Security laws to be repealed in Kashmir

Security laws, that have long protected security forces from prosecution, are to be lifted in some areas of Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir announced on Friday. In a speech to police officers stationed in the region, Abdullah explained that the laws were no longer warranted given the prevailing peace in the region. The announcement comes amidst wider efforts to decrease the security presence in the region. The law - Armed Forces Special Powers Act - has been heavily criticised by human rights activists, for requires Home Ministry permission...

Libya declared free

Libya's new leaders - former rebel fighters and now NTC members - declared the country to be free from the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi on Sunday . Thousands gathered in the city of Benghazi to hear the announcement of liberation. National Transitional Council officials and spectators chanted "raise your head high, you are a free Libyan!" Celebrations are said to be continuing well into the night. National Transitional Council (NTC) chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said , " Today we are one flesh, one national flesh. We have become united brothers as we have not been in the past ," " I call on...

UN & US push for Gaddafi investigation

International pressure has mounted on the National Transitional Council of Libya to clarify how former leader Muammar Gaddafi died last week, after both the UN & US called for further investigations. Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said , “We really do need some clarity.” "More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in some form of fighting or was executed after his capture." Colville suggested that a UN panel that was set up earlier this year to investigate human rights abuses in Libya, which included the first president of the...

SNP officially launches Scotland's independence campaign

The Scottish National Party (SNP) launched the campaign for independence on Sunday, outlining the proposed referendum on independence and urged supporters to brace themselves for the " biggest campaign ever ". The annoucement follows the SNP leader, Alex Salmond's, rallying call to the Scottish nation to unie behind the Scottish identity. Angus Robertson, the SNP's campaign director, launching the party's " biggest donation drive ever ", urged party supporters to contribute generously, in order to build a " fighting fund " and " war chest ". " Our independence campaign starts now. It's...

“Bashar al-Assad, how do you feel today?”

After the death of Muammar Gaddafi, Syrian opposition activists have been reinvigorated in their bid to drive Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power. The death of the former Libyan leader sparked mass demonstrations in the city of Homs, where protestors celebrated the end of Gaddafi’s regime and warned that Assad may end up suffering the same fate. They came with banners and chanted , "Gaddafi is gone. Your turn is coming, Bashar!" and “Bashar al-Assad, how do you feel today?” There were also reports of crowds of jubilant Libyans in Tripoli’s renamed Martyr’s Square chanting “Syria!...

China investing $30 billion in India

India should be “much more relaxed” in its approach to Chinese investments y and get rid of “needless” restrictions, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said. “We are imagining demons where there are none,” he added. Ramesh's comments came in the context of recent reports that India had barred import of telecom equipment from major Chinese firm Huawei, especially in the border areas following security concerns. "China is implementing projects worth over USD 30 billion [in India] but unfortunately the controversy over Huawei has overshadowed the whole issue of Chinese investments," Ramesh said...

Retired Algerian Defence Minister arrested over war crimes

Former Algerian Defense Minister Khaled Nezzar has been arrested in Geneva over allegations of war crimes committed during the Algerian civil war, which started in 1992. The 73 year-old, who is also a retired Army General, was questioned by Swiss prosecutors, before being released pending further investigations. The Swiss human rights group Track Impunity Always (TRIAL) have accused Nezzar of inciting, directing and committing massacres, as well as torture and other human rights violations. See report from Reuters here . TRIAL were also involved in pursuing allegations of war crimes against...

New defence secretary reaffirms UK foreign policy

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme for the first time as the UK's defence secretary, Phillip Hammond reiterated Britain's commitment to protect civilians populations from unscrupulous regimes. Listen here from 02:18:00 for full interview. Extracts reproduced verbatim below: HAMMOND: We took part in this NATO campaign under the United Nations resolution and we took part in order to protect civilians against a very imminent massacre. Now that campaign - that was the reason we did it - now that campaign is over, of course I would expect British companies to be - even today - British sales...

SNP: only Scottish independence will do

Addressing the SNP (Scottish National Party) conference on Saturday, party leader Alex Salmond, reaffirmed the party's commitment to independence, dismissing any assertion that Scottish nationalism could be placated with economic powers. The SNP won a landslide victory in the last election and have pledged to hold a referendum on independence, most probably at the end of the Scotland's five year parliament. See here for video clip. Extracts from Salmond's address reproduced below: "Fiscal responsibility, financial freedom, real economic powers is a legitimate proposal. "It could allow control...

Eta announces end of armed struggle

Basque separatist group Eta has declared the “definitive cessation of its armed activity” and called for talks with the French and Spanish governments. The announcement came after talks with mediators led by former UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan and Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party president Gerry Adams, as well as calls from Eta’s political allies on the Basque separatist left. The Guardian has commented that Eta is following “a closely scripted route towards peace” and the BBC correspondent in Basque said “the event was so carefully choreographed that this move from Eta was widely...

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