Bombs continue raining down upon Syria and Iraq

 

 

 

US Department of Defense [15/2/16]:


U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

Attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted four strikes in Syria:

-- Near Raqqah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL crane.

-- Near Ayn Isa, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings and an ISIL fighting position.

Strikes in Iraq

Attack, ground-attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 14 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

-- Near Huwayjah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Fallujah, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL bunker.

-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging area.

-- Near Kisik, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL heavy machine gun and suppressing an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Mosul, four strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL supply cache, four ISIL assembly areas and an ISIL checkpoint.

-- Near Ramadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Samarra, a strike destroyed three ISIL tactical vehicles and an ISIL crane.

-- Near Sinjar, two strikes destroyed an ISIL fighting position and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

...

 

 

 

MSF said the hospital in the northwestern Syrian city of Maarat al-Numaan, in the Idlib province, was hit by four rockets earlier on Monday.

It did not say which of the warring parties was suspected to be behind the attack.

Davutoglu, who is in Kiev in a show of support for the Ukrainian government, claimed at a press conference that the hospital had been struck by a ballistic missile launched by a Russian warship deployed in the Caspian Sea.

The airstrikes on the 30-bed health facility left around 40,000 people in the active conflict zone without medical services, MSF said.

At least eight staff of 54 people who worked there are missing.  ... Turkish PM Blames Russia for Striking MSF-Backed Syrian Hospital [Sputnik News - 15/2/16]

 

 

 

 

@Marodriguez1971 [15/2/16]:   A lo mejor es porque soy padre pero, sinceramente, creo que ningún niño se merece esto. Lesbos. ...

 

 

 

 

 

 

@Marodriguez1971 [15/2/16]:   Lo única que va a cambiar es que morirán más. Por el frío. #refugiados ...

 

 

 

 

 

@Marodriguez1971 [14/2/16]:   Feliz #SanValentin refugiado. Sin duda, el anciano griego que rescata refugiados. ...

 

 

 

 

My name is Magda Mughrabi, and as North Africa researcher for AmnestyInternational, I’ve been documenting human rights abuses against migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in Libya since 2013.

These include not only abduction, extortion and sexual violence along the smuggling route from sub-Saharan Africa towards the Libyan coast, but also arbitrary detention and torture in the country’s many immigration detention centers.

Since learning about the Ghost Boat, reading the story online and talking to members of the team, I’ve been looking into the case to see what I can uncover. ... [Medium - 11/2/16]

 

 

 

 

"We had to leave," A refugee story from Greece [VIDEO - MSF- 5/2/16]

 

 

 

 

A Disney cruise ship stopped on its way to the Cayman Islands to pick up 12 suspected migrants southeast of Cuba, the U.S. Coast Guard said Sunday.

Disney Wonder was heading from Miami to Grand Cayman when the group of suspected migrants was spotted around 8 p.m. Saturday, according to a source with knowledge of the incident.

The migrants were brought aboard the boat, which boasts "11 decks overflowing with restaurants, pools, recreation and more."

The 12 suspected migrants, who were all Cuban, were on a "rustic" vessel, U.S. Coast Guard 7th District spokesman Jon-Paul Rios said.

"Rustic" is a term authorities use to describe dangerous, unseaworthy vessels, Rios said.

 The suspected migrants are being turned over to Grand Cayman authorities, Rios said.

 Rios said it's unclear whether the migrants had been heading to the United States. ... [CNN - 15/2/16]

 

 

 

 

‏@ellen_roberts  [15/2/16]:  11pm and still going strong at #LadyCilento #LetThemStay

 

 

 

 

Protected and unaccountable Dutton and Brandis to discuss "processing refugees" at Five Eyes fascist spook fest in Washington [Media Release - 15/2/16]

 

 

 

 

NZ soldier's letter to Dutton a damningly powerful indictment of expanding arbitrary detention in Australia [RNZI - 15/2/16]:

 

 

A former New Zealand soldier detained without charge in a Perth jail has written an angry open letter to the Australian Immigration Minister.

