Monthly Archives : January 2021

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UK Set to Formally Apply for Trans-Pacific Trade Bloc Membership 

31
Jan,2021

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Britain will next week formally apply to join a trans-Pacific trading bloc of 11 countries, with negotiations set to start later this year, the government has said.Since leaving the European Union, Britain has made clear its desire to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which removes most tariffs between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.”One year after our departure for the EU we are forging new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.Trade minister Liz Truss told Times Radio: “On Monday I am putting in the letter of intent” and that she expected formal negotiations will start in the spring.Reuters reported on Thursday that Britain will not publish an assessment of the economic benefits of CPTPP membership before requesting to join it – contrary to earlier promises.Previous government economic analyses of Brexit have pointed to small boosts to economic output from additional trade deals.The government said joining CPTPP would remove tariffs on food and drink and cars, while helping to boost the technology and services sectors.”Applying to be the first new country to join the CPTPP demonstrates our ambition to do business on the best terms with our friends and partners all over the world and be an enthusiastic champion of global free trade,” Johnson said. 

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Wrangle Over Valuable Art Uncovered in Cypriot Ghost Town  

31
Jan,2021

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The abstract figures of naked women gyrating to the rhythms of a five-piece band had shocked many people almost 60 years ago as they eyed the artwork for the first time on the walls of a popular restaurant-nightclub in Cyprus.   The valuable and very rare concrete relief by Christoforos Savva, Cyprus’ most avant-garde artist of the 1960s, had lain hidden for decades in the underground recesses of the Perroquet nightclub in abandoned Varosha — an inaccessible ghost town that had been under Turkish military control since a 1974 war ethnically cleaved the island nation.   But with Varosha’s controversial partial opening last November, the artwork has again come to light following a report by local newspaper Politis. Now, the man who says he commissioned the art from Savva is asking authorities for help to have it removed and transported to the country’s national gallery for all to see.   Former Perroquet owner Avgerinos Nikitas, 93, a Greek Cypriot, has appealed to a committee composed of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots that’s tasked with protecting Cyprus’ cultural treasures on both sides of the divide to help remove the 13 sections.   “In return, I pledge to cede these pieces to the National Collection as a small contribution to Christoforos Savva’s huge body of work,” Nikitas said in a letter obtained by The Associated Press, addressed to the committee as well as Cyprus’ education ministry.   But the whole venture could be derailed as the Greek Cypriot family that owns the Esperia Tower hotel that hosted the Perroquet club insist that the artwork legally belongs to them. They say they won’t allow their “private property” to be removed and transferred and are warning of legal action.   Speaking on behalf of his family, Panayiotis Constantinou told the AP that their lawyer has advised them that the hotel, the club and everything inside it belongs to the family, regardless of the Savva artwork’s cultural value.   “We respect and value culture, but this is private property about which we haven’t been asked anything about removing it, and on top of that, someone else lays claim to it,” Constantinou said.   Art historians credit Savva as one of the most influential artists of the time who brought the country’s inward-looking, traditionalist art world into modernity in the years immediately after Cyprus gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960.   A painter and sculptor, Savva shifted away from the established, representational art styles by encompassing influences like cubism, which he picked up during his stays in London and Paris through the 1950s, into his voluminous artwork. He died in 1968.   “Savva was an innovator who always sought to break new ground and challenge the conservative times in which he lived,” said Andre Zivanari, director of the Point Center for Contemporary Art.   Savva’s work reflected the joie de vivre of Varosha, which at the time was Cyprus’ most progressive, popular tourist resort — a favorite with visitors from Europe and beyond, said Yiannis Toumazis, an art history professor and a Greek Cypriot member of the committee on culture.   That all changed in the summer of 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkish armed forces took over an empty Varosha and kept it virtually sealed off until last November, when breakaway Turkish Cypriot authorities re-opened a stretch of beach to the public.   The move caused much consternation among the suburb’s Greek Cypriot residents and protests from the island’s internationally recognized government amid concerns that the Turkish Cypriot north’s hardline leadership aimed to place the entire area under its control.   Cyprus’ former first lady and cultural committee co-chair Androulla Vassiliou told the AP that the body would look at bringing the reliefs to the island’s southern part, once new Turkish Cypriot members are appointed.   The previous Turkish Cypriot committee members collectively resigned last December for what they said was a divergence of views with the new Turkish Cypriot leadership over its aim to steer talks to resolve Cyprus’ division away from a federation-based arrangement.   The reclamation of artwork that disappeared amid the confusion of war isn’t without precedent. Last February, the culture committee successfully engineered the return of 219 paintings — including some of the most significant works produced by Greek Cypriot artists — that were thought lost or stolen in the north.   In return, Turkish Cypriots received rare archival footage from state broadcaster CyBC of Turkish Cypriot cultural and sporting events dating from 1955 to the early 1960s. The swap was hailed as a tangible way of bolstering trust among Greek and Turkish Cypriots.   Toumazis said the return of Savva’s reliefs would be another trust-boosting milestone, but better still would be if people could return to their properties in Varosha.   “It would be nice if people themselves returned to what they owned, rather than having any artwork being transferred to them,” he said. 

