mentioned the Stokey wedding as well, as an occasion of great glee. I had a belated birthday card from Punch, but haven’t seen him yet, and have no idea where he is at the moment. I hope Lakshmi’s better, she didn’t sound too well in her last, and that her land problem resolves itself.
Thanks too for the cadju which was extremely welcome. Don’t bother about cake, though if there is a possibility of anything being sent, my box of cufflinks might be useful – though not in the least essential. Hope you’re looking after yourselves.
June 1979
You will, I trust, be delighted to hear that the University Hardship Committee – I like to think, though improbably, through a guilty conscience about the delay, have given me 400 pounts; which, with your characteristically kind and generous renewal, will make me prosper again. I cannot, unfortunately, be night porter again, as they have a permanent man – but it was most enjoyable, as Oxford continues. I’ve asked the Admissions Office to send on forms, but for various reasons I wouldn’t impost on Univ necessarily again so soon, especially with a late entry. Many thanks for the cake, also the letters through Margaret.
22 Norham Gardens
30 June 1979
Thanks for your letter, which took ages to arrive due to postal confusion here. Doubtless this will too but, just in case you do have a carrier, my sports jacket and one or two of the shirts (blue dress one esp.), also some shoes, would be of use – order of priority given. Do let me know whether and when you’re going to be here soon, so I could leave repairs to you – it was most annoying (!) to be told of looking exceeding well on the day I borrowed a jacket from upstairs. Vivien hastened to assure me it was the colour, rather than the general disreputability of my own stuff.
I hope you got my anniversary card, also Thatha’s birthday card with its good news about my grant. I still work occasionally as Night Porter, which is most enjoyable – Leslie is quite convinced I only do it for the gossip. I still haven’t got quite as strong a hold on the rather silly bits of work I have to do before resubmission – mainly because everyone I know has been going gently dotty due to Exams, leaving, Union, etc. and their resident psychiatrist has to cope. I’m thinking of charging, and having a system of appointments though this may only be flattery, to prevent myself feeling old and passé. It’s nice to feel needed anyway, and the situations are often very diverting and of great value to the budding novelist – hence, too, the Lodge, because the College is going through a protracted sort of crisis and the reactions of the individuals concerned are fascinating.
I took Theja to ‘My Fair Lady’ on Wednesday, not with much enthusiasm as it wasn’t a particularly good production but Sanjiva and Chitra were going the next day and wanted her to see it before, and in the end it wasn’t a disappointment. Far from thinking of Rex Harrison, the associations I indulged in were the auditory ones of 1959: awful, but at the same time quite charming, to think that my first association with the work was 20 years ago. I’d been to Encaenia that morning – when they give out the Honorary Degrees, to Graham Greene amongst others – and was delighted to discover that I am now senior enough to sit in the area, along with the MP for Oxford, who’s a fellow, and other such luminaries: little things for little minds, just as last week, when David asked me along to see the Garter ceremony, which was a great joy – Lord Hunt of Everest et al.
Sanjiva told me about Aunty Som – I hadn’t actually realized last year that she was ill. I’ve got a card for C.Q. but can’t actually bring myself to write anything in it. I suspect in the end I’ll just sign it and send it on.
Shelton & co. were here on Thursday, and I gave them the tour, including a climb to the top of the Sheldonian, which I hope wasn’t too tiring. Christopher Bowden would, I suppose, have arrived by the time you get this letter. In addition, John Harrison – who now lives upstairs, and whom Aachchi met last year, I’m not sure if you did (beat Alicia for the Union Presidency) arrives on 24 July on a tour with the school at which he’s going to start teaching next term. He’s got a programme and hostel with them, but I’ll give him your number in case you’ll be able to have him to dinner. Could you also give him Rohan’s telephone at John Keells, as he knows Chanaka as well and, being slightly younger, might welcome an evening out, with the kids. He’s quite fond of architecture, but I suspect Anjalan may be a bit too much for him, even for the sake of Dutch Regency buildings.

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Russian Dissatisfaction on Defence Deals Leads to Revenge by Banning Lankan Agro-Products?

Russian Dissatisfaction on Defence Deals Leads to Revenge by Banning Lankan Agro-Products?

