Burma is in keeping with a bizarre official policy which denies Rohingyas official status, the right to move around, even to marry without permission, despite the fact that they have lived in western Burma for more than a thousand years. A memo faxed to journalists by the Burmese consul in Hong Kong last week insisted Rohingyas could not be real Burmese, as they were dark-skinned and "as ugly as ogres". However, it will only do so if they identify themselves as Bengalis, as it refuses to recognise the Rohingyas as one of its official minorities. The Burmese foreign minister told his Thai counterpart that his country might be willing to take back Rohingyas. But only if they were categorised as Bengalis who reside in Burma, not Burmese citizens. This week's ASEAN summit would seem to be the ideal opportunity. It is one of the few international venues attended by senior Burmese leaders. But the other ASEAN states are getting little co-operation from their Burmese colleagues. In any case, sending them back to a country where they face even worse treatment than the average Burmese citizen does not appear to be a practical solution. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the only option his country had was to turn them back. But that just raises the prospect of hundreds more being left to drift and die on the high seas.
More than 50 bodies of Bangladeshi officers shot dead by their troops are found in Dhaka
DHAKA: Bangladeshi military officials say troops have uncovered a mass grave believed to hold the bodies of at least 66 officers killed by mutinous border guards in Dhaka this week.
Officials say troops found dozens of bodies as they searched the guards' headquarters, where the bloody two-day revolt unfolded. Military officials say the dead body of the commander of the Bangladesh Rifles border guards, Major General Shakil Ahmed, was found inside the compound. In a dramatic scene Friday, onlookers stood by as military tanks rolled into the compound unchallenged, and police and soldiers began surveying the carnage left behind. Scores of guard officers remain missing. Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina sent military tanks throughout Dhaka to help calm the situation. Hundreds of border guards fled after giving up their weapons on Thursday. At least 300 border guards who allegedly took part in the mutiny arrest by Bangladeshi authorities have arrested. Tensions have long been simmering among the Bangladeshi border guards, who complain they are treated like second-class citizens by the country's military. The guards' main job is to patrol the country's borders, but they also can serve as a backup for the army and police. Courtesy:Chusan.Com,AP, Google
Soldiers traumatised by the horrors of war are being helped to recover by reliving their experiences in a computer-generated of the war
The Army's most decorated serving war hero has accused the Government of failing soldiers suffering from mental trauma resulting from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for twice saving the lives of colleagues in Iraq while under heavy rocket fire, told The Independent it was "disgraceful" that some veterans were struggling to receive treatment. He said the Government was relying on military charities to cover its own deficiencies and called on it to act to better help the growing number of his comrades suffering from severe combat stress, depression and mental breakdowns. "These are people who have served this country," said Cpl Beharry, in his most outspoken interview since receiving the VC four years ago. "Why can't they get treatment? I don't think the Government is doing enough for soldiers. Those who are still serving get some form of help for combat stress but even those who are serving don't get enough support." The 29-year-old, still a serving soldier, displayed the courage which earned him the country's highest honour by standing up for the thousands of servicemen and women who are still suffering from post-traumatic and combat stress in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cpl Beharry broke his silence to reveal that almost five years after he suffered severe injuries saving his friends, he is still racked by mental anguish and excruciating pain. While he is aware he has received first-rate treatment, he has spoken out on behalf of less high-profile personnel, criticising the fact that charities have been forced to step in where the Government has failed. In the last three months of 2007 alone, 868 military personnel presented with a problem at the MoD's mental health departments and 69 were so severe they had to be admitted as inpatients. While just 43 were diagnosed as having full-blown post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hundreds more were deemed to have mood or adjustment disorders or depressive illnesses. A report on the Ministry of Defence's Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMH) said there was a "significantly higher rate of PTSD among those deployed to the Iraq or Afghanistan theatres of operation". Courtesy: The Independent U.K.
