Posts Tagged ‘journalists’

Sigmar Gabriel: Germany’s Hard-line Turkey policy is paying off

August 15, 2017

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has praised his government’s move to put “economic pressure” on Turkey. Germany overhauled its policy toward Turkey in response to the jailing of German journalists and activists.

German and Turkish flags

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel praised the government’s decision to overhaul its policy toward Turkey, telling la newspaper that Germany’s hard-line approach and “economic pressure” were paying off.

Gabriel spoke after the Turkish government, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, officially withdrew a blacklist of 680 German companies it had accused of having links to terrorist organizations. Among the listed companies were the carmaker Daimler and the chemical firm BASF.

Read more: German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel seeks tougher EU line on Turkey

“There was a broad debate in Turkish society,” Gabriel told Tuesday’s edition of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, “and Erdogan was forced to concede that the blacklist was a misunderstanding.”

In July, Gabriel outlined a “reorientation” of government policy toward Turkey. As part of the sharper measures, German businesses were advised against investing and doing business in Turkey. That measure is believed to have prompted Ankara to swiftly make a U-turn on its blacklist and assure Berlin that no German companies were under investigation.

Germany’s government also updated its travel warning, notifying citizens that they would incur “risks” by traveling to Turkey. The Foreign Ministry’s travel website also advised German nationals in Turkey to exercise “heightened caution” as consular access had been “restricted in violation of the obligations of international law.”

Read more: As German spat deepens, Turkey draws tourists from elsewhere

Gabriel admits sanctions hit small businesses

Germany’s top diplomat acknowledged that the hard-line measures weren’t without consequence. “Our travel warning is, of course, also affecting the wrong people: the small hotel owners, the restaurant owners and waiters in western Turkey who cater towards European and German customers.”

Nevertheless, Gabriel said, Germany must protect its citizens.

“We cannot accept that President Erdogan can simply arrest and imprison German nationals,” Gabriel said.

Relations between the countries reached a new low when Turkey’s government arrested of a group of rights campaigners,  including the  German citizen Peter Steudtner, in July. Berlin has also demanded the release of the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, who was arrested in Istanbul in February and now faces charges of inciting hatred and producing terrorist propaganda on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party – all of which he emphatically denies.

dm/mkg (dpa, AFP)

Detention Warrants Issued In Turkey for 35 Media Employees as Erdogan’s Crackdown on Free Press Continues — All Using Encrypted Messaging App

August 10, 2017

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s state-run news agency says authorities have issued detention warrants for 35 journalists and media workers as part of the country’s ongoing crackdown on people suspected of ties to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Anadolu Agency says police were on Thursday carrying out raids in Istanbul to detain the suspects who allegedly used an encrypted messaging app that authorities say was favored by Gulen’s followers to communicate with each other.

Those detained so far include Burak Ekici, a journalist working for the opposition Birgun newspaper, Anadolu said.

Turkey accuses Gulen of masterminding last year’s failed military coup. More than 50,000 have been arrested, most accused of links to the coup. More than 110,000 people have also been sacked from government jobs.

Gulen denies involvement in the coup.


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Turkey Crackdown Chronicle: Week of August 6, 2017

By Özgür Öğret/CPJ Turkey Representative on August 9, 2017 11:23 AM ET

Journalist to file complaint against police
Onur Öncü, a reporter for the bilingual news website, which award-winning editor Can Dündar foundedfrom exile in Germany, will file a criminal complaint alleging he was struck by police while reporting on an August 6 protest march organized by the opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the website reported on August 7. The pro-Kurdish news website Dihaber captured the incident on video.

[August 8, 2017]

Fearful and desperate: Future for Rohingyas in Myanmar remains uncertain

August 7, 2017

By May Wong

YANGON: She stood silently in a crowd of more than 20 people, as she cradled her two-year-old child on her hip.

But as Sarbeda heard others relay their stories to foreign journalists of how their husbands or sons have been arrested, she started to weep.