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More than 500 Detained in Russian Protests Supporting Opposition Leader

31
Jan,2021

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Russian police detained at least 500 protesters Sunday, as supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny started to take to the streets for a second weekend.Defying arrests and criminal probes, the first protests took place in Siberia and Russia’s Far East, including the port city of Vladivostok.Navalny associates called again for nationwide demonstrations ahead of his trial, to start Tuesday.More than 250 of the arrests preceded an expected rally in Moscow, where demonstrations are usually the largest.Moscow police announced the closure of seven metro stations and have restricted the movement of pedestrians to downtown.Authorities have also ordered some restaurants and shops in the city center closed and above-ground transportation diverted.Navalny was arrested immediately upon his return to Russia in mid-January, ending a nearly five-month recovery in Germany from a poisoning attack he suffered while traveling in Siberia in August.The United States and the European Union have strongly condemned Navalny’s arrest and hundreds of arrests made last week and called for their immediate release. 

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Britain Focused on Collaboration with EU after Vaccine Row, Minister Says

31
Jan,2021

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Britain’s focus is on “collaboration” with the European Union on vaccines, the country’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi told The Sunday Telegraph, after a showdown between the two sides over vaccine exports.Zahawi told the newspaper in an interview that Britain’s focus was on collaborating with the bloc and that the country had tried to help Brussels with its vaccine supply problems and would continue to do so.  The EU had on Friday attempted to restrict some exports of COVID-19 vaccines by invoking an emergency Brexit clause before reversing part of its announcement within hours.   

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WHO Team Visits Wuhan Hospital That Treated Early Cases

31
Jan,2021

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Scientists with the World Health Organization’s team investigating the source of the coronavirus that has infected more than 102 million people worldwide and killed more than 2.2 million have visited one of the hospitals in Wuhan, China, that treated some of the first patients.Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans said on Twitter that the stories she’d heard at Jinyintan hospital were “quite similar to what I have heard from our ICU doctors.”Just back from visit at Jinyintan hospital, that specialised in infectious diseases and was designated for treatment of the first cases in Wuhan. Stories quite similar to what I have heard from our ICU doctors.— Marion Koopmans (@MarionKoopmans) A woman wearing a face mask walks past a closed souvenir shop near Berlin’s famed tourist magnet Checkpoint Charlie, Jan. 29, 2021, during the coronavirus pandemic.Travelers from several European and African nations — Brazil, Britain, Eswatini, Ireland, Lesotho, Portugal and South Africa — will not be allowed into Germany. However, German residents traveling from those countries will be granted entry, even if they test positive for the coronavirus virus.Fourteen University of Michigan students were in quarantine after being diagnosed with the British variant of the virus. One of the students was reported to have traveled to Britain over the winter break.Health officials in South Carolina said they had detected two cases of the South African COVID-19 variant, the first cases in the United States.The U.S. remained the country with the most cases at more than 26 million, followed by India with 10.7 million and Brazil with 9.1 million, Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center said Saturday.The Pentagon on Saturday announced it would delay a plan to vaccinate the 40 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying it needed to “review force protection protocols,” John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said in a tweet.  No Guantanamo detainees have been vaccinated. We’re pausing the plan to move forward, as we review force protection protocols. We remain committed to our obligations to keep our troops safe.— John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) January 30, 2021The Pentagon has said it intends to vaccinate all the personnel who work at the detention center, or about 1,500 people. At that time, the vaccine will also be offered to the prisoners, none of whom has received a vaccination yet.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as of Saturday morning, nearly 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been distributed in the U.S. and nearly 30 million had been administered.The CDC said 24 million people had received one or more doses, and 5.3 million people had received a first dose.The total included both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.   

