Article asked on this date

You have found the article

Dagelijks archief 30 september 2013

Wij blijven in Amsterdam. Persbericht 30 September

Vandaag, 30 september, zijn de onuitzetbare  vluchtelingen  uit de Vluchtflat vertrokken. Hiermee zijn zij hun belofte nagekomen. Er is voor 1 nacht onderdak in een voormalig kraakpand aan de Overtoom in Amsterdam, OT301. Naar verder onderdak wordt gezocht.  In een gesprek dat de vluchtelingen vanochtend hadden met Burgemeester van der Laan werd duidelijk dat de gemeente Amsterdam niet langer bereid is voor opvang te zorgen.

Tevens heeft de Burgemeester  de woningcorporaties in Amsterdam onder druk gezet om niet aan vervolgopvang mee te werken.De Burgemeester herhaalde het aanbod van staatssecretaris Teeven: indien de vluchtelingen uit de Vluchtkerk bereid zijn om terug te keren naar hun land van herkomst, en lopende  procedures beëindigen, kunnen zij opvang krijgen in een VBL (Vrijheid Beperkende Locatie) in Ter Apel. Met dit aanbod negeert de Staatssecretaris het feit dat veel vluchtelingen al hebben meegewerkt aan hun terugkeer, maar dit niet is gelukt, omdat hun landen van herkomst hen niet terugnamen, of te gevaarlijk zijn om naar terug te gaan. Ook heeft een groot aantal vluchtelingen (verschillende malen) in detentie gezeten, maar zijn zij weer op straat gezet omdat uitzetting niet mogelijk bleek. De vluchtelingen voelen zich onder druk gezet omdat aan onderdak de voorwaarde van terugkeer is verbonden. Daarom  vragen ze bedenktijd tot vrijdag, maar dat is door de gemeente geweigerd. Aan terugkeer is door de staatssecretaris wel een verhoogde premieverbonden van 4500 Euro. Maar zoals een van de leiders zei: “Wij zijn hier niet gekomen voor geld, wij zoeken veiligheid.”

Teeven legt met dit voorstel de adviezen van VluchtelingenWerk Nederland (VWN) , naast zich neer. VWN heeft op verzoek van burgemeester Eberhard van der Laan 159 zaken opnieuw onder de loep genomen. Uit hun recent verschenen tussenrapport blijkt dat zeker 60% (94 van de 159) van de uitgeprocedeerde vluchtelingen een  kans maken om een verblijfsvergunning te krijgen. Het rapport van VWN bevestigt  dan ook dat een groot deel van de groep inderdaad het slachtoffer is van een onzorgvuldig asielbeleid. Zij pleiten  voor opvang  in Amsterdam, in ieder geval zolang het onderzoek nog gaande is, en ook voor terugkeer en doormigratie. Het voorstel van Teeven  biedt geen oplossing.  Het traject dat hij voorstelt is door het overgrote deel van de groep allang zonder succes doorlopen. Ook betekent het een ontkenning van de kansen die er liggen nu VWN met zorg de individuele zaken uitpluist. Het rapport van VWN bevestigt dat de asielprocedure onzorgvuldig is, en dat aan de vluchtelingen onredelijke eisen worden gesteld om hun vluchtverhaal en/of identiteit te bewijzen.

voor informatie:

Marjan Sax 0629057798

Elke Uitentuis 0624908575

Osman 0685473706

Dinsdagmiddag om 2 uur verlaten we OT 301.
Waarheen weet nog niemand.
Woensdag spreekt de Gemeenteraad onze zaak.
Wij Zijn Hier zal er ook zijn, in de Stopera.
we verzamelen in de tuin van de Diaconie, de Wereldtuin aan de Nieuwe
Herengracht, waar het allemaal begon.
En donderdag naar de Tweede Kamer in Den Haag voor de Commissievergadering Veiligheid en Justitie over het Vreemdelingenbeleid 18.00 uur

Je kunt meedoen, meekijken en ook meebetalen.
Bank 609060 van  Stichting XminY Beweging, o.v.v.
WIJ ZIJN HIER

Wij Zijn Hier at Facebook.
http://wijzijnhier.org
Twitter  #wijzijnhierNL
Email: wijzijnhierNL@gmail.com

no borders between us

(Source / 30.09.2013)

Soldiers Invade Nablus Village

Sunday at night [September 29 2013] Dozens of Israeli military jeeps invaded the village of Beta, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, fired gas bombs and flares; clashes have been reported.

