Archive for October, 2009
DARFUR KIDNAPPERS RELEASE TWO AID WORKERS WITHOUT RANSOM
Sunday, 18 October 2009 15:44 Sudan >>>
The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs has announced the release of the two abductees, a Ugandan and an Irish lady, both working for in GOAL a humanitarian organisation operating in Darfur. The minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Abdul-Bagi Al Jeilani, told reporters that the kidnapped aid workers were released early on Sunday without ransom. Al Jeilani said the two are now in al Fashir and are in good health.
Meanwhile, the Ugandan Ambassador in Sudan, Betty Atleij Ulolo, expressed delight over the release of her fellow citizen.
She praised the efforts of the local administration and the Sudanese Government which led to the release of the hostages.
The two aid workers, Sharon Cummins and Hilda Kauki, were kidnapped three months ago by unidentified gunmen while they were carrying out their humanitarian duty in Kutum, North Darfur State.
|Al Jazeera – The UN human rights council has endorsed the Goldstone report on Israel’s war on Gaza, which accuses the military of using disproportionate force as well as laying charges of war crimes on Israeli occupation forces and Hamas.The council’s resolution adopting the report was passed in Geneva by 25 votes to six with 11 countries abstaining and five declining to vote.
The inquiry, lead by Justice Richard Goldstone, calls on Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, to monitor whether Israel and Hamas conduct credible investigations into the conflict which took place last winter.
Should the two sides fail to do so, it calls on the UN Security Council to refer the allegations to the International Criminal Court.
The Palestinian Authority had initially agreed to defer a vote on the UN-sanctioned report, but later backtracked under heavy criticism.
The United States and Israel were among those countries which voted against the resolution.
Mike Hanna, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Geneva, said the vote was a “very strong victory” for the supporters of the resolution, but that the large number of abstentions was also “very significant”.
In Gaza, Hamas thanked the nations that voted to endorse the report.
“We hope that vote will lead to a trial of the occupation leaders,” Taher al-Nunu, a Hamas spokesman, said.
Mousa Abu Marzook, the deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, Syria, told Al Jazeera: “We thank our people, all those who support to submit again this report to the human rights committee and all the countries who voted for the report.
“I think if the Palestinian Authority didn’t withdraw this report it will be more efficient and the result will be stronger than the resolution.
“Right now, there is no talking with Fatah, but during the dialogue between Fatah and Hamas in Egypt, within a few weeks, we are going to talk about reconciliation and, of course, this kind of subject we are going to talk about.”
In addition to endorsing the report, the resolution “strongly condemns all policies and measures taken by Israel, the occupying power, including those limiting access of Palestinians to their properties and holy sites”.
It also calls on Israel to stop digging and excavation work around the Al-Aqsa mosque as well as other Islamic and Christian religious sites.
Israel rejected the charges saying the resolution – drafted by the Palestinians with Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tunisia, on behalf of non-aligned, African, Islamic and Arab nations – threatened peace efforts.
The Goldstone report recommended that its conclusions be sent on to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not hold their own credible investigations into allegations of war crimes within six months.
The report accused Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
It also accused Hamas, which has de facto control of Gaza, of war crime violations, but reserved most of its criticism for Israel.
On Thursday, Navi Pillay, the UN human rights chief, endorsed the report, calling for “impartial, independent, prompt and effective investigations” into the alleged war crimes.
Pillay said: “A culture of impunity continues to prevail in the occupied territories and in Israel,” Pillay said during the UN Human Rights Council’s special debate session on the report on Thursday.
In her speech, Pillay cited concern about the restrictions on Palestinians wishing to enter al-Aqsa and expressed “dismay” about the Israeli blockade of Gaza that she said “severely undermines the rights and welfare of the population there”.
On Thursday, Goldstone, a former South African judge, criticised the resolution, saying: “I hope that the council can modify the text.”
About 1,400 Palestinians – the majority of them civilians – and 13 Israelis were killed during Israel’s three-week war on Gaza, which had the stated aim of stopping rocket attacks by Palestinian fighters from the coastal territory.
FREE GAZA IRELAND TO SEND “IRISH BOAT” TO GAZA
The crisis in Gaza is unacceptable.
For nearly four years, Israel has subjected the Gaza Strip to an increasingly cruel blockade, leading to severe increases in unemployment, poverty, and childhood malnutrition. Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza last December & January killed over 1400 civilians and destroyed thousands of homes, schools, mosques and hospitals. It’s been almost a year since these attacks and thousands of Gaza’s Palestinians are still living in rubble. Maintaining the Gaza siege and denying Palestinians the right to rebuild their lives is unconscionable.
Free Gaza Ireland is working closely with the international Free Gaza Movement to acquire an “Irish boat” to sail to Gaza as part of an international flotilla challenging Israel’s brutal siege. Since August 2008, international volunteers in the Free Gaza Movement have been sailing to Gaza, suceeding 5 times to break the siege. Ours remain the only ships to reach Gaza since 1967. More than simple charity, the Palestinian people need our solidarity and political action.
They need us to challenge the policies that leave them in need of humanitarian aid. With Ireland’s help, the Free Gaza Movement hopes to sail to Gaza before winter sets in with ships carrying badly needed humanitarian and reconstruction supplies.