That is when I asked why she was crying. Her experience of how her 14-year-old son was arrested brought a flood of tears.

Sarbeda said the boy was working in the fields when security personnel arrested him, suspecting him of being involved in alleged terrorist activities.

An accusation she vehemently denies, saying “they took him without any question. My son is so young.”

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Sarbeda’s 14-year-old son is one of at least 10 juveniles arrested alongside more than 400 Rohingyas accused of being involved in violent attacks since Oct 9 last year.

She has no idea how he is doing now or when he might be released.

This mother was just one of many who came forward with fear, helplessness and anxiety written all over her face.

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Buthidaung and Maungdaw are home to a majority of some one million Rohingyas, deemed as illegal immigrants by Myanmar. (Photo: May Wong)

One after another, women, many carrying children in their arms, rushed up to the foreign journalists who entered their villages as part of a government-led visit to showcase the latest development on the ground.

The five-day arranged visit to several villages in northern Rakhine state was the third such trip organised by the government.

But it is the first allowing international journalists into the area after the initial attacks.

The aim – to show how the government has nothing to hide and that allegation of abuse and atrocities against the Rohingyas are, according to the authorities, exaggerated.

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Rohingya calling on journalists to visit their village. (Photo: May Wong)

Rakhine Chief Minister Nyi Pu defended the security forces’ actions saying “when we are working on security issues, there are terrorist attacks and conflicts happening so there can be some casualties.

“We are not performing genocide. It is very wrong to exaggerate the small casualties.”

To a certain extent, it must be said that the Information Ministry official leading the visit accommodated the journalists’ requests of wanting to visit villages off the prescribed list and to speak to any villager without the presence of the authorities.

Without the watchful eye of officials, another villager called Lalmuti stood by her father’s grave and told journalists that “my mother said my father was burned to death by the military. They put my father in the house and burned the house and him.”

The 23-year-old said “after three months, they took her (mother) for questioning and threw her into jail.”

When asked if she’s worried she might get into trouble for sharing her story, Lalmuti simply replied “Why would I be afraid? I am telling the truth.”

There were others, however, who didn’t want to be seen speaking to journalists, for fear they may be hauled up for questioning. One pulled me away from earshot of others and related to me how he was beaten and threatened by security forces.

Yet another kept looking over his shoulders while describing how insufferable their lives have become, only to quickly disappear into the crowd, waving me away, believing he was being watched.

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Villagers are afraid to step out of their homes. (Photo: May Wong)

The journalists had insisted that the heavily-armed security personnel escort us only to the entrance of villages, but some Rohingyas worry about government informants among them.

That was not paranoia because soon after, a man among the Rohingya villagers was caught red-handed taking pictures of those speaking to the media and recording the conversations.


As journalists track through fields and walk through yet another Rohingya village, a woman slipped a hand-written note to a reporter.

That note accused security forces of arbitrary arrests including a 15-year-old boy. What is more damning is that the note said that on the day of Eid al-Fitr, one of the holiest days on the Muslim calendar, border police guards came into the village and brutally raped some women.

The distress among the Rohingyas met throughout the visit is palpable. The Oct 9 attacks against three border posts, killing nine officers, sparked a security lockdown in areas of Buthidaung and Maungdaw in northern Rakhine state.

The area is home to a majority of some one million Rohingyas, deemed as illegal immigrants by Myanmar.

The government initially accused a group they identified as Aqa Mul Mujahidin as the terrorists who launched the initial attacks.

Myanmar’s security forces then executed a “clearance operation” to hunt down the perpetrators.

Unfortunately, according to the United Nations, that led to more than 75,000 Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Allegations of arbitrary arrests, abuses, extra-judicial killings and security personnel raping Rohingya women prompted the exodus.

But the Myanmar government has denied most of the allegations, while rubbishing the number of Rohingyas who have fled the area.