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Activists Rally Behind French-Vietnamese Woman’s Agent Orange Lawsuit

31
Jan,2021

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Activists gathered Saturday in Paris to support people exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, after a French court examined the case of a French-Vietnamese woman who sued 14 companies that produced and sold the powerful defoliant dioxin used by U.S. troops.Former journalist Tran To Nga, 78, described in a book how she was exposed to Agent Orange in 1966, when she was a member of the Vietnamese Communists, or Viet Cong, who fought against South Vietnam and the United States.”Because of that, I lost one child due to heart defects. I have two other daughters who were born with malformations. And my grandchildren, too,” she told The Associated Press.In 2014 in France, she sued firms that produced and sold Agent Orange, including U.S. multinational companies Dow Chemical and Monsanto, now owned by German giant Bayer.Tran is seeking damages for her multiple health problems, including cancer, and those of her children in legal proceedings that could be the first to provide compensation to a Vietnamese victim, according to an alliance of nongovernmental organizations backing her case.So far only military veterans from the U.S. and other countries involved in the war have won compensation. The justice system in France allows citizens to sue over events that took place abroad.Backed by the NGO alliance Collectif Vietnam Dioxine, which called for Saturday’s gathering at Trocadero Plaza, Tran’s legal action is aimed at gaining recognition for civilians harmed by Agent Orange and the damage the herbicide did to the environment.U.S. forces used Agent Orange to defoliate Vietnamese jungles and to destroy Viet Cong crops during the war.Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed roughly 11 million gallons of the chemical agent across large swaths of southern Vietnam. Dioxin stays in the soil and in the sediment at the bottom of lakes and rivers for generations. It can enter the food supply through the fat of fish and other animals.Vietnam says as many as 4 million of its citizens were exposed to the herbicide and as many as 3 million have suffered illnesses from it, including the children of people who were exposed during the war.”That’s where lies the crime, the tragedy, because with Agent Orange, it doesn’t stop. It is passed on from one generation to the next,” Tran said.The court in Evry, a southern suburb of Paris, heard Tran’s case Monday.Bayer argues any legal responsibility for Tran’s claims should belong to the United States, saying in a statement that the Agent Orange was made “under the sole management of the U.S. government for exclusively military purposes.”Tran’s lawyers argued that the U.S. government had not requisitioned the chemical but secured it from the companies through a bidding process.The court’s ruling is scheduled to be given May 10.

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Downdetector: Social Media Platform Reddit Hit by Outages in US

31
Jan,2021

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Social media company Reddit was experiencing problems on its website on Saturday, according to outage monitoring website Downdetector.com.
 
Customers reported trouble logging in and sending messages on its website. The outage affected regions such as New York, Boston and Washington in United States and Toronto in Canada, according to an outage map on Downdetector’s website. 
 
It was not immediately known what caused the glitches. Reddit did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
 
Reddit has come into THE the forefront after a social media chatroom on its platform, “Wallstreetbets,” led to a so-called “Reddit rally,” which has helped attract a flood of retail cash into stocks such as GameStop Corp., burning hedge funds that had bet against the company and roiling the broader market. WallStreetBets has about 6 million members. 

