Govt Must Back UN Resolution on Rohingya

Rohingya boat people wait for their breakfast at a temporary shelter in the Idi Rayeuk district of Indonesia's Aceh province in this Feb. 5, 2009 file photo. A leading human rights group has urged the Indonesian government to support a United Nations initiative to help the Rohingya. (Reuters Photo/Tarmizy Harva)

Rohingya boat people wait for their breakfast at a temporary shelter in the Idi Rayeuk district of Indonesia’s Aceh province in this Feb. 5, 2009 file photo. A leading human rights group has urged the Indonesian government to support a United Nations initiative to help the Rohingya.

A leading Indonesian human rights organization has urged the government to actively support a United Nations initiative for a resolution on the plight of the Rohingya ethnic minority currently facing persecution in Myanmar.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Human Rights Working Group said it was crucial that Indonesia support the initiative at the UN Human Rights Council meeting that began in Geneva on Monday and runs through June 14.

Muhammad Choirul Anam, the HRWG deputy director, said in the statement that there were several reasons for Indonesia backing the proposed resolution, which would call for opening a UN Human Rights Council representative office in Myanmar, among other things.

“First, the Indonesian government has always viewed the Rohingya case as one of human rights and ethnic persecution,” he said, adding that the proposed resolution chimed with Indonesia’s own view of the issue.

“Second, the matter of resolving this issue has become increasingly urgent in light of recent moves by the Myanmar government to stifle the social and cultural rights of the Rohingya.”

Choirul cited a proposal by authorities in the country’s Rakhine state earlier this month calling for a limit of two children for each Rohingya couple. The country’s leading pro-democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, has condemned the policy as a violation of human rights.

HRWG said another reason for backing the UN resolution on the Rohingya issue was the fact that as Southeast Asia’s biggest country and economy, it was incumbent on Indonesia to take the lead in such matters.

Choirul said Indonesia’s leadership would also help countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation see the issue from a human rights perspective rather than a religious one.

(Source / 01.06.2013)

Mass demolition as Israel ethnically cleanses Naqab desert

Activists and local residents rebuild a house in Atir-Umm al-Hieran in the Naqab, after Israeli forces demolished the village in mid-May.

Rush transcript: Jillian Kestler-D’Amours on forced displacement of Bedouin communities by Israeli government

The Electronic Intifada: So, if you could talk about the latest demolition that took place in the Naqab that you based your most recent report on.

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours: So about two weeks ago, an Israeli police force of about 600 officers — these are border police, soldiers, special riot police — came to the village of Atir-Umm al-Hieran, which is an unrecognized Bedouin village located about 30 minutes from Bir al-Saba, Beersheva, near the recognized town of Hura.

The police officers destroyed 18 structures in the village, including 10 homes, they uprooted about 600 trees, these are olive and fruit trees, and they even took about 30 flatbed trucks with them to haul away most of the rubble. So these were metal and cement homes in the village, and the police also set up about a dozen roadblocks in both directions along the main road leading to and from the village to block access for residents.

So this was a large, large scale demolition in the Naqab. Some people have said that it was the largest since al-Araqib. Al-Araqib is another unrecognized village that was demolished for the first time in July 2010, and at that time there were over 1,000 police officers. So people are saying that what happened in Atir is the biggest since that first demolition there.

The demolitions occur in the Naqab almost every day, but this again was a very large-scale demolition. This week, just yesterday on Thursday, two houses were demolished in Bir al-Meshash, and during this demolition, police fired rubber bullets and two residents were arrested. And all-Araqib, again, was demolished yesterday, for the 51st time since July 2010, and again, yesterday, all in the same day, another house was demolished in Atir — so the same village that had these 18 homes demolished two weeks ago.

Again, demolitions are happening almost every day in the Naqab, it’s part of a concerted effort to displace the Bedouin citizens.

EI: And Jillian, you mentioned that al-Araqib was demolished for the 51st time since July 2010. Talk about the context of these home demolitions, and the Israeli government’s plan, ultimately, for the Palestinian Bedouin communities, and what this Prawer plan is all about.