The government claims only about 22,000 Rohingyas have left the area after the incident. For those who remained in their villages today, it was out of pure desperation that they decided to step up to tell their story.


The Rohingyas were unsure of what the journalists could do for them or if their lives would be in jeopardy after they speak to the media.

But what is clear is that without phones, other communication devices and being rather isolated in rural, difficult-to-get-to villages, they simply wanted to get their word out – to whoever is willing to listen.

So desperate were some that they waved us down from a riverbank as we were traveling past in speedboats.

A group of some 20 women attracted our attention by calling us to shore and pointing us towards their village.

That’s when we knew we had to stop, turn back and speak with them. Once on shore, we were quickly surrounded by many Rohingya women wanting to relay their experiences of how their sons, brothers, fathers, husbands have been arrested as suspects and how they’re unsure of what will happen to them.

One woman, 48-year-old Mamuda Hatu, spoke of how authorities arrested her 27-year-old son, accusing him of going to Bangladesh and potentially having connections with terrorists.

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A border guard standing in front of a group of villagers. (Photo: May Wong)

But she said “some falsely reported that he went to Bangladesh. That’s why he was arrested”. She said her “son has no connection with the terrorists. I have only one son. They took him for no reason.”

Such experiences are similar to many that have surfaced in various media over the last nine months post-Oct 9 but it is difficult to authenticate and verify the facts.

But that doesn’t mean it is not true.

Hence the call by the international community and the United Nations to allow a UN-backed fact-finding mission to enter Myanmar and to investigate the allegations and accusations made against the security forces.

But Myanmar has strongly rejected that suggestion.

The country’s National Security Advisor, Thaung Tun reiterated Myanmar’s position that such a mission will “only aggravate the situation on the ground”.

He said such a mission was derived from “allegations of wide-spread human rights abuses by the Myanmar security forces” and is “less than constructive”.

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The villagers at an IDP camp in Sittwe have limited access to healthcare. (Photo: May Wong)

Speaking to foreign diplomats and international aid agencies based in Yangon recently, Mr Thaung Tun said “since October 2016, 44 civilians have been murdered and 27 abducted”.

And based on recent reports of abductions and killings of Rohingyas, he said “it is clear that Muslim militants are taking out Muslim villagers who are perceived to be collaborating with the government.”

He added “there is evidence of increasing terrorist activities in northern Rakhine” with the discovery of a terrorist training camp and tunnel in Maungdaw, Rakhine.

This is the same narrative given by Myanmar’s Border Guard Police Commander, Brigadier-General San Lwin.

Brigadier-General San Lwin said “the terrorists conduct secret trainings in the villages. There are some murder cases because the terrorists ask the villagers to kill the village administrator or certain people.”

He suggested that some of the violence could be due to personal or business fallouts, while in other cases, “there can be some involvement by the terrorists.”

Seemingly to drive the point home about terrorist activities among the Rohingyas, authorities brought journalists to a location where a house was burnt to the ground in one of the Buthidaung villages.

There, the authorities related how a shoot-out between security forces and those in the house happened in July.

They said Muslim militants in the house fired at security forces who were conducting checks after receiving information about suspicious activities there.

Such incidents and increased security threats in Northern Rakhine have also affected Rohingyas already living in internally displaced persons or IDP camps just outside the state’s capital Sittwe.

The Rohingyas were placed in IDP camps after violence broke out between the Buddhists and Muslims in 2012.

Many Rohingyas have been living in those camps for more than five years now with no end in sight.

One such camp is Thet Kay Pyin IDP housing some 6,000 Rohingyas, near Sittwe. Rohingyas are not allowed to leave the camps without authorisation and they complained of a lack of education, healthcare, food and unemployment.

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Children at an IDP camp in Sittwe, Rakhine. (Photo: May Wong)

I saw children who were severely malnourished with the sick elderly unable to receive medical treatment.