A team of the JSC Rosoboronexport, the sole state intermediary agency for Russia’s exports/imports of defense-related and dual-use products, technologies and services, is in Colombo to finalize the scheduled defense agreements including buying a Gepard 5.1 ocean-going patrol ship, but efforts are almost negative

by Our Diplomatic Correspondent- 
(December 16, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Russia has temporarily restricted the import of all Sri Lankan agricultural products, including tea as the result of grave dissatisfaction over the scheduled defence deals under the Russian “state credit line”, a top official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presumed when the Sri Lanka Guardian contacted.
“ A team of the JSC Rosoboronexport, the sole state intermediary agency for Russia’s exports/imports of defense-related and dual-use products, technologies and services, is in Colombo to finalize the scheduled defense agreements including buying a Gepard 5.1 ocean-going patrol ship, but efforts are almost negative due to the lack of credibility and reliability of the local mediator and the political disunity within the government,’ the official added.
However, according to the news report, the so-called restriction enabled after an alleged detection of a beetle in the packaging on one consignment of tea from the island. The restriction, announced by Russian agricultural safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, will go into effect on December 18.
Meanwhile, reached for comment, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mahishini Colonne said, “This is a matter of serious concern for the authorities in Sri Lanka, and the relevant local stakeholders and Russian authorities are being consulted with a view to addressing the issue.”
In a press release, the Sri Lanka Tea Board expressed doubt that the beetle, of the Khapra subspecies, assuredly came from Sri Lanka.
“This beetle is a pest of grain crops such as rice and has never been associated with tea. The Sri Lanka Tea Board is of the view that the specimen discovered in the packaging material may have remained in the shipping container concerned following the use of this container for the transport of grain on a previous occasion, not necessarily of Sri Lankan origin.”
Still, the Tea Board expressed its continued desire to protect the standards and quality for which Ceylon tea is renowned worldwide, adding that they are “working with tea producers and exporters to ensure that phytosanitary and other standards are rigorously followed in all shipments of tea originating in Sri Lanka.” As well, they iterated their belief that the present case, if in fact genuine, is an isolated incident.
The Tea Board’s statement also reiterated the temporary nature of Russia’s restrictions, which will only last until the completion of negotiations and clarification of the situation.
Accordingly, Minister of Plantation Ministries Navin Dissanayake will visit Russia as soon as the necessary logistical arrangements are made and work with his Russian counterparts to resolve this problem. The statement emphasized that the Ministry of Plantation Industries and the Sri Lanka Tea Board are working very closely with all the relevant agencies of government, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Commerce, to restore normal trade between the two countries as soon as possible. Currently, Sri Lankan tea imports make up approximately 23% of Russia’s tea market, according to Russia’s Rusteacoffee association. Speaking to Russia’s RIA news agency, the head of Rusteacoffee said that its members will ask the Rosselkhoznadzor to resume tea imports from Sri Lanka but with tougher controls.
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UPFA Sriyani gets minister post as she joins govt. Dinesh to take disciplinary action

UPFA Sriyani gets minister post as she joins govt. Dinesh to take disciplinary action

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News – 16.Dec.2017, 11.05PM)  Digamadulla district M.P. Ms. Sriyani Wijewickrema who was elected to parliament and represented the  MEP of the Alliance recently resigned from the Alliance and said, she is extending her support to the present  government.  The result : She was yesterday  rewarded with a ministerial portfolio.
The good governance swelling its ministerial portfolios appointed her as the state minister of provincial councils and local administration of cabinet minister Faizer Mustafa . The latter too was present when Sriyani took oaths before the president last morning  (15) .
MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena who held a media briefing last noon  said , this is the outcome of a conspiracy . Sriyani who even voted against the budget on the 9 th suddenly deciding to support the government is nothing but a conspiracy, he pointed out.
Dinesh went on to reveal they will  conduct  a disciplinary inquiry against her based on her MEP membership . At any rate it is to be noted not only  Sriyani but even  Dinesh became M.P. under the betel symbol , the leader of which is the incumbent president Maithripala Sirisena and secretary is Mahinda Amaraweera. Hence it is only Maithri and Amaraweera who can take any action against her politically as regards her  M.P. post .
With  the local body elections around the corner ,Maithripala group is luring the members of other political parties with the Alliance to strengthen  its camp.  Prior to this , 3  high rung members of the party (NFF)  of Weerawansa  whose name by now is synonymous with fraud and corruption joined Maithri’s SLFP camp.  Among those   pole-vaulters were NFF deputy leader and national organizer. There is no doubt the  ex NFF  deputy leader too will get a ministerial post shortly .
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by     (2017-12-16 17:43:35)
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Israel arrests community leaders in attempt to quell protests over Jerusalem

Israel arrests community leaders in attempt to quell protests over Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian near the Huwwara checkpoint, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, 16 December. Israel has detained hundreds as part of a violent crackdown aimed at suppressing protests of Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Tamara Nassar– 16 December 2017

Israeli forces have escalated their sweeping arrest campaign of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, detaining hundreds since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capitalon 6 December.

Israeli occupation forces arrested 400 Palestinians on Tuesday and Wednesday alone in a crackdown Israel dubbed “Operation Green Candles.”

Israeli media reported that it was one of the biggest mass arrest campaigns in recent years, involving 1,600 occupation personnel.

As Israel intensified its violent effort to suppress Palestinian protests for Jerusalem, its forces continue “a concerted campaign of arrests,” the prisoners rights group Addameer said.