JKD: To understand what’s happening today in the Naqab, you have to look to history of Israeli policy toward Bedouin citizens of the state. Pre-1948, pre- the foundation of Israel, there were almost 100,000 Palestinian Bedouin living in the Naqab area. Following the Nakba, following the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, there were only about 11,000 Bedouin citizens that remained after 1948 in the area.

Not only that, but for the 11,000 that remained, the Israeli government forcibly relocated them to an area called the sayyaj, which literally means “the fenced area” in the Northwestern Naqab, and the tribes were not allowed to move freely and they were under military rule like the rest of the Palestinian citizens of the newly-founded state, until 1966.

In addition to this, Israel in the late 1960s developed a plan to urbanize the Bedouin community of the Naqab. So the government basically created urban townships in which to concentrate the Bedouin on as little land as possible. Really, you have to see what’s happening today as a continuation of this policy of limiting the areas that Bedouin can live in the Naqab to small urban townships. So this means that the Bedouin do not have land to graze animals or sheep, they don’t have access to agricultural land, and these urban townships don’t take into account the cultural norms of the Bedouin community — by that I mean housing structures; Bedouin traditionally live with their extended family close by. But this is impossible in the townships, because when they were planned, they didn’t take this into account.

In the case of al-Araqib and Atir, Israel is using the tactic of forestation to displace these two Bedouin communities, specifically. As I said before, these are “unrecognized” Bedouin villages, so what that means is that the Israeli government doesn’t recognize land claims of these Bedouin residents, and not only that, the Israeli government doesn’t provide these villages with water, electricity, paved roads, health care, schools, sewage systems — there’s virtually nothing there.

Right now in Israel’s continuation of this policy to forcibly evict Bedouin populations and move them into urban townships, the government developed a plan to “deal with the Bedouin settlement issue” — so this is seen by the government and by Israeli politicians as the Bedouin “problem,” and they’re trying to formulate this “solution.”

So the latest plan really started in 2008, there was the Goldberg commission — a former Israeli [high court] judge, Eliezer Goldberg, made a report about the suggestion, the recommendations to deal with Bedouin villages in the Naqab. Then, the prime minister’s office got involved, and was supposed to create an implementation plan. And what happened instead, and this was under the direction of Ehud Prawer from the prime minister’s office, was to suggest displacing 30,000 – 40,000 Bedouin citizens. And some estimates are that up to 70,000 Bedouin who will actually be displaced. So this is about at least 40 percent of the Bedouin community who will be moved under this plan, which became known as the Prawer plan.

After a lot of international and local condemnation of the plan, a Likud Knesset member Benny Begin was asked to start a consultation process with the Bedouin community. This came after the plan had already been approved in 2011 — so it was really to kind of stem criticism. The Bedouin were not fully consulted in this process.

So basically, Benny Begin made small recommendations, small changes to the plan, really nothing substantive, and his version of the plan was passed in January 2013, January of this year. The Prawer plan, again, is going to displace 30,000 – 40,000 people, it’s expected to be brought to the Knesset for a first reading in early June.

And the Bedouin community has completely rejected the plan as an attack on their basic rights. And an attack on their ancestral way of life in the Naqab. So really, 40,000 people are threatened right now by this plan.

EI: Finally, Jillian, talk a little bit more about the mobilizations that are happening within these Bedouin communities and by solidarity activists as well.

JKD: Yeah, so I mean people have had a few years, really, to get organized to combat this plan because it has been in the process for a few years. So right now we’re seeing demonstrations every week — the people of al-Araqib have held vigils and protests every Sunday for almost three years now, against the demolition of their village.

I’ve seen recently more solidarity between villages, which is really great to see, but it still is lacking in the Naqab just because of historical divisions within the community, but we do see — last week there was a march in Rahat, the biggest Bedouin township of 55,000 people, a few hundred came out for that against the Prawer plan. There’s been demonstrations in Wadi al-Naam, which is the largest unrecognized Bedouin village in the Naqab, there have been solidarity visits to Atir after the large demolition happened there, so there is some movement against what’s happening. There have been demonstrations in front of the Knesset, also against the plan.