A resident, Zadah asked “we’re not animals. So why we have to live in this area? Why we have to live in this detention centre for five years?”

The government insists the continuous violence in Rakhine is due to terrorist attacks or Muslim militants killing Muslim villagers. However, the Rohingyas say they are being discriminated and violently targeted by security force personnel.

Whatever the case, it is clear the Rohingyas continue to live in fear, the security situation remains vulnerable and a complete resolution seems nowhere in sight right now.

For Myanmar, which is trying to attain full democracy and to achieve national reconciliation, a divided nation and many other challenges will make those goals even more of a struggle.

Source: CNA/mn

Israel plans to close broadcaster Jazeera’s offices

August 6, 2017


© AFP | An employee of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera at the broadcaster’s Jerusalem office on July 31, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel said on Sunday it planned to close the offices in the Jewish state of Al-Jazeera, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Arab satellite news broadcaster of incitement.

A statement from the communications ministry said it would demand the revocation of the credentials of journalists working for the channel and also cut its cable and satellite connections.

Netanyahu had said on July 27 that he wanted Al-Jazeera expelled amid tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

“The Al-Jazeera channel continues to incite violence around the Temple Mount,” he wrote in a Facebook post, referring to the Haram al-Sharif compound in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Protests erupted at the contentious site after Israel last month installed new security measures including metal detectors, following the shooting dead of two Israeli policemen by attackers who emerged from the compound.

“I have appealed to law enforcement agencies several times to close the Al-Jazeera office in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in calling for the channel’s expulsion.

“If this is not possible because of legal interpretation, I am going to seek to have the necessary legislation adopted to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel.”

Israel has regularly accused the Doha-based broadcaster of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israeli history.

He has frequently criticised the news media, accusing outlets of seeking to undermine his government.

Myanmar Says No Crimes Against Humanity or Ethnic Cleansing in Rakhine Violence — “People With Eyes have Seen”

August 6, 2017

YANGON, Myanmar — The Myanmar government’s inquiry into violence in northern Rakhine state last year that forced tens of thousands of Muslim Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh and led to U.N. accusations of crimes against humanity by the army has concluded that no such crimes happened.

Speaking at the release of the Rakhine Investigative Commission’s final report, Vice President Myint Swe said Sunday that “there is no evidence of crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights claimed.”

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A protest march against Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Kolkata, India, this month. Photograph: Rupak de Chowdhuri/Reuters

He also denied charges that there had been gang rapes by the military as it swept through Rohingya villages in a security clearance operation.


Children near their homes in one of the concentration camps where Myanmar has locked away a Muslim minority called the Rohingya. Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times

Myanmar’s Peace Prize Winner and Crimes Against Humanity

A Journalist’s Murder Underscores Growing Danger in Mexico — “Mexico is going to hell,” he said, “and that’s why I became a reporter.”

August 4, 2017

MEXICO CITY — The absence of editor Javier Valdez Cardenas is deeply felt at the weekly newspaper he co-founded, but his presence is everywhere.

A large photo of Valdez displaying his middle finger, with the word “Justice,” hangs on the facade of the Riodoce newspaper building in the Sinaloa state capital of Culiacan. Two reporters in their 30s, Aaron Ibarra and Miriam Ramirez, wear T-shirts that display his smiling, bespectacled face or his trademark Panama hat. The masthead of the paper still bears his name, and each issue has a blank space where his op-ed column should be.

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Javier Valdez Cardenas

Valdez was one of seven journalists in seven states killed this year for reporting on the mayhem wrought in Mexico by organized crime, corrupt officials and ceaseless drug wars. As bodies pile up across the country, more and more of them are journalists: at least 25 since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and 589 under federal protection after attacks and threats.

Mexico is now the world’s most lethal country for journalists, more even than war-torn Syria. And the killers of journalists in Mexico are rarely brought to justice. Although a special federal prosecutor’s office was established in 2010 to handle such cases, it has only prosecuted two, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“The greatest error is to live in Mexico and to be a journalist,” wrote Valdez, a legend in Mexico and abroad, whose killing is seen as a milestone in Mexican violence against journalists.