On board will be Irish TD’s, journalists, human rights activists & Irish musicans who will perform in Gaza with local artists as part of a series of cultural events linking up with Ireland.
We urge everyone to join us in concretely asserting the right of the Palestinian people to have access to the outside world. We will not stay silent as the Palestinian people are deliberately starved and humiliated.
Like all peoples in the world – Palestinians have a right to life with dignity.
CULTURAL EVENTS LINKING IRELAND & PALESTINE -OCTOBER
14TH OCTOBER – WED LOWKEY – CORK @ AN SPAILPIN FANAC, CORK @ 9PM
15TH OCTOBER – THUR LOWKEY & MUPEID MC – GALWAY @ COLLEGE BAR, NUI UNIVERSITY @ 8.30PM
15TH OCTOBER – THUR GALWAY 2 GAZA – video link up with students/artists in Gaza @ 4pm in NUI.
16TH OCTOBER – FRI DUBLIN @ TRIPOD One Concert – Two Cities, live link up with Gaza @ 7pm
Dublin will extend the hand of friendship to the besieged city of Gaza when a very special concert will be transmitted from Tripod in Dublin LIVE to an audience in Gaza City – One Concert – Two Cities Celebrated Irish musicians, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Lumiere, Kíla, Naisrin and Zahara El Safty will be joined on the bill by Palestinian singer, Shadia Mansour & Lowkey, as will the Dublin-based Discovery Gospel Choir. The evening will celebrate culture and use the power of music to unite people in Ireland and in the besieged city of Gaza.
DUBLIN – Tickets are priced at 15 Euros and available from Ticketmaster. http://www.pod.ie
Irish activist Mairead Maguire, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, will describe the Israeli security barrier as a land grab during her upcoming visit to Vancouver.
Gaza shocks Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire By Travis Lupick
Mairead Maguire is not what you would expect of a 65-year-old woman. Last June, she spent five days in an Israeli prison after attempting to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip. One year earlier, she was shot by Israeli forces with a rubber-coated bullet while taking part in a demonstration against Israel’s separation barrier. Maguire has spent the past 30 years working against violence. In 1976, she helped organize the largest nonviolent demonstration in Northern Ireland’s history, for which she received the Nobel Peace Prize. “I lament every single life, but you can’t really make a comparison here,” Maguire told the Georgia Straight from Northern Ireland. “Israel has a war machine which is supported by the American government and the Palestinians have homemade rockets….We’re talking about David and Goliath.”
On September 28, Maguire is scheduled to speak in Vancouver about her experiences with the Free Gaza movement. While in town, she will also attend a separate event called the Vancouver Peace Summit: Nobel Laureates in Dialogue. The Dalai Lama and other Nobel Prize winners will be there with her. “The people of Gaza are not allowed cement, building materials; children have returned to schools with no pencils and no writing material: all of these things have been prohibited by the Israelis from being allowed into Gaza,” Maguire said. “We have to break the siege of Gaza that Israel is putting on because the children are suffering.”
In January 2006, Hamas won parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories. Since then, Israel has enforced a blockade around Gaza, restricting the movement of goods, according to UN reports.
In December 2008, Israel launched an assault on the Gaza Strip, killing 1,100 to 1,400 Palestinians. Thirteen Israelis also died in the conflict. A recent UN report states that during the three-week conflict, both Israeli and Palestinian forces committed war crimes. The report accuses Israel of deliberately using “disproportionate force” and of imposing a “blockade which amounted to collective punishment”, and charges that Israel’s military operation “was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole”.
Judge Richard Goldstone, who led the UN’s inquiry, has told Aljazeera that Israel “punished and terrorized” civilians in Gaza during the conflict. The report also condemns rocket attacks by Palestinian groups. Since then, Israel’s blockade has remained in place and significantly limited reconstruction efforts in Gaza, according to BBC News. Michael Elterman, Pacific regional chair for the Canada-Israel Committee, told the Straight during the war that Israel has maintained its blockade for security reasons. He told the Straight of the fear that permeates the lives of Israeli families living within range of Palestinian rockets. “There is a great deal of stress and trauma that is associated with living chronically in a state of heightened expectation,” Elterman said. “Children are sleeping with their parents every night [and] there are a lot of regressive symptoms like bed-wetting and nightmares.”
Gordon Murray, an organizer for Maguire’s speaking engagement, rebutted the rocket argument. “There were virtually no rockets fired during the [six-month] ceasefire during 2008,” he said, citing a February 2009 UN report. “Even when there were no rockets, Gaza was still only receiving 25 percent of what it needed in terms of food and fuel and so on.”
In November 2008, Maguire was aboard a ship called the Dignity, which successfully sailed to Gaza with humanitarian supplies. On her second voyage, this summer aboard the Spirit of Humanity, she landed in an Israeli prison. “I am a pacifist,” Maguire said. “But when you make comparisons here, with the occupation, we’re not talking about an equal playing field.” Maguire said she believes that peace across the Middle East depends on a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Follow Travis Lupick on Twitter @travislupick.
Photo by alan lonergan