What I think is important also to remember with the case of the Palestinian Bedouin of the Naqab is just the clear level of discrimination that exists today, and has always existed since the foundation of the state. Just to give an example, Jewish Israelis of the Naqab have the opportunity to live in any type of village, or town or city that they want. So it could be Beer Sheva, a large city, or it could be an agricultural village, it could be a kibbutz, even the government provides electricity, water, and all the services required for Jewish Israelis to maintain individual farms, which are thousands, hundreds of dunams of land for one Jewish Israeli family alone.

Whereas Palestinian Bedouin — where some of these villages are 10,000 people — have no access to water, no access to electricity, no roads, absolutely nothing. So it’s really a very clear and blatant discrimination.

The Prawer plan is really an extension of this overall policy.

(Source / 01.06.2013)

Violent repression continues by the Israeli Army against protesters in Kufr Qaddum

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On 31 May the residents of Kufr Qaddum held their weekly demonstration after the Friday prayer and were violently repressed when the Israeli army invaded the village, firing tear gas and sound bombs directly at the protesters and into several houses and the local mosque.

Window broken by Israeli soldiers during army incursion

The protest began at around 13:15 with the regular march to the eastern side of the village toward the road closure that separates Kufr Qaddum from the illegal Israeli settler colony Qedumim, which was built on land stolen from Kufr Qaddum. As protesters approached the last house on the edge of the village, the road was blocked by one Border Police jeep and a bulldozer. A standoff ensued between Israeli forces and local youth who built defensive stone barricades along the main road to prevent an army incursion. After half an hour, Israeli soldiers began to shoot tear gas canisters from a device know as “The Tempest,” which fires multiple canisters simultaneously. As the protesters retreated from the continuous barrage of tear gas from Israeli foot soldiers, the bulldozer advanced into the village, clearing the barricades along the way.

Residents at the western part of the village alerted the protesters in the east that the Israeli army was seen on the road outside the entrance. As residents attempted to construct new barricades, 3 Israeli army and Border Police jeeps charged into the village, accompanied by others invading from the north and the east, attempting to surround the protesters. Many residents took shelter in nearby houses as army and border police forces in the center of the village began to fire directly at people. Several women came out from their houses to confront the soldiers, who continued to shoot indiscriminately at local youth. Many tear gas canisters were shot into houses and into the mosque, where carpets were burnt by the canisters. Excessive amounts of tear gas entered one home and 5 children (ages 9, 7, 4, 1 and 6 months) suffered from tear gas inhalation. A journalist from PALMEDIA also passed out from gas inhalation after putting his gas mask onto a local woman, and was assisted by local paramedics.

After half an hour, the Israeli forces withdrew from the town, having fired more tear gas at the protesters who had once again gathered at the eastern side of the village. Two Israeli activists were arrested and taken to Ariel police station. One was later released, while the other has not yet been released (as of midnight 31 May). After the demonstration, witnesses observed many spent casings from live ammunition along the protest route, as well as a window that was broken by the soldiers.

Israeli army and Border Police invade Kufr Qaddum during the protest

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(Source / 01.06.2013)

Dutch settlement profiteers listed in new report

An earth-moving machine works in the foreground with Israeli settlement homes in background

Companies profitting from Israel’s settlement enterprise may be prosecuted in Dutch courts, the Netherlands’ chief prosecutor has warned.

recent report by the economic research and corporate responsibility group Profundo on Dutch economic links with the Israeli occupation lists Dutch companies profitting from Israel’s settlement enterprise.

Produndo identified 18 Israeli settlement companies — including Agrexco/Carmel, Edom Fruits, Hadiklaim, Mehadrin Group, Shamir Salads, Golan Heights Winery, SodaStream, Ahava Cosmetics, Keter Group plastics and Tip Top Toys — which trade with 38 Dutch companies.

Some of the Dutch companies distribute agricultural produce and Ahava cosmetics from the settlements mislabeled as “Made in Israel,” and which are sold to Dutch chains such C1000, Jumbo and Kring Pharmacies. EU consumer law requires the correct labeling of the place of origin, especially food imports.

Profundo’s findings also include the involvement of Dutch company Kardan Group NV in the construction of a sewage treatment plant on occupied West Bank land which will serve Israel’s illegal settlements.