On the morning of May 15, Valdez left the Riodoce office. He drove just a couple blocks before his red Toyota Corolla was stopped by two men; he was forced out of his car and shot 12 times, presumably for the name of the paper — which translates as Twelfth River.

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His body lay for 40 minutes in the middle of a sunbaked street, with a kindergarten on one side and a restaurant on the other, his hat next to his head as if shielding his eyes from distraught family and friends gathering around him.

“I understood that as a message,” said Francisco Cuamea, deputy director of the Noroeste newspaper: Anyone could be next.

Valdez, 50, left a wife and two adult children. There have been no arrests — which is no surprise to the national press corps.

“Nobody wants to get involved with the death,” said Juan Carlos Ayala, a professor at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa who has spent 40 years studying violence in the state. Authorities have been silent about any progress in the case. “Either they’re complicit, or they’re idiots.”

Sinaloa is home to the cartel of the same name that was long run by notorious kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Since Guzman’s arrest last year and extradition to the United States in January, Sinaloa has been one of the country’s bloodiest battlegrounds, as rival factions fight to fill the vacuum. Someone or several people are shot dead in the street every day in Sinaloa, and the cemetery is filled with ornate, two-story mausoleums for drug kings, larger than many homes for the living.

In Sinaloa, “it was impossible to do journalism without touching the narco issue,” said Ismail Bojorquez, a co-founder and director of Riodoce, who is wracked with guilt for failing to protect his friend.

When Valdez won an award from the Committee to Protect Journalists for his courage in 2011, he freely acknowledged that he was frightened. “I want to carry on living,” he said at the time. “To die would be to stop writing.”

His death has forced other journalists to question their own assumptions about how best to do their jobs and stay alive.

It used to be that there were certain unwritten rules. It was OK to report on corruption as long as you were careful not to publish key details or appear to take sides. You must think carefully about story placement and timing. Don’t accept money from anyone. Know the red lines for crime gangs.

The old rules, journalists say, no longer apply. In times of fracturing cartels, shifting political alliances and near-total impunity for attacks on journalists, it’s no longer clear who can and can’t be trusted, what is or isn’t safe to report.

Less than two months after Valdez’ death, the Riodoce staff met to talk about security.

It’s important to change their routines, they were told. Be more careful with social media. Don’t leave colleagues alone in the office at night. Two senior journalists discussed what felt safer: to take their children with them to the office, which was the target of a grenade attack in 2009, or to leave them at home.

Security experts wrote three words on a blackboard: adversaries, neutrals, allies. They asked the reporters to suggest names for each column.

Allies are crucial. In an emergency, they would need a friend, a lawyer, an activist to call.

The longest list, by far, is enemies. There are drug-traffickers, politicians, businesspeople, journalists suspected of being on the payroll of the government or the cartels, a catalog of villains who make the job of covering Mexico’s chaos a daily dance of high-risk decisions.

Ramirez was unsettled by a recent Facebook comment on a story of hers about shell companies contracted by a previous governor. “These reporters are looking to end up like Javier Valdez,” said the anonymous poster, though the comment was later deleted.

Still, she says she has no intention of giving up on Riodoce or its mission.

“We have a commitment to Javier, to ourselves,” said Ramirez.

Ibarra admits that covering the drug trade scares him. But he, too, intends to remain.

“Mexico is going to hell,” he said, “and that’s why I became a reporter.”

Myanmar Detains Another Journalist Amid Press Freedom Troubles — 5 Journalists Now Detained, Human Rights Groups Say

July 31, 2017

YANGON — Police in Myanmar said on Monday they had detained one of the country’s best known journalists, months after a social media clash with firebrand Buddhist monk Wirathu, as concerns rise over freedom of expression.

