PEOPLES DAILY, FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2013
Asia and Middle East
Bangladesh war crimes tribunal has convicted and sentenced assistant secretary-general of the Jamaat-eIslami party to death for war crimes, raising fears of clashes between the police and supporters of the Islamist leader. Mohammad Kamaruzzaman, 59, was found guilty on charges of genocide and torture of unarmed civilians during the 1971 war for independence from Pakistan, lawyers and tribunal officials said on Thursday. Obaidul Hassan, the head of the three-judge tribunal, said the charges had been proved beyond a doubt and sentenced him to death. He had previously been acquitted for two of the seven original charges. One of the charges that carried the death penalty was being a commander of a massacre of 120 people. Defence lawyer EhsanSiddiky said justice was denied to his client and promised to appeal. Analyst David Bergman said there were cheers outside the court when the verdict was announced.
Bangladesh Jamaat leader sentenced to death "The defence, however, is extremely critical of the judgement and cannot believe so much responsibility is being placed on a man who was just 19 at the time," he said. "They say the only crime he has committed is being a leader of the opposition. It is true that many of those facing tribunal are from Jamaat-e-Islami, but the a known to have collaborated with the Pakistani army in 1971 and so they are an obvious target for prosecution." Kamaruzzaman, who had pleaded not guilty through his lawyers, was accused of committing multiple abuses during the country's liberation war. "He was just a lad during the war. It's a ridiculous suggestion that a 19-year-old could control the Pakistani army," chief defence counsel AbdurRazzaq said. He was found guilty of leading his followers to kill at least 183 people in his home district of Sherpur in northern Bangladesh. The prosecution said he formed the group Al-Badr to collaborate with the
Mohammad Kamaruzzaman (R). Pakistani army and led them to kill unarmed people and rape women. Bangladesh says the war left three million people dead, 200,000 women raped and millions forced to flee to neighbouring India. Previous convictions of other Jamaat leaders, including two that
carried the death penalty, led to protests and violence throughout Bangladesh. The supporters of the largest Islamic party in the country claim the tribunals are a politicallymotivated attempt to persecute their leaders.
Syria conflict: US says Assad can have no post-war role
John Kerry (R) met Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Rome
S Secretary of State John Kerry has said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have no role in a political settlement to Syria's conflict. The comments followed reports that the US was softening its insistence on Mr Assad's departure as
a precondition for any deal - as demanded by rebels. That had been opposed by Russia, which this week agreed to convene an international conference on Syria. Meanwhile, Jordan said Syrian refugees now make up 10% of its population.
Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said that by the end of the year that figure could reach 25%, and 40% by mid-2014. Mr Kerry announced a further $100m (ÂŁ64m) in aid for Syrian refugees, $43m of which would go to Jordan. Speaking to reporters in Rome, Mr Kerry said Mr Nasser would work with the US to "effect a transition government by mutual consent of both sides, which clearly means that in our judgement President Assad will not be a component of that transitional government". Mr Kerry also said there had been a "very positive response" to the USRussian proposal for an international conference on Syria, announced after Mr Kerry held talks in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The forum will try to persuade both the Syrian government and opposition to accept a solution based on the core elements of the final
communique issued after the UNbacked Action Group for Syria meeting in Geneva last June. The communique called for an immediate cessation of violence and the establishment of a transitional government that could include officials serving under President Bashar al-Assad and members of the opposition. "We are going to forge ahead very, very directly to work with all of the parties to bring that conference together," Mr Kerry said on Thursday. The UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, LakhdarBrahimi, said the deal was "the first hopeful news" on Syria for a long time, but cautioned that it was "only a first step". British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is due to fly to Moscow for talks with Mr Putin about Syria on Friday, said there was an urgent need to "force a political transition" in Damascus.
negotiator, responded to the announcement saying, "We condemn this new decision which is proof that the Israeli government wants to sabotage and ruin the US administration's efforts to revive the
peace process." "This is a message to the American adminstration and a blow to the peace process," he said, pointing to the "intense" shuttle diplomacy being conducted by the US Secretary of State John Kerry to try to bring both sides back to negotiations. "This aims to drag the region into violence instead of peace and stability," Erakat added. HagitOfran of Israel's Peace Now settlement watchdog denounced the decision. "This initiative proves Netanyahu is deceiving the world," she said. "On the one hand, he lets us believe that he is putting the brakes on settlement and on the other, he gives the go-ahead for an enormous building project."
Israel approves 300 illegal homes nearRamallah
srael has given the go-ahead to build nearly 300 houses in a settlement near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, an army spokesman has said, in a move likely to spark tensions as Washington seeks to restart peace talks. The army said on Thursday the plan was compensation for Israelis who were evicted last year from another settlement, Ulpana, an unauthorised outpost which was evacuated after a court ruling. "The Civil Administration has given the green light for 296 housing units at Beit El, but this is only the first stage of a process before actual construction can begin," the spokesman said on Thursday. The announcement comes just two days after a report said Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's
prime minister, had quietly ordered a freeze on tenders for new settler homes in a bid to give a chance to US-led efforts to revive stalled peace talks with the Palestinians. SaebErakat, the Palestinian
China criticizes Japan's protest over question of Okinawa sovereignty
Settlers with Israel flags from Ulpana.
hina criticized Japan on Thursday for lodging a diplomatic protest against a Chinese state media commentary calling into question Japanese sovereignty over the southern Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa. The latest angry exchange could further strain tense relations between Asia's two-largest economies, which are involved in a stand-off over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, called the SenkakuinJapan and Diaoyu in China. On Wednesday, the People's Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece, published a commentary by two Chinese government-backed scholars who said ownership of the Ryukyu islands should be re-examined, prompting Japan to lodge the diplomatic protest. "China cannot accept Japan's socalled negotiations or protests," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman HuaChunying said at a regular briefing. "The relevant scholars' academic articles reflect attention and research paid by China's populace and academia to the Diaoyu Islands and related historical problems," Hua said. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary YoshihideSuga told a regular briefing in Tokyo on Wednesday that the islands were Japanese territory. "Japan lodged a stern protest that we can by no means accept the article in question if it reflects the Chinese government's stance," Suga said. China had responded to Japan by saying that the piece was written by scholars as individuals, Suga said. Okinawa, host to the bulk of up to 50,000 U.S. military personnel in Japan, is the largest island in the Ryukyu chain, which extends south towards Taiwan. The scholars from a top government think-tank, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, called the Ryukyu Islands a "vassal state" of China's Ming and Qing dynasties before they were annexed by Japan, suggesting that China had a historical claim to the island chain. "Hanging in the balance of history, the unresolved problem of the Ryukyus has finally arrived at the time for reconsideration," the scholars wrote. Chinese-Japanese relations plummeted to their lowest point since normalization of ties more than 40 years ago when Japan bought disputed the East China Sea islets from a private Japanese owner in September. That row has in recent months escalated to the point where both sides have scrambled fighter jets while patrol ships shadow each other in nearby seas, raising worry that an unintended collision or other incident could lead to a broader clash.
Peoples Daily Newspaper, Friday 10, May, 2013 Edition