Gobind Singh Deo, is finger pointing with Umno Youth Megat Zulkarnain Omardin UMNO Youth member
KUALA LUMPUR: In a day of shame, Parliament came close to emulating the Taiwan legislature. A fisticuffs was prevented, but not before a scuffle broke out and finally causes an havoc.
The drama started when DAP chairman Karpal Singh was confronted by about 20 Selangor Umno Youth members as the Bukit Gelugor MP was entering the Tower Block at 2.45pm. The group, who had been waiting for Karpal since 1.30pm, surrounded the wheelchair-bound Karpal and demanded that he apologise for calling Umno Youth celaka (damn) in the house on Wednesday. Karpal had also accused the wing of sending bullets in the mail to him recently. The feisty politician refused. Fellow Pakatan Rakyat MPs Fong Kui Lun (DAP-Bukit Bintang), N. Gobalakrishnan (PKR-Padang Serai) and Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut) who had just come back from lunch, went to help Karpal after being told by Parliament staff of the incident. The MPs said they were roughed up and shoved by some of the Umno Youth members. "One even pulled my tie. At one point, I nearly fell into the fountain," Lim said. However, the three MPs managed to get Karpal into the house, while the group continued to heckle and shout at them. Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim condemned the incident, calling it the “pinnacle of insolence”. “We are fed-up with promises that action will be taken and we don’t just want any investigations, we want an assurance from the speaker that the sanctity of this Parliament will not be destroyed,” he said. Karpal, who met Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia in chambers later asked Pandikar to evoke the parliamentary law and issue a warrant of arrest against those who ambushed him. However, the Pandikar said that it would be more suitable to establish a special committee to investigate the matter under Section 80(A) under the Standing Orders. Courtesy: NST Onlineand The Malaysian Insider
South-East Asian leaders are facing pressure to take firm action on human rights and halt cases of abuse against migrants and refugees, as they gather for a regional summit in Thailand. Leaders from the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) are expected to consider plans for a regional human rights body when they begin their summit at the beach resort town of Hua Hin on Friday. But with the global financial crisis overshadowing the meeting, talks are expected to be dominated by ways to protect the region's economies, leading to fears that human rights and in particular,concerns over the abuse of Rohingya migrants will take a back seat. Ahead of the meeting, international rights groups called on the bloc not to ignore the wide-ranging abuses taking place across the region. New York–based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said from the recent experience shows the approach relating to Myanmar, had shown "glaring failures". "Burma'smilitary government continues to deny its citizens basic freedoms, includingfreedom of expression, association and assembly," the group said in a statement, referring to Myanmarby its former name. Amnesty International also urged action on rights, pointing in particular to recent allegations of abuse by the Myanmar and Thai militaries against stateless Rohingya migrants from western Myanmar. Courtesy: Al Jazeera..more.. and Google
U.S LATEST NEWS US to still have the 'conditions-based' withdrawal 'time horizon' of some time around 2010
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama told lawmakers on Thursday he plans to withdraw most American troops from Iraq by August 2010 but leave tens of thousands behind to advise Iraqi forces and protect U.S. interests, congressional officials said.
Obama is expected to announce the new strategy on Friday feb27, during a trip to the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, N.C. In a closed-door meeting with Republican and Democratic leaders, Obama and his top advisers estimated that 35,000 to 50,000 troops would remain in Iraq after the bulk of troops are withdrawn. Obama campaigned on ending the Iraq war and pledged to do so in 16 months. The withdrawal timetable he is expected to approve stretches over 19 months from his inauguration in January. That means some 100,000 troops would leave over the coming 18 months. Rep. John McHugh, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said Obama promised him to reconsider the new strategy if violence rises. McHugh said he was worried the situation in Iraq remained fragile, especially as it approaches elections in December. Courtesy: AP and Yahoo News..
V. Rasamalar, the mother of two escaped heavy fighting and fled to an army-controlled area. She and her children are now living with about 1,000 other refugees in a military-run transit camp in the northern city of Vavuniya.