Ko Haapu has spent three months in Casuarina prison under Australia's tough new immigration laws, for belonging to an outlawed motorcycle gang.

In a letter sent to Checkpoint, Mr Happu accuses the minister, Peter Dutton, of a deliberate campaign of harassment against him and his partner. 

He said police had been following his partner to work, sitting outside her home and pulling her over multiple times to check her licence.

Mr Haapu, who has not been charged with a crime, said police were trying their hardest to find something to pin on him.

He said the minister was putting his family through an emotional rollercoaster, which resulted in his partner's miscarriage.

 

 

 

 

TICLP and Bond University Faculty of Law present a Twilight Seminar - Professor George Williams AO:  Does Australia have a Human Rights Problem? - 17 February 2016

 

 

 

 

Mandatory indefinite detention is torture.

 

 

 

When will other Australian health professionals follow the ethical example of practitioners at Lady Cilento Hospital?

 

 

Australian doctor challenges Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten on torture at refugee concentration camps [ABC - 25/1/16]:

 

... Professor Isaacs said he had now written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Labor leader Bill Shorten challenging them to prosecute him under the Act, or to repeal the legislation.

"Long-term immigration detention causes major mental health problems, is illegal in international law and arguably fits the recognised definition of torture," Professor Isaacs said.

"The conditions we witnessed typified those in institutions such as asylums, prisons and concentration camps.

"There was constant bullying and humiliation, and children and adults coming to the medical centre were referred to by their boat numbers."

Professor Isaacs recently published a paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics detailing his experience.

"The average length of detention of the children and families was 14 months and they were still not told when applications for asylum would be processed," he wrote.

"Doctors and nurses have a moral duty both to serve and to speak out."

...

 

 

 

Through our consultations at the medical centre, Professor Isaacs diagnosed a baby with typhoid.

We were in the consultation room with the baby and the mother, and the dad was waiting down the end of the corridor, so I went to get him. I said, ‘You can come with me now. We’ll go and see your baby, he’s OK.’

The female security guard pushed the dad full flight in the back and he went flying.

The dad just looked absolutely hopeless.

He just took the abuse and looked at me with these dead, sad eyes.

He can’t fight back because that will impede on his asylum application. ...

 

 

“When you silence doctors and nurses you’re getting into dangerous territory”  Alanna Maycock  [Marie Claire - 6/8/15]

 

 

 

 

Broadspectrum aka Transfield's Chief Financial Officer says his company is best placed to run Australia's refugee concentration camps [SBS - 15/2/16]

 

 

 

Important  lecture about seeking asylum - and how Australia is trashing the UN Refugee Convention ----> Professor Alison Mountz, of Harvard University, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School of International Affairs, responds to and challenges the crisis narratives unfolding in the media as she discusses political struggles over the erosion of asylum taking place globally. This talk explores shifting geographies of migration and border enforcement in major transit sites where migrants and asylum seekers seek entry and protection. The talk dwells in islands and enforcement archipelagos, offshore sites where struggles over entry and exclusion transpire and where the infrastructure of border enforcement and detention are growing. ... [VIDEO - Centre for International Governance Innovation - 12/11/15]

 

 

 

 

Guardian Australia helps ALP blowins and interlopers in their struggle to co-opt and control #LetThemStay [15/2/16]:

 

 

... Government backbencher Peter Russo was among those joining protestors on Monday, after the premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and health minister, Cameron Dick, both threw their backing at the weekend behind the hospital’s stance.

...

Among the organisers of the protest – formally led by GetUp! – was Brynn O’Brien, a Sydney human rights lawyer who happened to be in Brisbane when the protest started on Friday.

 O’Brien, who is involved in the related No Business In Abuse group, came straight to the protest from dinner in nearby West End and has been there every day since.

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did Peter Russo MP defend his party voting against the Greens amnesty motion?  Has he been on the blower to Shorten giving him an earful? [ABC - 4/2/16]

 

 

 

 

 

 

‏@StefanFLowe [15/2/16]:  Many protestors at Lady Cilento supporting decision not to release baby Asher to Nauru ...