The arrest campaign has targeted “ex-detainees and individuals who are considered leading figures in their communities,” Addameer stated.

These included the arrest last Monday of Khader Adnan, a former detainee who has previously undertaken two prolonged hunger strikes – 66 days in 2012 and 55 days in 2015 – in protest of his detention without charge or trial by Israel.
Adnan immediately began a hunger strike to protest his latest arrest, according to prisoner solidarity group Samidoun.

Israeli soldiers also arrested Hassan Yousef, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Wednesday.

Yousef had been released on 31 August after being held under so-called administrative detention – without charge or trial – for two years.

He is one of 12 Palestinian lawmakers now in Israeli prisons, nine of them held under administrative detention, according to Addameer.

Israeli forces moved imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti – also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council – to solitary confinement this week, after he made a statement in commemoration of the first intifada, which began 30 years ago this month.

The detained lawmakers include Khalida Jarrar, who is also a board member at Addameer. She was arrested in July and has been held without charge ever since.

Targeting human rights defenders

Amid the current intensification of its arrest campaign, Israel has also targeted lawyers who defend Palestinian prisoners.

On 4 December it arrested three lawyers, including Eyad Messk, who represents Raed Salah, a prominent Palestinian political leader in Israel. Israel also arrested Khaled Zabarqa and Feras al-Sabbah, who work with prisoners and human rights organizations.

The lawyers were held in Israel’s Petah Tikva interrogation center for a week before being released on Monday, according to Addameer.

Commenting on the arrests, Addameer said: “Israeli forces routinely target human rights defenders as part of an intensifying campaign against anyone seeking to further the cause of dignity and justice for the Palestinian people.”

In August, Israel detained Salah Hamouri, a Palestinian-French human rights defender and former detainee who works with Addameer.

He also remains in prison despite protests from French citizens and the French government.

But on 7 December, Israel released Addameer’s media coordinator Hassan Safadi who was held for more than a year and a half. He was never charged.

No limits

As this video and others document, Israeli forces have even arrested injured persons being transported by medical personnel.

رغم إصابتهن..شاهد: قوات الاحتلال تعتدي على فتاتين قبل اعتقالهما من سيارة إسعاف في مدينة حلحول قضاء الخليل، اليوم.

In this incident, Israeli forces stopped and forcibly removed two girls from a Red Crescent ambulance in Halhul, north of Hebron, on Wednesday.

The two girls denied medical treatment were Manar Khader Rayan, 17, who was injured by a rubber-coated bullet, and Assalah Yousef Rayan, 17, Addameer reported.

A third child, 13-year-old Muhassen Taha, was also arrested in the same raid.

Videos and photos extensively document Israeli armed men disguised as Palestinians – so-called mistaravim – pointing weapons at journalists and seizing Palestinians in the midst of protests.
Another video published by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem circulated widely on social media. It shows Israeli soldiers on Tuesday trying to arrest three Palestinian boys, all under the age of  8
Twitter video is loading

Yesterday, Israeli Border Police tried to drag into a jeep 3 Palestinian children (aged 7 to 8) who were playing near home. Arrests and detention of Palestinian minors by Israeli forces, often using violence and verbal abuse, are part of the occupation’s routine.

Thousands honor disabled protester killed in Gaza

On Friday, four Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip as Israel cracked down on protests that have continued since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

Among them was 29-year-old Ibrahim Abu Thurayya, a wheelchair user who had lost both of his legs during Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008.

He had been seen participating in protests near Gaza’s eastern boundary with Israel, waving Palestinian flags. Abu Thurayya, who supported a family of 11 by washing cars, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers with a bullet to his head.

On Saturday, thousands marched in his funeral.

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Israel’s Jerusalem victory looks increasingly hollow -#Opinion

Israel’s Jerusalem victory looks increasingly hollow -#Opinion

Netanyahu prepared Israel for a historic event with Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as its capital. The result was much less triumphant
Meron Rapoport's picture

Meron Rapoport-Saturday 16 December 2017
The timing of President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week was calculated to have maximum effect on the Israeli public.
Trump started speaking at 8pm local time (1pm Washington time, a strange time for an historic speech) when  Israel’s television networks began their prime time evening news shows. The text was provided in advance so that the networks could prepare a translation and subtitles in Hebrew.
Israeli commentators were unanimous in their assessment that Trump’s speech was an historic one. Even the left admitted how thrilled they were to hear the US president speaking in such glowing terms about the Jewish attachment to its capital, all 3000 years of it.
Netanyahu learnt this week the grave limitations of the American influence worldwide in the Trump era
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu went into celebration mode. The son of a medieval historian, Netanyahu framed Trump’s statement as one of the most important events in modern Jewish history, equal only to the Balfour Declaration, Israel’s independence in 1948 and the occupation (or liberation, as he put it) of Jerusalem in 1967. Culture Minister Miri Regev, a woman known for her pomposity, said that Trump’s name “will be engraved forever on the stones of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall”.