File - Nablus TV

Nablus TV said that at least twenty Israeli military vehicles invaded the village, approximately at ten at night, and fired dozens of flares and gas bombs at random.

It added that local youths hurled stones and empty bottles at the invading soldiers.

Soldiers also installed various roadblocks in the village and around it.

The clashes took place in a number of neighborhoods in the village, while dozens of local youths placed barriers in the roads to prevent the soldiers from advancing into the Eastern neighborhood, after the soldiers invaded Al-Foqa neighborhood and the Al-Haqouz area.

(Source / 30.09.2013)

Hamas MP Entangled In Palestinian Honor Killing

Palestinian women hold up banners reading “No to killing, yes to life” as they demonstrate against “crimes of honor” in Ramallah, Sept. 10, 2005.
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Chronicle of a Death Foretold, a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, may be an apt description for the most recent honor killing in the West Bank. The entire village of Deir al-Ghusun in the Tulkarem district was aware of the story of the “foretold death” before it actually occurred.

On Friday, Sept. 20, 51 members of the Zeidan family signed a statement condemning the behavior of a female family member, 33-year-old Thamar Zeidan, for “disgraceful and outrageous acts.”

The statement from the Zeidan family added that the woman’s “repeated behavior … violated God’s law, customs and morality,” without elaborating on details. “[The father] failed to reform his family and evaluate their behavior,” the statement added. The extended family then disowned him and absolved itself of any tribal or legal obligations regarding him or his actions.

The following day, the woman’s father strangled her with a wire while she was taking an afternoon nap.

Two residents of Deir al-Ghusun who met with Al-Monitor attributed the murder to the provocation by the larger Zeidan family of the woman’s immediate family.

One villager, who identified himself to Al-Monitor using the pseudonym “Abu Khalid” to avoid any tension with the Zeidan family, said, “Dozens of family members signed this statement, disowning the father since he was not controlling his family’s behavior. Is this not incitement to murder?”

Multiple eyewitnesses confirmed to Al-Monitor that the statement disowning the father had been posted on the walls of village houses and the door to the mosque, the largest religious and moral authority in Palestinian society.

“It is known that his girl had been married off early, before the age of 15. Her husband had divorced her approximately four years ago and she has two children — a 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son,” noted Abu Khalid.

Regarding the circumstances preceding the woman’s murder, multiple sources from the village told Al-Monitor that villagers had been spreading rumors about the woman after a drunken man from a nearby village broke into her home. The neighbors beat the man and ejected him from the house. This incident was followed by the release of the statement disowning her father, which was signed by the Hamas deputy in the Legislative Council, Abdel Rahman Zeidan.

The Palestinian media highlighted that Abdel Rahman had signed the position, and news reports focused on this more than the murder itself. Given his position as a deputy in the Legislative Council, he should have risen above solving the problems of his family and his village with such a statement. However, it is certain that his position as a deputy for Hamas has made the issue take on wider dimensions, and it is being used in the political and rhetorical war by rivals of the movement.

Speaking to Ma’an News Agency, Abdel Rahman denied incitement to murder.

“We did in fact meet and discuss the issue, and it was agreed upon to publish a statement disowning the father, knowing that the second option was to expel him and his family from the West Bank. In total, 51 people signed the statement,” he was quoted as telling Ma’an News Agency.

“Our goal was to protect the honor of the Zeidan family, because we are a conservative family with customs and traditions. I dealt with this issue in my personal capacity as a member of this family, and not in any other capacity,” he added.

The MP sought to distance himself from the honor killing, condemning such crimes in a statement published by Ma’an News Agency as “an assault on the sacred human spirit, and are incompatible with the legal provisions that prohibit murder, except when justified.”

That a Hamas parliamentarian has been accused in the media of incitement will serve the political infighting between Hamas and Fatah. This is the reason the Deir al-Ghusun crime elicits greater reactions than those elicited by another, equally horrifying crime that occurred on Sept. 14 in the town of Yatta in Hebron, involving the murder of a young girl with special needs.

Haitham Arar, an elected member of the General Secretary of the General Union of Palestinian Women, wrote on her Facebook page that it was the girl’s mother who had killed her daughter, after the latter was sexually assaulted.

statement released by Palestinian police confirmed that the body of a 21-year-old woman with special needs had been brought into the emergency room in a hospital in Hebron, and was transferred to the autopsy department to determine the cause of death.