 

 

 

CLOSE THE CAMPS.

 

 

 

 

The vigil continues @ Lady Cilento. Lots of honking. @612brisbane

 

Image:  ‏@RacheyFountain [15/2/16]

 

 

 

@MacMahonAmy [15/2/16]:  Rally at the #LadyCilento Hospital in support of staff giving refuge to Asha & her family #LetThemStay ...

 

 

 

@beardytrot [15/2/16]:  ... Vigil for baby Asha day 4 and growing. #LetThemStay ...

 

 

 

@ellen_roberts [15/2/16]:   Massive crowds here again at Lady Cilento #LetThemStay

 

 

 

‏@ellen_roberts [15/2/16]:  Over 50 people here at #LadyCilento #LetThemStay 5.30pn rally is going to be big!

 

 

 

 

@CarlaMansoG [15/2/16]:  #LetThemStay demo in front of the immigration dep., Melbourne. ...

 

 

 

What's worse? Morrison's lies, or other politicians and the media enabling the lies with their silence?

 

ABC [15/2/16]:

 

 

... Protests and vigils have been held outside the hospital, but Mr Morrison said that the current regime must be maintained due to its success in stopping people trying to reach Australia by boat.

The Cabinet Minister told 2GB radio that it was not an easy decision, but the rules had to be applied as laid out in the policy.

"That is what has been successful in getting the outcome that we've had in terms of the grisly business of people getting on boats," he said.

"The risk of departing from the policy in any way, shape or form basically sends an invitation for the trade to recommence.

...

 

 

 

 

‏@DetentionForum [27/1/16]:  Does immigration #detention deter irregular #migration?No, it doesn't. #ShawReview

 

 

 

 

Does detention deter?  Reframing immigration detention in response to irregular migration, Dr Robyn Sampson - Swinburne University of Technology [International Detention Coalition, April 2015]

 

 

 

Hadi Ahmadi - And the Myth of the 'People Smugglers' Business Model' [2012]:

 

The case of Hadi Ahmadi is one of the highest profile prosecutions of people smuggling in Australia.

Convicted in August 2010 for bringing over 500 asylum seekers to Australia, Mr Ahmadi’s case is one of only a small number of prosecutions involving an organiser of migrant smuggling ventures — unlike the hundreds of cases before Australian courts which involve Indonesian captains and crew working on migrant smuggling vessels.

This article explores the case of Mr Ahmadi to shed light into the so-called ‘people smugglers’ business model’, which successive Australian Governments from both sides of politics are determined to ‘crush’.

The article examines the facts of Mr Ahmadi’s offending, the criminal proceedings against him, and draws comparison to other organiser cases and to the general patterns of people smuggling prosecutions in Australia.

Findings of this research cast doubt over the Government’s rhetoric and its strategies to prevent and suppress migrant smuggling.

 

 

 

The myth of the people smugglers' 'business model' [The Conversation - 27/7/13]

 

 

 

 

‏@rohwick [15/2/16]:   NT Labor voted to oppose offshore processing and boat turnbacks at its annual conference on the weekend ...   <---- another pointless stunt unless it:

 

 

 

A.  Changes federal ALP policy, and

 

 

 

B.  The federal parliamentary ALP adheres to the policy.

 

 

 

 

What about their parents? NZ Prime Minister offers asylum to 37 of Australia's exiled asylum seekers [Sydney Morning Herald - 15/2/16]

 

 

 

CLOSE THE CAMPS.

 

 

The #LetThemStay night shift at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital ...

 

 

Image: ‏@tropenatt [15/2/16]

 

 

 

‏@FIRECATz [15/2/16]:   4am at lady Cilento :)

 

 

 

 

 

@Michelle_Tapper [15/2/16]:   Many protestors at Lady Cilento supporting decision not to release baby Asher to Nauru ...

 

 

 

 

Australian government's refugee concentration camp operator Broadspectrum (aka Transfield) ramps up Ferrovial defence with share buyback [Australian Financial Review - 15/2/16]

 

 



HESTA Divest does not endorse pro-detention campaigns [12/2/16]:


The organisers of the HESTA Divest campaign wish to express our solidarity with anyone facing the threat of deportation.

