Governance

Turkey slams criticism on July 15 court proceeding

ANKARA Turkey’s presidential spokesman on Wednesday accused European organizations and press members of being biased regarding the judicial proceeding on July 15 defeated coup in Turkey.”Those who say that there are problems with the rule of law in Tur…

Governance

Turkey’s BIST 100 stocks see record opening

ANKARAThe Borsa Istanbul stock exchange opened 477.16 points up on Tuesday to reach 110,014.51 points, its highest ever opening.The BIST 100 jumped 0.44 percent to record its highest peak since opening in April 2013.The banking and holding sector indic…

Governance

US: Islamic State Has Committed ‘Genocide’ Against Religious Believers

The United States accused Islamic State insurgents on Tuesday of carrying out a reign of violence targeting religious minorities and opposition ethnic groups, even as they have been losing control of large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Islamic State “is clearly responsible for genocide … and crimes against humanity.”

Tillerson, speaking as he released the State Department’s annual report on religious freedom in 199 countries and territories around the globe, said, “Religious persecution and intolerance remains far too prevalent.”

The top U.S. diplomat said that “almost 80 percent of the global population live with restrictions on or hostilities to limit their freedom of religion. Where religious freedom is not protected we know that instability, human rights abuses and violent extremism have a greater opportunity to take root. We cannot ignore these conditions.”

Seven countries

Tillerson singled out seven countries for an array of abuses in the way their governments treat the faithful: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, China, Pakistan and Sudan. Tillerson said that in various ways these nations intimidate believers practicing their faiths through harassment, imprisonment and executions.

“No one should have to live in fear, worship in secret, or face discrimination because of his or her beliefs,” he said.

But he laid out his most detailed indictment against Islamic State.

As we make progress in defeating ISIS and denying them their caliphate, their terrorist members have and continue to target multiple religions and ethnic groups for rape, kidnapping enslavement and even death,” he said.

“To remove any ambiguity from previous statements or reports by the State Department,” Tillerson said, “the crime of genocide requires three elements: specific acts with specific intent to destroy and hold or impart specific people. Members of national, ethnic, racial or religious groups. Specific act-specific intent-specific people. Application of the law to the facts at hand leads to the conclusion ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims in areas it controls or has controlled.

US priority

Tillerson said the protection of religious minorities “and others who are targets of violent extremism � remains a human rights priority” for President Donald Trump’s administration.

The report said that in Iraq, where Baghdad’s forces have reclaimed the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State control, the insurgents “pursued a campaign of violence against members of all faiths, but against non-Sunnis in particular.”

The State Department said, “In areas under its control, ISIS continued to commit individual and mass killings, and to engage in rape, kidnapping, random detentions and mass abductions, torture, abduction and forced conversion of non-Muslim male children, and the enslavement and sex trafficking of women and girls from minority religious communities.”

It said Islamic State “continued to engage in harassment, intimidation, robbery, and the destruction of personal property and religious sites. In areas not under ISIS control, it continued suicide bombings and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks against all segments of society.”

In Syria, the report said that “nonstate actors, including a number of groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United States and other governments, such as ISIS and … al-Nusra Front, targeted Shia, Alawites, Christians, and other religious minorities, as well as other Sunnis, with indiscriminate attacks, as well as killings, kidnappings, physical mistreatment, and arrests in the areas of the country under their control.

“ISIS killed dozens through public executions, crucifixions, and beheadings of men, women, and children on charges of apostasy, blasphemy, homosexuality, and cursing God,” the report said, “In Raqqa [Islamic State’s self-declared capital] and elsewhere in Syria, ISIS continued to hold thousands of enslaved Yazidi women and girls kidnapped in Iraq and trafficked to Syria to be sold or distributed to ISIS members as ‘spoils of war’ because of their religious beliefs.”

China

The report singled out China for what it said were the government’s abuse, detention, arrests and torture of adherents of various faiths.