No celebrations

Yet despite the warm welcome given to Trump’s speech by the Jewish Israeli public, no scenes of joy were seen in Israel or even in Jerusalem itself. Most Israelis, it seemed, were content to know that the American president had unambiguously sided with them but failed to see how it affected their life. From the first day of kindergarten, Israelis are taught that Jerusalem is their capital. With all its symbolic weight, there was nothing new in Trump’s speech.
As days passed it became clearer that even politically, Trump’s words had less impact than the Israeli right read into them. The fact that Trump declared that borders would be decided in later negotiations was initially ignored, intentionally or unintentionally, by the Israeli right, which saw the declaration as a recognition in Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech on 6 December 2017 during a diplomatic conference organised by daily Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post focused on Israel’s security and economic ties with countries globally, in Jerusalem (AFP)
Transportation Minister Israel Katz, one of the strongest men in Netanyahu’s Likud party and a frontrunner in the undeclared battle to replace him if he is forced to resign over the criminal investigations against him, was brave enough to tell the Saudi website Elaf that Trump did not recognise a “united Jerusalem” (code for the annexation of its Palestinian part) as Israel’s capital and left the door open to the issue of East Jerusalem. This admission is a long way off the jubilation shown by Netanyahu to Trump’s speech.
Trump’s declaration was likened to the exchange of letters between President George W. Bush and Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 in which the American president wrote that the Palestinian refugee problem should be resolved outside of Israel’s borders and that any peace deal would have to take into account the existing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
But this is misleading. While settlements and the right of return remained highly contentious in all negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, the Palestinians never actually refused to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after a peace deal was signed.

No more takers

The international arena looks even less promising for Israel. Netanyahu did not conceal his hope that other countries would follow Trump’s lead. Given the weight traditionally attached to US positions on world affairs, this was a reasonable surmise. When the Czech president Milos Zeman announced that his country would consider recognising West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, this was seen as just the first drop in a wave of international recognition.
Even the Czech Republic and Hungary, two of the more pro-Israeli Eastern Europe countries, refrained to say when, if at all, they will move their embassy to Jerusalem
It did not happen. Netanyahu hoped that during his visit to Brussels early this week, which was scheduled before Trump’s speech, he would be able to convince at least some EU member states to recognise Jerusalem. He failed. Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, flatly rejected the American move and set her face against any compromise on the issue. His meeting with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, did not go any better.
Even the Czech Republic and Hungary, two of the more pro-Israeli Eastern Europe countries in which Netanyahu invested considerable effort and time, refrained eventually to say when, if at all, they will move their embassy to Jerusalem.
Netanyahu learned this week the limitations of America’s global reach in the Trump era. If, as reports in the Israeli media suggest, EU leaders publicly declare Jerusalem as the joint capital of Israel and a future independent Palestinian state, it will amount to a colossal Israeli diplomatic defeat.
From the Israeli point of view, the picture also looks mixed regarding the Palestinians. It is true that Palestinian parties and organisations, which unanimously called for large-scale demonstrations last week, have so far failed to mobilise the masses.

Protests

There were marches and clashes in all the Palestinian cities, but the scale was smaller than expected. The Israeli army was relatively restrained, especially in the West Bank, and as the number of casualties has so far been small, the Israeli media just ignored the demonstrations.
Most Israeli commentators interpreted this mild initial response as a failure for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and for Hamas’ hope of launching a third Intifada. But this is to look at things from a strictly short-term perspective. The demonstrations did not die out and grew more intense on Friday, and the situation along the border with Gaza became more violent with several protesters killed.
Arab-Israeli protesters shout slogans and wave the Palestinian flag during a demonstration in the Israeli-Palestinian town of Sakhnin on 15 December against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (AF
Yet more importantly, after being almost forgotten by most of the Arab and Muslim world, the issue of Jerusalem helped Abbas revive the Palestinian question on the regional and international arena. The demonstrations all over the Muslim world sent a clear message that as far as Jerusalem is concerned, the Palestinians are not alone.
The final resolution of the 57-member-strong Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit held in Istanbul this week, which declared East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, did not come as surprise to Israel. Yet Israel cannot ignore the fact that it holds full diplomatic relations with at least 20 members of this organisation.

