UN Security Council Urged To Act On Syria
The UN Security Council has been asked by the United Nations Human Rights Chief to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court. Navi Pillay has requested that the court investigate alleged atrocities against anti-government protesters around the country.
Pillay’s comments came hours after US president Barack Obama and leaders of the EU called on the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to step down after months of government crackdowns on protests.
Following the UN human rights council meeting in New York, Pillay told media that a UN backed fact-finding commission had reported that it had evidence supporting the allegations of crimes against humanity. She did add, however, that she had little hope that this issue would be taken up by the court.
The UN fact-finding commission said in a report released on Thursday that it had compiled evidence implicating 50 people at various levels of government who could be prosecuted over the Syrian crackdown.
The team, who were not allowed into Syria, was forced to interview victims and witnesses in the region.
Syria’s Ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, accused the US and other members of the UN security council of ‘waging a humanitarian war’ against Syria. He went further by drawing attention to the controversial Iraq War. Ja’afari accused the US and other members of the UN security council of working on foundations of lies. He further accused the US of using ‘the Security Council as in instrument to justify their illegitimate actions’.
On Thursday (18) Barack Obama issued a written statement which said that the future of the Syrian people can only be decided once President Assad steps down. He further added that the US could not and would not impose this transition, but would support any effort to bring about ‘a Syria that is democratic’.
In an effort to speed up Assad’s removal from power Obama announced a new round of US sanctions which would target Syria’s energy sector. American imports of Syrian petroleum and petroleum products have been banned, whilst Americans have been prohibited from dealing with Syria in such products.
Syria is not a main supplier of oil for the US, but if the European nations join the boycott it will severely affect one of the Syrian government’s top sources of revenue. The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, expressed the union’s belief that Assad had lost all legitimacy and there is now a necessity for him to step down.
Indian Activist Goes On Public Hunger Strike
On Friday (19) Indian activist Anna Hazare left jail where he would embark on a two-week hunger strike. The strike follows his demands of the government that they implement stronger anti-corruption laws. The authorities have not yet responded to his actions.
As the 74 year old activist left the gates of Delhi’s Tihar jail, he was met by thousands of cheering supporters. He vowed to the crowd that he would continue the hunger strike until India was ‘completely corruption free’.
Following his address Hazare led a slow moving procession to an open venue in central Delhi where he will stage his fast. Hazare was granted permission by the authorities to stage his fast in Ramlila Maidan, which is a popular rallying site in the centre of old Delhi. Protests had risen up all over India on Wednesday in support of Hazare after his arrest on Tuesday (16) following the announcement that he will fast until death.
Along with Hazare hundreds of his supporters were also briefly detained, they too were released on Friday (19).
Kiran Bedi, one of India’s first female police officers and widely respected figure for anti-fraud drive told Indian media that ‘none of us is looking at this as a victory, we are not playing games. We are doing this to move the country forward’. Bedi further added that the police had agreed to allow the hunger strike to go on for two weeks, with the possibility of extension after that period.
Hazare’s arrest shocked many in a country with strong memories of Gandhi’s independence battles against colonial rule with fasts and non-violent protests.
Mayor Dumps Boulder On Ex-wife’s Lawn
A small town mayor from Quebec dumped a huge boulder on the lawn of his ex-wife early last week.
A police spokesman explained that Dany Lariviere, mayor of St-Theodore-d’Acton, removed the boulder the next night following a complaint by neighbours.
The boulder was apparently decorated with a pink bow and the words ‘Happy Birthday’ had been spray painted on it. When asked why the mayor had carried out this prank he joked that his wife always wanted a big rock, so he gave one on her birthday.
Police spokesman, Valerie Bolduc, explained that the authorities must now decide whether or not criminal charges could stem from this prank. Lariviere, who owns an excavation company, transported the rock across the town early Sunday (14) morning.
Pamistan Denies Allowing China To Inspect Us Helicopter
Chinese authorities denied that the Pakistan government gave it access to the wreckage of the US Blackhawk helicopter which had been used during the Navy Seals covert raid to kill Osama Bin Laden.
The Financial Times in the US reported that Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate gave the Chinese military access to the downed helicopter.
The helicopter was one of the two used by the Navy Seals during their operation in Pakistan. It was reported that the machine had been modified to allow it to enter Pakistan airspace undetected. After crash landing, the Seals had apparently attempted to destroy the aircraft. However, part of the tail remained intact. An US official said on Friday (19) that there is reason to believe that Pakistan allowed Chinese military officials to inspect the wreckage. They added, however, that these claims could neither be confirmed nor denied.
Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been severely strained since the raid which saw al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, killed in a compound in the city of Abbottabad. Pakistan continues to enjoy close relationships with China, whom are major investors in telecommunications, ports and infrastructure.
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