“The government cited concerns over the ‘three evils’ of ‘ethnic separatism, religious extremism, and violent terrorism’ as grounds to enact and enforce restrictions on religious practices of Uighur Muslims,” the report said. “The government sought the forcible repatriation of Uighur Muslims from foreign countries, many of whom sought asylum in those countries on the grounds of religious persecution.”

Source: Voice of America

Governance

Iraqi Shi’ite Militias Pledge to Take Part in Next IS Fight

Iraq’s Shi’ite militias announced on Monday they will participate in the next major battle against the Islamic State group after the Iraqi forces’ victory in Mosul last month.

The Shi’ite militias did not fight in the urban part of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, but were key in clearing far-flung villages of IS and capturing supply lines in the desert west of Mosul toward Iraq’s border with Syria.

The spokesman for the government-sanctioned umbrella � known as the Popular Mobilization Forces or PMF and mostly made up of Shi’ite militias � says the participation of the militiamen is “essential” in the upcoming fight for the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul. About 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the Syrian border, Tal Afar was once home to both Shiites and Sunni ethnic Turkmen.

“Today we want to speak loud and clear that [the PMF] are actively involved in Tal Afar military operations and will participate in all areas where operations are taking place,” Ahmed al-Asadi told reporters in Baghdad.

In past fights against IS in Iraq, including the battles for the cities of Tikrit and Fallujah, the Shi’ite militias were accused of sectarian killings and other abuses against minority Sunnis. They acknowledge some abuses may have occurred but say those responsible have been disciplined.

Monday’s announcement may increase tensions between Iraq and neighboring Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has repeatedly warned that military operations in and around Mosul should not lead to any demographic changes on the ground, reflecting concerns that once territory is liberated from IS, Iraqi Kurdish or Shi’ite forces may push out Sunni Arabs or ethnic Turkmen.

Source: Voice of America

Governance

North Korea allows Canadian prisoner to return home

SEOUL, KoreaNorth Korea released a Canadian prisoner on “sick bail,” state media reported late Wednesday.Pastor Lim Hyeon-su, 62, was ordered by Pyongyang’s highest court to serve a life sentence of hard labor in December 2015 after he was convicted of…

Governance

New Wave of Media Arrests in Turkey

In dawn raids, Turkish police enforced arrest warrants on 35 media workers, including journalists, in connection with last year’s coup attempt. Local media reports say at least nine people were detained. The latest arrests add to the more than 150 repo…

Governance

Migrant Boy Called ‘Little Picasso’ Shows Works in Serbia

A 10-year-old refugee, who has been nicknamed “the little Picasso” for his artistic talent, is holding his first exhibition � and donating all the money raised to a sick Serbian boy.

Farhad Nouri’s drawings and photographs were put on display Wednesday in Belgrade, where he has lived in a crowded migrant camp with his parents and two younger brothers for the past eight months.

The family was forced to flee conflict and poverty in their home country of Afghanistan two years ago, traveling through Greece and Turkey before arriving in Serbia.

The boy’s gift for art was spotted during language and painting workshops in Belgrade that were organized by local aid groups for refugees and migrants.

“We quickly realized how talented he was and sent him to a painting school as well as a three-month photography workshop, so this is a retrospective of what he learned there,” said Edin Sinanovic from the Refugees Foundation, a local NGO.

Among Nouri’s works exhibited in the garden of a Belgrade cafe were his drawings of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Harry Potter. His photographs mostly include scenes from around Belgrade.

In addition to holding his first exhibition, “Farhad wanted to help someone, so he chose to dedicate it to a six-year-old Serbian boy who needs funds for his therapy after brain cancer,” Sinanovic said.

Nouri, who is dreaming of one day moving to Switzerland to become a painter and a photographer, said he wanted to help someone else as well to show how important it is to be good to other people.

“We all need kindness,” he said.

Source: Voice of America

Governance

Report: Turkey Begins Building Border Wall With Iran

A Turkish media report says Turkey has begun construction of a wall along the country’s frontier with Iran, mimicking the Turkish barrier along the Syrian border.The private Dogan news agency said the governor of Agri province, Suleyman Elban, inspecte…