We acknowledge that this is an intensely difficult time and our thoughts go out to those who are directly affected and anyone who is assisting and preparing for the decisions they make.

We would also like to clarify that we do not support campaigns that seek to divide detainees by drawing distinctions between people who are more or less worthy of freedom and safety.

No one belongs in detention and we do not support any moves by political groups, politicians, or the detention industry to pick favourites.

We aim at ending the policy of detention and dismantling the detention industry as a whole.

We feel compelled to clarify our position as HESTA Divest has been referenced in the promotion of ‪#‎LetThemStay‬.

We wish to distance our work on HESTA Divest from campaigns that focus solely on children. This is a strategy that failed to end detention during the Howard years and we see no reason why it would work now.

Dividing detainees provides a cover for the detention system to continue to exist and make profit [1].

For this reason we are disturbed but not surprised to observe that past and present detention contractors [2], along with union groups with representatives on the boards of super funds that invest in detention contractors [3], have expressed public support for #LetThemStay.

Our work on HESTA Divest was based on exposing the financial and social connections that allow the detention industry to continue so that people could take action to help break those links. Campaigns that whitewash these links make divestment campaigning harder as they provide a way for institutions to minimise public scrutiny and delay divestment.

We support actions to stop deportations and for those who are involved in such actions we send courage and love.

While we cannot endorse #LetThemStay we are committed to building and supporting campaigns that seek to disrupt any and all links that sustain the detention industry. Over the course of this year we hope to be able to share and promote campaigns that do this.

In the meantime we recommend the successful and ongoing campaigns at divestfromdetention.com as examples of the kinds of action that will help to dismantle the detention industry once and for all.

...

 

 

 

 

10.00 a.m. - 7621st meeting - UN Security Council Chamber [15/2/16]:

 

 

1. Adoption of the agenda.

 

 2. Maintenance of international peace and security*

 

Respect for the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations as a key element for the maintenance of international peace and security

 

Letter dated 1 February 2016 from the Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2016/103)

 

 

 

 

 

Afghan casualties hit record high 11,000 in 2015 – UN report [Media Release - 14/2/16]:

 

 

... At a press conference today in Kabul, Mr. Haysom told reporters that while the figures in themselves are “awful,” the statistics and percentages contained in the report do not really reflect the real horror of the phenomenon.

“The real cost we are talking about in these figures is measured in the maimed bodies of children, the communities who have to live with loss, the grief of colleagues and relatives, the families who have to make do without a breadwinner, the parents who grieve for lost children, the children who grieve for lost parents […] these are the real consequences of the acts described in this report,” he emphasized.

According the report, ground engagements between parties to the conflict caused the highest number of total civilian casualties (fatalities and injuries), followed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide and complex attacks. Ground engagements caused the most fatalities among civilians, followed by targeted and deliberate killings.

...

 

 

 

 

At least 12 insurgents and a policeman were killed in the past week in a military operation in central Wardak province, local officials said on Sunday.

In addition, 18 other insurgents and five policemen were injured.

The operation was launched in Nirkh district of the province to clear the insurgents and is ongoing, Asadullah Shirzad, commander of 303 Spinghar Police Zone said. ... [TOLO News - 14/2/16]

 

 

 

Fighting has made life extremely difficult for Sangin residents:  Helmand officials [TOLO News - 14/2/16]

 

 

 

 

... He [Gen. John Campbell, outgoing commander of US and NATO troops] confirmed US special forces’ units -- assisting their Afghan partners -- had been involved in fighting against the militants in the southern province of Helmand, where 500 additional American soldiers had been sent. [Pajwhok - 13/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Taliban confirm losing 13 fighters in Paktika drone strikes [Khaama - 13/2/16]

 

 

 

 

The Afghan security forces are a work in progress, DoD witnesses testified to the House Armed Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee today.

The subcommittee is following up on testimony last week from Army Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. U.S. strategy is in Afghanistan is based on the goal of not allowing the country to become a haven for extremists.