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Sources: Lithuanian President Nominates Belarus Opposition Leader for Nobel Prize

30
Jan,2021

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Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has nominated Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya for the Nobel Peace Prize, two sources with knowledge of the matter said Saturday.Nauseda nominated the activist, who has been living in Lithuania since fleeing her homeland in the wake of a disputed August 9 presidential election, to show his support for the Belarusian democratic movement and its demand for free elections, one of the sources said.Months of mass protests erupted in Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory over Tsikhanouskaya in the poll. Thousands of protesters were rounded up and nearly all opposition political figures were driven into exile or jailed.A former teacher, Tsikhanouskaya ran for president after her husband, an opposition blogger with political ambitions, was detained ahead of the election. From her Vilnius office she has demanded that Lukashenko stand down, free jailed protesters and hold free elections.Last week she urged the European Union and the United States to be “braver and stronger” in their actions to help end Lukashenko’s rule.Nominations for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize are to close January 31 and the winner is scheduled to be announced in November. Thousands of people can make nominations for the award, including members of national parliaments, former laureates and leading academics.Last year’s winner was the U.N. World Food Program. 

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US Issues Mask-Wearing Mandate

30
Jan,2021

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a mask-wearing mandate late Friday to apply on all forms of public transportation, part of the U.S. effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. The order, which goes into effect Monday (at 11:59 p.m. EST, 4:59 GMT Tuesday), requires people to wear masks “while boarding, disembarking, and traveling on any conveyance into or within the United States,” and “at any transportation hub that provides transportation within the United States.”The order said: “”Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic.” Also Friday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed an extension to an order that was scheduled to expire Sunday concerning evictions for failure to pay rent or mortgage payments. The CDC director said in a statement, “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to our nation’s health. Despite extensive mitigation efforts, COVID-19 continues to spread in America at a concerning pace. The pandemic has also exacerbated underlying issues of housing insecurity for many Americans. Keeping people in their homes and out of congregate settings, like shelters, is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.”As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to climb and highly contagious variants of the virus have emerged, some countries are imposing new travel restrictions. A man walks on an empty Promenade des Anglais during a nationwide curfew, from 6 p.m to 6 a.m, due to restrictions against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Nice, France, Jan. 29, 2021.France is prohibiting all travel to and from non-European Union countries.  Under the new policy beginning Sunday, travelers from EU countries seeking entry into France will have to provide evidence of a negative coronavirus test. Travelers from several European and African nations — Brazil, Britian, Eswatini, Ireland, Lesotho, Portugal, and South Africa – will not be allowed into Germany.   However, German residents traveling from those countries will be granted entry, even if they test positive for the coronavirus virus.  Fourteen University of Michigan students are in quarantine after being diagnosed with the British variant of the virus.  One of the students is reported to have traveled to Britain over the winter break. Health officials in South Carolina say they have detected two cases of the South African COVID-19 variant, the first cases in the United States.Johnson & Johnson One-dose Vaccine 66% Successful US pharmaceutical maker calls vaccine 85% effective in preventing serious illness U.S. pharmaceutical and medical device maker Johnson & Johnson says after a global trial, the COVID-19 vaccine it has developed is 66% effective in preventing infection.The one-dose vaccine, which was developed by the company’s Belgian subsidiary, Janssen, appears to be 85% effective in preventing serious illness, even against the South African variant.Of the 44,000 people who participated in the trial in the U.S., South Africa and Brazil, no one who was given the vaccine died, the company said.The U.S. has agreed to buy 100 million doses of the vaccine with an option to buy 200 million more, according to the company.The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the fourth vaccine approved to fight the pandemic.Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center said early Saturday that there are more than 102 million global COVID-19 cases.  The U.S. remains the location with the most cases at 25.9 million, followed by India with 10.7 million and Brazil with 9.1 million.