Arab allies muted

No less important, the “Sunni axis” – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Egypt – in which Netanyahu and Israel held high hopes, seems to have suffered a painful blow. Although the language they used was mild, Egypt and Saudi Arabia had no option but to condemn Trump’s speech. It is difficult to see how the Saudi government will permit itself to upgrade its relations with Israel, as it clearly wished to just before Trump’s latest move.
Read more ►
With their refusal to accept the visit of the US Vice President Mike Pence in Ramallah, Abbas and the Palestinians have raised the stakes against what was considered to be the strongest and maybe only outside force in the Middle East conflict. So far, it seems, the gamble has worked. If Trump hoped to push through his “ultimate deal” by persuading the Saudis to pressure the Palestinians into an agreement which – according to most leaks – seemed extremely unfavourable to them, this prospect looks very distant now.
Despite the Palestinian position, the US will remain the main negotiator in the Middle East for the foreseeable future, primarily because no one else – neither the EU nor Russia – is ready to take its place. But the weakness shown by American diplomacy in recent days will certainly not help its best friend in the region, namely Israel. This is not to say the solemn American recognition of Jerusalem as its capital made Israel the loser, but it did not give it any tangible gains either.
– Meron Rapoport is an Israeli journalist and writer, winner of the Napoli International Prize for Journalism for an inquiry about the stealing of olive trees from their Palestinian owners. He is ex-head of the news department at Haaretz, and now an independent journalist.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Photo: Demonstrators walk over images of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu as they take part in a protest in Paris on 9 December (AFP)
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Beloved Jerusalem Hijacked 

Beloved Jerusalem Hijacked

Donald Trump

2017-12-16
Poets as diverse as William Blake and Yehuda Amichai have sung the praises of the heavenly Jerusalem, a land without strife or rancour, war or bitterness, envy, acquisitiveness or hatred. Until last week and President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s de facto capital, Israel, Fatah, Hamas and their common interlocutor, the US, had the historic opportunity to take a giant step towards making the present day Jerusalem acquire, at least in some of its aspects, the earthly prototype of the heavenly Jerusalem. Some of us have long hoped to see whether the work over decades of many imams, rabbis, ministers and priests could bear fruit. The secular politicians may be the ones doing the negotiations and ordering the compromises but it is the teachers of the three great deistic religions who have been charged from above to exert their mandate to teach compassion, goodness, tolerance and brotherhood, and make a non-aligned Jerusalem the centre that brings the three Abrahamic religions into an embrace.
These traits of virtue, as common to them all as is their God, is being tested in the hottest of fires. Have their peoples imbibed the true message of their faith? The question for this Christmas month is can enough of them stand up against the new alliance of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

Benjamin Netanyahu
Over decades Israel has rebuffed American demands for a total freeze on Israel’s colonisation of occupied Palestinian land by allowing both the size of the settlements and the numbers living there to expand by the month. In 2009 Benjamin Netanyahu, in an earlier term as prime minister, even went a step further – announcing that Israel had decided to evict Palestinian families in Arab East Jerusalem to allow Jewish families to take over. Now, in a symbolic move, Trump has ordered the US embassy to be transferred from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that anti-Zionist Israelis see as a collusion with Netanyahu’s hard line, anti-Palestinian policies.
President Bill Clinton was profoundly wrong after the Camp David meeting broke up towards the end of his term in office in berating Arafat publicly for not compromising on Jerusalem. He seemed not to understand Yasser Arafat’s observation: “The Arab leader has not been born who will give up Jerusalem”. Clinton looked at the enormous compromises the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, had already made and assumed this was a very fair deal. It was, indeed, but it wasn’t enough.

“The secular politicians may be the ones doing the negotiations and  ordering the compromises but it is the teachers of the three great  deistic religions who have been charged from above to exert their  mandate to teach compassion, goodness, tolerance and brotherhood, and  make a non-aligned Jerusalem the centre that brings the three Abrahamic  religions into an embrace”

There is no question that at the time of the ending of the British mandate Jerusalem belonged to the Palestinians. They lost West Jerusalem in their ill-judged war with Israel in 1948. Only in 1967 during the Six Day War did Israel capture and annex East Jerusalem and its Old City. (But it did allow Islamic authorities to continue to exercise control over the two ancient mosques and the great stone plaza atop the Temple Mount.) At one time the U.S. itself recognised there would be no peace until this occupation was reversed, hence its vote for UN Resolution 242 in 1967 that called on Israel to withdraw from “territories occupied”. Thus it is a matter of international justice that at the very least the Arab parts of East Jerusalem be returned to Palestine, as long as Jews have free, untrammelled, access, to their sacred site, the Western Wall which sits at the foot of Temple Mount. (Imagine, by comparison, the wrath of the German people if Berlin were still occupied by the Allies.)
Nevertheless, Jewish identity is now so bound up with the idea of Jerusalem (a fuzzy concept if ever there was one, since present day Jerusalem is four times the size of the one that existed in 1948) that to prise Israel loose by a process of capitulation is going to be a very uphill task.
Once again, despite (and because of) the moving of the American embassy, we have to begin to think seriously about the idea of internationalising part of East Jerusalem. For the present the long-time suggestion of a UN Security Council-ruled fiefdom only extends to the Temple Mount, but once that principle is accepted the possibilities of geographical extension to include some of the neighbourhoods around shouldn’t be so difficult to swallow. There can be two stages, a couple of years apart.
With his audacious and damning move Trump has raised the stakes over Jerusalem. Most of the big powers, the Islamic world and the Pope have criticised him. That is not enough. If the rest of the world is not prepared to resist Netanyahu and drive through the internationalising of the city he will have proved once again that Israel always turns out on top. For that not to happen we need the faith of the founders of the
Abrahamic religions.