To do that, there are two major American and coalition efforts. The first is anchored on training the Afghan forces to handle security in the country on their own. The second, is a small group of American special operations personnel conducting counterterrorism missions. ... [US Department of Defense - 12/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Israeli forces shoot, kill 2 armed Palestinians near Damascus Gate [Maan - 15/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Third Palestinian teenager killed by IOF since morning [PNN - 14/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Two Palestinian children were shot dead by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank this past week as a United Nations human rights investigator called on Israel to investigate its excessive use of force against Palestinians.

The special rapporteur Makarim Wibisono “also told Israeli authorities to charge or release all Palestinian prisoners being held under lengthy administrative detention, including children,” Reuters reported, referring to Israel’s widespread practice of holding Palestinians without charge or trial under military court orders.

Wibisono made his remarks during his final report to the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.

The Indonesian diplomat resigned from his post last month because he said Israel would not give him access to the areas he was assigned to monitor.

Israel’s foreign ministry accused the investigator of “flagrant anti-Israel bias” and rejected the findings of his report. ... [Electronic Intifada - 12/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Israeli soldiers threw stun grenades and smoke bombs towards shepherds in the southern Lebanese border region of al-Wazzani on Friday, the Lebanese army said.

“In a new violation of Lebanese sovereignty, an Israeli enemy patrol hurled three smoke bombs and two stun grenades towards shepherds who were grazing their herds in the al-Wazzani region inside Lebanese territory,” the army said in a statement.

The attack did not cause any casualties and the military is following up on the issue with the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the army added. ... [Naharnet - 12/2/16]

 

 

 

Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji concluded a trip to the United States where he highlighted Lebanon's role in combating terrorism and its stability in wake of regional conflicts, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday.

He told the daily: “I relayed to U.S. officials my fears and rejection that Lebanon be turned into a negotiations paper in regional affairs.”

“I received reassurances that officials are keen on preserving Lebanon's stability and current borders,” he continued. ... [Naharnet - 12/2/16]

 

 

 

 

Israeli minister backs Syria's sectarian partition [Al Jazeera - 14/2/16]:

 

... Yaalon's comments on Syria come a month after he said that Israel preferred the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group over Iranian-backed armed groups in southern Syria, near the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

At a conference in Tel Aviv in January, he said that Israel views Iran as a larger threat than armed groups in Syria, The Times of Israel reported.

"In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State," he said.

"They don't have the capabilities that Iran has."

Israel has launched air strikes in Syria several times since the conflict broke out five years ago, though it has not formally involved itself in the fighting.

Most recently, the air strike that killed Hezbollah operative Samir Kantar in the Syrian capital Damascus was reportedly carried out by Israeli forces.

...

 

 

 

Counterpunch [25/4/06]:

 

... A premise, which many in the Arab world believe, should also be dissected. Is the US manipulating and remoulding the area so that Israel can remain the only regional superpower in perpetuity?

This is not as fanciful as one might imagine on first glance. Read the following strangely prophetic segment from an article published in 1982 by the World Zionist Organisation’s publication Kivunim and penned by Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist with links to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Yinon’s strategy was based on this premise. In order to survive Israel must become an imperial regional power and must also ensure the break-up of all Arab countries so that the region may be carved up into small ineffectual states unequipped to stand up to Israeli military might. ...

 

 

 

 

 This week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull raised eyebrows by professing openness to a very controversial idea.

He suggested that a partition in Iraq and Syria could form part of a lasting political solution in a broken region.

"The border between Syria and Iraq is just a line on the map. Neither country can be secured without a settlement in the other," the Prime Minister told Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

"The enmities are so deep, the wrongs so shocking, that every option should be on the table - from an institutionalised power-sharing to some form of partition." ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 20/1/16]

 

 

 

 

‏@wikileaks [14/2/16]:   EFE: EU Parliament cross-party call on @JunckerEU to make Sweden & UK comply with UN ruling on #Assange ...

 

 

 

 

The course of history since 1922 suggests that the ultimate victims may be those who delude themselves.