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EU Drug Regulator Approves AstraZeneca Vaccine for Emergency Use

30
Jan,2021

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European Union regulators on Friday approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the third vaccine approved for use on the European continent.
Amid criticism the bloc is not moving fast enough to vaccinate its population, the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) expert committee unanimously recommended the vaccine for adults, despite concerns of inadequate data proving its effectiveness for people over 55.
Addressing reporters from agency headquarters in Amsterdam, EMA chief Emer Cooke told reporters the agency had approved the drug for conditional or emergency use because clinical studies found the vaccine to be about 60% effective at fighting the coronavirus — lower than the two previously approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which show efficacy in the 90% range.
Many EU health officials had been anticipating approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine because it is less expensive and does not require deep-freeze storage like the Pfizer-BioNTech drug.
Earlier Friday, German Health Minister Jens Spahn indicated the vaccine would be approved, but not recommended for patients older than 65, as the clinical studies lacked data regarding its efficacy for patients in that age range.  
But Emer said EMA’s experts determined, based on the immune results seen in patients between the ages of 18 and 55 years, older adults are expected get the same protection from the vaccine.
The AstraZeneca vaccine had already been approved for use in Britain and a number of other countries. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is still considering the drug company’s application for emergency use. 

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Putin Signs Extension of Last Russia-US Nuclear Arms Treaty

30
Jan,2021

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a bill extending the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between Russia and the United States a week before the pact was set to expire.Both houses of the Russian parliament voted unanimously Wednesday to extend the New START treaty for five years. Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden had discussed the nuclear accord a day earlier, and the Kremlin said they agreed to complete the necessary extension procedures in the next few days.New START expires February 5. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers had to ratify the move. Russian diplomats said the extension would be validated by exchanging diplomatic notes once all the procedures were completed.The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance.Biden indicated during the U.S. presidential campaign that he favored the preservation of New START, which was negotiated during his tenure as vice president under Obama.Trump administration’s demandsRussia had long proposed prolonging the pact without any conditions or changes, but the administration of former President Donald Trump waited until last year to start talks and made the extension contingent on a set of demands. The talks stalled, and months of bargaining failed to narrow differences.After both Moscow and Washington withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, New START is the only remaining nuclear arms control deal between the two countries.Earlier this month, Russia announced that it would follow the U.S. in pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, which allowed surveillance flights over military facilities to help build trust and transparency between Russia and the West.Arms control advocates hailed New START’s extension as a boost to global security and urged Russia and the U.S. to start negotiating follow-up agreements.Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, the country’s lead negotiator on New START, said earlier this week that Russia was ready to sit down for talks on prospective arms cuts that he indicated should also involve non-nuclear precision weapons with strategic range.Trump argued that the treaty put the U.S. at a disadvantage, and he initially insisted on adding China as a party to pact. Beijing bluntly rejected the idea. The Trump administration then proposed extending New START for one year and sought to expand it to include limits on battlefield nuclear weapons and other changes, and the talks stalled.  

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Курс валют на 1 лютого: євро подорожчає на 6 копійок

29
Jan,2021

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Євро подорожчає на 6 копійок, свідчать дані Національного банку України.

На 1 лютого вартість євро встановлена на рівні 34 гривень 16 копійок.

Долар подешевшає на 6 копійок – до 28 гривень 13 копійок.

 

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German Health Minister Expects Approval of AstraZenaca COVID-19 Vaccine

29
Jan,2021

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Germany’s health minister said Friday he expects the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for emergency use later in the day but possibly only for restricted use.
Speaking at a Berlin news briefing, German Health Minster Jens Spahn said Europe’s drug regulator, the Europe Medicines Agency (EMA) could approve the new vaccine with restrictions because data on its use on the elderly was “insufficient.”
Spahn said it was important to point out the difference between insufficient data and “bad” data.
Speaking at the same news conference, Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) President Klaus Cichutek, said there had been heated debate regarding the vaccine during the approval process this past week, but he believed the “essential groundwork” had been laid to approve the drug without an age restriction.  
He said, “the basis for approval has to be, especially for vaccines, that the benefits far outweigh the risks,” and he believed the drug met that standard. The PEI is the research and regulatory agency within Germany’s health ministry.
Also at the same news conference, Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases (RKI) President Lothar Wieler warned of potential dangers from new COVID-19 variant strains.
He said characteristics of the variants aren’t fully known and it’s not known if they are more dangerous, and, in some cases, if people who already had COVID-19 or were vaccinated have immunity against them.

