U.S. Exempts 11 Nations From Iran Sanctions, But Not Ally Turkey
And more from the Turkish Press
Turkey could still get a waiver regarding the sanctions the United States plans to implement on countries buying oil from Iran, despite not being named on a list of exempted nations released by Washington, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said on Wednesday.
"Turkey's absence from the United States waiver list regarding the Iran issue doesn't mean it will not be included," Yıldız told reporters at an energy conference in Ankara.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan plans to raise the issue with President Barack Obama during a nuclear security summit in South Korea later this month, Turkish officials told Reuters.
Diplomatic sources in Ankara told Today's Zaman that the Turkish government officials have been continuing their efforts to have Turkey included in the waiver list of Washington.
Turkey imports around 200,000 barrels per day of oil from Iran, representing over 7 percent of Iran's oil exports. Yıldız said Turkey would continue to buy oil from Iran until existing contracts expire.
The U.S. exempted Japan and 10 European Union nations from financial sanctions because they have significantly cut purchases of Iranian crude oil, but left Iran's top customers China and India exposed to the possibility of such steps.
The decision announced on Tuesday is a victory for the 11 countries, whose banks have been given a six-month reprieve from the threat of being cut off from the U.S. financial system under new sanctions designed to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.
Yıldız said Turkey could not halt purchasing from Iran unless other suppliers were lined up.
"It is out of the question for us to stop buying oil from Iran unless the supply is replaced," Yıldız said.
Turkey has struck a new contract to buy oil from Libya, and has held inconclusive talks over the possibility of buying from Saudi Arabia.
Turkey's sole refiner Tüpraş, a unit of Koç Holding, is the main customer for Iranian crude. It buys some 30 percent of its crude oil from Iran and has a nine million ton annual purchase contract.
Koç Energy Group Chairman Erol Memioğlu told reporters last month that Tüpraş's existing oil contract with Iran ends in August, adding that he expected more clarity on the details of the sanctions in May, before Washington's sanctions on oil-related transactions take effect on June 28.
Tüpraş also warned that the price it pays for oil could increase if it has to seek alternatives to Iranian oil.
Families Fear For Safety Of Missing Journalists
The relatives of two Turkish journalists who have been missing since March 11 in northern Syria have urged the Turkish government to increase its rescue efforts on fears that the pair could soon be killed.
Ali Adakoğlu, editor-in-chief of Gerçek Hayat (True Life), said local sources had verified that the journalists were alive but that the situation was chaotic due to a lack of information from local and international sources. Still, he said he was hopefully awaiting their rescue.
"I do not doubt that the Turkish government is acting in good faith, but it is obvious that faith is not enough at this point. Time is ticking away," Adakoğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News Wednesday.
Adakoğlu also said reporter Adem Özköse, who is Gerçek Hayat's Middle East correspondent, knows Syria well because he lived there for four years between 2007 and 2011.
"We had a deal with them [Özköse and Coşkun], that they would not send any reports during their journey, so as not to risk exposure to the Syrian army. They were certainly aware that they were risking their lives when they crossed the border into Syria," Adakoğlu said.
Missing cameraman Hamit Coşkun's brother, Yahya Coşkun, also said the Turkish government should make a greater effort to rescue his brother.
"Local sources have told us that my brother's state of health is fine, and he is not injured, but still as his family we are concerned about his life," Coşkun said.
Foreign Minister Talks With Relatives
Yahya Coşkun is also a journalist, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla when nine Turkish activists were killed by Israeli troops in a raid on the Gaza-bound ship. The two journalists crossed the Syrian border in the southern province of Hatay and traveled to the northern Syrian city of Idlib. Özköse and Coşkun were allegedly handed over to Syrian intelligence by pro-regime militia.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has spoken to the families of the missing journalists on the phone and told them that the initiatives to find their lost relatives were continuing, diplomatic sources have told the Anatolia news agency.
Meanwhile, Bülent Yıldırım, the head of the Turkey's Humanitarian Aid Foundation, or İHH, said they would announce some news about the state of the missing journalists in a couple of days, adding that they were currently holding back for their own sakes.
Turkey Tightens Security Measures On Syrian Border To Prevent PKK Entry
Turkish border security units and gendarmerie forces stationed along the country's border with Syria have tightened security measures in the region to prevent Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, terrorists from entering Turkey along with hundreds of Syrian refugees escaping from their country every day.