Swe Win, chief editor of news agency Myanmar Now, was detained at Yangon’s airport on Sunday evening at the request of police in the central city of Mandalay, said Lieutenant Colonel Myint Htwe of Yangon regional police.

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Swe Win, the editor of Myanmar Now. Photo by Min Min – Mizzima

“The Mandalay police informed us that Swe Win was trying to run away and to detain him at the airport,” said Myint Htwe.

Swe Win — a renowned investigative reporter who has written critically about Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar — was transferred to Mandalay on Monday, he added.

The journalist was expecting to be in court in Mandalay on Wednesday over a Facebook post that cited criticism of Wirathu, the Mandalay monk infamous for fierce anti-Muslim rhetoric, Swe Win’s lawyer said.

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The arrest brings the number of reporters in detention in Myanmar to five, despite Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi taking power last year amid a transition from full military rule.

The military retains control of the police, key ministries and a quarter of lawmakers’ seats. Observers say the courts also still lack independence.

Legal advisor Khin Maung Myint said authorities had not told Swe Win he was barred from leaving the country, he said.

“He planned to come back the next day” after dealing with work matters in Bangkok, said Khin Maung Myint.

The case dates from March, when a follower of Wirathu filed a complaint against Swe Win under article 66(d) of Myanmar’s telecommunications law after the reporter posted on Facebook quoting a Buddhist abbot who accused Wirathu of breaking monastic rules.

Wirathu, in his own Facebook post, had publicly praised the killers of Ko Ni, a Muslim expert on constitutional law who was assassinated on Jan. 29.

Article 66(d) sets out punishments of up to three years in prison for anyone convicted of “extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening” using a telecoms network.

After an outcry over the article’s broad application, Suu Kyi’s government has proposed amendments — narrowing its scope and allowing judges to grant bail — but free speech advocates say it should be repealed entirely.

Swe Win “should be in a newsroom, not behind bars,” said Matthew Smith, co-founder of advocacy group Fortify Rights, adding that the situation for journalists in Myanmar was “definitely worsening”.

Kyaw Min Swe, an editor at the Voice journal, is also on trial charged with 66(d) over a satirical article that poked fun at the military.

Three other reporters are on trial in the northeast for allegedly breaking the law by attending an event hosted by an ethnic armed group.

“This is a trend, a crackdown, an attempt to silence critics,” Smith said.

(Reporting by Shoon Naing, additional reporting and writing by Simon Lewis; Editing by Michael Perry)


Wirathu: The Buddhist monk who reviles Myanmar’s Muslims

“Aung San Suu Kyii would like to help the Bengali, but I block her,” says Ashin Wirathu with some pride.

Branded the “Face of Buddhist Terror” by Time magazine, Wirathu has his own compound within the Masoeyein monastery in Mandalay. Before being offered a comfortable chair, visitors are greeted by a wall of bloody and gruesome photographs.

The pictures show machete-inflicted head wounds and severed limbs, disfigured faces and slashed bodies; Wirathu claims, without the slightest evidence, that the images are of Buddhists who were attacked by Muslims.

Next to the display, under which a monk is methodically sweeping the floor, stands a long table. The newspapers spread across it confirm that, for Wirathu’s followers, daily reading is a matter not just of spiritual texts but also of politics.

An orange-robed assistant adjusts a film camera on to a tripod; another brandishes a Nikon fitted with a large zoom lens. This interview will be carefully recorded by the monks in every way.

Wirathu is a man of unassuming features. His baby face belies the power he holds over nationalist activists in Myanmar as the spiritual leader of the 969 movement and head of Ma Ba Tha, the Organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion.

Wirathu perches on one of two teak armchairs; the wall to his left is covered with poster-sized photographs of him. He stands accused of inciting violence against the minority Muslim population in Myanmar, where racial and religious faultlines are increasingly exposed. In 2012, fuelled by his speeches, riots erupted in Meiktila, a city in central Myanmar, leaving a mosque burned to the ground and over a hundred dead.

