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UNSC envoys hear of rapes, murders from Rohingya refugees

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KUTUPALONG (Bangladesh): Hundreds of Rohingya refugees staged a demonstration as UN Security Council envoys visited their camps in Bangladesh where about 700,000 people who have fled Myanmar in the past year have sought sanctuary.
Some of the Muslim refugees broke down in tears as they told the ambassadors harrowing stories of murder and rape in Myanmar. The demonstrators waved placards demanding justice for atrocities against the refugees until they were dispersed by police.
Senior diplomats from the 15-member Security Council — including permanent members the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday for a four-day visit to the camps. They will go on to Myanmar where they are to meet civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar has faced intense international pressure over the military clampdown against the Rohingya launched last August that the United Nations has called “ethnic cleansing”.
The Security Council has called for the safe return of the Rohingya and an end to the discrimination against them.
However, deputy Russian ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy, whose country has supported Myanmar, warned that the council did not have a “magic stick” to resolve what is now one of the world’s worst refugee crises.
“We are not looking away from this crisis, we are not closing our eyes,” the Russian diplomat told reporters.
Britain’s UN ambassador Karen Pierce said the Rohingya “must be allowed to go home in conditions of safety”.
“It may take some time but we’d like to hear from the government of Myanmar how they wish to work with the international community,” she said.
The UN envoys first visited Konarpara camp, on no man’s land between Bangladesh and Myanmar where some 6,000 Rohingya have been trapped on bleak scrubland since the bloodshed began last year.
`The camp’s Rohingya leader Dil Mohammad said council envoys spoke with some women victims of the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, as well as community elders. “We told them that we’re staying here to save our lives. We’re very much eager to go back to our land, provided our security is ensured by the UN,” he said.
Later, the diplomats went to the giant Kutupalong camp where hundreds of Rohingya staged the protest that was dispersed by police before the envoys arrived. A second was later held in the camp.
“We want restoration of our citizenship under Rohingya ethnicity. We want security and return of our confiscated land and properties,” said Rohingya leader Mohibullah.
The council members were shocked by the accounts of rapes, murders and torture endured by the Rohingya in Rakhine, according to Mohibullah.
Myanmar has said the military operation in Rakhine was to root out extremists and has rejected nearly all allegations that its security forces committed atrocities.
Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi said the visit was not about “naming and shaming” Myanmar, but that “the message will be very clear for them: the international community is following the situation and has great interest in resolving it.”
On Friday, Human Rights Watch called for the Rohingya crisis to be referred to the International Criminal Court.


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Pakistan puts major CPEC power project on hold, asks China to delete it from list

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Islamabad: In a setback to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Pakistan government has decided to put on hold a major power project, Rahim Yar Khan power project, and has reportedly informed the Chinese government about the same. According to a report in Pakistan-based Dawn News, the Pakistan government will shut down several other schemes under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

The report further said that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government has asked Beijing to “formally delete the project from the CPEC list”. The same was communicated to China in a meeting of the CPEC Joint Coordination Committee by Pakistan on December 20, 2018. According to the report, the project was pushed by the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz government in the past.

The development comes months after China refuted charges that Pakistan’s current economic crisis crumbled because of projects under CPEC. China had said that blaming CPEC was uncalled for and that the corridor in fact was something that would bolster Pakistan economy in the years to come.

 

The defence of CPEC was necessiated after rising voices in Pakistan against it. Several people questioned the loans taken from China and asked the terms for their repayment. Even the United States has said that the current state of Pakistani economy is a result of loans it has taken from Beijing and has made it clear that it won’t allow any bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which would be used by Islamabad to repay Chinese debt.

The IMF also later observed that increasing Chinese involvement in Pakistan’s economy could be disastrous on the latter’s future.

Islamabad has already cut the size of the biggest Chinese “Silk Road” project in Pakistan, a reconstruction of the main rail line between the port city of Karachi and Peshawar in the northwest by $2 billion, citing government concerns about the country’s debt levels. The changes are part of Islamabad’s efforts to rethink key Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan, to which China has pledged about $60bn in financing.

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Trump threatens to ‘devastate’ Turkey’s economy if it attacks Kurds

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Washington: US President Donald Trump said that America would “devastate Turkey economically” if the NATO-allied country attacks Kurds in the region. “Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining IS (Islamic State) territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms,” the President tweeted.

“Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” but followed up in a second tweet, “Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”

Turkey views some Kurdish groups in the region as terrorist organisations and Kurds make up the majority of US-allied fighters operating in Syria in the civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad`s regime, CNN reported.

 

It`s a stark threat toward an ally in the region that has partnered with the US in the fight against the IS. CNN reported on Thursday that the first US military ground equipment has been withdrawn from Syria, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly lashed out at US National Security Adviser John Bolton for saying the US withdrawal was contingent upon Ankara`s pledge not to attack US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria once troops leave.

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Bill for delisting Pakistan as major ally tabled in US Congress

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WASHINGTON: A bill seeking to remove Pakistan from a list of America’s major non-Nato allies has been introduced in the US Congress, even though the Trump administration enhances its contacts with Islamabad in its pursuit of a peaceful end to the Afghan war.

The resolution — introduced by Congressman Andy Biggs who, like the Trump administration, is a Republican — sets new conditions for future re-designation.

If a US president desires to put Pakistan back on the list, he or she will have to certify to Congress that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the “safe haven and freedom of movement” of the Haqqani Network in the country.

 

The president also has to certify that Pakistan has shown progress in arresting and prosecuting Haqqani Network’s senior leaders and mid-level operatives.
Take a look: Pakistan has given us nothing but lies and deceit, says US President Donald Trump

The re-designation will require another certification from Congress that Pakistan has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to preventing the Haqqani Network from using any Pakistani territory as a safe haven and that Pakistan actively cooperates with Afghanistan to restrict the movement of militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Known as Resolution H.R. 73, the bill has been sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee for necessary action.

Mr Biggs, a second-term legislator, has no cosponsor and his move will need a strong support from the Trump administration and the Democratic Party to pass a House dominated by the Democrats.

In recent statements, President Donald Trump has clearly expressed his desire to withdraw at least half of the 14,000 US troops still stationed in Afghanistan.

Senior Democrats — both in and outside Congress — have also said that the United States cannot remain involved in these apparently unending wars in Afghanistan and Syria.

But before an ultimate withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Trump administration wants to ensure that the pullout does not lead to the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government in Kabul.

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