 

 

The genocide of the eastern christians of the city of Smyrna in 1922, Professor M. H. Dobkin [First published in 1971]:

 

 

… Mesopotamia's oil-rich lands were all this time under British military occupation. In a canny move, the British had installed Feisal as ruler of the area in August 1921, when the French ousted him from Syria. With British encouragement, Feisal was now claim­ing this land - Iraq - as independent of Turkey. Curzon won another round at Lausanne when Turkey agreed to submit the dispute to the League of Nations.

It quickly became obvious that, minus Mosul, Chester's conces­sions would be as desirable as the turkey's neck; without the oil, and with the working population gone, a railroad network into the interior of Turkey was a far less appetizing investment. Searching avidly for capital, Chester was soon driven outside the United States. At this point the State Department, which had remained cool all along, announced sanctimoniously that it could no longer support him, since his chief backers were British. Chester's prospects there­after went downhill. In time his more respectable backers split and his tactics assumed a desperate air; unsavoury promoters reared their heads, known gamblers came into the picture, there was at least one attempt at blackmail, and one of his agents was arrested in Anatolia as a British spy. In December 1923 Angora announced that because Chester had not exercised his option, his grant was cancelled by default.

Standard Oil and its invited participants, now allied with Britain 's Turkish Petroleum, fared better. In 1924 the League of Nations gave Britain a formal mandate over Iraq, and in 1926 the country was awarded its independence over an area including Mosul, with the British to retain military bases in the country. Not long afterwards the terms of American participation in the oil venture were settled and there remained only the problem of what percentage the one individual shareholder - Calouste Gulbenkian - was to receive. The shrewd Armenian, who had originally brought the various interests together to form the Turkish Petroleum Company in return for a fifteen per cent share in the project, had never relinquished his personal claim despite manifold attempts to squeeze him out. In the end, he settled for five per cent of all the oil in Iraq.

To State Department contentions that the Iraqi scheme was not in violation of the “open door”, Gulbenkian snorted “eye-wash”. At the behest of American representatives, all references to oil claims were deleted from the final draft of the Lausanne Treaty.

...

Until 1927, when diplomatic relations with Turkey were fully restored, a flood of articles and books continued to review the Smyrna catastrophe. “The destruction of Smyrna by fire was the work of the Greeks,” wrote a Mr. Abdullah Hamdi in Current History. Hamdi, a resident of New York, cited a Turkish newspaper as his source of information. George Horton presented his account in considerable detail, and at some cost to his career, in The Blight of Asia. “The torch was applied to that ill-fated city and it was all systematically burned by the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal.” Horton concluded, adding that the Allied and American warships “impotently watching” the Miltonic scene provided “the saddest and most significant feature of the whole picture”. In many quarters the book was considered “unbecoming”.

No one publication raised quite as much concern at the State Department as Edward Hale Bierstadt's The Great Betrayal. The author (he had been executive secretary of the emergency committee that pushed a special refugee bill through Congress after the fire) charged that the State Department's policy of “American economic imperialism” and Bristol's excessively restrictive orders had con­tributed to the Smyrna disaster. Even before its publication, in 1924, installments of Bierstadt's book appearing in The Christian Herald provoked such a blast of angry letters to the Near East desk that Allen Dulles, unable to officially refute the charges head-on, was driven to seek personal testimonials. One zealous volunteer, a Mr. William T. Ellis, who identified himself as “a patriot and writer for The Christian Herald”, had in fact to be restrained. “If it happened that Mr. Bierstadt's charges against the United States were true,” Ellis had written in the draft of a rebuttal submitted to Dulles for approval, “we merit straightway the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah”. Dulles thought Ellis should alter his tone and suggested some changes in phraseology, “so that it won't appear that American officials dumped the refugees on Greek territory”.

...

The epilogue of the Smyrna drama was played out in London at the High Court of Justice, during the first weeks of December 1924. The American Tobacco Company was bringing suit against the Guardian Assurance Company, Ltd. Maintaining that the fire was a result of “hostile and warlike operations”, the insurance company had invoked its exemption clause and refused to pay. The claim was for over $600,000, and it was understood that the outcome of the trial would govern other claims totaling $100,000,000.