Note: For 17 years Power was a foreign affairs columnist and commentator  for the International
Herald Tribune, now the
New York Times.
(Phone no: +46 706510879)

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Myanmar journalists’ group to don black T-shirts over arrest of Reuters’ reporters

Myanmar journalists’ group to don black T-shirts over arrest of Reuters’ reporters

Reuters journalists Wa Lone, left, and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar, Dec. 11, 2017.
Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski

Reuters Staff-DECEMBER 16, 2017


YANGON (Reuters) – A group of Myanmar journalists said they would begin wearing black T-shirts on Saturday in protest at the detention of two Reuters reporters accused of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act, as pressure builds on Myanmar to release the pair.

The Protection Committee for Myanmar Journalists, a group of local reporters who have demonstrated against past prosecutions of journalists, decried the “unfair arrests that affect media freedom”.

In a statement on Facebook, the committee said its members would don black T-shirts “to signify the dark age of media freedom” in Myanmar. They demanded the unconditional and immediate release of the two reporters, Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27.

“Journalists all over the country are urged to take part in the Black Campaign,” the group said. It said it also planned to stage official protests and prayers.

SPONSORED

The group has staged several protests on behalf of arrested reporters from other media this year, including one in June in which around 100 journalists took part. It was not immediately clear how many journalists have joined the black T-shirt protest.

The Protection Committee for Myanmar Journalists was formed in response to the arrest in June of a newspaper editor over the publication of a cartoon that made fun of the military, said video journalist A Hla Lay Thu Zar – one of the group’s 21-member executive committee.

“A reporter must have the right to get information and write news ethically,” said A Hla Lay Thu Zar in reference to the case of the two Reuters’ journalists.

Myo Nyunt, deputy director for Myanmar’s Ministry of Information, told Reuters the case had nothing to do with press freedom.

“It’s related to the Official Secrets Act,” he said. “Journalists should be able to tell what is secret and what is not… We already have press freedom. There’s freedom to write and speak… There’s press freedom if you follow the rules.”

Asked about the local reporters’ “black campaign”, he said: “Everyone can express his feelings.”

Reuters journalist Wa Lone, who is based in Myanmar, is seen in this undated picture in Myanmar. REUTERS/Staff

PRESSURE FROM ACROSS THE WORLD

The journalists were arrested on Tuesday evening after they were invited to dine with police officers on the outskirts of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, and government officials from Canada, Britain, Sweden, and Bangladesh, have all called for their release.

Reuters journalist Wa Lone, who is based in Myanmar, is seen in this undated picture in Myanmar. REUTERS/Staff

 

The two reporters had worked on Reuters coverage of a crisis that has seen an estimated 655,000 Rohingya Muslims flee from a fierce military crackdown on militants in western Rakhine state.

The Ministry of Information said the journalists had “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media”, and released a photo of the pair in handcuffs. It said they were being investigated under the 1923 Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Human rights advocates say press freedom is under attack in Myanmar, where the young civilian-led government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi shares power with the military that ran the country for decades. At least 11 journalists have been detained in 2017, although some have since been released.

Police told Wa Lone’s wife on Thursday that the reporters were taken from Htaunt Kyant police station in north Yangon by an investigation team to an undisclosed location shortly after their arrest.
They added the reporters would be brought back to the station in “two to three days at most”. It is now four days since they were detained.

Separately, police lieutenant colonel Myint Htwe of the Yangon Police Division told Reuters on Thursday the reporters’ location would not be disclosed until the investigation was complete.
Since then, the authorities have not provided any further information on their whereabouts.

Reporting by Simon Lewis, Yimou Lee, Shoon Naing and Thu Thu Aung; Editing by Alex Richardson and Martin Howell
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Bangladesh: Death of the Children at refugee camps in 1971 was worse than Hiroshima

Bangladesh: Death of the Children at refugee camps in 1971 was worse than Hiroshima