The Tamil Tigers gave V. Rasamalar no choice in how she would die. The separatist rebels told her she would die alongside them in Sri Lanka's war zone. "The organisation said we were going to die anyway if we crossed to the army-controlled area and told us to die with them," said 48-year-old Rasamalar, who fled the northern town of Udayarkattu when soldiers fought their way into it. More than 36,000 Tamils since January 1 have fled to government-controlled areas, running from the final battles of a 25-year-old war and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels who tried to force them to stay. "After a long time, at least me and my two children are relieved from hearing the sound of shells and life in a bunker," she told Reuters at a school converted into one of 15 temporary homes for Tamil refugees. On the run for weeks or months, refugees say they faced the wrath of the rebels, constant combat, perpetual fear and little food or water. "There is scarce food. Even 15-year-old youth are being forcibly recruited by the LTTE. We were not allowed to leave the war zone. This is the situation of over 200,000 Tamils in that area," S. Selvekumar told Reuters. Formerly a security guard for an international aid agency, Selvekumar escaped at night in a boat that was rescued by the Sri Lankan navy. But he left his sister behind and still does not know now where she is.
UPDATED NEWS U.S. members of Congress, Brian Baird, and Keith Ellison
Two members of Congress, Brian Baird, and Keith Ellison, visited Gaza recently to view firsthand the destruction from recent Israeli air and ground attacks and to meet with international and local relief agencies. This visit, which did not have the official sanction of the Obama Administration, is the first time anyone from the U.S. government has entered Gaza in more than three years. According to Congressman Baird,"We believe it is important to be here to see what happened for ourselves, to meet with people who have been affected, and to express our concern and support". "We also want to better understand what can and must be done to recover from the destruction, address the underlying issues, and work toward a lasting, just and peaceful resolution," added Congressman Ellison.
After spending the day visiting various locations within Gaza and meeting with civilians and relief workers, Baird and Ellison were deeply affected by what they had seen and heard. "The stories about the children affected me the most," said Ellison. "No parent, or anyone who cares for kids, can remain unmoved by what Brian and I saw here." "The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering" said Baird, "Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, schools completely leveled, fundamental water, sewer, and electricity facilities hit and relief agencies heavily damaged. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools, entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching – what went on here, and what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words." "If this had happened in our own country, there would be national outrage and an appeal for urgent assistance. We are glad that the Obama administration acted quickly to send much needed funding for this effort but the arbitrary and unreasonable Israeli limitations on food and repair essentials is unacceptable and indefensible. People, innocent children, women and non-combatants, are going without water, food and sanitation, while the things they so desperately need are sitting in trucks at the border, being denied permission to go in" said Baird and Ellison. Courtesy: www.house.gov
BEIJING: China refuted the U.S. human rights report Thursday and urged it to stop interfering in the domestic affairs of other countries through the issuance of a report. "The United States should examine its own human rights issues, stop calling itself human rights guard and interfering in other countries' domestic affairs by issuing human rights reports," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said at a regular press conference Thursday afternoon. The report issued in Washington on Wednesday criticized China's policies toward ethnic groups and religious beliefs, and its judicial system. Ma said the Chinese government attaches importance to the protection and promotion of human rights. China's constitution and laws respect and ensure the people's human rights. Since the reform and opening up to the outside, China has achieved steady development in economy and culture, fully guaranteed the people's freedom of religious beliefs, and continuously strengthened its legal system. He added that China is willing to conduct dialogues and exchanges with all countries on human rights issues on the basis of equality and mutual respect. so as to strengthen the mutual understanding, expand common views and reduce disparities. However, China firmly opposed any country's interference in its internal affairs on the pretext of human rights. Courtesy: Xinhua
Ibrahim Moussawi, a spokesman for Hezbollah, is set to give a lecture in Britain - attended by Whitehall officials