Kardan Group NV is active in the Israeli settlements through its subsidiary Tahal Group International, an Israel-based international engineering company specializing in water and wastewater systems. Tahal Group developed the master plan for Jerusalem’s wastewater treatment system which, once completed, will serve illegal settlements in the area.

Tahal Group’s wastewater plan also includes the construction of a sewage treatment plant on Palestinian land in the area of Nabi Mussa in the occupied West Bank’s Jordan Valley, and the construction of the Og reservoir which will be used for the irrigation of date trees in settlement farms.

Dutch settlement profiteers warned

Meanwhile, the Netherlands’ chief prosecutor recently warned Dutch companies profiting from the settlements that participation in violations of international humanitarian law is a crime under Dutch law.

The prosecutor took this stand earlier this month in a letter regarding the state’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against the Dutch crane company Riwal over its involvement in Israeli violations of international law.

The letter makes it clear that the trade of products from, delivery of services to or any other involvement in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise may result in criminal prosecution.

The prosecutor’s decision was the culmination of a three-year criminal investigation opened after the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq lodged criminal complaints against the company for its involvement in the construction of Israel’s wall and settlements in the occupied West Bank. The company’s headquarters and the residences of its directors were raided as part of the investigation.

The probe found that Riwal had rented out equipment which was used both in “the construction of the wall and an industrial site near a settlement in OPT [occupied Palestinian territory],” and the prosecutor affirmed that the construction of the wall and settlements in the West Bank “was considered to be a violation of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949.”

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and its annexation of East Jerusalem are illegal under international law. Numerous UN resolutions and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel’s wall in the West Bank have confirmed that settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Corporate culpability

While criminal charges against Riwal and its directors will not be pursued, the chief prosecutor’s letter leaves no doubt about the culpability of companies involved in such activities.

“Participation in a violation of International Humanitarian Law by Dutch persons and legal entities is a crime according to article 5 of the Dutch International Crimes Act. The Public Prosecution Service considers such a violation a serious criminal offense,” the letter states. Under Dutch law persons and companies “should not in any way be involved in, or contribute to, possible violations of the Geneva Conventions or other rules of International Humanitarian Law.”

The prosecutor further warns companies “to take decisions of authoritative international bodies and judicial institutions as the International Court of Justice extremely serious [sic].”

The prosecutor states it had decided not to pursue criminal charges against Riwal and its directors for “reasons of expediency” because part of the used equipment was rented out to third parties and therefore effective involvement of the company and its directors was considered to be relatively minor.

The probe also found that there was little danger of repetition of the crime because the company had taken far-reaching steps to permanently terminate its activities in Israel and the occupied West Bank.

The consequences resulting from the company’s involvement in the construction of Israel’s wall and settlements, including “searches of homes and company premises and by the [media] attention which ensues from the investigation,” was also taken into consideration by the prosecutor.

The prosecutor also states that necessary follow-up investigations would “consume a significant amount of resources of the police and judiciary” and that fact-finding on the ground would “most probably not be possible due to lack of cooperation from the Israeli authorities.”

However, the letter adds that new facts or circumstances could lead to a reopening of the investigation into Riwal.

(Source / 01.06.2013)

Palestinian calls for global participation in the GMJ – Friday June 7, 2013

images_News_2013_05_31_dome-doves_300_0[1]RAMALLAH, (PIC)– Salah Al-Khawaja, a member of the GMJ International Executive Committee, has called for broad participation in this year’s march to take place across the globe on Friday 7th June 2013.

More than 60 countries across the globe will participate in the march in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in support of Jerusalem in light of the Israeli Judaization schemes.

Coordinator of the GMJ-West Bank told Quds Press on Thursday that this march is the second of its kind where a popular march was organized two years ago marking Land Day as a response to the Israeli racist policies in occupied Jerusalem and West Bank.

Khawaja confirmed that the GMJ is a new form of struggle against the Israeli apartheid. Such popular events would unite Palestinian efforts at home and in the diaspora in addition to giving the chance to supporters of the Palestine cause across the globe to stand against the Israeli brutal policies, he said.

Massive marches will be organized in occupied Jerusalem and West Bank mainly at the Damascus Gate (Bab Al-Amoud) of the Old City on 7th June, he added.