What is their statistics and how many Bengali people did go to India as a refugee? According to the statistics of the Indian government, 9,899,305 refugees lived at camps in India and 60,000 stayed with their relatives. The Bengali refugees in 1971 lived in the seven states of India; the states were- West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

by Swadesh Roy writes from Dhaka-
( December 16, 2017, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) The last batch of 3,869 refugees in camps left India for Bangladesh on March 25, 1972, exactly after one year of the Pakistan army crackdown on the people of Bangladesh. With the return of these refugees Indian central and state government closed all the refugee’s camps, and from that moment one of the historical events of politics and the refugees had ended up. Refugees are a common phenomenon in the world, and in every moment there exist some refugees in some corner in the world, regarding the refugees, Arundhati Roy wrote, “The millions of displaced people do not exist anymore. When history is written they would not be in statistics.” Yes, Miss Roy is right partially; thousand hundreds of people are missing every moment from the statistics and from the history. In contrary, the refugees left India for Bangladesh from last of the December 1971 and up to 25 March of 1972 are not missing from the history rather they created a history and their statistics is a glorious part of the history and the bloody birth of Bangladesh.
What is their statistics and how many Bengali people did go to India as a refugee? According to the statistics of the Indian government, 9,899,305 refugees lived at camps in India and 60,000 stayed with their relatives. The Bengali refugees in 1971 lived in the seven states of India; the states were- West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. In West Bengal, number of camps were 492 and the refugees were 7,2 35,916, in Tripura, number of camps were 276 and the total refugees were 1,381,649, in Meghalaya, number of camps were 17 and the total refugees were 667,986, in Assam, number of the camps were 28 and total refugees were 347,555, in Bihar, number of camps were 8 and the total refuges were 36,732, in Madhya Pradesh, number of the camps of 3 and the total refuges were 219,298, in Uttar Pradesh, number of the camps was 1 and refuges were 10, 169.
When these ten million refugees were in India, India itself was a poor country and among the seven states of India where the refugees stayed five were extremely poor. On the other hand, the number of the refugees in Tripura and Meghalaya were more comparing their own population. So what was the condition of the Bengali refugees in 1971 in India and how did they sacrifice for their liberation war is not possible to describe in words. How pathetic was the descriptions of that tragedy and how the world conscience was shaken we get some of it now through the news, editorial, article of the newspaper, and the video footage of the then time. On October 8, La FIGARO of Paris distinct that it was a tragedy that worse than Hiroshima rather on the scale of that tragedy was as in the concentration camp of Nazi. In an editorial, they wrote, “Hiroshima was a shock.
In a fraction of a second, nearly a hundred thousand human beings ceased to exist. A shock which roused our consciences, which made us aware, that we live in a world where one of the greatest discoveries of human genius is diverted towards accomplishing death before having been used for achievements towards preserving life, which also taught us that men living in the antipodes, although our enemies are human beings all the same.
But Hiroshima was not in its time a tragedy of exceptional amplitude. Lucky were the victims of Hiroshima who did not realise that they were going to die. How much more appalling at the time was the tragedy of hundred thousand Dresden victims who lived through minutes of anguish and indescribable suffering under napalm fire. And what is to be imagined of the weeks of the anguish of millions of men, women and, children, alas! Who slowly made their way towards Auschwitz?
A tragedy on this scale is taking place at present beneath our eyes, and it is taking place in general indifference. A paragraph in the press, which passed almost unnoticed, informs us that the funds collected to come to the aid of the Pakistani refugees were insufficient and are now exhausted, that dispatches of food and equipment have been stopped, that right now is certain that within a few days a hundred thousand children are going to die, and if the dispatches are not resumed on a massive scale and immediately, 300,000 to 500,000 more children will die during the next few months.
Is it possible that tragedy can pass unobserved, in complete indifference, that we cannot feel the suffering of these children that we remain insensible to the despair of mothers?
Can a synod which is a meeting in Rome for the salvation of mankind continue its work in all serenity? Can the United Nations continue their palavers without taking into account, as absolute priority, this tragedy which concerns each and every one of us?
Ought we to be surprised at the angry gesture of a youth claims to prove to us that faced with this scandal love is only derisory? Ought we to be amazed by the judgement of youth which considers that a society in which such a tragedy is not only possible but is, in fact, taking place under our eyes, is a no longer worthy of survival?
Will no shock occur to rouse consciences, to assert human solidarity on our planet?
If humanity witnesses this tragedy unmoved, is it not ripe to destroy itself.”
The editorial is coating after forty-seven years, in addition only a few numbers of witnesses are alive now. So, after reading this editorial the new generation of Bengali has to see the picture of the refugee camps and the situation of the refugees by their thoughtful mind. Moreover, they have to think about the sacrifice done by the hundred thousand of children in the refugee camps in 1971 for our liberation war. In the editorial of La Figaro on 8th October 1971, it was mentioned that three hundred thousand to five hundred thousand children would die during the next few months. But what had happened before the October 1971? According to the UNICEF report, at least five hundred thousand children died from June to October in the refugee camps in India in 1971. The condition of the refugees was the same so in that circumstance, could those five hundred thousand children mentioned in La Figaro survive? Reality said they didn’t survive because of not having the necessary aid from the world at that time. Washington Daily News mentioned on 2nd October in their editorial that, “A recent study by the World Bank says the refugees will cost India $700 million in its 1971 -72 fiscal year. Foreign nations have proposed $200 million in relief aid. Even if all is delivered- India, the innocent bystander – will be out of $500 million this year and more in the future.”