The British Government officials will spend thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money to attend a lecture by an Islamic extremist Ibrahim Moussawi; a spokesman for the Lebanese terrorist organisation Hezbollah. the lectures Moussawi plans to deliver are targeted at Whitehall officials who deal in foreign affairs and extremism. Another speaker at the event is the UK-based extremist Dr Kamal Helbawy, a former spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, a group said to have inspired Al Qaeda. A spokesman for the School of Oriental and African Studies(SOAS) said, 'The programme has a wide range of speakers with diverse specialisms. The rationale behind the invitation to Dr Moussawi is to help Government officials and other senior leaders understand more clearly what makes Hezbollah tick.' The Speakers will each spend up to £1,890 of taxpayers' cash attending the Political Islam event at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) next month. Last night, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, a researcher for the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), a respected think-tank, said: 'In their willingness to pay extremists like Dr Helbawy and Dr el-Moussawi, SOAS are helping these men present themselves as mainstream figures. 'It is particularly worrying that the target audience includes Government officials and the police, who may find themselves paying for advice on tackling terrorism from its very exponents.' The CSC said it was now imperative Home Secretary, Miss Jacqui Smith ban Moussawi, who has allegedly called Jews 'a lesion on the forehead of history'. The controversy came as ministers were criticised for backsliding on two promises on terrorism: one to ban the extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the other to close down extremist websites. Meanwhile, the Home Office admitted that not a single website had been closed down under terrorism laws, despite a pledge by Jacqui Smith that material that illegally 'glorifies terrorism' would be removed. Courtesy:Mail Online....
Russian Atomic Agency Chief Sergei Kiriyenko (centre right) and Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aqazadeh (center left)
There is no room for Western concern over Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran, says the head of the Rosatom State Atomic Corporation.
Sergei Kiriyenko, in a joint Wednesday press conference with head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEO) Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh in Bushehr, addressed Western opposition to Moscow's nuclear cooperation with Tehran. "Cooperation between Iran and Russia is based on international norms and conventions and it should be said that nothing is being done outside the non-proliferation framework," explained the Russian nuclear official in response to a question by Press TV's correspondent Gisoo Misha Ahmadi. Kiriyenko added that those who seek to make excuses to hinder the Iranian nuclear program should "lose all hope as they witness the level of progress at the Bushehr power plant." "Russia's cooperation with Iran in building the Bushehr power plant is not subject to any political games," he stressed. The remarks came after Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, in an interview with RIA Novosti, suggested the West had launched a misinformation campaign against the Iranian nuclear program to force an end to Russia's nuclear presence in Iran for competitive reasons. Courtesy: Press TV..more.
Hundreds of protesters camped outside Government House, a car carrying Abhisit Vejjajiva entered the compound in Bangkok through a side entrance, witnesses said on Wednesday. However, Thailand's prime minister has avoided anti-government protests outside his offices and slipped through barricades as demonstrators continued to demand he dissolve parliament and call fresh elections. With hundreds of protesters camped outside Government House, a car carrying Abhisit Vejjajiva entered the compound in Bangkok through a side entrance, witnesses said on Wednesday. Abhisit had earlier returned to the Thai capital after a rally by more than 10,000 red-shirted anti-government protesters forced him to move Tuesday's weekly cabinet meeting to the seaside resort town of Hua Hin. Many of the protesters are supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister ousted in a 2006 coup – had vowed to camp outside the building until their demands were met. But overnight numbers dwindled to less than 1,000, a police official told AFP news agency. Aside from dissolving parliament, the "Red Shirts" also want the government to prosecute leaders of the rival "Yellow Shirts", whose protests closed down Bangkok's two main airports late last year, and sack Kasit Piromya, the Thai foreign minister. The protests are the latest move in months of political turmoil that has swept Thailand, and threatens to further undermine confidence in an economy already reeling from the effects of the global financial crisis. Courtesy: Al Jazeera