Read the rest:

Turkey newspaper staff walk free after nine months in jail

July 29, 2017


© AFP / by Stuart WILLIAMS | Cartoonist Musa Kart was among the Cumhuriyet who have walked free

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Seven staff from the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet walked free Saturday after nine months in jail, expressing hope that four colleagues still behind bars would be released soon.

An Istanbul court had Friday ordered that the seven be released under judicial control, meaning they remain charged and will have to report to the authorities.

The staff from the newspaper, one of the few voices in the media in Turkey to oppose Erdogan, had been on trial for aiding terror groups, in accusations denounced as absurd by supporters.

But the trial, which started earlier this week, is a test for press freedom under the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the most prominent journalists from the newspaper remain in jail.

The seven freed, including respected cartoonist Musa Kart, left Silviri jail on the outskirts of Istanbul to cheers and embraces from supporters in the early hours of Saturday.

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Silviri jail

“We were taken away from the people we love, our relatives, our work,” said Kart after his release.

– ‘No hatred’ –

But he added: “Believe me, during this period in jail we have felt no hatred, no rancour, we could not live with such thoughts.”

The others released include books supplement editor Turhan Gunay as well as the paper’s legal executives. They had been held for 271 days.

The four remaining in custody are the commentator Kadri Gursel, investigative journalist Ahmet Sik, the paper’s editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu and chief executive Akin Atalay.

Kart said: “I thought I was going to be very happy to find out that I was going to be released but I can’t say that today. Unfortunately, four of our friends are still behind bars.

“The image of journalists in jail is not flattering for our country and I hope our four friends will come out as soon as possible.”

The Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), which has pushed for Kart’s release, said the news was “better than could have been expected” but added there was “little comfort” for the families of those returning to jail.

“Deficient justice,” headlined Cumhuriyet, above the pictures of the four staff still in prison.

“Our friends and their lawyers proved that the accusations are baseless and illegal… The world saw it, the court did not,” it added.

The staff are charged with supporting in their coverage three entities that Turkey considers terror groups — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the ultra-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), and the movement of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based preacher who Ankara accuses of ordering last year’s coup attempt.

The next hearing is set for September 11. If convicted, they face varying terms of up to 43 years in jail.

Prosecutors meanwhile said they would file new accusations against Sik over an incendiary defence statement he made on Wednesday where he slammed Turkey’s ruling party over its past cooperation with the Gulen movement.

by Stuart WILLIAMS

Diplomatic crisis escalates between Germany and Turkey — German government signaling to Turkey that its patience is running out — “We want Turkey to remain part of the West”

July 22, 2017

France 24 and The Associated Press

© Kay Nietfeld / dpa / AFP | German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel addresses a press conference on July 20, 2017 in Berlin, following the arrests of human rights activists in Turkey.


Latest update : 2017-07-22

Germany’s government is signaling to Turkey that its patience is running out and it can hit back against escalating provocations, but has sought to stop well short of burning its bridges with its NATO ally.

More than a year of strains in the countries’ relationship came to a head this week with Turkey’s jailing of a German human rights activist, Peter Steudtner, who had no previous links to Turkey but was accused of links to terror groups.

A court jailed Steudtner along with five others from Turkey and Sweden days after Turkey blocked a visit by lawmakers to German troops serving in NATO air crews at a base in Turkey.

The accelerating pace of mini-crises with Turkey meant that German politicians felt they had no option but to give Ankara food for thought, after months in which they had held back. With a German election coming on September 24, there was added pressure to get tough.

Yet while Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Cabinet colleagues switched to harsher rhetoric on Thursday, Germany announced little drastic immediate action — giving Turkey a glimpse of what damage could await but also leaving room for an improvement in relations. And as Gabriel noted, Berlin is keen to avoid a situation in which Germany’s own ethnic Turkish minority “falls between stools.”