According to intelligence obtained from security officials, the number of PKK terrorists in Syria has increased to some 1,500, with most based in the predominantly Kurdish regions of Afrin, Amude and Derik. Many of these terrorists had previously been trained in Kandil, a major PKK camp in northern Iraq.
The tremendous increase in the number of Syrians who arrived in Turkey to seek refuge made both police and the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, question the security of the border. Furthermore, Turkish security forces were recently notified by some Syrians that PKK terrorists are planning to seek refuge in Turkey by pretending to be oppressed Syrian nationals. Following these developments, the number of gendarmes and police officers along the border with Syria was doubled.
Turkey has been conducting airstrikes on PKK camps in Iraq's northern mountains and inside Turkey since August of last year, following an increase in attacks on Turkish troops and civilians by the PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy for Turkey's largely Kurdish Southeast since 1984.
The conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives. The group is labeled a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States, which has supplied Predator drones to assist Turkey.
PKK Presence In Syria Increases With Damascus Backing
Concrete evidence that the PKK has been recruited by the regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad surfaced on Tuesday, with documents stolen from a secret joint crisis meeting confirming that Damascus sees the PKK as a tool for keeping order in the country's predominantly Kurdish northern regions.
According to a set of state documents published by Al Jazeera, and reportedly smuggled out of Syria by Abdel Majid Barakat, a Syrian civil servant who defected, the regime had listed "coordinating with the Kurdistan Worker's Party in secret" as a component of its strategy to ensure security around the northern city of Aleppo. The document stated that the PKK's goal would be "to place Kurdish areas under surveillance and to quell protests and protesters."
Suspicions have abounded in recent months about the extent of the Syrian government's interactions with the PKK, which has not operated within Syria's borders since the late 1990s. The Syrian government sent a thinly veiled warning in October that it would consider supporting the PKK if it perceived that Turkey was supporting the Syrian opposition, with Assad stating that "Turkey could fall into a state similar to ours" if it opposed Damascus.
Reports from inside Syria in recent months suggested that the PKK has also opened new camps on the Syrian-Iraqi border, as the group flees a Turkish campaign to bomb its bases in nearby Iraq.
The PKK is thought to operate through the guise of the Syrian Democratic Union Party, or PYD, a group which has called for dialogue with the Syrian regime, but opposed widening calls for the leader to step down.
The PYD has been condemned by a wide coalition of Kurdish parties represented by the anti-Assad Kurdish National Council, and was criticized heavily in an announcement last month by the Kurdish Future Movement Party, a group established by the widely respected Kurdish activist and political leader, Mashaal Tammo.
Tammo was killed in his home in Syria's northeastern city of Qamishli in October.
Syrian Opposition Seek To Heal Rift At Turkey Meeting
Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad will try to overcome crippling feuds and plot a more coherent strategy at a meeting sought by Turkey early next week, opposition sources said on Wednesday.
However, the groups' failure to agree on who should attend the İstanbul meeting has increased doubts about their ability to overcome the deep divisions frustrating foreign powers seeking a reliable partner to unite the anti-Assad movement.
The meeting is provisionally set for Monday and will come just ahead of an April 1 İstanbul conference of the "Friends of Syria" -- a loose alliance of more than 50 states looking to oust Assad after a bloody 12-month revolt against his rule.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an increasingly vocal critic of Assad, said he has high hopes of the April 1 conference and has suggested that Turkey might consider setting up buffer zones inside Syria to protect an influx of refugees.
"Turkey has proposed safe areas to protect civilians, but is frustrated by the opposition and is pressuring them to hold this conference," said an official in the Syrian National Council, or SNC
-- a fractious umbrella group made up mainly of exiles. "The opposition has to show Erdoğan and the rest of the world that it is a responsible political player."
The SNC draws together personalities from across the political spectrum, but prominent liberals and independent Islamists have grown wary of the rising influence of the Muslim Brotherhood within the 270-member organization, sources said.
Five prominent members of the SNC quit this month, saying they had given up hope of making the movement a more effective player. They have formed the rival Syrian Patriotic Group, or SPG.
Their main complaint was that the SNC was not doing enough to help the armed resistance against Assad, with the rebels on the back foot in the face of a fierce army backlash. Some critics have accused the SNC of being out of touch with ordinary Syrians who are bearing the brunt of an uprising that has killed at least 8,000, according to UN figures.
Walid al-Bunni, a key SPG member, said he would not attend Monday's meeting unless SNC President Burhan Ghalioun gave other opposition leaders leeway in choosing who should be invited.