Mass demonstrations and large rallies, he continued, will be organized in surrounding countries towards Jerusalem or the nearest point possible to it according to the circumstances of each country. Protests also will be organized in front of Israeli embassies in the capitals of different countries across the world to demand an end to the occupation of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestinian land.

The International Executive Committee of the Global March to Jerusalem announced this year’s March to take place across the globe on Friday 7th June 2013 in coincidence with the 46th anniversary of the occupation of the eastern part of the Holy City in response to the continued Israeli occupation of the Holy City, its persistent violations against the city and its indigenous Arab inhabitants – both Christian and Muslim, and its continued racist practices which are incompatible with UN resolutions and international humanitarian law.

(Source / 01.06.2013)

Israeli colonists write racist slogans on Church: “Christians are slaves”, “Christians are Monkeys”

Friday May 31 2013, a number of Israeli settlers wrote anti-Christian graffiti on the back wall of a Christian Church, near the southern wall of the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.

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Price Tag Graffiti – Radio Bethlehem 2000

The settlers wrote various vulgar and racist statements, including “Christians are slaves”, “Christians are Monkeys”, in addition to “Price Tag”.

Israeli police spokeswoman for Arab media, Loba Samri, stated that the settlers are also believed to be behind puncturing the tires of two vehicles parked near the church.

“Price Tag” is a slogan the settlers use when attacking Palestinian property, churches and mosques.

The settlers believe that the Palestinians must pay the price every time Israeli removes an illegal settlement outpost. Dozens of attacks have been carried out by the settlers as part of their “Price Tag” assaults.

Such attacks also targeted Israeli leftist and peace groups as the settlers also blame them for any eviction of outposts.

On Friday, April 19, a group of extremist Israeli settlers occupied a Christian Monastery in a Palestinian village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and raised an Israeli flag over it.

On Wednesday May 29 2013, extremist settlers punctured tires of a number of Palestinian vehicles in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, and wrote racist graffiti.

On Wednesday morning, May 29, a group of Israeli settlers invaded the Az-Beidat area, near the West Bank city of Tubas, burnt four cars and a tractor, and wrote racist graffiti.

On Monday at dawn, April 27 2013, settlers defaced 15 Palestinian cars, in Sheikh Jarrah, and punctured their tires.

On Friday, May 24, extremist settlers punctured tires of five vehicles near the Gilo Israeli settlement, illegally built on Palestinian lands near Beit Jala city, in the West Bank district of Bethlehem.

In September of 2012, settlers burnt the main gate of the Latrun Christian Monastery west of Jerusalem, and wrote racist graffiti against Jesus Christ and against Christianity.

On Tuesday at dawn, June 19, settlers burnt a local mosque in Jaba’ Palestinian village, in occupied East Jerusalem, defaced some of its walls, and wrote Price Tag graffiti.

On February 20, 2012, settlers spray-painted racist graffiti on a church in occupied East Jerusalem in the third such incident since January 2012.

The graffiti also included “Death to Christians” and “price tag” was found on the walls of the Baptist Narkis Street Congregation. Furthermore, residents of the area found their car tires slashed.

(Source / 01.06.2013)

Forbidden to return (A Real Fairy Tale)

By Mohammad Arafat, Gaza.

Ahmad and his family were living in Alafola village in Palestine. Their life was full of happiness and relaxation. Ahmad was working in a small farm in harvesting olive trees. He and his family were always visiting their farm in the morning. They were eating and using what they got from their farm like olives and olive oil. Ahmad had few cows and goats that he used to cow and eat their meat. He also had a group of hens with a rooster to get eggs from.

Once, Ahmad heard from his neighbors that the Israelis attacked the neighboring villages and kicked the people out. He was afraid of what he heard and was asking himself” what will we do if they attack ours? I have a big family of six and two small babies”. Ahmad and his wife Mariam could not sleep that night thinking of what they heard.

In a foggy morning, Ahmad heard a massive missile was shot beside his home and suddenly his home shook, so he said that the bomb was just the beginning of the war on their village. He went to his farm to see what happened to the tame animals. In the way to the farm, Ahmad met his friend and started to speak about the bad situations in the village and what happened to Ahmad`s home. Accidently, while they are speaking, a shell was shot by them and his friend got a fragment in his neck. Ahmad was shocked and took his friend to the hospital.