A cast of familiar characters paraded to the witness stand before Mr. Justice Rowlatt. Spunky little Major Cherefeddin Bey described how he had been struck with a hand grenade as he led his cavalry regiment down the quay on 9 September two years before, but the Armenian culprit in his original story had now become “a uniformed, armed Greek soldier who threw the bomb”. Beyond this incident the Major had seen no disorder at Smyrna because, he said, “nothing took place”.

A Colonel Mouharren Bey admitted that feeling ran high against the Armenians because “we used to read reports in our newspapers of their behaviour, which led us to believe they were not friendly to us”. Yes, the army had distributed proclamations referring to “the injustice and cowardice of the Greeks, who nevertheless proved to be the most cruel enemy unlike any nation in the history of the human race”, but the Colonel swore that his troops were well disciplined and denied that his patrols had participated in any looting, rape or murder. “The patrols would never do such a thing”, he said.

The Colonel was recalled to the stand after a witness for the plaintiff unwittingly revealed that a cordon of Turkish soldiers had held the victims in the fire zone. “Did you want to prevent the people going anywhere?” asked Mr. A. T. Miller, representing the Guardian Assurance Company.

“Yes, we prevent them.”

“Going where?”

“We prevent them to be not escape from there only to stay there.” Mr. Justice Rowlatt thought this wasn't much of a translation.

Miller tried again with another interpreter. “Why did you have the cordon on the quay? Did you want them burnt?”

“No, only to keep them by the boats.”

During his cross-examination of Mr. Chester Griswold (of Griswold and Brunswick, fig merchants), Mr. Miller again confirmed the presence of Turkish cordons around the city.

Did Mr. Griswold think it right that the people should thus be prevented from escaping the fire?

Mr. Griswold thought it was done for their own good. The roads leading from town were in bad neighbourhoods: “A good many bad characters live around there,” he said.

Did Mr. Griswold mean to say that the cordon was placed there by the Turks “to prevent the people from falling into bad hands?”

“I presume that,” said Mr. Griswold.

Griswold testified to having carried an American flag on his car, and to having placed American sailor guards at the bakeries - not to protect the bakers, who were Greek, but simply to keep them from selling bread. He had driven around town a good deal before and after the fire, in his capacity as secretary of the relief committee. The town was quiet and he had seen no violence.

Under cross-examination Griswold admitted that his Turkish business partner was the mayor of Smyrna and that he was also a friend and associate of a man named Archbell, a director of the American Tobacco Company - the plaintiff in the case.

...

 

 

 

ANZAC Day Commemorations in Turkey [Department of Veterans' Affairs Media Release - 12/2/16]:

 

Planning for the 2016 ANZAC Day commemorations at Gallipoli in Turkey is well on track.

One of the highest priorities for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is to work closely with a range of Australian Government and Turkish authorities, to ensure the health and well-being of those attending.

The Dawn Service at Gallipoli will be conducted as usual this year, and it is expected many Australians will travel to attend the commemoration.

In 2016, no ticket or place in a ballot is required to attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli.

On 30 November 2015, the Australian Government announced that Australia and Turkey would review the service at Lone Pine.

Given the extended time period visitors are on site, potential for extreme weather conditions, and exposed location on rough terrain, the Lone Pine service will not be conducted from this year onwards.

The Gallipoli Dawn Service has always had a special significance for Australians and New Zealanders on ANZAC Day, and the Australian, New Zealand and Turkish Government will continue to ensure it remains a dignified, solemn and safe commemoration of that campaign.

 

 

 

The Turkish military shelled Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces at the Menagh air base near Azez in northern Syria as well as Syrian regime forces on Saturday, continuing to hit PYD targets on Sunday while demanding that the PYD withdraw from positions near the border even though the PYD warned on Sunday that they would resist any Turkish intervention. ... [Today's Zaman - 14/2/16]

 

 

 

Student film prompts scare, puts Arkansas State on lockdown [CBS - 14/2/16]

 

 

 

 

15 February 2016

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