Washington: Seeking a voluntary, safe and dignified return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Myanmar, the US asserted that Dhaka must ensure that the returnees have the freedom of movement and “not be confined to camps”.
Dhaka and Naypyidaw have agreed last month to begin by mid-November the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled to Bangladesh to escape a Myanmar army crackdown. Under the agreement, Myanmar will take back 2,000 Rohingya Muslims from Bagladesh in the first batch, which will be followed by a second batch.
“We have engaged both governments at the highest levels to express our serious concerns about premature returns, and to emphasize that, consistent with international practice, returns be informed, voluntary, safe, and dignified. Further, returnees to Burma must have freedom of movement and not be confined to camps,” the US State Department said in a statement.
However, the State Department also said it agreed with the assessment of the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) that conditions in Myanmar are not yet conducive for returns of the Rohingyas.
“This is because full access to Burma is needed to understand the conditions in areas of return and to allow refugees and internally displaced persons to make an informed choice about returning to Burma,” it said.
Over 720,000 of Myanmar’s stateless Rohingya fled in August last year, taking shelter in crowded camps in Bangladesh and bringing with them harrowing tales of rape, murder and arson in the brutal military crackdown.
Urging Myanmar to play a constructive role in resolving the Rohingya issue, the US said the country should address the root causes of the crisis in the Rakhine state and provide access to a transparent and efficient citizenship verification process, freedom of movement and access to livelihoods to the minority Muslims.
Secret locations of US nuclear weapons in Europe accidentally leaked
Washington: The secret locations of US nuclear weapons stored in Europe have been accidentally revealed in a report published by a Nato committee.
The document referred to the sites of roughly 150 American nuclear weapons.
“These bombs are stored at six US and European bases — Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi-Torre in Italy, Volkel in The Netherlands, and Incirlik in Turkey,” a section of the report seen by Belgian newspaper De Morgen said.
The information was included in an early version of the report published in April by the Defence and Security Committee of the Nato Parliamentary Assembly, titled A New Era for Nuclear Deterrence? Modernisation, Arms Control and Allied Nuclear Forces.
However, the reference has since been removed from the final version released last week.
The latest version of the report instead makes reference to aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons, adding: “The European Allies often cited as operating such aircraft are Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, and Turkey.”
A Nato official told The Washington Post the report was “not an official Nato document” and pointed out that it was written by the alliance’s parliamentary assembly.
“We do not comment on the details of Nato’s nuclear posture,” they added.
While the storing of American nuclear weapons in Europe has long been regarded as an open secret, media organisations on the continent viewed the document as confirmation.
“Finally in black and white: There are American nuclear weapons in Belgian,” the De Morgen report was headlined.
“Nato reveals the Netherlands’ worst-kept secret,” Dutch broadcaster RTL News said.
‘They gave you Nobel for what?’ Trump asks Yazidi activist Nadia Murad
Washington: US President Donald Trump appeared unfamiliar with the work and cause of Nobel laureate Nadia Murad as she pleaded with him to help the Yazidis of Iraq.
Murad, one of thousands of women and girls from the ancient faith abducted by ISIS as they overran swathes of Iraq in 2014, joined a group of survivors of religious persecution who met Trump in the Oval Office on the sidelines of a major meeting at the State Department.
After Murad explained how her mother and six brothers were killed and that 3,000 Yazidis remained missing, Trump said, “And you had the Nobel Prize? That’s incredible. They gave it to you for what reason?”
With little pause, Murad, who was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, repeated her story.
“After all this happened to me, I didn’t give up. I make it clear to everyone that ISIS raped thousands of Yazidi women,” she said.
“Please do something. It’s not about one family,” she said.
Trump, who has boasted of crushing the self-styled caliphate of ISIS that once stretched across Iraq and Syria, also appeared at a loss when Murad asked him to press the Iraqi and Kurdish governments to create safe conditions for the Yazidis to return.
“But ISIS is gone and now it’s Kurdish and who?” Trump asked, before later telling her, “I know the area very well.”
Murad also explained how Yazidis took dangerous routes to find safety in Germany, whose welcome to refugees has been vocally criticized by Trump.
The US leader also appeared unfamiliar when he met a representative from the Rohingya, a Muslim minority targeted in a brutal campaign two years ago in Myanmar.
One day earlier, his administration banned travel to the United States by Myanmar’s army chief and three other senior officers, calling the violence “ethnic cleansing.”
The Trump administration frequently speaks of promoting religious freedom, a key issue for much of his evangelical Christian base.
Government ministers and representatives of persecuted groups are spending three days at the State Department for a meeting on religious freedom, which Vice President Mike Pence will address on Thursday.
Iran FM at UN accuses US of ‘economic terrorism’
Tehran: Iran’s foreign minister has renewed accusations that the United States was waging “economic terrorism,” on a visit to the United Nations during which Washington has sharply curtailed his movements.
After months of soaring tensions, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came to New York for a UN session on sustainable development, where he denounced unilateral sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump.
Iranians are “subjected to the most brutal form of ‘economic terrorism’ — deliberately targeting innocent civilians to achieve illegitimate political objectives,” Zarif said from the rostrum on Wednesday.
The “unlawful, extraterritorial” sanctions “represent the greatest threat to the achievement of sustainable development goals of Iran and many of our neighbours,” he said.