At that time India did not get this proposed aid. Before going to the then statistics or facts regarding the refugee of 1971, we can see regarding Rohingya refugees’ aid situation which will help us to understand the then scenario. Did we get a few percent of aid the proposed commitment that we have got in the meantime? The country director of the World Food Program of United nation said a few days ago that “We are knocking at the donor’s doors on a daily basis. But there are so many emergencies in the world now. But still, we hope towards the end of this year, some donors will commit some money for the Rohingya, if some money is left over.” What is his comment expressing? He is voicing an uncertainty. Not only an uncertainty, it is clear that if Bangladesh gets some aid for the Rohingya, it will be very much inadequate.
The same scenario will be found if we go through the discussions on the report submitted by UNHCR as UN focal point for relief sustenance to East Bengal refugees in India, in the third committee of the general assembly on November 18 and 19, 1971. In that general assembly, American Ambassador W. Tapley Bennett said, “President Nixon has asked Congress to appropriate another $ 250 million for assistant to refugees in India and for relief assistance in East Pakistan. In the face of this unparalleled human emergency, my country will not be found wanting. We agree that the total contributions as compared with the need are disappointing.” United Kingdom’s representative said, “Misery fell in innocent people and the committee faced the responsibility of caring for those people. The United Kingdom had given a total of pound 14.75 million to assist East Pakistani refugees in India.”
In that way, going through the entire report, we will see that on that time India got a poor amount of aid comparing its requirement, which was estimated by the World Bank $700 million to maintain the Bengali refugees at the camps in India. They had to cut down their development budget and it was a huge setback to Indian economy. In fact, Indian economy then was a poor economy so, despite all the efforts, Bengali refugees had to live in a miserable situation. At that time the visit of Kennedy was one of the breakthroughs to the world people to catch the cry of the Bengali refugees in 1971. Regarding his visit, on 30 August Indonesian Observer wrote, “Senator Edward Kennedy, after an extensive tour of the refugee camps in India’s West Bengal in his capacity as Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on refugees, confirmed that five –month old conflict between East Pakistan and West Pakistan had driven over seven and a half million Bengalis to take refuge in India. In his visit to some of the refugee centers inside India, Kennedy said he saw, “A scene which only can be described as the most appalling tide of human misery in modern times.” Like Kennedy, Andre Malraux also visited the refugee camp. In an editorial, one of the leading daily of Mauritius, Advance wrote, “Despite his age, Andre Malraux has offered to go and fight for them. Like him, writers and artists all over the world have called for a humanitarian approach to the problem of those millions dying of hunger and cold. Senator Edward Kennedy broke down in tears when visiting the camps of refugees near Calcutta. The press in each and every country is calling for more international aid to be sent.”
The Advance wrote, “Those millions dying of hunger and cold.” In fact, more than one million children died in the refugee camps in India, and in the rainy season and in the winter hundred thousand senior citizens died too. In this manner, it is to be said that at least one and a half million people died in the refugee camps in 1971.
Why did people become the refugee in 1971? Is it only for the torture, killing, and rape by the Pakistani army? We did not research in that way or we did not get those circumstances for researching regarding our liberation war. So, we have lost most of the first-hand evidences, besides we forgot the history. Now a huge number of new generation people believe that only Pakistani army committed that crime, but they disbelieve that Bengali collaborators of the Pakistani army committed the same crime, moreover they think that those people who are saying regarding the role of the collaborators, they are political biased. In fact, we get the truth in a report of the renowned journalist, Sydney H Schanberg -which was published in New York Times on 23 September. The first two lines of the report are, “The latest refugees from East Pakistan report that the Pakistani army and its civilian collaborators are continuing to kill, loot, and burn …..” in this report it is also mentioned that, ” The military regime was still making the Hindu minority is a particular target.”
That is why, in those ten million refugees, more than eight million were Hindu in religion. But in 1971, those people fighting to liberate the country never thought regarding their religion. They all were Bengali as a nation. In spite of that, after 47 years, if we give a bird look in our national lives and over the history, we can see that we have lost many things. We have forgotten many things as well. In the same way, we have forgotten our history of the refugees of 1971. Even, you will not get that refugee life in our history and in the literature. In conclusion, world media said then, it was worse than Hiroshima. Besides that, Hiroshima is a symbol of defeat, but the refugees of Bangladesh whose sacrifices were worse than Hiroshima, their last batch came back on 25 March, a symbolic day of our nation, and they came back with a victory, sacrificing the lives of their children, fathers, and mothers. So, it is the obligation of the new generation to dig out the history of the refugees of 1971.
Swadesh Roy, Executive Editor of The Daily Janakantha, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is a highest state award winning journalist and can be reached at swadeshroy@gmail.com
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