For example, Catherine al-Talli, a human rights lawyer and a member of the SPG group, said she has not been invited. But veteran opposition figure, Najati Tayyara, one of Syria's most respected human rights campaigners, said he would attend.
"The council is still a big name in this revolution and uniting the opposition is a popular national wish. I have asked that the conference be an open one and include the largest number of delegates from inside Syria," he said. "The invitations so far have been oral. Discussions are still going on about the agenda and we should know more in the next two days."
The official from the SNC, which is trying to coordinate the gathering, said all schools of thought would be admitted.
"The conference will exclude no one," he said, declining to be named because he was not authorized to speak. "It will not resolve the difference within the opposition, but it will come out with a vision for a post-Bashar era and assure the revolution inside the country that there are Syrians working for them."
Top Court Upholds Turkish-Armenian Journalist Dink Killer's Sentence
Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the prison sentence of late Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murderer, Ogün Samast, on Wednesday.
A juvenile court in Istanbul had sentenced Samast to 22 years and 10 months in prison last July for the "planned murder of Hrant Dink" and for carrying an "unregistered gun." However, under the Turkish Penal Code, Samast will not serve the 22 years and 10 months to which he was sentenced, but will be released after completing two thirds of his service.
As Samast has already been in jail for the past five years, he will be released from prison by 2022. The juvenile court initially condemned Samast to life, but reduced the sentence to 21-and-a-half years, on the grounds that he was underage at the time of the murder, before giving him an additional 16 months for possession of an unlicensed weapon. The court also decreased Samast's 600 Turkish Lira judicial fine to 300 liras.
Samast was convicted of killing Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist and the editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper, Agos, who was murdered in front of his newspaper's office in 2007. Samast defended himself saying he had had a poor education and committed the murder under the influence of others.
Turkey Will Not Allow Sectarian War In Middle East, Davutoglu Says
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey will not allow any Cold War-like polarization to develop along sectarian lines in the Mideast.
Delivering a speech in Sakarya on Wednesday at a conference organized by the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs to discuss the international duties of the directorate, Davutoğlu asserted that some actors in the region may seek to exploit and deepen these sectarian tensions to achieve their own ends and would prefer the polarization of Muslims in the Middle East.
Davutoğlu noted that the latest developments, which cover a wide area of the Middle East, including Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon and Egypt, point to the likelihood of all-out sectarian strife.
He highlighted that in order to avert potential sectarian conflict in the region, Turkey should display its impartial and respectful attitude towards religious groups through a considered course of action led by the directorate.
"We will not allow another cold war in our region," he said.
Prime Minister To Reject Prosecutor's Request To Question MIT Officials
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will reject the special permission sought by prosecutors to summon Turkey's incumbent intelligence chief and four other National Intelligence Organization, or MİT, officials as part of an investigation into the Kurdish Communities Union, or KCK, the Habertürk daily reported on Wednesday.
In early March, the İstanbul Public Prosecutor's Office sought special permission from the Prime Ministry to question MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and four other MİT officials in the KCK investigation. By law, Erdoğan is required to respond to the request within 60 days.
According to Habertürk, Erdoğan recently held a number of meetings with his advisers at the Prime Ministry where it was decided to send a brief justification to the prosecutors in which it will state that the decision was made according to the prime minister's initiative.
Prime Ministry officials also said appealing the decision at the Council of State will make no difference as a similar case previously heard by that court was rejected.
An İstanbul prosecutor overseeing the investigation into the KCK, a Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK-linked terrorist organization, asked the Ankara Prosecutor's Office last month to summon Fidan to give testimony. He did not attend, citing his busy schedule.
Along with Fidan, the İstanbul prosecutor also requested that the previous MİT undersecretary, Emre Taner, MİT Deputy Undersecretary Afet Güneş and two other MİT officials, Yaşar Yıldırım and Hüseyin Kuzuoğlu, testify in the ongoing investigation into the KCK, which Turkish prosecutors say is a group that controls the PKK and other affiliated groups. However, MİT appealed the prosecutor's move to summon Fidan to testify, arguing that the prosecutor's office should have asked the prime minister for permission, but the appeal was rejected.
The prosecutor was then taken off the case on the grounds that he had exceeded his authority, and the government proceeded to introduce a law that requires prosecutors to seek the prime minister's permission before summoning MİT officials for questioning. After Parliament approved the government-sponsored bill, the İstanbul Public Prosecutor's Office asked the Prime Ministry for authorization.
