Dutch apology for Indonesia massacre in 1947

The Dutch government has issued a formal apology for the massacre of villagers in Java in 1947. On the 64th anniversary of the killings, Dutch Ambassador to Indonesia, Tjeerd de Zwaan, attended a memorial event at the Heroe’s Cemetery in Rawagede, the site of the massacre. "In this context and on behalf of the Dutch government, I apologise for the tragedy that took place in Rawagede on the 9th of December, 1947," de Zwaan said. According to local community groups, 431 men and boys were dragged out of their homes and executed in front of villagers during the country’s war of independence from...

French parliament committee passes bill criminalising Armenian Genocide denial

The committee on constitutional law of the French National Assembly has passed a bill which will make denial of the killings of over 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 by Turkey as genocide a crime. The bill, which will now be sent to the National Assembly, will make genocide denial a criminal offence and carries a fine of 45,000 euros and a one year prison sentence for those found guilty. It was proposed by parliamentarian Valerie Boyer and co-signed by 40 parliament members of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and the New Center parties. Boyer commented , “I hope that we will go to the end...

Nobel Peace Prize winner calls for Arab spring support

The first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize has called on the international community to support the pro-democracy protests that have swept across the Arab world this year. Speaking at the ceremony, Yemeni journalist Tawakkul Karman, who shares the prize with Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and rights activist Leymah Gbowee, called on the international community to intensify support for the wave of protests in the Middle East. " The democratic world , which has told us a lot about the virtues of democracy and good governance, should not be indifferent to what is happening in...

Taliban in peace talks with Pakistan

The Taliban’s deputy leader, Maulvi Faqir Mohammad has announced they are in talks with the government of Pakistan. The announcement is likely to exacerbate tensions between the US and Pakistan, already at a critical point after the recent deaths of Pakistani troops in a NATO attack.

British Police allowed into Libya to investigate Lockerbie

The Libyan government has given British police the go-ahead to conduct inquiries into the Lockerbie bombing and the killing of PC Yvonne Fletcher. Scottish detectives will travel to Libya to interview Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was convicted for involvement in th Lockerbie bombing in 1988. Al-Megrahi was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds due to his ill-health. At the time he was only expected to live another 2 months. Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC said: "If media reports are correct I am pleased that the Transitional Government of Libya has agreed to allow officers from Dumfries...

EU decision on Serbia’s membership may be postponed

A draft conclusion of the EU heads of government summit currently being held, may delay a decision on Serbia’s accession into the EU until March 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal . Stipulating conditions that Serbia had to fulfil, it concluded, "With a view to granting Serbia the status of candidate country by March 2012, the European Council tasks the Council to examine and confirm that Serbia has continued to show credible commitment and achieved further progress" The report follows speculation of a postponement in the decision after Germany and other countries expressed concern...

'Despite flaws, UNHRC can bring progress' - Kofi Annan

Writing in The Christian Science Monitor, former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, reflected on the work of the UN Human Rights Council and urges further action. Extracts reproduced below, see here for full article. "More consequential to the Council’s effectiveness than its composition has been the fact that many Council members – from all regions of the world – have begun to break free from the regional straightjackets of the past and worked together to advance human rights ." "The regional bloc voting practices of the past are giving way to more considered discussion and collective action . This engagement on the part of countries has helped to make the Council more effective and progressive than other human rights institutions." "Council action in response to the human rights situations in Iran, Libya, and Syria has, in each case, been possible due to the support of countries from Africa and Latin America , and even from within the Middle East." "It is true that conducting effective diplomacy and changing political dynamics is hard, but working to find agreement with countries that have disparate worldviews has always been a difficult endeavor. Nevertheless, it is important and worthwhile ."

Russia draws on another Sri Lanka model

United Russia, the nationalist party backing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin saw its representation slashed from 315 to 238 seats out of 450 in Sunday’s polls. But even this reduced showing seemed to have been gained through interference by authorities at polling stations, the Financial Times reports . International observers from the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe reported evidence of “ flagrant procedural violations ” and instances of “ manipulation including several serious indications of ballot box stuffing ”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of...

Assad: 'They are not my forces'

In a rare interview, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has tried to downplay the command responsibility he has had over the Syrian army, who have been accused of gross violations of human rights. Speaking with American broadcaster ABC, Assad claimed that the troops belonged to the “government” saying , " They are not my forces. They are military forces belonging to the government. I don't own them. I'm president. I don't own the country. So they are not my forces." Assad also commented that any claims of human rights abuses were by "individuals" stating, “There was no command to kill or to be...

Indonesia considers international observer for Papua

A new development program in the restive Indonesian province of Papua may be allowed to be scrutinised by international observers. Indonesian Vice-President Boediono told journalists that the Papuan conflict can be managed by the government. The new programme has been established to improve welfare, security and justice. Boediono said Indonesia may consider allowing independent observers to oversee the development. "In general we would like to resolve Papua on our own and certainly we would invite, later on, observers to look at Papua at what we have done since the beginning, the start of...

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