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Рада ухвалила закон про компенсації за електроопалення

29
Jan,2021

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Верховна Рада України ухвалила законопроєкт № 4672 “Про внесення змін до додатка № 3 до Закону України «Про Державний бюджет України на 2021 рік” щодо компенсації у зв’язку з підвищенням тарифів на електричну енергію». Про це повідомила пресслужба парламенту.

За це рішення проголосували 310 нардепів, зазначається на сайті парламенту.

Документом передбачено виділення 1,4 мільярда гривень з державного бюджету на виплату компенсацій у зв’язку з підвищенням тарифів на електричну енергію.

Відповідно до закону, відшкодування можуть отримувати:

люди, які проживають у житлових будинках (у тому числі в житлових будинках готельного типу, квартирах та гуртожитках), обладнаних електроопалювальними установками
люди, які проживають у багатоквартирних будинках, не газифікованих природним газом і в яких відсутні або не функціонують системи централізованого теплопостачання (у тому числі у сільській місцевості)
багатодітні, прийомні сім’ї та дитячі будинки сімейного типу.

Кабінет міністрів України під час чергового засідання 27 січня ухвалив рішення про компенсації громадянам, у яких встановлено електроопалення. Прем’єр-міністр України Денис Шмигаль заявив, що компенсації для громадян, у яких встановлене електроопалення — один із восьми кроків урядової стратегії з подолання тарифної кризи та створення справедливих правил на ринку газу.

 

 

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Turkish Opposition Challenge Erdogan Over Uighur Silence

29
Jan,2021

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The fate of tens of thousands of Uighur refugees in Turkey faced with possible deportation to China is threatening to become an embarrassing political debacle for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has long positioned himself as an avowed defender of Muslim rights globally.FILE – Leader of the Good Party Meral Aksener gestures as she speaks during the party’s 4th Extraordinary Meeting in Ankara, Turkey, on Aug. 3, 2019.”They tell you that they’re the biggest [defenders of] Muslims, but they fail to hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who are tortured for saying they’re Muslim Turks,” said Meral Aksener of Turkey’s center-right Good Party in a speech Wednesday to her parliamentary deputies bashing Erdogan’s ruling AKP lawmakers.A simulcast of the speech broadcast by Turkish state television was cut the moment Aksener invited a Uighur refugee, Nursiman Abdurasid, to speak. The state broadcaster gave no explanation for the incident, but it went viral across social media labeled with the hashtag “AKPsilenceUigh.”Social media platforms broadcast the remainder of Abdurasid’s speech, in which she talked about how her siblings and parents were placed in Chinese detention camps and called on the Muslim world and humanity to help her community.But Erdogan, who regularly lambastes the West for mistreatment of Muslims and condemns the rising specter of Islamophobia, has refrained from publicly criticizing China’s treatment of its Uighur minority.A protester from the Uighur community living in Turkey, participates in a protest in Istanbul, Oct. 1, 2020, against what they allege is oppression by the Chinese government to Muslim Uighurs in far-western Xinjiang province.Largest Uighur diasporaSince opening its door to the predominantly Muslim ethnic minority escaping political persecution in China, Turkey is now home to the world’s largest Uighur diaspora community.Experts have warned that the rights of an estimated 50,000 Uighurs who’ve found sanctuary in Turkey, where they share a common linguistic, cultural and religious heritage, are threatened by a recent coronavirus vaccine agreement between Ankara and Beijing.In late December, rights advocates voiced alarm over the long-delayed arrival of COVID vaccines from China-based Sinovac, which came just days after Beijing’s abrupt decision to ratify a 2017 extradition deal with Ankara.Critics say Beijing agreed to ship the vaccines only after moving to formalize the extradition deal and pressuring Ankara to do the same — an allegation Ankara staunchly rejects.A protester from the Uighur community living in Turkey, holds an anti-China placard during a protest in Istanbul, Oct. 1, 2020.Economic ties”Erdogan champions the Muslim cause everywhere unless it disrupts Turkey’s economic or geopolitical interests,” said international relations teacher Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University. “We see [it] with Turkey’s deafening silence over the abysmal treatment of the Uighur Muslims in China.”In 2009, Erdogan accused China of “genocide” against the Uighurs, provoking Beijing’s fury. But in recent years, Turkish-Chinese relations have markedly improved, especially in the fields of trade and technology. China is rumored to be helping to prop up the increasingly weak Turkish economy and currency.China is also Turkey’s leading supplier of COVID-19 vaccines. A further 6.5 million Chinese doses were delivered with much fanfare across Turkish state media on Monday.The Turkish parliament is expected to consider ratifying its own an extradition treaty with China, though no date has been set.Uighur community on edge”If this extradition agreement is approved in the parliament, we can foresee that this will involve the violation of the right to life for many or all of our clients,” warned lawyer Ibrahim Ergin of the Istanbul-based International Refugee Rights Association.In Ergin’s office, there are dozens of files of cases of Uighurs fighting Chinese extradition efforts. Ergin says the new extradition agreement removes most of the legal obstacles to China seeking the return of Uighurs.”In the case of my client Abdulkadir Yapcan, five witnesses that claimed my client is a terrorist in the evidence offered by China were executed,” said Ergin. “They have executed even the witnesses who accused my client.”FILE – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 25, 2020.Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, however, repeatedly has vowed that no Uighurs would be extradited under a new China treaty.Mayor of Istanbul metropolitan municipality Ekrem Imamoglu speaks during an interview to AFP on April 2, 2020 in Istanbul.On Wednesday, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, a man widely viewed as Erdogan’s biggest potential political challenger, visited protesting Uighurs outside the Chinese Consulate in a blaze of publicity.”As a human being, I will do everything in my power regarding this matter,” he tweeted.