Opposition parties and others have opposed the legislation on the grounds that it is designed to benefit certain people and hence runs contrary to the rule of law. Reports in the media claim that, according to documents in the case file, the KCK was actually founded under MİT oversight. It has also been alleged that orders for some of the KCK's attacks were given from sources inside MİT. In addition, a meeting of MİT officials held in Oslo with representatives of the terrorist PKK in 2010 is also under investigation. The contacts came to light last year through recordings posted on the Internet.
Government Slams CHP Meet On Arab Spring
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan charged Wednesday that an upcoming Socialist International, or SI, meeting on the Arab uprisings, to be hosted by the main opposition, was organized to advocate the Syrian regime's bloody crackdown on opponents.
"They will be holding a meeting to defend the brutality in Syria and a regime that has so far killed nearly 10,000 of our brothers. In this way, they claim, they will be looking for a solution for Syria," Erdoğan said at the parliamentary group meeting of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
In an apparent reference to the Alevi faith that CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad share, Erdoğan said: "Don't forget that a person's religion is the religion of his friend. Tell me who your friend is and I'll tell you who you are."
The CHP will host a meeting of the Socialist International's Special Committee on the Arab World March 23 through March 24 in Istanbul, to discuss social-democratic approaches to the transformation process in the region. Representatives of social-democratic parties from many countries, as well as bloggers from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria are expected to participate.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu retorted that the meeting had annoyed Erdoğan because in it "the truth" about the situation in Syria would be discussed.
"Look at his panic. The meeting has not convened yet but he is already annoyed. He is irked because people will be told the truth about Syria," Kılıçdaroğlu said at his party's parliamentary meeting, adding that the meeting would also raise the issue of the two Turkish journalists missing in Syria.
Kılıçdaroğlu warned the government that the creation of a Turkish "buffer zone" inside Syria would amount to "war and occupation."
Turkey Goes 'Global'
In further remarks Wednesday, Erdoğan vowed that Turkey would continue to increase its global role as he defended the country's involvement in Afghanistan, in the face of opposition criticism after a helicopter crash in Kabul that killed 12 soldiers.
"You cannot be a big country if you have small ambitions. We will go everywhere across the world -- to take assistance, to take care for our ancestors' heritage, to expand trade," he said.
Stressing that Ankara was proud of all its soldiers serving in missions abroad, Erdoğan bluntly rejected charges that Turkey had become a "sub-contractor" of Western powers' policies in the region and dubbed his critics as "ignorant" and "pathetic."
The leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, Devlet Bahçeli, however, stepped up criticism of NATO's campaign in Afghanistan, arguing that the war-ravaged country had been "enslaved under the pretext of fighting terrorism."
Bahçeli urged the withdrawal of the Turkish forces from Afghanistan on the grounds that their presence there had "no strategic importance left."
New Regulations On Minority Schools Causing Confusion In Turkey
New regulations concerning minority schools in Turkey, which only came into effect on Tuesday, are causing confusion among educators who claim the latest changes don't solve the problems faced by the children of foreign nationals.
"We have [read] the regulations from top to bottom. Frankly we, too, remain perplexed," Istanbul Deputy Education Director Nedat İlhan told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The regulations concerning private schools in Turkey and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne allow only for Turkish citizens to attend minority schools. A clause stipulating the children of Turkish citizens can attend only their own minority community's schools was removed in the new regulations that appeared in the Official Gazette on Tuesday.
"The article was removed, but we are going to take a look at its infrastructure and whether it is applicable or not. Minorities in Turkey are classified under different titles in the Lausanne Treaty of 1923. As such, there is a critical question mark over here," said İlhan, who is also in charge of affairs related to private schools in Istanbul, where all of Turkey's minority schools are located.
Some 15,000 Armenian citizens are currently residing in Turkey as illegal immigrants, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry's data. Their children cannot attend minority schools in Turkey both due to their illegal status and the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne. They were granted the status of "guest students" roughly two years ago, however, so they may now attend schools but cannot receive any diplomas or report cards.
"Even the children of ambassadors and officers from NATO-member Greece cannot receive diplomas from our schools with guest student status. The new regulations do not alleviate the problems concerning foreign nationals," Yanni Demircioğlu, the headmaster of the historical Anatolian Greek Zoğrafyon High School in Istanbul, told the Daily News.
Some 70 "guest students" attend the Armenian and Anatolian Greek minority schools in Istanbul, although many illegal Armenian immigrants choose not to take advantage of the new "guest student" policy, as they prefer not to reveal their identities.