These two crimes, which occurred in the span of a single week, angered women’s rights and human rights groups. The latter rushed to hold workshops and consultative meetings, specifically in Ramallah, where the NGOs are headquartered.

In statements and during these workshops, rights groups demanded that President Mahmoud Abbas urgently ratify the draft Palestinian Penal Code, since the Legislative Council, constitutionally authorized to issue laws, has been suspended since 2006. This draft law would end reduced punishment for perpetrators of honor killings, as is the case with the Jordanian Penal Code of 1967, which is applied in the Palestinian territories.

“This is the 25th crime against women since the beginning of the year, and the third this month. There is a woman still in critical condition in a Jerusalem hospital after she was shot,” according to Amal Khreisheh, the director of the Palestinian Working Women Society for Development (PWSSD), speaking to Al-Monitor.

“The attorney general and the head of the Supreme Judicial Council must be held accountable. There are dangerous indications that the murder of women has become widespread, while offenders receive lenient punishment,” noted Khreisheh.

The numbers Khreisheh mentioned above are based on figures from the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling. Latifa Sahwil, a legal expert from the group, confirmed to Al-Monitor that although a “total of 25 women had been murdered since the beginning of the year, the center has not completed its legal and on-the-ground research regarding the number of those killed specifically in honor crimes.”

The latest data issued by the center states that 29 women were killed in honor crimes between 2007 and 2010.

“There are some cases of suicide and murder that are difficult to prove are honor crimes,” said Sahwil.

Yet regardless of whether women’s rights centers can prove that these cases were honor crimes, it remains well known in society that there are women murdered under this pretext. These are often stories of “deaths foretold,” since the family or community spreads rumors or issues statements to justify the crime.

(Source / 30.09.2013)

Protests against UNRWA in Lebanon refugee camps

BEIRUT (Ma’an) — Palestinian camps in Lebanon began a strike again UNRWA in solidarity with the people of Nahr al-Bared camp on Monday, organizing protests.

The first protests took place in Burj al-Barajneh and Shatila camp. A large rally was organized in front of UNRWA headquarters where organizers spoke about the needs of refugees.

Khalid Khader, one of the representatives, emphasized the importance of an emergency plan which allowed refugees to work despite a financial crisis.

He said UNRWA’s aid to refugees was not a “gift but a right.”

(Source / 30.09.2013)

Egypt security arrests ‘top Jihadist’ in el-Arish

EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) – Egyptian security services arrested a senior Jihadist leader in el-Arish in northern Sinai district Monday evening, security sources told Ma’an.

Hamdan Abu Shabtah, known as “Sadat,” was arrested in a sting operation at a surprise checkpoint near the seashore in el-Arish.

Egyptian security forces believe Abu Shabtah was behind a shooting attack injuring an Egyptian officer near the main post office in el-Arish Sunday afternoon.

The suspect’s brother Ismail Abu Shabtah was detained 10 days earlier.

Ismail and Hamdan are brothers of Hamadah Abu Shabtah, a high-profile Jihadist leader in Egypt’s custody. He was accused of kidnapping seven Egyptian soldiers months earlier.

(Source / 30.09.2013)

Israeli Fanatics Resume Provocative Tours of Al-Aqsa Yards

JERUSALEM, September 30, 2013 (WAFA) – Israeli fanatics resumed Monday provocative tours of the yards of al-Aqsa Mosque, an Islamic holy place, in Jerusalem’s Old City, said witnesses.

They said some 40 Israelis toured the compound in small groups under heave police protection.

No contact was reported between the Israelis and Muslim worshippers at the site.

Similar tours last week provoked fierce clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police, who closed the Muslim site to young Arab worshippers.

Palestinians fear Israel plans to divide their holy place between Muslims and Jews, which they warn could provoke violent protests.

(Source / 30.09.2013)

Egyptian Air Force officer exposes the military coup leaders

Egyptian soldier holding pro-Morsi poster

Egyptian soldier holding pro-Morsi poster

An Egyptian Air Force officer has made serious allegations against Egypt’s military establishment for the first time.

