Yemen's president signs deal relinquishing power

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, signed an agreement on Wednesday, relinquishing power to his vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, with immediate effect. The agreement, facilitated by Saudi Arabia and supported by the US, will signal the end of Saleh's 33 year rule of Yemen, following months of protests. The agreement allows Saleh many face-saving measures, including the retention of his title and certain privileges until new elections are held in three months. It also grants him immunity from prosecution. Many of the youth activists who led recent protests have criticised the agreement as an elitist pact. Highlighting the immunity offered, youth activists warned that the protesters, who demand adequate investigation and justice for the deaths of fellow demonstrators, would not be placated. Last month, youth activists wrote a letter to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, demanding that Saleh be referred to the International Criminal Court for the crimes committed by his military. The letter addressed to UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said, " We call on the UN to refer Saleh, his sons and his gang to the International Criminal Court for their crimes against peaceful protesters ." In a statement, US President Barack Obama said, “The United States welcomes President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s decision to transfer executive powers immediately to the Vice President in accordance with the agreement.” " The Yemeni people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future .”

Amnesty condemns human rights abuses by Egyptian military

Human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has condemned the conduct of the military in Egypt since it took over from the ousted leader, Hosni Mubarak. In a damning report (Broken Promises: Egypt's military rulers erode human rights), released Tuesday, Amnesty asserted that Egypt's Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) had "completely failed" to live up to their promises of returning power to the people and had committed human rights abuses that exceeded that of the Mubarak regime. Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa acting director, Philip Luther said, "The SCAF has continued the tradition of repressive rule which the January 25 demonstrators fought so hard to get rid of." " Those who have challenged or criticise the military council - like demonstrators, journalists, bloggers, striking workers - have been ruthlessly suppressed in an attempt at silencing their voices ... The brutal and heavy-handed response to protests in the last few days bears all the hallmarks of the Mubarak era." " The Egyptian military cannot keep using security as an excuse to keep the same old practices that we saw under President Mubarak ." "If there is to be an effective transition to the new Egypt that protesters have been demanding, the SCAF must release their grip on freedom of expression, association and assembly, lift the state of emergency and stop trying civilians in military courts ."

Saif could face trial in Libya: Ocampo

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi could face trial in Libya as long as the trial complied with the standards of the ICC. Jose Luis Moreno Ocampo said to reporters in Tripoli: "Saif is captured, so we are here to ensure co-operation, "In May, we requested an arrest warrant because Libyans could not do justice in Libya. Now, as Libyans have decided to do justice, they could do justice and we'll help them to do it – that is the system. " Our international criminal court acts when the national system cannot act. They [the Libyans] have...

Turkey calls on Assad to step down

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign for the sake of his people. "Without spilling any more blood, without causing any more injustice, for the sake of peace for the people, the country and the region, finally step down," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said, in his first direct call for Assad to go. "Fighting your own people until the death is not heroism. It's cowardice. If you want to see someone who fights his people to the death, look at Nazi Germany, look at Hitler, look at Mussolini," he told his ruling AK party. "If you...

Free Syrian Army attacks Damascus

Syrian rebels have struck at the heart of Damscus, firing grenades at the ruling Ba’ath party’s headquarters. The attack in the capital city caused little damage to the building but was a hugely symbolic blow to President Assad’s regime, in a sign that the rebel army was growing in confidence and support. One witness said , "The attack was just before dawn and the building was mostly empty. It seems to have been intended as a message to the regime." Assad remained defiant however, insisting that “Syria will not bow down” to international pressure. In an interview he said , "The only way is to...

Aung San Suu Kyi to run for Burma Parliament seat

Burma’s democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi is going to stand in upcoming elections in the country, her spokesperson confirmed. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) only ended their boycott of the political system a few days ago. The first parliamentary elections in the country for over 20 years took place last year, but were boycotted by the NLD due to a law that prevented Aung San Suu Kyi from contesting a seat. The elections in 1990 were won by the NLD by a land-slide; however the military government reacted by placing Suu Kyi under house arrest. She spent 15 of the past 22...

Khmer Rouge genocide trial begins

The trial of three former Khmer Rouge leaders has begun Monday, more than 30 years after they ruled Cambodia, where they face charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. In a packed courthouse the prosecution’s opening statements were read out, accusing the three former leaders of causing the death of more than 1.8 million people during the late 1970s. Prosecutor Chea Leang gave a detailed account of the massacres, causing some of those in the courthouse to shed tears. She told the UN-backed tribunal, " The forced evacuations of Cambodian cities , the enslavement of millions of people in forced labour camps, the smashing of hundreds of thousands of lives in notorious security centres and the killing fields , and the extermination of minorities , the countless deaths from disease, abuse and starvation – these crimes ordered and orchestrated by the accused were among the worst horrors inflicted on any nation in modern history." Court spokesman Lars Olsen hailed the trial, saying that "many people never thought it would happen." International co-prosecutor Andre Cayley also told reporters that the opening of this case was a milestone achievement. “I also think it is important in the interests of international justice generally because it’s certainly part of the fight against impunity. We are looking at crimes that are 30 years old. I’m quite certain that at the time the leaders of the Khmer Rouge never believed they would be held to account for what happened, and here we actually have the most senior living members of the Khmer Rouge who will be standing trial. "

Bangladesh seeks apology from Pakistan for 1971 atrocities

Bangladesh called for a formal apology from Pakistan for the 'genocide and atrocities' committed by its military in 1971. The demand was made by Bangladesh's new foreign minister, Dipu Moni, to the Pakistan's new envoy to Bangladesh, on Monday. A statement released by the ministry read, "[Moni] sought Pakistan's understanding and recognition of Bangladesh's position on resolving the outstanding issues including an expression of formal apology from Pakistan for the genocide and atrocities committed by the Pakistani military in 1971 ." "Early resolution of the outstanding issues would enable...

US welcomes conviction of Rwanda mayor for genocide, urges further justice

The United States welcomed the conviction of former Rwandan mayor , Ndahinama, by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda on charges of genocide and urged the arrest and trial of remaining fugitive. Spokesperson for the US State Department, Mark Toner, said, "The United States welcomes this ruling as an important step in providing justice and accountability for the Rwandan people and the international community ." "[Ndahimana's conviction] is of particular significance, because as mayor of Kivumu he had authority over the police, and yet failed to prevent the massacre " " Militia, police, civil and religious authorities participated in bulldozing the church , burying the refugees sheltered inside," "There are still nine ICTR fugitives at large and the United States urges all countries to redouble their cooperation with the ICTR so that these fugitives can be expeditiously arrested and brought to justice ."

Army raises 'secession' fears to keep powers - Jammu and Kashmir

The Indian Army's top commander in Jammu and Kashmir has claimed that India would have to grant independence to the state by 2016, if the government repeals the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The commander, Lieutenant-General Syed Ata Hasnain, of the Srinagar-based XV Corps, is reported to have made these comments on Wednesday, when addressing the State's coordination body for security, the Unified Headquarters. Lt.Gen. Hasnain claimed that lifting the AFSPA would result in widespread chaos. Coupled with the enhanced presence of members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference on the United Nations Security Council, secession would prove inevitable. According to reports, other security officials disputed his claimed however. Special Director-General of the Central Reserve Police Force Aniruddh Uppal said there was no evidence to suggest an imminent revolt . Inspector General of Police in-charge of the region S.M. Sahai said recent events such as the bombing of Delhi's High Court last month, and the violence over summer, indicated that future disturbances were more likely to arise from small groups of alienated young people and Islamist radicalism.

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