"Firstly, we are not a 'private,' but a minority school. More important, special regulations have to be devised for each minority group. Different circumstances [apply to] Armenian and Anatolian Greek schools. These issues can only be set straight by provision of law," Garo Paylan, a member of the Minority Schools Education Commission, told the Daily News.
"Minority schools have a quota problem. Let us assume for a moment that a Syriac or a Protestant Armenian wants to attend a minority school. Then what is going to happen? We need to figure out what will happen to converts and examine the population data regarding minorities in Turkey," İlhan said.
İlhan said Turkey has diplomatic relations with Greece, but not with Armenia, and Armenian immigrants come to Turkey illegally. The children of illegal Armenian immigrants will still not be able to attend school regardless of the changes in regulations.
Another minority school director who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity said they were disappointed by the lack of progress on the matter despite all the talks held with the government. He also expressed his frustration that the new regulations did not abolish the requirement for minority schools to have a Turkish deputy assistant.
"We wanted to determine [the deputy assistants'] term of service ourselves, but we are back to where we were five years ago, it seems," he said.
Barzani Intimidates Baghdad
Kurdish Regional Government, or KRG, leader Masoud Barzani hinted Tuesday at a possible break with Iraq's unity government, complaining the prime minister was monopolizing power and building an army loyal only to him; he stopped short of directly saying he would declare independence for the Kurdish region.
Barzani has steadily ratcheted up his criticism of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government in recent weeks, amid disputes over oil, land, budget funds and power sharing in Baghdad. Barzani said the partnership that built a national unity government formed at a meeting he had hosted was now "completely non-existent and [had] become meaningless."
"It is time to say enough is enough," Barzani said in a speech marking the traditional Kurdish and Persian New Year holiday, Nevruz. "The current status of affairs in unacceptable to us and I call on all Iraqi political leaders to urgently try and find a solution -- otherwise we will return to our people and will decide on whatever course of action that our people deem appropriate."
He claimed that al-Maliki and the government were "waiting to get F-16 combat planes to examine its chances again with the Kurdish peshmerga [fighters]," referring to a government order for 36 warplanes from the United States.
"Where in the world can the same person be the prime minister, the chief of staff of the armed forces, the minister of defense, the minister of interior, the chief of intelligence and the head of the national security council?" he asked.
Barzani said while he was committed to an alliance with Iraq's majority Shiites, he was not committed to one with al-Maliki. Kurdish MPs hold nearly a fifth of the seats in Parliament, and Barzani's Kurdish Alliance bloc has five cabinet posts in the national unity government formed in November 2010.
Baghdad has been arguing for months with Kurdish leaders over whether Exxon Mobil Corp. should be allowed to develop lucrative oil fields in the north without the central government's approval. Iraq's Oil Ministry last week said Exxon agreed to shelve its plans to avoid being blacklisted from other oil deals in Iraq until the country passes its oil law, which could take months at least, if not years.
A spokesman for the Kurdish region denied Exxon had frozen its plans, and Exxon officials have not commented. Barzani accused Baghdad of pressuring oil companies against working in the north.
"They in Baghdad get mad whenever any corporation comes to the region to sign contracts," he said.
Barzani's heated complaints come a week before top Arab leaders are to meet in Baghdad in what the government hopes will showcase Iraq's move toward stability and national unity after years of sectarian fighting.
1980 Coup Leader's Defense Arguments Not Legally Sound
The general who led one of Turkey's bloodiest military takeovers, namely the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d'état, has for the first time testified to a prosecutor 32 years after the intervention, saying it defied logic to try him as the constitution in place is a product of the coup period, but this makes little legal sense, experts have told Today's Zaman.
Retired Gen. Kenan Evren, the chief perpetrator of the 1980 coup d'état that led to thousands of disappearances in custody, executions, deportations and immense pain in many ordinary people's lives, testified on Tuesday, in an investigation made possible when voters approved a new constitutional package in 2010 that included a clause removing a temporary article that provided legal protection to 1980 generals and their civilian allies.
Evren, in his 160-page defense statement, argued that staging a coup d'état does not constitute a crime against the constitution. He argued that only another coup maker who has succeeded can try the makers of a previous coup.
"If this wasn't the case, all of the legislative, executive and judicial transactions since 1960 would be void" for Turkey, referring to the 1960 coup d'état, the first since in the history of the republic.
The defense statement was prepared by Bülent Hayri Acar, a lawyer for Evren and retired Gen. Ali Tahsin Şahinkaya. The defense statement was published as a booklet. Evren demanded his acquittal, arguing that the 1980 government was a "founding" government, and the Turkish Penal Code, or TCK, does not explicitly forbid staging a takeover.