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Britain Upholding ‘Freedom and Autonomy’ With New HK Visas

29
Jan,2021

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Britain’s government vowed Friday to stand by the people of its former colony, Hong Kong, against a Chinese crackdown as it prepared to launch a new visa scheme potentially benefiting millions. Starting Sunday, holders of British National (Overseas) status — a legacy of British rule over Hong Kong up to 1997 — will be able to apply to live and work in Britain for up to five years, and eventually seek citizenship. Before the change, BN(O) passport holders have had only limited rights to visit Britain for up to six months and not to work or settle. Britain says it is acting in response to the National Security Law imposed by China last year, which has devastated Hong Kong’s democracy movement and shredded freedoms meant to last 50 years under the 1997 handover accord. FILE – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson”I am immensely proud that we have brought in this new route for Hong Kong BN(O)s to live, work and make their home in our country,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement. “In doing so, we have honored our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong, and we have stood up for freedom and autonomy — values both the U.K. and Hong Kong hold dear.” Any Hong Kong resident born before 1997 is eligible for BN(O) status. The new visa path opens up entry to the United Kingdom to an estimated 2.9 million adults in Hong Kong and another 2.3 million of their dependents.  In practice, London projects that up to 322,400 of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million population will take up the visa over five years, benefiting the British economy by up to $4 billion. FILE – Protesters against the new national security law gesture with five fingers, signifying the “Five demands – not one less” on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, July. 1, 2020.The new pathway will not be cheap. A five-year visa will cost a relatively moderate $343 per person. But a mandatory surcharge to access Britain’s state-run health service will run to $4,280 per adult, and $3,224 for those under 18. Shorter, cheaper visas for 30 months will also be available. Security law “We have been clear we won’t look the other way when it comes to Hong Kong. We will live up to our historic responsibility to its people,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. FILE – Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab”China’s imposition of the National Security Law in Hong Kong constitutes a clear and serious breach of the [pre-handover] Sino-British Joint Declaration contrary to international law,” he added. The security law was imposed on Hong Kong last June in response to 2019 protests, targeting acts Beijing deems to be secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces. Mass arrests of pro-democracy figures have followed. Some have fled Hong Kong for the West, including to Britain.  Between July and this month, about 7,000 people with BN(O) status and their dependents have already been given exceptional leave to live in Britain. China, furious at Britain’s new visa pathway, has in turn accused London of flouting the handover agreement and demanded Western countries stay out of Hong Kong’s affairs. 

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