The next morning and after Ahmad went back home from the hospital, he found large groups of Israeli soldiers were around the village. They were warning its people that they would destroy it if they did not leave, so Ahmad noticed many villagers started to emigrate towards the neighboring villages and cities. Firstly, Ahmad did not go out and stayed home with his family, but when the Israeli army attacked them in their home and warned them that they will destroy it, Ahmad and the family left their home and hastened towards Gaza forgetting everything in their home. The family decided to go to Gaza because it`s empty of soldiers as they thought.

On the way to Gaza, the family had neither food nor water to feed even their little children. They forgot everything in their home. They were lucky that it was cold so that they were not too thirsty, but it was a strict situation for the innocent family. Finally the the hard situation forced them to start on their way to Gaza. They were not alone in that time going to Gaza. They were immigrating with many other villagers and citizens from Aka, Jaffa, Ramlah and Haifa. When the family arrived in Gaza after a difficult time of sacrifices, they got a small tent to live in and two dishes of soup with some pieces of bread. Mariam (the wife) distributed the food to all children, but while she was doing that, she began to scream and cry ”Where is my daughter Ayaaaah???” she left her middle daughter Ayah in their home in Alafola. The wife did not stop crying. She said that she is the first responsible for her daughter’s loss, but her husband Ahmad came to her and assured her that he will return to the village and look for the girl. The wife firstly refused and did not let him go. She said” we lost one from the family and we cannot lose another one, please don`t go!!” but in the same time she needs her daughter back to hug and kiss her. In the night, the family went to sleep sadly, but could not sleep. They were thinking of the girl and the home. They were thinking of what happened to him and to their neighbors who lost many of their children there. Finally the wife slept and the husband started his way to return to Alafola to get the daughter.

Ahmad began his strict trip to Alafola. He passed Gaza`s borders and some other blocks hardly to arrive the distention of his home. He thought was about to die of the bullets in that area. Finally he arrived the village and was shocked when he saw his home in a conflagration and about to collapse. He began to scream and cry. He entered the home and suddenly found his daughter passed out through the smoke. He picked her up and threw himself out through the window of the home. The father was so sad about his daughter’s condition and at the same time happy because he found the girl safe and sound.

Ahmad stayed in front of his home for moments thinking of his home how it was and how it is now. He decided to go back to Gaza, but two Israeli soldiers saw him with the unconscious girl . They stopped him and asked him to leave the girl and go out the village. Ahmad refused, but the soldiers warned him that they will kill him with the girl inthe same time, so Ahmad told them” I prefer to die beside my daughter to go to Jannah with each other Inshallah” .You can shot me with my daughter now. The soldiers forced him to leave the girl and then they hit him. One of the soldiers went to the girl and started to swear at her then he killed her and stamped on her face by his boots. The father began to cry and scream for his daughter, so the soldiers carried him out the village and he completed his way to Gaza with a huge mountain of depression. When he arrived Gaza and entered the tent, he and the wife began to cry and wail between their children. They were crying about their home and girl. They were crying about their bad situations. They were crying about what happened to Palestine and its people.

After 20 years of sadness and depression, the family developed their tent to a small home consisting of two small rooms and a bath. The UNRWA helped them in that home and gave them food and water. The children became young and Ahmad with the wife got too old.

One cloudy evening, an Israeli jeep came to Ahmad`s home to arrest his oldest son Mohammad. Ahmad could not force them to leave Mohammad because he was too old, so the son forced away leaving them alone. He had not even a knife to defend himself with. Finally he went to the jail where the soldiers were. They beat him and swore at him on the way to the jail. When they arrived at the jail, the jailers carried Mohammad in and began to torture him and ask him why he was throwing stones at the soldiers, but Ahmad said ”this is our right to defend ourselves and resist you. This is our land and no one can take it from us. We will get the freedom soon Inshallah”.

Mariam was so sad about their bad experiences. She tolerated a lot but was always saying” I lost my home in Alafola, I lost my daughter, I lost my son, but I will not lose my homeland ‘Palestine’. One day we will return.

(Source / 01.06.2013)