February 27, 2006
STATE OF EMERGENCY CONTINUES IN THE PHILIPPINES
Philippine police today filed rebellion charges against 16 leftist and opposition personalities suspected of involvement in an alleged plot to oust President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Four police officers were also detained on the fourth day of an emergency rule. Girlie Linao reports from Manila.
The widening crackdown was launched as legal experts challenged the legality of the state of emergency declared by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last week. This follows a six-hour standoff at a military camp in Manila on Sunday, when marines protested the relief of their commander after he was linked to the coup plot against Arroyo. While the marines later agreed to peacefully return to their barracks, the standoff highlighted the tensions within the military and the continuing threat to the Arroyo administration. Today, six leftist congressmen were among 16 people charged with rebellion by police. Two of them have already been arrested, while the others have sought refuge in Congress. A former senator who led several coup attempts in the 1980s, four rebel soldiers, and communist rebel leaders were also included in the complaint. But lawyer groups said the crackdown was illegal because Arroyo’s emergency rule violates basic human and civil rights guaranteed by the constitution. They have asked the Supreme Court to issue a restraining order on the president’s declaration. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Girlie Linao in Manila.
EU TO FREE UP FUNDS FOR PA
The European Union said it would release financial aid earmarked for the Palestinian Authority despite the Hamas electoral victory last month. Laila El-Haddad has more from Gaza.
The 25-nation bloc said most of the $142 million would bypass the Palestinian Authority. Instead, about one-third of the money would go directly to pay off energy bills and roughly half is set to be channeled through the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. The rest, about 17.5 million euros, would help pay government wages; only a fraction of the $80 million needed. Since Hamas swept to power last month, international pressure has been mounting with the Israeli government imposing a closure on Gaza and announcing it would withhold some $50 million in monthly tax revenues. International envoy, James Wolfenson, warned that, as a result of the sanctions, the Palestinian Authority could collapse in as little as two weeks and that the financial crisis could lead to more violence and chaos unless a long-term funding plan was developed by the Middle East quartet of international mediators. For FSRN in Gaza, this is Laila El-Haddad.
SERBIA ON TRIAL FOR GENOCIDE
The International Court of Justice assembled today in The Hague, for final hearings on a suit brought against Serbia by Bosnia. Zoran Culafic reports from Belgrade.
The original lawsuit against Serbia was submitted in March 1993, less than a year after war in Bosnia started. The Bosnians claim the Serbs intended to wipe out the entire Muslim population and create a mono-ethnic Greater Serbia which, according to international law, constitutes the act of genocide. The final session began today before a 16-judge panel. The case represents one of the most complex and far-reaching rulings ever sought from the UN Tribunal. Although some individual Bosnian Serbs have already been convicted on genocide charges for participating in the Srebrenica massacre, the ongoing case hinges on whether the Court is persuaded that the Serbian state (and not just a group of individuals) had the specific intent to wipe out the Muslims of eastern Bosnia as a distinct community. The arguments are scheduled to end by mid-May and the judges could take up to a year to deliver their verdict. If they rule in Bosnia’s favor, it will be the first genocide verdict ever against one sovereign country. For Free Speech Radio News, I’m Zoran Culafic in Belgrade.
SOUTH AFRICAN SHACK DWELLERS MOBILIZE
Organized shack dwellers in Durban, South Africa scored a legal victory today. Na’eem Jeenah has the story.
WEEKEND OF PROTESTS IN KASHMIR
A two-day shutdown strike crippled life in Indian administered Kashmir over the weekend. Shahnawaz Khan reports from Srinagar.
While the shutdown strike on Saturday was largely peaceful, police used tear gas shells to disperse protesting mobs at many places on Friday. The two-day strike came on the heels of angry protests after Indian soldiers killed four youths in Indian-administered Kashmir last Wednesday. Protests continued through the weekend. The Indian Army says the four were killed in crossfire between the army and militants, a claim locals refute alleging the soldiers fired without provocation. The state government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. The shutdown strike coincided with the first ever round table conference on Kashmir, chaired by the Indian Prime Minister in New Delhi on Saturday.
State Governors Meet with Bush over Funding Reductions (4:03)
State Governors are concerned with proposed reductions in funding the National Guard and Medicaid – two services the states rely on the federal government to provide for its residents. Governors met with the President today seeking answers, but received few, and as Leigh Ann Caldwell reports from Capitol Hill, budget analysts say that states should add an additional worry – cuts to discretionary spending such as education.
House Democrats Demand Investigation into NSA Spying
In other news from Capitol Hill, 18 House Democrats want the Bush Administration to appoint a special council to investigate the domestic spying program, and have sent a letter to President Bush suggesting that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez open an investigation into the wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency. The lawmakers say that they are dissatisfied with the explanations they have been provided with thus far, and that an investigation should confirm that no criminal laws have been broken. White House Spokesperson Scott McClellan, however, maintains that the surveillance program is legal and no special counsel will be necessary. The Senate Judiciary Hearing is expected to hold a hearing on the program tomorrow.
Ugandan Opposition Opposes Election Results (2:13)
The leader of Uganda’s opposition, Retired Cornel Dr Kizza Besigye, is rejecting the results of the presidential elections that gave incumbent president Yoweri Museveni a 59% victory against him. Joshua Kyalimpa reports from Kampala.
Sri Lankan Peace Talk End in Tension (3:36)
Tamil Tiger rebels rejected outright Monday the Sri Lankan government’s claim that the joint communiqué, issued after the Geneva talks, amounted to an amendment to the original Ceasefire Agreement between both parties. After returning home from Geneva, the government delegation told reporters Sunday that talks with the rebels were successful and the new obligations mentioned in the Geneva Agreement of February 23, could be construed as amendments to the cease-fire. The joint statement said the government and the rebels discussed issues concerning the welfare of children in the north east, including the recruitment of children by the Tamil Tigers. But the government delegation pointed out this was not mentioned in the truce pact made 4 years ago and it is therefore an amendment. Anton Balasingham, team leader of the rebel delegation, said the government’s interpretation is ridiculous and unacceptable. Ponniah Manikavasagam has more.
Curfew Lifted In Baghdad after One Week of Sectarian Violence (3:14)
A daytime curfew was lifted in Baghdad as Sunni Arab leaders said they are considering returning to talks to form a new government, after walking out last week following widespread sectarian violence in the wake of the destruction of a Shiite shrine north of Baghdad. The violence that shocked many Iraqis last week continued today, with at least four people killed in a mortar attack in a southern Baghdad neighborhood. In this report produced and narrated by David Enders, Salam Talib speaks with residents in Baghdad about the violence and fears of civil war. David Enders narrates and produces.
Public Meeting Addresses Islamophobia in Australia (2:45)
At a public meeting held Monday at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australian Muslims, and various community groups weighed in with their thoughts on how to heal the fractured and culturally diverse Australian society. Recent remarks by some prominent politicians, referring to Australia’s “Muslim problem” have done little to soothe public tensions after December’s race riots in the Sydney beach-side suburb of Cronulla –just last week, Prime Minister John Howard stated that he believes there is a fragment of Muslim Australia that won’t integrate into Australian society. FSRN’s Cinnamon Nippard has more.
Canadian Haitians Demonstrate to Oppose Troops in Haiti (2:27)
As President-elect Rene Garcia Preval takes power in Haiti, he assumes control over a country that has been ravaged by violent political repression over the past two years. Foreign troops remain on the ground- but as FSRN’s Aaron Lakoff reports from Montreal, activist groups in Canada are demanding troop removal, and an end to interventions in Haiti.