Gabriel cast doubt on the future of government export guarantees to insure German companies’ investments in Turkey, as they do in many other countries, arguing that “you cannot advise anyone to invest in a country if there is no longer legal security.”

He didn’t immediately announce concrete steps, but Germany’s exporters association noted that many companies had already put investments on hold, and that losing out on Turkish business wouldn’t badly affect the foreign trade of the European Union’s biggest economy.

On Friday, the Economy Ministry said all applications for the export of defense equipment to Turkey are being put under examination. It didn’t elaborate.

Turkey’s ‘little games’

Two other steps are subject to discussion with EU partners, many also running out of patience with Ankara: discussing the future of financial aid allocated to help prepare Turkey to join the bloc, and examining credits from European development banks.

Germany’s new travel advice set out the problems that have arisen in recent months — nine German citizens are currently in custody as a result of the crackdown following last year’s coup attempt in Turkey. It stated that “people traveling for private or business reasons to Turkey are advised to exercise elevated caution.”

But it stopped notably short of a formal travel warning, which would likely prompt tour operators to offer free vacation rebookings or cancelations.

Germany’s finance minister, an influential figure in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party, hinted that it could be worse for Turkey. In comments published Friday in the Bild daily, Wolfgang Schaeuble said Turkey is now arresting people arbitrarily and failing to comply with minimum consular standards — a reminder, he added, of “how things used to be in East Germany.”

“If Turkey doesn’t drop these little games, we must say to people: ‘You travel to Turkey at your own risk, we can’t guarantee anything for you any more,'” he said.

Merkel herself — an instinctively cautious leader who rarely rises to provocations — has kept channels of communication open with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, most recently holding a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Germany two weeks ago.

On Thursday, she left the limelight to her foreign minister, leaving her spokesman to quote her on Twitter as saying that the measures he announced were “necessary and indispensable.”

“We are still interested in good and trusting relations with the Turkish government. We want Turkey to remain part of the West,” Gabriel said. “But it takes two to tango.”

It remains to be seen whether Turkey will accept the invitation.


Saudi-Led Coalition Blocks U.N. Aid Staff Flight Carrying Journalists to Yemen

July 18, 2017

DUBAI — The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen prevented a U.N. flight carrying aid agency staff from traveling to the Houthi-controled capital Sanaa on Tuesday because three international journalists were also aboard, aviation sources said.

The coalition, which intervened in the Yemen conflict in 2015 in support of the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, controls the airspace over Yemen and can prevent any flights made without prior permission.

Aviation sources said the flight was prevented from taking off from Djibouti to Sanaa because three BBC journalists were on it.

A United Nations spokesman confirmed the report.

“The coalition claimed that the security of the journalists could not be guaranteed in rebel-controlled areas and advised the three journalists to travel on commercial flights,” said Ahmed Ben Lassoued, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Yemen.

“It’s unfortunate and partially explains why Yemen, which is one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises, is not getting enough attention in international media,” he added.

A source in the coalition said that the Yemeni government was the only party entitled to issue visas for foreigners and that entry must be made via commercial flights through Aden airport, which is under its control.

“The United Nations is not concerned with transporting journalists, except those who are coming to cover its own activities,” a source in the coalition said, adding that the U.N. must ensure the journalists safety and make sure they do not carry out any other activity.

U.S.-based humanitarian agency CARE International said its Secretary-General Wolfgang Jamann was scheduled to fly to Sanaa for a first-hand look at a cholera outbreak that has killed nearly 1,800 people since April.

“This is the only way in and out of Sanaa,” said Wael Ibrahim, CARE country director in Yemen said.

The impoverished Arab country has been devastated by the war, which has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced more than 3 million.

“The lack of coverage is also hindering humanitarians’ effort to draw the attention of the international community and donors to the humanitarian catastrophe the country is experiencing,” Ben Lassoued said.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Hugh Lawson)