Pakistan: 'self-determination a basic human right'

Endorsing the Palestinians' bid for UN membership for the state of Palestine, Pakistan's foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, asserted , “Self-determination is a basic human right which cannot be applied selectively.” Khar continued, “We are meeting here at a time when the Palestinian aspirations for a national homeland appear to be entering a decisive phase .” “At this critical juncture, we stand with our Palestinian brethren for their legitimate demand for an independent State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, and its recognition by the United Nations ,”

Dual-citizenship war criminal loses extradition case

A Serbian-Australian citizen has again lost an appeal against an extradition that would see him face charges of war crimes in Croatia. Dragan Vasiljkovic, nicknamed "Captain Dragan", was the founder of a paramilitary unit the “Knindze” also known as the “Knin Ninjas” or “Red Berets”. He is accused of torturing and killing Croatian civilians and prisoners of war during the Balkan conflict in the 1990s. See report by The Australian here . Australia’s Federal Court upheld an earlier November 2010 ruling stating that, “There was no obvious, or even readily apparent, basis on which the view might...

UN jails genocide accused

Two former Rwandan ministers have been jailed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Former foreign affairs minister Jerome-Clement Bicamumpaka and former health minister Casimir Bizimungu were both sentenced to 30 years in prison. However, two other former ministers were acquitted due to insufficient evidence. All four ministers were accused of making speeches at rallies inciting massacres of Tutsis, during the genocide in Rwanda. The ICTR was set up by the United Nations in 1994 to hold...

Syrian armed resistance emerges as crackdown continues

A group of defected soldiers have claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on Syrian President Assad’s security forces, as an armed opposition to the regime has begun to emerge after months of peaceful protests. The group, known as the “Free Syrian Army” claim to have destroyed 17 armoured vehicles on Wednesday as Syrian officials admitted seven of their troops died in an offensive against the defectors. Reports have also claimed that as many as 80 Syrian soldiers have been killed by the group. See reports from The Associated Press here and the Financial Times here . Many of the army...

US senator: Libyan rebels are 'an inspiration to the world'

US senator John McCain, currently leading a Republican delegation to Tripoli, asserted that the Libyan revolutionaries were 'an inspiration to the world', particularly to aspiring activists in Syria, Iran, China and Russia. McCain said , "The people of Libya today are inspiring the people in Tehran, in Damascus and even in Beijing and Moscow ," " They continue to inspire the world and let people know that even the worst dictators can be overthrown and be replaced by freedom and democracy." "I've dreamed of returning to a liberated capital of a free Libya ever since I visited Benghazi in April...

Bahraini medics imprisoned for treating anti-government protesters

Twenty Bahraini nurses and doctors were charged on Thursday with committing 'crimes against the state', after treating injured protesters during protests earlier this year and publicly denouncing the Bahraini government on international media. The group, charged by a military court, received sentences ranging from ten to fifteen years. The British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, condemned the trial, stating, "These are worrying developments that could undermine the Bahraini government's moves towards dialogue and the reform needed for long-term stability in Bahrain." " I call on the Bahraini judicial authorities to follow due process carefully and transparently. Cases before the special tribunals should be transferred to regular civilian courts."

US Ambassador pelted with stones by pro-Assad demonstrators

Robert Ford, US Ambassador to Damascus, was pelted with eggs, tomatoes and stones by a pro-Assad mob, as he left to visit opposition figures in Syria earlier today. The attack was quick to draw strong condemnation from the United States, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying , "We condemn this unwarranted attack in the strongest possible term. Ambassador Ford and his aides were conducting normal embassy business and this attempt to intimidate our diplomats through violence is wholly unjustified." The Syrian government however reacted differently, releasing a statement after the...

Former Egyptian Minister Jailed

An Egyptian court has jailed former Information Minister Anas al-Fekky to seven years in jail. Al-Fekky, who was a close and powerful ally of Mubarak, had been accused of corruption charges, along with the former head of State TV, Osama el-Sheikh. El-Sheikh was ordered to serve 5 years in jail, in a case involving the purchase of TV programmes at inflated prices using state funds. The trial was one of many currently ongoing against members of the former regime, including the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak, who is being held accountable for the killings of anti-regime protestors.

Syria looks East as renewed UN proposal submitted

In a concerted effort to pass a UN resolution on Syria, a group of European states have submitted a draft proposal calling for sanctions unless there was an “immediate end to all violence”. Backed by the US, the resolution drawn up by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal has scaled down demands for immediate sanctions as they seek to gain the support of Russia and China, who have threatened to veto the resolution. Opposition has also come from India, South Africa and Brazil. The proposal still condemned " the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities " and the threat of future sanctions remains. French Ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, commented the resolution should not be dismissed as “weak” stating , "But in our world it will be a significant first step . It will be the first time there has been a resolution against Syria and it will be talking about sanctions." The move comes as the existing European oil embargo leaves Syria desperately seeking new customers, causing them to shift their gaze to the East, just as Iran did with China when they too faced sanctions.

Australia lifts ban on female soldiers serving on frontlines

Australia is to lift all gender-based restrictions on military combat positions, paving the way for female soldiers serving along-side their male colleagues on the frontlines, in roles previous denied to them, including Special Forces units, infantry and certain artillery roles. The propsed changes will put Australia into a small group of conventional state militaries that have ensured equality for female soldiers - namely, Canada, Israel and New Zealand. Announcing the proposed changes, Stephen Smith, Australia's Defence Minister, said, “We have an Australian Army that’s been going for 110 years, an Australian Navy that’s been going formally for 100 years, and an Australian Air Force that’s been going for 90 years, and last night, we resolved to remove the final restrictions on the capacity of women to serve in front-line combat roles,” “ In the future, your role in the defense force will be determined on your ability, not on the basis of your sex .”

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