These allegations include:

  • Israeli aircrafts were previously allowed to photograph Egypt, including the Aswan Dam. These operations were only stopped during the rule of President Morsi.
  • The Egyptian army has both the good and the corrupt, however General Al-Sisi covered up the military scandals during the Tantawi era.
  • Egypt’s missile stockpiles are incomplete and Morsi was the first President to try to address this by sending military chiefs to Russia to purchase more missiles, however General Al-Sisi sought to undermine the deal.
  • Many army officers have been sentenced to three years in prison or expelled from the army merely because they grew facial beards.
  • Morsi was the first President to send the Egyptian Army into the Sinai to restore security. Previously, Egyptian forces had been limited by the Camp David Accords from deploying too heavily in the region.
  • General Al-Sisi is responsible for the 2012 operation during Ramadan that killed Egyptian soldiers and was used to undermine President Morsi and his government.
  • Three-quarters of Egypt’s military personnel oppose the coup and wish to demonstrate in the squares.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HgbnAC06S-s

(Source / 30.09.2013)

Israel denies entry to members of team monitoring attacks on Palestinians in Hebron

A Palestinian schoolboy walks in front of Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank city of Hebron on 24 September 2013.

Israeli occupation authorities have denied entry to a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an organization that has monitored Israeli abuses against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank City of Hebron for almost two decades.

While this is not the first time individual members of CPT have been denied entry, it is apparently the first time occupation forces have cited CPT’s activities as the reason.

The timing could also be significant, as Israel has mounted a brutal crackdown and arrest campaign against residents of Hebron ever since an Israeli occupation soldier was shot dead in the city on 22 September.

Alice Su reports for Middle East Monitor:

Jonathan Brenneman packed for his second attempt at crossing the Jordan-West Bank border with a jacket, fully charged iPod, letters of official invitation and 500-page collection of Flannery O’Connor stories.

The lanky 25-year-old from St. Mary’s, Ohio had spent nine hours under Israeli border authorities’ questioning just a few days ago. They denied him entry, saying he needed more proof of his purposes in the country. Brenneman prepared better this time around, eating a large breakfast before leaving his uncle’s house in Amman.

Six hours later, Brenneman came back once again.

Brenneman has been volunteering for a year with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), a faith-based organization that supports peacemaking in conflict areas. CPT has worked in Hebron for nineteen years, where their main activity is walking children to school to protect them from settlers’ attacks. The volunteers leave every three months to renew their visas and to tell stories about CPT work back home.

This time, Israeli authorities have denied Brenneman’s return.

“They told me it’s because CPT is ‘not recognized by Israel,” Brenneman says. “I asked why that’s a problem if our work is legal, but the soldier just said ‘My commander says you are not allowed.’ That was the end.”

Brenneman tweeted an image of his passport with an Israeli stamp denying him entry:

View image on Twitter

Attempt 2 to cross to  Better prepared: background info, iPod, jacket, book. Same result ?

Denial of entry

Israeli forces frequently and arbitrarily deny entry to Palestinian Americans as well as to other US citizens and foreign nationals.

While the occupation authorities do not always give a reason, those targeted have included individuals who have written, spoken at, or taken part in activities in opposition to Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

At the same time that it discriminates against Palestinian Americans through frequent denial of entry, Israel discriminates in favor of Jewish Americans who come to Palestine to live, become settlers or to participate personally in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, including by joining the army.

Brenneman wrote on his blog that during his first attempt to enter an Israeli soldier asked him, “Your last name is Brenneman, any chance [you’re] Jewish?” Brenneman wrote that he is not Jewish.

This kind of religious and racial discrimination and profiling has become a major issue in Israel’s attempts to join the US Visa Waiver program which would allow Israeli passport-holders to enter the United States without obtaining visas in advance.

Abuses in Hebron

Hebron, where CPT in Palestine is based, is a Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank with a population of more than 160,000.

CPT, which has been present in Hebron since 1995, monitors checkpoints in the morning as Palestinian teachers and students walk through, often facing violence and harassment.

Brenneman told Middle East Monitor: “When there’s an outside set of eyes, soldiers are far less aggressive … It’s kind of sad how racist it is. But, yeah, just having a white person there makes a difference.”

I spoke to members of CPT in Hebron last week who gave an eyewitness account of settlers gathering around a Palestinian family home previously seized and occupied and which the settlers want to seize again.

A few hundred Israeli settlers, among the most extreme and racist, have steadily been taking over the heart of Hebron with the protection and assistance of Israeli occupation forces.

Under a 1997 agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Hebron was partitioned into two zones: “H1” and “H2.”

H1 is nominally administered by the Palestinian Authority and is home to more than 120,000 Palestinians.

H2, under full Israeli military rule, includes Hebron’s historic Old City as well as the Ibrahimi Mosque in which the settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinian men and boys in February 1994.

Israeli occupation forces severely restrict the movement of more than 30,000 Palestinians in H2 while Israeli settlers move about freely under army protection.