He argued that there is no legal order in the world that forbids staging coups as a de facto necessity that arises from the nature of overtaking an older government. He said as long as "the power that stages the coup" is not eliminated, it should be considered a founding government.
Evren maintained that since the 1982 Constitution, adopted as a result of the 1980 generals' two-year military rule, is still in place and all other legislation is based on it, this means the intervention is still legitimate.
"This trial is not valid," he said, arguing that it was "against reason" to consider the intervention a crime.
But these statements are legally hollow, according to Ümit Kardaş, a retired military judge.
"Politically speaking, his arguments make sense. He is telling us, you still have this constitution, you are happy with it. However, legally it doesn't make sense. The law is only interested if you forcibly changed the constitutional order, if you stopped Parliament from functioning by using violence and force. Did you use your armed power and take over or not? This is what the law is interested in."
He noted that temporary Article 15 of the constitution (and Article 12 of the 1961 constitution, introduced after the 1960 coup) was added specifically because the generals knew it was a crime. Kardaş also noted that Evren's argument that only new coup stagers can try old ones was hardly true in political or realistic terms, either.
"Maybe after a coup succeeds, its perpetrators might not be tried for a while, but then the conditions might change, and they can find themselves before a court. It could happen," he said.
Reşat Petek, a retired chief public prosecutor, said: "In order to come up with a consistent defense statement, they mentioned a number of things. It is not legally viable, but [the argument on laws based on the 1982 constitution being in place] is consistent."
He noted, however, that there were other points in Evren's statement -- such as the argument that if a coup succeeds, then it is not a crime -- that had no legal basis, meaning the indictment was not consistent in its entirety.
"The beauty here is that now the coup stagers need the law, and they will be defending themselves within the framework of democracy and universal legal norms," Petek said. "They are not being subjected to cruelty or torture; they are being tried in a court of law. This is important both in terms of democracy and to ensure the legitimacy of their trial."
During the Sept. 12 period, 650,000 people were detained; many were held for as long as 90 days. Military agencies kept records on about 2 million people and had a file for each of them; 230,000 people were tried in Martial Law Courts. Prosecutors demanded the death penalty for 7,000 people, out of which 517 were actually given the death penalty.
Fifty people were hanged. About 400,000 people were denied passports; 30,000 lost their jobs because the new regime said they were "dangerous"; 14,000 lost their citizenship; about 30,000 others fled the country as asylum seekers; 366 people died suspicious deaths officially recorded as accidents; 171 people were killed under torture in prisons according to official figures; 43 people were reported as having committed suicide; and 16 were shot for attempting to escape.
Comment on this item
by Soeren Kern
The law [banning the veil] also liberates women because the wearing of veils "is totally incompatible with the very idea of equality," according to Annie Sugier, head of the International League for Women's Rights.
"[H]er aim is not to annoy others but to feel at inner peace with herself." — Part of Court's summary of the case.
The court has deemed the case to so important that it has taken the unusual step of referring it to the Grand Chamber, the Court's highest chamber.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
The arrest of businessman Mohamed Al Sabawi is seen as part of a campaign by the Palestinian Authority to intimidate and extort money from prominent and wealthy businessmen who seek to help strengthen the Palestinian economy. The case of Al Sabawi will undoubtedly scare potential investors and convince them that investing in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities is a bad idea.
A Palestinian Authority security official said that the arrest was a "routine legal procedure" against an investor suspected of slander and obstructing the work of police officers.
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The administration's position is that the nuclear deal is separate from any other conversation with Iran including the fate of the Americans imprisoned there: retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, and Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is currently housed in a "violent offenders" prison.
We get, essentially, nothing. But it is worse than that. Whatever the P5+1 believes it achieved pales in comparison to what the deal cost.
by Samuel Westrop
"Al Fatiha Global has a strict vetting policy ... We have certain people who actually go out and check people's social networking profiles, like Facebook and Twitter. If somebody has something on there which may seem a bit radical, then that's it, they're not accepted." — Kas Jameel, Aid Convoy Driver
Jameel, however, apparently forgot to vet his own social media postings.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
The Geneva accord and Washington's failed policies in Egypt and other Muslim countries have taught the Palestinians that it would be better to wait until the U.S. completely loses its influence so that other players such as Russia, China and the EU will step in and impose a solution on Israel.
The way the Palestinian Authority sees it, "If it worked with Iran, why shouldn't it work also with Israel?"
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