Palestinians in the city face frequent violent attacks from soldiers and settlers.

(Source / 30.09.2013)

Has the Arab Spring finally stretched to Sudan?

Family members and friends gather for the funeral of Salah Mudathir, 28, killed the day before in clashes following protests in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, on September 28, 2013.

There’s an age-old joke in the Arab world which overtly suggests that Sudan is the slowest country in the region to catch on to hot trends.

While such anecdotes may make good joke material, the idea could now be haunting Sudan’s leaders as they face up to a wave of mass protests against their rule, with scenes similar to those seen two years ago when the Arab Spring swept the region.

For Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya the Arab Spring has been and gone, but not without leaving behind a legacy.

Events in the countries sparked a fiery regional shift, the repercussions of which have already been put into question.

Many are now wondering whether Sudan has finally caught the regional revolutionary fever.

It has been a turbulent past two years, giving international observers the opportunity to create a raft of seasonal terms to describe what followed: a Summer of Protest, an Anti-American Autumn and an Islamist Winter.

Now, as Sudanese protesters begin their battle with the government, many are wondering whether Sudan has finally caught the regional fever.

“The protests reflect the same sentiments as the Arab Spring uprisings,” said Alex de Waal, a British writer and author on Sudanese affairs.

“The Sudanese government is divided and is mishandling the situation. The fuel price rises were only the spark for expressions of a deeper discontent,” Waal told Al Arabiya News.

Bashir, the ‘killer’

Over the past week, thousands of protesters have relentlessly poured out onto Khartoum’s streets, as police continued to fire teargas to break up crowds spiritedly chanting “freedom, freedom” and branding Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir a “killer” after protests turned deadly.

Authorities say that 33 people have died in the protests so far, while activists and international human rights groups put the death toll at 50, according to Agence France-Presse.

The body count makes the protests the deadliest since Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s regime took power over two decades ago.

The protests began when the oil-producing country scrapped its fuel subsidies, but quickly morphed into expressions of anti-government sentiment.

Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman told AFP on Sunday that ditching fuel subsidies was “the only way out” and would save the country billions of dollars, although he admitted that scrapping the subsidy was “a bit heavy for the people.”

No more fear

On Friday, more than 5,000 people demonstrated in the capital, Khartoum, the biggest protest turnout in central Sudan for many years.

On the same day, Sudan’s government ordered the closure of Al Arabiya TV’s Khartoum office, just hours before summoning the channel’s correspondent for questioning.

“I do believe this is Sudan’s ‘Arab Spring’ – delayed only until anger finally overcame fear, as it now has clearly done,” Eric Reeves, a Sudan analyst, told Al Arabiya News.

“I do believe this is Sudan’s ‘Arab Spring’ – delayed only until anger finally overcame fear, as it now has clearly done,” Eric Reeves, a researcher and analyst of Sudanese political affairs, told Al Arabiya News.

More than two dozen officials from the ruling National Congress Party urged Bashir on Saturday to reinstate fuel subsidies and to stop killing protestors, according to theSudan Tribune.

“The crisis is deeper than a matter of just raising the prices of these various oil and gas-related products,” says Osman Bakhach, a spokesman for Sudan’s Hizb ut-Tahrir opposition movement.

“At Hizbut ut-Tahrir, we oppose this government. Bashir is responsible for the failed measures and policies his government has implemented,” Bakhach told Al Arabiya News.

“We call for this whole regime to be brought down. Potentially, this unrest could grow into another Arab Spring. But at the same time, we notice that the so-called opposition parties have failed to fully support and stand by the popular protest,” he adds.

Price increase

Since fuel subsidies were lifted, prices of gasoline and diesel have increased by almost 100 percent.

“This is what prompted many in the regime to call for a restoration of the subsidies. but this only compounds the problem,” said Reeves, citing high inflation which he estimates was over 50 percent before the subsidies were lifted.

Protestors branded Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir a “killer” after protests turned deadly.

“Now, money will have to be printed to cover the enormous budget cap and accelerating inflation, which may turn into economy-destroying ‘hyper-inflation,’” added the expert.

Meanwhile, the loss of oil revenue has led to a critical lack of foreign currency reserves, he said.

“Sudan can no longer finance its imports, since no one wants to be paid in Sudanese Pounds, which have lost a tremendous amount of their value in a very short time,” said Reeves.

“Also, the failure to attend to the desperate need of agriculture, over many years, has obliged the regime to import large quantities of food, especially wheat. And over this all looms the $42 billion in external debt, which can neither be serviced nor repaid,” he added.

‘No place to hide’

In addition to Sudan’s dismal economic indicators, there is also the issue of reports that government officials fled the country as the unrest began.

The news is reminiscent of events in Tunisia and Egypt, where top officials left at the first signs that security forces were no longer able to control the angry masses.

“I have received repeated reports of senior regime officials and their families moving out of Sudan. Dubai and Germany are two destinations I’ve noted in the accounts,” says Reeves, amid media speculation that Foreign Minister Ali Karti sent his family to Dubai several days ago.

For Bashir’s regime, “there is no place to hide” if the uprising lingers, says Reeves, adding that officials are attempting to use censorship, propaganda, and the unconstrained use of force to face the backlash.

But for some Sudanese observers, the protests aren’t entirely reminiscent of a fully-fledged Arab Spring-style revolt.

“It may not be accurate to say that what’s happening in Sudan is an emulation of an Arab Spring uprising,” said Sudanese political analyst Mahmoud Tamim.

For some Sudanese observers, the protests aren’t entirely reminiscent of a fully-fledged Arab Spring-style revolt.

“In modern history, the Sudanese people have twice risen against military rulers – in 1964 and 1985. They were two regimes that won power through a coup against legitimate and elected authorities,” added Tamim.

“The current leadership has been rejected since its early days in power, while the Sudanese opposition has not been effective enough to empower the people to oppose the leadership. This is what has made Bashir’s government stick around for so long,” said the analyst.

Another advantage for Bashir could be that there has not yet been a clear response to the protests from the international community.

“Various Western governments as well as the United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League are showing no real sympathy for the cause of those demonstrating; nothing that might cause the regime to reconsider its policies,” says Reeves.

Still, those wishing for the protests to evolve in a government-changing uprising have spotted several obvious factors similar to those that sparked the Arab Spring, according to Tamim.

“The people are protesting against the deterioration of living conditions, the economic environment, and the leadership’s power grab as well as the repression of the opposition,” he says.

What happens next?

While the protester’s demands have now been made clear, what happens next is still up for speculation, with fears that the deadly violence may swell.

“We have to wait a week or about 10 days to judge exactly where the Sudan protests are heading,” said Khalid Ewais, a Dubai-based Sudanese journalist.

“Will this be a short uprising that the Sudanese government will be able to crush? Or will it be a third Sudanese revolution? We can’t figure that out yet.

“Either way, it’s clear that there is popular support to rid of the country of the dictatorship led by Bashir,” Ewais added.

(Source / 30.09.2013)

UN chemical weapons investigators depart Syria after six-day mission

Head of the chemical weapons team working in Syria Åke Sellström (foreground) with other members in The Hague.

30 September 2013 – The United Nations team investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria has left the country after completing its six-day mission, a spokesperson for the world body said today.

“The team will now move to the phase of finalizing its report, which the team hopes will be ready by late October,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York.

Led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellström, the team is mandated with evaluating all available information related to all allegations reported by Member States, for the purpose of preparing its final report.

Those allegations include the 19 March incident at Khan al-Asal, reported first by Syria and subsequently by other Member States. As previously agreed with Syria, the other allegations to be investigated include the 13 April incident at Sheikh Maqsud, reported by the United States, and the 29 April incident at Saraqueb, reported by France and the United Kingdom.

In addition, the team has continued to follow-up with the Syrian Government and to evaluate information it has provided on three additional allegations, including the incidents at Bahhariyeh on 22 August, at Jobar on 24 August, and at Sahnaya on 25 August.

After a visit to Syria last month, the team, assisted by experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), found “clear and convincing evidence” that Sarin gas was used in an incident that occurred on 21 August in the Ghouta area on the outskirts of Damascus in which hundreds of people were reportedly killed.

In the wake of those findings, the Security Council last Friday called for the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, while endorsing a diplomatic plan for Syrian-led negotiations towards peace.

Acting unanimously, the 15-member Council adopted a resolution calling for the speedy implementation of procedures drawn up by the OPCW “for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme and stringent verification thereof.”

It underscored “that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons,” adding that defiance of the resolution would lead to measures under the UN Charter’s binding Chapter VII, which can include sanctions or stronger coercive action.

More than 100,000 people have been killed since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011, over 2 million people have fled for safety to neighbouring countries and 4 million have been displaced within the country.

(Source / 30.09.2013)